The highest quality of the armor on display in the Wallace Collection is best evidenced by this photograph taken by Paul Hudson ...
David girded himself with a sword over his armor and tried to walk in them, as he was not used to it. “I can't walk in them,” he said to Saul, “because I'm not used to them. And he took them off.
First Book of Kingdoms 17:39
First Book of Kingdoms 17:39
Museum collections of knightly armor and weapons. European and Eastern weapons and armor are present in the Wallace Collection in very large numbers - 2370 items. But we must not forget about quality behind quantity. And the quality of the exhibits in the Wallace Collection is just excellent. It contains a lot of rare personal knightly armor, and we have already talked about some of them on the pages of VO. But there are so many interesting armor there that we consider it necessary to continue our story about the knightly collection of the Wallace Collection ...
Armor by Lucio Marliani, called Piccinino (1538-1607)
This armor is somewhat unusual in that it remained in an unfinished state. He began working on it sometime in 1580, and apparently it was an expensive order in the style of Northern Italian Mannerism for some important nobleman. The work went only to the manufacture of plates and the initial stages of embossing relief ornament. If the armor had been completed, it would have been gilded, silver-plated in accordance with the high standards of high mannerism. The decor of the armor is very rich. It includes motifs as diverse as images of Roman soldiers, allegorical figures, mythical beasts, grotesque masks and trophies with weapons. All these details needed to be further emphasized not only with gold and silver, but also, possibly, with contrasting blackened areas. Of course, I would like to see this armor in all its glory, but it still represents an extremely rare and exciting opportunity to look into the process of making such armor.
The right shoulder pad and bracers of armor are now missing, but as you know, they existed. The lost parts are documented as preserved in photographs from the 8,56th and early XNUMXth centuries, suggesting that these parts may still be located somewhere in Italy. The total weight of what remains is XNUMX kg.
Armor by Hans Ringler, Nuremberg, Germany, c. 1532-1536 In 1532, the chanfron and other details of horse armor were made, and in 1536 the saddle
Before us is a complex structure made with the use of various steels, iron, velvet, gold, copper alloy and leather, and the parts of the armor are subjected to the following types of mechanical and chemical processing: corrugation, etching, painting and gilding. Armor weight 26,396 kg, horse armor weight 28,47 kg.
The owner of the armor was a certain Otto Henry, or "Ottheinrich" - an influential German military leader, patron of the arts, and later - an ardent champion of the Protestant Reformation. He had some fine armor, which he wore during military campaigns, not only to protect his person, but also to emphasize his high social status. The color of the armor reflected his coat of arms, depicted on the chanfron (protection of the horse's muzzle), which depicts golden lions on a black field. Therefore, the main surfaces of the armor are painted black, making the engraved and gilded stripes and borders look very bright and impressive. Many armors were originally colored, but today most have lost their original coloration.
The armor we see today is a composite piece made up of several pieces of armor belonging to Otthainrich. This becomes apparent when one examines the decorative motifs contained in the gilded stripes. The shoulder pads and cuirass have the same pattern, with birds and babies prominently featured, and therefore clearly belong to the same armor. The rest of the pieces are of a different design, including large swirls of flowers and foliage. The figure of the Virgin Mary is also engraved on the breastplate, which underlines the fact that this work predates Otthainrich's conversion to Protestantism, which rejected such images.
In 1800, during the Napoleonic Wars, Otthainrich Castle in Neuberg on the Danube was raided by French troops, and some of his armor was taken to Napoleon's personal collection. Some parts remained in Paris, while other parts were used to make this armor, which was bought and brought to England, where it fell into the hands of the great weapons scientist Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick. Most of Meyrick's collection was acquired by Sir Richard Wallace in 1871.
It is always interesting how much one or another armor or their individual parts weigh. But ... it is not always in museums that they are taken apart and the latter are weighed separately. In the case of this armor from Flanders, we were lucky. Moreover, it is also lucky that this is armor of the 2,1th century (in the 1,36th they were repaired), that is, they are old and therefore rare. At that time, armor was not yet court clothing, but served precisely as a means of protection in battle. So this armor is practically not decorated, but is made of low and medium carbon steels and leather. No gold or silver for you ... The weight of its parts is as follows: 2,34 kg, helmet; 1,97 kg, bevor; 3,64 kg bib; 1,5 kg skirt; 1,2 kg, backrest; 0,3 kg, left rib, cooler and bracer; 0,34 kg, right rib, cooler and bracer; 0,17 kg, left glove; 0,13 kg, right glove; 1,49 kg, rondel (aka besagyu); 1,6 kg, rondel; 0,85 kg, left legguard (quis); 0,41 kg, right leg gaiter (cuis); XNUMX kg, leggings left and right; XNUMX kg, shoe left and right (sabatons).
