Friday, April 2, 2010
Leeds in December
The late fifteenth century was a good time for armour...the "Gothic" style was called gothic because of its sweeping uplifting lines like "Gothic Cathedrals" rather than because it was made by Goths. For reasons I am not really certain of, the "Gothic" appelation became applied to Germany. Of course Germany, as a country, did not exist back then, but enough armourers which made this style of armour lived and worked in German speaking countries to ensure national ownership of this design. Yet, Bohemia, Switzerland, Belgium and Austria made more of this style of armour than Prussia, Swabia, Saxonia, Bavaria, etc. etc. made. But, for evermore, when people see this kind of armour, they say "Oh, look at the German armour!" I would have to check with Gabrielle about whether the great Henry the Lion wore this kind of armour...grin!
Things which distinguish this armour from others would be the two piece Heume and Bevor combination, the fine chain mail underneath all of it, the two piece breastplate with sliding rivets with a very high point to the placquart, the lack of upper and lower cannons, (no swivel joints on the upper arm) the big fancy rondelle protecting the underarm, the single piece "pointy" elbow cops which are normally laced on, the long pointy gauntlets, and the multi piece but NOT pointy tassets. Also note the interesting omission of the lance rest. The rolling of the armour is a good indication of its age...this armour is rolled outward. Armour made only a couple of years later would be identical in all respects, but the protective rolls under the arms would be rolled inwards.
I really like these faulds. I note that the lames are nearly flat, and that the pivots are spaced a good handspan in from the edge. I'll have to do that with my armours. The tassets seem to be riveted onto the bottom fauld. Now thats just weird. Normally tassets are buckled on. The fact that they are so short allows him to put his foot into the stirrup.
The legs are really not as complex as they look. There ARE those four top lames, of course. They hang from a belt under the armour by a strap, and the pivot rivets allow the top of the cuisses to fold up quite a bit, avoiding the painful groin shot by your own armour which would come with jumping down from a wall. Well, thats the plan anyway. I have my doubts. They do provide a nice place to do some really fancy roping. The knee cops are fairly standard winged cops. Nothing special. However, the lower leg, the shin guards, are really really nice. These would have had to be made special to the owner. Note the "skinny" effect.
Above you can see the "gothic" answer to the gorget. Rather than putting the gorget underneath the armour, they put it on top. The big plate which comes down from the neck is actually a lame, and it is moveable. Maybe not much, but a little. He can tilt his head back and the gorget will stay down on his chest where it belongs. Some later period bevors would even provide a strap to make sure it stayed put! I rather like the multi-layer washers on the visor pivot. The shoulders are nice...one up and three down with pivots. This is a different approach, which provides a really pretty effect. The downside of course, is there is nothing there to protect his shoulder from downward shopping sword blows. His collar bones are sort of protected by the breastplate, but nothing on the top of the shoulders but chain mail. This troubles me.
The backplate is a thing of beauty! Clearly, this fellow wants to be seen from the back! Obviously a leader, out in front! The two piece back plate is built up. The backplate is made from three pieces, and the placquart is heavily fluted. Although they seem to fit really well together, I wonder if they are from two different armours. The fluting on the placqart should not be stopped by the reveal of the bottom of the backplate, but should rather be continued on like it does on the back faulds. Just a stylistic observation...that is not the only deviation from the standard "Gothic" suit. The three separate pieces which make up the backplate are unique. Speculation runs wild...if the backplate had been holed, the armourer might have rebuilt it, and made the two sides symetrical like the rest of the armour. Or the owner had a bigger back, and wanted a centre section inserted to accomodate the bulk. Who knows. What I DO know is that it is a darned nice bit of work! There is a close up of this speculative part below.
The gauntlet, from the inside. The double straps are kind of interesting, and if you look closely, you will see that one of the straps, the lower one, is split into a "Y" . I also note that the palm strap is missing.
These gauntlets are pretty straightforward, the fluting makes them look more complex than they are. The individual plates on the fingers are attached by rivets to thin belts, and the belts, in turn, are attached to the gloves by simple sewing. If you try to make such gauntlets, it would behoove you to make the whole glove underneath as well because, as you can see, the glove is not "turned", that is, it is not sewn and then turned inside out like modern work gloves. The Austrians even left a centimeter or so edge which they would use to rivet the gauntlet pieces , this one has been trimmed quite nicely. Glove making was a real art back then.
Above is a pic of the inside of the arm, the back of the elbow cop wing, and that really complex back fauld. The discontinuity between the backplate and the placquart is very obvious in this picture. The fluting on the bottom lame of the back fauld is particularly well done!
Above are the gauntlets from the front. This fellow paid to have the prettiest work he could get, and he got it! Really important details would include the shape of the thumb, and the great mobility in the wrist. Also noteable is the symmetry between the left and right gauntlet...often not seen because the left hand normally takes much more impact that the right hand.
Below is the plaque on the armour. Check out the great greaves! Lots of good work there! That iron is not all that malleable, and it would have had to have been done in several stages, with heat treating in between. These stages are often erroneously called "heats", but to remove work hardening, you don't heat it up to the full glowing red temperature which is usually meant by a "heat".
The shins are held onto the bottom lame of the knee cop by a turning key. That should keep most of the weight off the foot. This fellow would have worn shoes, perhaps shoes which look much like the replicas shown here.