THE COLLECTION
Full armour
  • Full armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy, Germany, Flanders
  • Date: 15th century - 19th century
  • Medium: Low- and medium carbon steels, leather
  • Weight: 2.1 kg, helmet
  • Weight: 1.36 kg, bevor
  • Weight: 2.34 kg, breastplate
  • Weight: 1.97 kg, plackart and skirt
  • Weight: 3.64 kg, backplate
  • Weight: 1.5 kg, left rerebrace, couter and vambrace
  • Weight: 1.2 kg, right rerebrace, couter and vambrace
  • Weight: 0.3 kg, left gauntlet
  • Weight: 0.34 kg, right gauntlet
  • Weight: 0.17 kg, rondel
  • Weight: 0.13 kg, rondel
  • Weight: 1.49 kg, left cuisse
  • Weight: 1.6 kg, right cuisse
  • Weight: 0.85 kg, left greave
  • Weight: 0.85 kg, right greave
  • Weight: 0.41 kg, left sabaton
  • Weight: 0.41 kg, right sabaton
  • Inv: A20
  • Location: European Armoury I
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Description
Marks/Inscriptions
Further Reading
  • The vast majority of early, apparently complete armours in museums today are in fact composites. Their parts were not originally worn together during their ‘working lifetime’. Instead, many of these armours were put together, often in the 19th century, using disparate parts from different sources. Sometimes the constituent pieces actually date from different periods, were made in different places, in differing styles. Often the composer had too few of the original pieces, so new parts were made by 19th-century restorers to allow a complete armour to be assembled.

    This armour is one such composite. Overall, it gives a useful general impression of the type of armour worn by German knights and men-at-arms in the late 15th century. However if we look somewhat closer we find that the parts date variously from the 1470s to the 1510s, with modern restorations also included, and come from Italy, Germany and Flanders.
    The armour has been displayed in a few different configurations over time. As scholarly knowledge of armour advanced in the first half of the 20th century, this armour was altered to present an increasingly more authentic appearance. The modern and stylistically flawed visor was removed, as were short valances of mail mounted just below the knees- these were a distinctive feature of the armour worn in Italy, but were rarely seen elsewhere in Europe except on the Iberian penisula. When it was realised that the tassets in fact were a very distinctive form belonging to a very specific type of 16th-century Italian jousting armour, they too were removed and placed on another armour in the collection of the right style and date (see A61).

    There are several parts of this armour which are of noteable historical significance. The right arm and shoulder plates, excluding the couter (elbow plate) are genuine 15th-century pieces in good condition. By far the most important parts are however the sabatons (foot plates). Only two pairs of original Italian sabatons survive from the middle of the 15th century, and these are one of them. Of the two pairs, they are the only ones having pointed toes and articulated ‘tongue’ plates designed to maintain a good interaction with the greaves (calf plates). They are beautifully made, closely-fitted to the wearer’s feet like a skin of steel and flexing as effortlessly as a lobster’s tail.