The vast majority of the earliest armors in museums today are actually composites. Many of them were collected piece by piece in the XNUMXth century. Sometimes their constituent parts belong to different periods, were made in different places and in different styles. Often the museum workers had too few original parts, so XNUMXth century restorers made new parts for them so that the full armor could be assembled.
This armor is also part of the composite. But overall, it gives a good general idea of the type of armor worn by German knights and soldiers at the end of the 1470th century. However, if we look closely, we find that the details are dated in different ways - from the 1510s to the XNUMXs, including modern details, and they come from Italy, Germany and Flanders.
Moreover, as our knowledge about the armor of the past eras becomes more and more complete, the "oldest armor" also changes. On these, for example, a modern and stylistically incorrect visor was removed from the helmet, as well as short chain mail fragments just below the knees - this is a distinctive feature of armor worn in Italy, but rarely found anywhere in Europe, except for the Iberian Peninsula.
Here they are - battle armor of the XNUMXth century, although, of course, some of their parts were made in the XNUMXth ...
Some parts of this armor have historical value. For example, the details for the right hand, including the shoulder pad, with the exception of the cutter (elbow piece), are genuine objects of the XNUMXth century, and in good condition. The most important parts, however, are the plate shoes. From the middle of the XNUMXth century, only two pairs of original Italian shoes have survived, and this is one of them. Of the two pairs, only they have pointed feet and articulated "tongues" designed to be fastened to greaves (calf plates). They fit snugly to the feet of the owner, like "steel skin", and their details like a lobster's tail overlap one another.
"Maximilian armor" 1515-1525 Material: steel. Weight: 18,99 kg
Wallace's collection would be incomplete if it were not for the armor with flutes or "comb", which is often called "Maximilian" in honor of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519). Maximilian was a great enthusiast of knightly armor, demanded innovative designs from his court gunsmiths, and at the same time showed a personal interest in the process of their creation. Not surprisingly, many of the finest and most technologically advanced armor made by the great masters of southern Germany were intended for Maximilian's personal use, both in battles and in knightly tournaments.
The "Maximilian style" quickly gained popularity in German lands in the first decade of the XNUMXth century. It was distinguished by dense groups of flutes that covered almost all surfaces of the knight's armor. This striking piece of armor design became somewhat synonymous with the Northern Renaissance in Germany, as the dense corrugated pattern resembled the tight folds of men's and women's clothing at the time. The link with fashionable civilian clothing is further emphasized by the fact that the only pieces of armor that have always remained simple were greaves - plates covering the shins, the contrasting smoothness of which was almost certainly intended to resemble the tight-fitting legs of the nobility in silk stockings.
Each flute was highlighted by clear lines of notching on both sides, which made Maximilian's armor even more time consuming and difficult to manufacture. This style is also known for its typically narrow waist, which expands quickly to a very wide chest and shoulders. Well, in Wallace's collection there is armor in the "Maximilian style". So there you can see them in detail too!
One full armor, dating from about 1515-1525, is an excellent example of this type of armor. Technically speaking, one of the most interesting aspects of this armor is the way that the top plates of the spudlers - the shoulder pads - were made detachable from the articulated plates that are an integral part of the armbands. This made it possible to replace these parts for protecting the hands, replacing some of the shoulder pads with much larger, wing-like plates, that is, to strengthen the armor in such a way as to use these plates for spear fighting!
It is interesting that at almost the same time in the same Nuremberg in Germany around 1540-1550. lightweight armor was also produced for horsemen armed with firearms. Now even fairly simple armor is beginning to be decorated, but in this armor the degree of decoration is still minimal. Total weight 15,46 kg. Interestingly, it bears seven imprints of the Nuremberg city sign, and on the back of the cuirass there is also an N sign on the inner surface - probably this is the then “quality mark” of the city of Nuremberg. This armor is especially notable for the fact that all the details in it are "native", with the exception of the helmet and one more insignificant detail.
