Jousting armour
  • Date: c. 1590
  • Medium: Steel, copper alloy, canvas, wool, leather and silk
  • Weight: 31.06 kg, total weight
  • Inv: A47
  • Location: European Armoury II
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Further Reading

    The key elements of this armour, which dominate its overall appearance, are designed for the German joust of peace at the tilt.

    Of bright steel with no decoration other than oblique roping at the edges, brass-capped rivets for the lining bands and brass, double buckles. The edges of the principal plates are bevelled. The helmet and breastplate together weigh about 28 lb., or nearly half the weight of the complete harness.

    The composition consists of:

    CLOSE-HELMET, for the joust, of heavy construction made up of three parts: SKULL with high roped comb, the back extended to protect the neck and embossed with a lateral, roped ridge; pierced with a pair of holes on either side (above the ridge) and one in the centre below, the latter for the backplate screw; a row of brass-capped rivets for the attachment of the lining; the latter (of canvas, wool and crimson silk) still remains together with a pair of crossed straps of undressed leather (possibly original) for preventing the close contact of the head with the skull of the helmet; the interior is stamped with the pearled A; Heavy VISOR extending over the forehead; it has a salient flange pierced with a single aperture for the sight, and is secured to the bevor by a spring-catch; BEVOR of great weight and thickness, working on the same pivots; it extends upwards to the sight and downwards to the breast; the left side is cut square and pierced with one hole for the attachment of the targe, and with three for the breastplate screws, which have flat, round heads; the haute-piece on the right side has been riveted on and not forged in one piece with the chest plate, as on A48 and A49. On the right side is a hinged window pierced with a rosette of heart-shaped and petal-shaped holes, and held by a spring-catch operated by a thong, and pierced with a rosette; stamped at the base with the Augsburg fir-cone and a group of five dots and crescent shaped punch marks; the three principal screw-holes have also been numbered with a punch; on the underside is stamped the pearled A mark.

    BREASTPLATE, for the joust, of peascod form, with the upper edge scooped out for the neck and cut in for the gussets, the edges slightly ridged and roped; three holes and screws for the bevor, one hole on each shoulder for the backplate, and one (on the left side) not used; the lower edge flanged for the tassets, which are secured by three straps on either side; heavy lance-rest fastened by three staples and a stout, flat pin; steel hinges at the sides for the backplate. It is stamped at the top with the triskeles mark of Anton Peffenhauser and two dots and two crescent-shaped punch marks; on the interior is stamped the pearled A.

    Thick jousting TASSETS, each of two wide lames, the upper furnished with three brass buckles; the inner edges broadly ridged and roped, the underside stamped with three round punch marks.

    BACKPLATE, having a vertical engraved midline and high neck, with a screw for attachment to the skull of the close-helmet; staples and pins at the sides for the steel hinges on the breastplate; the lower edge flanged and roped; there are no shoulder straps (the breastplate being secured by screws), but there is a slot for a strap on either edge at the shoulders; at the top the three-legged mark of Anton Peffenhauser, two round dots and crescent-shaped punch marks, and on the inside the pearled A.

    SHIELD for the joust, the surface smooth and plain, the edge slightly roped and bordered with brass-capped rivets for the lining band; two holes at the top, but there is only one corresponding screw on the bevor; the base marked with a group of five round dots and crescent-shaped punch marks, the underside with the pearled A.

    Jousting PAULDRONS formed of seven plates, comprising two lames at the top, the main plate extending well behind the shoulders, and four lames for the upper arm. At the top of each is a double buckle of brass, and on the right is a pair of brass-eyeleted holes. The left stamped with two, and the right with three, round dots and crescent-shaped punch marks; there are also round punch marks on the underside.

    VAMBRACES for the joust, each composed of an upper cannon with turning joint; bracelet couter with one articulation lame above and one below; two-piece lower cannon hinged on the outer surface and fastened with a hook and pierced stud on the inner. The upper cannon of the left has three articulation lames at the top, the right four; the left upper lame is stamped with a group of four round dots and crescent-shaped punch marks. The left elbow is fitted with a tapped socket for the attachment of a small reinforcing plate, now missing (see A48 and A49, which have it); all the lames for the left arm bear on their inner sides triple, crescent-shaped punch marks.

