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Three-quarter armour
  • Three-quarter armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Augsburg, Germany
  • Date: c. 1620
  • Medium: Low-carbon steel and copper alloy, engraved
  • Weight: 2.1 kg, helmet
  • Weight: 0.974 kg, gorget
  • Weight: 5.2 kg, breastplate
  • Weight: 2.438 kg, backplate
  • Weight: 0.51 kg, garde-rein
  • Weight: 1.43 kg, pauldron (left)
  • Weight: 1.02 kg, pauldron (right)
  • Weight: 1.119 kg, arm (left)
  • Weight: 1.08 kg, arm (right)
  • Weight: 0.467 kg, gauntlet (left)
  • Weight: 0.481 kg, gauntlet (right)
  • Weight: 1.74 kg, tasset (left)
  • Weight: 1.686 kg, tasset (right)
  • Inv: A65
  • Location: Arms and Armour IV
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Further Reading

    Of white steel but originally left black from the forge, this armour belongs to a large group made for the military forces of Bavaria in the early 17th century. It has clearly been composed using parts from at least two armours in the same series.

    Consisting of:

    CLOSED BURGONET, ‘alla Viscontea’, the skull made in two halves joined at the comb, visor consisting of a peaked fall pivoted at the sides, to which is riveted a barred face-guard. The horizontal slits for the sight are very narrow. Chin-piece pivoted at the same points as the visor and fastened by a strap round the back and buckled on the right side; a single gorget plate, front and back respectively, is riveted to the lower edge of skull and chin-piece. On the front gorget plate is the arsenal number 10.

    GORGET, associated, with roped circular collar hinged on the left side, articulated by one plate, back and front, to the two main plates, which are joined by a slotted pin on the right shoulder. It carries the straps for the pauldrons.

    BREASTPLATE of very heavy make, short waisted, with central ridge descending to a sharp point, the edges turned. Two brass rivets fill the holes which originally held the hooks to secure the braces of the backplate, to which it is now joined by steel buckles on the shoulders. Two hinges with screw-nuts (probably once butterfly nuts) are riveted on either side of the lower flange to carry the tassets; these are probably 19th-century replacements. The breast is incised near the neck with the arsenal number 42. The right side of the breastplate carries a so-called ‘proof-mark’, a bullet-dent made to indicate that the armour had been certified as bullet-proof. However, recent investigation by Alan Williams has proved that many such marks, including this particular example, were created using only a partial charge of gunpowder in the proving weapon, in order to present the armour as being more protective than it really was. In reality this armour probably would not stop a direct shot.

    BACKPLATE in one piece, incised with the arsenal number 13. To the lower flange is attached by slotted pins a rear skirt of one large, boxed plate, and two lower lames, divided in the centre. The boxed lame also bears the number 13.

    PAULDRONS of large size, built of three large lames and four lower lames in each case. The left one bears the numbers 42 and 65, and is also struck by a row of three small punched dots, the right one 42 only.

    VAMBRACES, both for the right arm, secured to the pauldrons by a turning-pin, and furnished with a turning-joint in the upper cannon. Couters with heart-shaped tendon guards encircling the joint, and articulated once above and below; lower cannons closed by a brass hinge and pin.

    GAUNTLETS, with pointed cuffs; both bear the number 42 and a punched mark of eight dots in two rows. Six metacarpal lames, moulded knuckle lame, scaled thumb and fingers.

    Long TASSETS, of twelve lames, reaching from the breastplate to the knee, detachable at the seventh lame, the border of which is finished by turning over. KNEE-PIECES, each with heart-shaped side-wing, with a broad lame above and below. The lowest, which bears in each case the number 42, has a slot for attaching greaves, but probably of recent make. This armour was, until recently, completed by greaves of a much earlier date. They have been removed and are now catalogued separately under A298-9.

    The whole armour is bright and unornamented, except for a single engraved line running around the borders of the plates and the middle of the elbows. The bright polish probably dates only from the 19th century. The lames of the gorget have two lines, and it may not belong to the rest of the armour. The presence of four different arsenal numbers on most of the parts, namely: 10, 13, 42 (which appears six times) and 65, indicate that it was one of a series of exactly similar armours in a large arsenal, the parts of which have become intermixed.

    The punched dots on the gauntlets suggest a possible Augsburg origin (see A44-5). The rivet heads, except the flat ones in the slots, are capped with brass throughout.

    Ashdown, fig. 425; Z.H.W.K., III (1905), p. 228, fig. 6.
    German (Augsburg?), about 1620.

    A number of armours of this series, but still black and rough from the hammer, are in the Bavarian Army Museum at Ingoldstadt. According to R. H. Wackernagel (letter of 8 August 1980) they come partly from the Munich Town Armoury and partly from the Bavarian Electoral Armoury (see the exhibition catalogue (In Glauben und Reich, Kurfürst Maximilian I, Munich 1980, no. 612). Another armour made up of parts of this series, formerly in the collection of Archduke Eugen, is now in a private collection in Arlington, Virginia, and another is in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.
    This armour almost certainly came from the collection of the comte de Nieuwerkerke. It or a very similar armour is visible in the painting of one of his rooms by Tetar van Elven now in the Museum at Compiègne (inv. no. C51-004; Savill, 1980). The painting is inscribed with the date 1866, and has been described as showing a room at 11 rue Murillo, but this house was not built for Nieuwerkerke until 1869; if the inscription is correct the painting shows one of Nieuwerkerke's rooms at the Louvre (Gaynor). A65 then had greaves and sabatons, presumably those now catalogued as A298-9.