The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Close-helmet
  • Circle of Anton Peffenhauser (c. 1525 - 1603)
  • Augsburg, Germany
  • c. 1590
  • Iron or steel, leather, and copper alloy
  • Height: 31.5 cm
    Weight: 5.86 kg
  • A170
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • By the end sixteenth century competitive tournament combat on foot had been popular for two hundred years, with specialised foot combat armour appearing towards the end of the fifteenth century. To reduce the risks and ensure that the combats remained ‘gentlemanly’, without chaotic or untidy occurrences such as wrestling or grappling, most foot combats from the 1520s onwards were fought over a waist-high wooden barrier. A pair of combatants faced each other on opposite sides of the barrier and struck each other with spears or swords. The protection of the barrier meant that leg armour could be discarded and shoulder defences made more or less symmetrical.

    Close-helmets for foot combat at the barriers tended to be made very heavy, since the head was the most popular target, especially in contests with the sword. Since they had also to stand up to blows struck with the spear, barriers helmets, like jousting helmets, tend also to have breaths only on the right side of the face, leaving a solid wall of steel to protect the more exposed left side. The joust may have been fought on horseback and the barriers on foot, but both were exercises in spear-play and thus involved some of the same safety issues.

    This very fine close-helmet for barrier combat displays all the quintessential barriers features, including a very heavy construction and breaths on the right side of the face only. It also retains its original cross-suspension lining straps, which held the helmet away from the top of the wearer’s skull in order to increase protection against strong downward blows.