    Fingered GAUNTLETS, for tournament combat on foot, with pointed tubular cuffs; seven metacarpal lames and a knuckle-plate; two lames on the underside of the wrist (missing on the left gauntlet); scales on the fingers overlap backwards; the leather lining glove for the right gauntlet remains. There is a small repair on the edge of the left cuff. These gauntlets, although very similar to each other, are not a pair and do not bear any marks to suggest that they belong to the armour. The right gauntlet has two laminations inside the wrist allowing it to fit the hand more closely than the normal gauntlet. The lames protecting the fingers overlap in the opposite sense to those of the normal field gauntlet; when the hand is held with the fingers pointing upwards the lames overlap in the same direction as tiles on a roof. The left gauntlets of A48 and A49 are also of this type but not of exactly similar make. It is probable that these are intended for combat on foot with spears and swords. The reversed lames on the fingers would shed thrusting blows much more efficiently than the normal finger lames. Some armours, such as that represented by A164, have both types; one pair presumably for the field, the other for foot combat. Further support for the suggestion that these are gauntlets for combat on foot is given by the fact that the finger lames of duelling gauntlets are also arranged in this way. A duelling gauntlet of this type in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (inv. no. 14.25.911) can be compared with one illustrated in a portrait of an unknown man, dated 1567, by Gianbattista Moroni, in the John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art (No. 237); see also Capwell, Tobias, The Noble Art of the Sword, ex. cat. (2012).

    CUISSES, for the field, built in two parts, each with the upper edge ridged and roped. The upper composed of three plates overlapping upwards; the upper lame ridged and roped at the top and stamped with five round punch marks (the right with four), and both, on the undersides, with the pearled A. The lower part consists of a single plate which is secured by a turning-pin and keyhole slot and pierced near the ridge with a pair of brass eyeleted holes, to allow it to be worn without the upper assembly if designed, with longer tassets. The lower part is attached to the poleyns. POLEYNS comprising a central plate articulated with two lames above and two below, the lowermost pierced on either side with keyhole slots for attachment to the greaves; both cuisse and poleyn furnished with straps and buckles. Not a pair (see below, MARKS).

    GREAVES, for the free tourney, of one plate, boxed and protecting the lateral or outer side of the leg only; furnished with two double buckles and straps; the left stamped with five, and the right with four, annular punch marks, and both on the underside with the pearled A. They were almost certainly not completed with boot stirrups as suggested in the 1962 catalogue, since these seem to be confined entirely to Italian garnitures.

    By Anton Peffenhauser of Augsburg, about 1590.

    This type of armour, with the steel shield bolted over the left shoulder like this armour, A48 and A49, is described by Jörg Sorg as a Stechzeug. They were used for the joust at the tilt in the German fashion (Plankengestech nach deutscher Art). A47, A48 and A49 all also have, in fact, a single threaded hole on the left side of the breastplate about halfway down, for the bolt that would have attached the shoulder-plate or grandguard for use in the German joust of peace in the Italian fashion (for a slightly earlier version of this armour typology, see A43) in place of the present Stechtartsche. No reinforce of this type belonging to one of these garnitures is known to the writer, but its probable appearance can be gauged by that on a somewhat composite armour in the Royal Armouries (inv. no. II. 184; Dufty and Reid, 1968, pl. LVI; see also Capwell, Tobias, Arms and Armour of the Renaissance Joust, 2020).

    Like nos. A48-9, A47 is similar in build to a series of Augsburg jousting armours in the castle of Ambras at Innsbruck, and inv. no. II. 74 in the Royal Armouries. There are also three similar armours in the Musée de l’Armée, Paris (G 169, 176, 177).


    This armour is possibly that which was exhibited at the ‘Oplotheca’, 20 Lower Brook Street, being no. 9 of the catalogue printed by Smith and Davy in 1817, and there described as follows:

    ‘This very extraordinary specimen of Tilting Armour is another suit obtained from the Royal Armoury at Munich for Napoleon ... having the elegant pigeon breast ... and also the gauntlets, which were then generally divided into fingers; a more natural form was also given to the feet, instead of the preposterously wide square toes that distinguished the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII. This suit is about 70 lbs. weight.’

    This armour figures as no. 17 in the 6th edition (1820) of the catalogue of the Gothic Hall, but the reference to the ‘more natural form ... given to the feet’ is omitted.

