Monday, October 15, 2007

A sampling of Malta Armour

I make medieval armour for a living. No, really!

Before one tries to make armour, one should examine real armour, find out how it moves, how heavy it is, how it relates to other parts of the armour, and even the style of civilian clothing of the time! The Palace Museum in Valetta is a superb source of information on one particular, very attractive Milanese style of armour. This armour was made at very nearly the end of the great armour making period, so it is consideded to be "late period", but unlike so much "late period" armour, it is very functional. Much of the armour in this collection was funtional enough to have withstood the "Great Siege"for instance. Later, armour in Malta, as in the rest of Europe, became more decorative, less functional, and more indicative of the status of the owner than before that pivotal moment in history.

click on these images to enlarge...
above is a grouping of regular armour. Hard to say who would wear such plain armour...its awfully good workmanship. I suspect that it would be worn by devout knights who didn't want to flaunt highly decorative armour. I don't think it would have been an economic decision...the knights generally had no trouble affording top notch equipment.

You can see in the above suit that it reflects the civilian style of the time..the peascod breastplate. I found upon making this breastplate that is is actually quite easy to create....but it is a real pain to wear comfortably.

Above are splinted armour breastplates. These look much more comfortable, and you can at least sit down in them....the plackart slides up and over the front of the armour. The centre keel is becoming more and more the time these were made, jousting was pretty much the only place you would be wearing armour, and these keels are really good at deflecting lances. The knights found out that they are not so bad at deflecting large caliber, slow moving bullets as well! The more I look at this particular style of armour, the more I like it.

And I just had to include a picture of the nicest General Issue backplate which survives in the collection....this "pots and pans" decorated armour is beautifully sculpted, and shows the Milanese influence of tight roping of the edges, and the double medallions in the centre. 18 guage, and gorgeous.

Much of the armour in the museum was designed before the great seige, and was made to be functional, and much of it dates back to that great battle. Which is why I like it, I guess!

This is a small sampling of some of the nicer harnesses which I snapped during a visit back in '03. Its all still there...though I notice it seems to be even better displayed now than it was back then.

ip-location map zoom


The Smithy said...

Hi Stag thanks for stopping by my site. I'm always working trying to make my stuff usable, I like bastard sword construction, It looks very tough and usable.
I viewed your armor and will continue to visit your site also. (Very Nice work)
I was interested in the type of work you do and was wondering if you've ever done the metal scabbards? I not sure what the type of armor was used by the Spanish Conquistadors but it is similar to the ones that are pictured in your blog. (the splinted breast plate picture)
Those are my favorite pieces.

Looking forward to future conversations with you. Wade (The Smithy)

STAG said...

Hi Wade,
I make metal scabbards. Well, I curse my way through them at any rate! I hate making them, not because they are difficult, but rather because they have to meet the mil spec for 1976 or whatever. That means at the bare minimum the original right here in the room to work from!

Those Malta made armours are really good. I understand they were special made by the Milanese armourers for the Order, and were therefore a cut above the ordinance grade common with mercenaries of the time.