Three-quarter armor from Nuremberg, circa 1540-1550
Such three-quarter armor was universal, and they were worn in different configurations by both infantrymen, nicknamed "dry spears" in England, and horsemen, and riders of both light and medium cavalry. The workmanship is very good, the plates are well matched to one another, expertly ground and polished, and decorated with delicate but elegant recessed stripes and carved edges. The fact that such a high-quality performance could be achieved with primitive equipment testifies to the high level of Nuremberg's industry. This armor has one interesting feature, which shows that the gunsmith who worked on it was in a hurry. Instead of making hinge bridges around the elbow joint, he limited himself to three details: the upper "tube", the cushion (elbow piece) and the lower "tube". This can be clearly seen in the photograph. The craftsman left enough empty space between the three plates for the elbow to bend comfortably. This method allowed significant savings in manufacturing time, although it somewhat lowered the level of protection provided by the armor.
The helmet, although "alien", is a perfect example of a "closed burgundy" or "closed helmet from Burgundy". It is also equipped with the articulated bevor (chin plate) and the articulated neck plates of a typical closed helmet, which, in combination with the burgora visor, provides a high level of protection. The helmet shape was especially popular in Eastern Europe, which Nuremberg also regularly supplied with a huge amount of armor.
Another very interesting piece of armor from Nuremberg, circa 1612 (29,845th century restoration). Material: low-carbon steel, corrugated. Total weight: XNUMX kg
It is generally accepted that the "Maximilian armor" went out of fashion by 1550. But ... Wallace's collection has a curious corrugated armor made in the "German style" around 1510-1530. However, none of its details, as it turned out, were made at the beginning of the XNUMXth century!
Although this armor does make an overall impression with its beautiful corrugated "Maximilian" style, a closer look at its design clearly shows that it was made much later. The two-piece design of the bib, although not completely inaccurate for the beginning of the XNUMXth century, is very atypical for him. Most of the grooves are also much deeper than on most authentic Emperor Maximilian pieces.
The bracers look especially unlike the work of the early to mid-XNUMXth century. And the small wings of the cutter are very reminiscent of the bracers of the cuirassier armor of the XNUMXth century. In addition, although this is a full knightly armor, it lacks such a detail as a forearm - that is, a lance hook, and why, in this case, was such an armor needed?
For a number of modern armor, it was possible to prove that it dates back to 1612. It is noteworthy that this year the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Matthias (Matthias, Matthew, Matthias, 1557-1619) - King of Germany from 1612, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Archduke of Austria from January 20, 1612 (replaced Emperor Rudolf II from 1593) , at the same time the King of Hungary under the name of Matthias II and the king of Bohemia under the name of Matthias II, from the Habsburg dynasty, arrived on an official visit to Nuremberg shortly after his coronation. It has been suggested that this armor (and he is not the only one!) In the style of the XNUMXth century was made specifically for the guard of honor put up by the city authorities to greet the new emperor. Their choice to reproduce an outdated style of armor could be motivated by a desire to recreate the great era of Nuremberg at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the era of Albrecht Dürer - the founder of the German Renaissance.
In addition to the basic elements made in the XNUMXth century, the armor was supplemented with details from the XNUMXth century, in particular, plates on the back of the knees, plates of articulation between the gorget and shoulder pads, and spurs.
Very characteristic of the middle of the XNUMXth century were horsemen's armor "in three quarters", which was specially produced for the cavalry of pistoliers - cuirassiers and reitars.
Cuirassier armor from Nuremberg 1550 Materials: blackened iron and leather. Total weight 11,325 kg
Interestingly, black and white armor was produced in very large quantities in the second half of the 1500th century almost exclusively in German lands, and especially in Nuremberg, the largest mass-produced armor manufacturer since XNUMX. Black and white armor was not only used by the armies of the German lands, but was also exported throughout Europe and was popular even in Scotland and Ireland. Although many of them are rather crude, this crude style was sometimes preferred even by officers and nobles. Apparently, they wanted to show the closeness to the people in this way. All three black and white armors in the Wallace collection are of medium quality. The polished stripes, although simple, are well executed, and are slightly recessed into the plates. The main surfaces around them are painted black. The overall impression of this armor is that it is quite simple but elegant.
It is often impossible to tell whether such armor was worn by an infantryman or a horseman. The breastplate of this armor has no holes for the spear support, which can be interpreted as evidence that it is an infantry armor. However, the medium cavalry and pistol cavalry also did not carry spears, but fought almost exclusively with firearms, so they did not need a spear stop at all.
It is possible to describe the armor from the Wallace Collection for a long time, but the volume of the article will then turn out to be outrageous. Therefore, we will stop at this for now, and continue the story about them next time.
To be continued ...