    The sale history of the armours which, according to the catalogue of ‘a most splendid and instructive collection of ancient armour’ exhibited at the Oplotheca, no. 20 Lower Brook Street, Bond Street, 1817 (sub. No. 6), were ‘obtained from the King of Bavaria by General Lavileur for Napoleon Bonaparte for the purpose of forming an Armoury in Paris’, is very complex and, in spite of the efforts of F. H. Cripps-Day, is still by no means clear (A Record of Armour Sales, 1925, pp. xlvii and l). The Oplotheca catalogue continues: ‘… these fine specimens (six suits altogether, and some detached pieces) did not arrive in Paris till after Napoleon's abdication; Lavileur, soon after, dying of wounds ... the whole of the Armour fell into the hands of a dealer in Paris, from whom they were, shortly after, purchased and brought into this country’. In fact, the Oplotheca Catalogue lists only five armours from this source so presumably one had already been sold or had remained in the hands of the English purchaser who, according to the manuscript third volume of J. Skelton's Engraved Illustrations of Ancient Armour from the Collection ... of Dr. Meyrick in the library of the Wallace Collection, was William Bullock. Bullock later sold them to T. Gwenapp, also a dealer. According to the catalogue of the Collection of arms and armour ... exhibited at the Gothic Hall, London, 1818 (sub no. 13) the price Gwenapp gave for them was £2,500.

    The armours from Bavaria were exhibited at the Gothic Hall, London, from 1816, and were finally dispersed by Mr. George Robins, the auctioneer, on 10 June 1833, and the following days. The introduction to this catalogue specifically states that only five of the armours offered for sale are those obtained for Napoleon from the Royal Armoury at Munich, but, as will be seen, this claim was false, since one of the five had already passed into the hands of Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick.

    One of the armours generally believed to have been brought from Bavaria by Lavileur can be eliminated at once. This is Wallace Collection A49. This is not, as suggested in the 1962 Catalogue, no. 10 in the Gothic Hall Catalogue of 1820, since it is illustrated, but with different gauntlets, as no. VII of an unpublished catalogue prepared in 1818 by Meyrick of a collection of arms and armour belonging to Domenic Colnaghi. This particular armour is probably no. 3 in the list of armour acquired by Meyrick about 1818 when he seems to have bought the whole of Colnaghi's collection. The catalogue is in a private collection in this country. The list is in the Library of the Royal Armouries. The armour is almost certainly the one illustrated in Skelton, vol. I, pl. X. Meyrick nowhere suggests that it came from Bavaria.

    The five armours in the Oplotheca Catalogue are as follows:

    1. No. 6. A fluted armour with a saddle, shaffron, etc. ‘The armour of one of the Electors of Bavaria on horseback, equipped for tilting. This superb fluted suit of polished steel armour, with the beautiful war saddle, chanfron, &c . . .’
    This was Gothic Hall (1820 Edition) No. 14, and was sold by George Robins, the auctioneer, on 10 June 1833 as lot 161, where it is stated that ‘This very elegant suit (cap-a-pie), of bright fluted armour, was worn by the King's Champion at the coronation OF HIS LATE MAJESTY GEORGE IV. . . .’ A fluted field armour with a shaffron, peytral, crinet and rein-guards is illustrated on the heading of a hand-bill advertising an exhibition of ‘Coronation Armour’ exhibited at the Royal Armoury, Haymarket, which is stated to include ‘the identical suits of rich and splendid armour worn by the King’s Champion and Esquires at the Coronation of George IV’. The engraver has arranged the figure in the act of hurling down the gauntlet thus indicating that the person represented is Henry Dymoke, who on that occasion acted as Deputy Champion, since his father John Dymoke was a clergyman and therefore debarred from acting as champion. The only copy of this hand-bill known to the writer is dated in ink 1823. The ‘Royal Armoury’ was probably only a new name for the Gothic Hall.

    A much better illustration of this armour is given on pls. VIII and IX of the manuscript volume of Skelton’s Ancient Armour in the library of the Wallace Collection. It, too, is shown in the act of casting down a gauntlet. The pages for the text are still blank but the caption of the plate indicates that this is the armour of Albrecht V of Bavaria. Meyrick's successor exhibited the armour in this combination in the Art Treasures Exhibition at Manchester in 1857 (photograph in the Library of the Victoria and Albert Museum). The armour for the man is now at Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire (Beard, Connoisseur, XCIX, pp. 316-20, illus. no. XV). What is probably the horse armour is now at Warwick Castle.

