The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Left upper cannon and couter
  • Left upper cannon and couter
  • Kolman Helmschmid (1470 - 1532)
  • Daniel Hopfer (1470 - 1536), Etcher
  • Augsburg, Germany
  • 1523
  • Steel, etched
  • Weight: 0.95 kg
  • A245
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The armour of the Renaissance nobleman was of course vital protection for his body in battle, jousts and tournaments. However it also held great symbolic meaning and expressive power, embodying the essence of the knight and the chivalric ideal. Therefore, armour was often richly decorated, with many fine examples being great works of art in themselves. During the early sixteenth century an especially flamboyant form of armour appeared in Southern Germany – the costume armour which followed the ‘puffed and slashed’ fashion of that time, but in hardened steel rather than cloth. Of the surviving pieces of armour in what was also termed the 'Landsknecht-fashion', the armour to which this piece belongs is without question the most important example.

    The 'Roggendorf' armour was made in 1523 by Kolman Helmschmid of Augsburg (1471- 1532), armourer to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1500-58). This luxurious garniture for the field, with exchange pieces for parade, was a gift from the Emperor to one of his most trusted military commanders. Wilhelm Freiherr von Roggendorf (1481- 1541) was a Styrian nobleman who more than once fought for the Habsburgs on the front lines in the ongoing wars against the Turks in Eastern Europe. He commanded a force of heavy cavalry at the Siege of Vienna in 1529, served as Obersthofmeister at the Austrian court until 1539, and was killed besieging the Turks and allied Hungarians at Buda in 1541. Before that, in 1522 he had become chief of the Emperor’s lifeguard in Spain and was appointed to the office of Governor of Catalonia. Shortly after, he was admitted to the prestigious Order of Calatrava. The creation of the costume armour in 1523 was undoubtedly one result of Roggendorf’s successful career at the Habsburg Court during the early 1520s.

    The Roggendorf armour was one of a number of rich armours, associated with famous military leaders, acquired during the second half of the sixteenth century by Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria (1529-1595), for his ‘Heldenrüstkammer’ (Armoury of Heroes) at Castle Ambras near Innsbruck. In 1601/03 the “Armoury of the Heroes” was published in the richly illustrated catalogue by Schrenck von Notzing – the first museum catalogue in the world. Since the early 19th century Ferdinand’s collection has formed the core of the imperial armour collection in Vienna and is housed today in the Hofjagd –und Rüstkammer of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.