    2. No. 9. This was probably Gothic Hall (1820 Edit.) no. 17; the description is almost word for word the same as in the Oplotheca Catalogue, except that the description of the ‘pigeon-breast’ and the reference to the shape of the feet are omitted. It was probably Robins sale 1833 lot 122 (not, lot 100 as given by Cripps-Day, op. cit., p. xlviii); the description is identical to that given in the Gothic Hall Catalogue. If this is now Wallace Collection A47 as S. J. Camp first suggested (Wallace Collection Catalogues, European Arms and Armour, II, 1924, no. 745), the legs which now are without sabatons must have been changed, presumably between the time the armour was at the Oplotheca and before it reached the Gothic Hall. There seems no reason to suppose that A47 was ever in Meyrick’s hands. It is not illustrated by Joseph Skelton, and no armour with which it could be identified occurs in the Catalogue of the Meyrick Collection when it was lent to the South Kensington Museum in 1869. There is in fact nothing to connect the armour No. 9 at the Oplotheca with Wallace Collection A47, which appears to have come from the Belleval collection since a photograph of a line drawing of it, annotated ‘anc. collect. de l'auteur’, has been inserted into p. 234 of the MS. copy of Belleval's La Panoplie, 1881, in the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

    3. No. 10. A fluted armour described as having belonged to ‘The renowned Albert, Grand Duke of Bavaria’. This was Gothic Hall (1820 Edit.) no. 18, and was sold by Robins in 1833 as lot 148. No horse armour is mentioned in any of these entries, and Robins, by stating that the armour was resting on a sword, shows that it must have been a dismounted armour.

    4. No. 14. Black and gold armour of Otto Heinrich, Count Palatine of the Rhine. This was Gothic Hall (1820 Edit.) no. 22, and was sold by Robins in 1833 as lot 155. It is illustrated on pls. VIII and IX of the manuscript volume of Skelton's Ancient Armour, and is now Wallace Collection A29.

    5. No. 174. This is now Wallace Collection A48 and was Gothic Hall (1820 Edit.) no. 33, where the trellissed shield or Stechtartsche is mentioned and where it is specifically stated that it came from ‘the King of Bavaria's armoury’. It was not in the Robins sale because it was already in the Meyrick collection and was illustrated by Skelton in Ancient Armour, I, 1830, pl. IX. What was probably this armour was exhibited by Meyrick's successor at the South Kensington Museum in 1869 as no. 739 ‘it is said to have belonged to Albert, 5th Duke of Bavaria...’

    At this time the left vambrace consisted of the left couter and manifer for a Stechzeug of about 1500, now Wallace Collection A279. This is, in fact, described in the Gothic Hall Catalogue. Since this armour was already in Meyrick’s hands, Robins’s claim that his sale of 1833 included the five armours from Bavaria originally in the Gothic Hall is clearly inaccurate. His lot 100 made up the number.

    Both the Oplotheca and Gothic Hall catalogues agree in describing only five of the original six armours brought from Bavaria. Presumably one had already been disposed of or was still in the hands of William Bullock. The sixth armour could very well be a white Augsburg Stechzeug very similar to A48 but with a plain shield, now at Abbotsford – Sir Walter Scott's house. It bears serial marks indicating that it belongs to the series of garnitures to which A47, A48 and A49 also belong. It was bought by Sir Walter Scott from William Bullock's Museum in the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, in 1819 for £20 (A.V.B. Norman, Apollo, LXXVI, pp. 525-6, fig. 3).

    It is tempting to connect the white jousting armours which are said to have come from Bavaria with an entry in the inventory of the Electoral armoury drawn up in 1627 (fol. 16h):

    ‘Mer 6 gletche weisse Kürass, jeder über di palli, zum Freirennen und Fusturnier zu gebrauchen, samt allen notwendigen Doppelstücken, auch bei jedem
    1 halbe Rosstirn
    1 Brechscheiben und
    1 Paar Handshuh

    welche 6 Kürass die Knecht, so mit dem Ritter St. Georg reiten, zu führen pflegen.’

    These armours, together with the one made for ‘St. Georg’, were ordered from Anton Peffenhauser in 1579, and payment was made in 1580 of 577 fl. 47 kr. (Stöcklein, Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, VIII, pp. 34-45).


    The major difficulty in accepting this identification is the variety of serial marks on the armours which apparently identify the garniture to which they belong. Parts are marked with small dots only and there appear to have been six garnitures marked in this way; a second six are marked with crescents only; and a third six with both dots and crescents. A few pieces seem to have been interchanged during the working lifetime of the armours. For instance, the right gauntlet of A49 bears the serial mark of four dots, as well as the serial mark of two dots and two crescents, while the right joust pauldron of A47 bears the serial mark of three dots as well as that of four dots and four crescents. The original right joust pauldron of the three dots garniture is on A49. This suggests that at least these two series were in the same armoury during their working lifetime. It is not a question of the eighteen armours of the 1627 inventory each having a separate serial mark as might at first appear. The jousting buff, right joust pauldron, and shield of A49 are all marked with three crescents, and so are the close-helmet of A46, the arms of A45, and the pauldrons of A44, none of which is for use in the joust. The precise significance of these marks will probably remain a mystery until all the pieces of these garnitures are published. It is, of course, important to remember that similar serial marks were used in other armouries. A number of jousting armours in the Zeughaus at Graz also have dot and crescent serial marks. They are probably of Nuremberg manufacture and are of rather earlier date than the Augsburg armours discussed here. Part of a field armour of Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol at Ambras (inv. no. WA771) is marked on breastplate and backplate with the Augsburg cone, the personal mark of Peffenhauser, and two crescents. Since this armour never formed part of the Bavarian court armoury it is clear that another series with crescent serial marks was at one time at Ambras.

    This armour has legs of the type apparently worn for the free tourney with open greaves and without sabatons. The greaves are of the type originally laced shut by means of a strip of leather riveted to the plates on each side of the opening, each pierced with a row of eyelets. They were originally worn with mail sabatons with plate toe-caps of the type shown by Jörg Sorg on his Feldküriss. The closed greaves for use in jousts at the tilt, marked with five dots and five crescents to match the helmet and shield of A47, are now on a composite armour in the Royal Armouries (inv. no. II.74; Dufty and Reid, 1968, pI. LVII) which also has the breastplate, backplate and right pauldron with this serial mark. The breastplate and pauldron are both for the joust.

    The present breastplate of A47, which belongs to the garniture with two dots and two crescents, has its original lance-rest with its original locking pin bearing the same serial mark. The right pauldron and the backplate also belong to this garniture. Like all the jousting breastplates of these garnitures it has a threaded hole about half-way down the left side for the attachment of the shoulder reinforce for the German joust in the Italian fashion. The same serial mark occurs on the left pauldron of inv. no. G.171 in the Musée de l’ Armée, Paris, and on both the cuisses and greaves of an armour in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (inv. no. 14.25.689).

    The right gauntlet of A47 bears the serial mark of three dots in a row, as well as that of four dots and four crescents. The three dots also occur on the right gauntlet of A45, which has a stepped cuff, and, more crudely struck, on the right gauntlet of A46, which has a plain cuff, and also on the field or Freiturnier breastplate of A44. The backplate of a Peffenhauser armour now in the Kienbusch collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art also bears the three dots mark (Harrington sale, Sotheby’s 4 May 1964, lot 176). The remainder of the Kienbusch armour consists of pieces for the field or Freiturnier, mostly from the garniture with two dots.

    The right leg defence has the serial mark of four dots and its pair is, at present, on A44. The left one has the serial mark of five dots.

    The left arm, which bears both the three dots and three crescents serial mark and the four dots and four crescents mark, is pierced for a guard of the vambrace (pasguard) and would probably serve both for the tilt and Freiturnier. No Freiturnier pauldron pierced for a reinforce has yet been identified for these garnitures, so it is uncertain whether reinforces for the Freiturnter were supplied. The four dots and four crescents also appear on a right gauntlet in the Royal Armouries (inv. no. II.184) and on a breastplate, backplate, right pauldron, and right vambrace, all for the joust, in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (inv. no 14.25.689). The three dots and crescents occur on a pair of cuisses in the Musée de l’ Armée, Paris (inv. no. G.460). The right arm, which belongs to the garniture marked with five crescents, is not pierced for a reinforce and probably served for all combinations within the garniture. The arrangement of the crescents two and three is different to that on other parts of the five-crescent garniture, where all are in a single row. This may indicate that this vambrace originally belonged to the two or three crescent garniture and was made up to five when the original vambrace of that garniture could not be found, or had been damaged. The original vambrace is in fact now on A48.

    It is not yet clear how this garniture would have been completed. It is probable however that the pauldrons for wear in the combat on foot would be of the kind in which the front end of the third lame from the top is greatly expanded downwards to cover the arm hole, while the lames below it are quite short. A pair of symmetrical pauldrons of this type are at present mounted with the field and Freiturnier breastplate of the St. George armour discussed by Stöcklein. The description of it in the 1627 inventory shows that it had pieces of exchange for the Fussturnier.

    As has already been noted, a breastplate for the field and Freiturnier of one of these garnitures, that marked with three dots only, is on Wallace Collection A44. Its lance-rest is unfortunately of later date and does not belong.