"Valladolid Garniture" Tournament Armour of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Aragon, Castile, Naples, Sicily, and ruler of territories in Burgundy (1500-1558)
- 29/12/2016 |
- Alex Age of Craft |
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As the grandson of Maximilian I, Charles V had access to the great armour workshop at Augsburg, headed by members of the Helmschmid family. Kolman Helmschid (1471-1532) seems to have been a favorite armourer of Charles V, and several of Charles' surviving harnesses are attributed to him, often despite a lack of armourer's marks to support the attribution. This harness for man and horse, designed for the tilt, was supposedly made for Charles in 1518 for his first trip to his kingdom in Spain.
As it is currently displayed in Madrid's Real Armería, the harness and bard is in part composite (comprised of pieces of multiple armours). The upper portion consists of a "frog-mouth" styled great helm, cuirass with tassets, arm and shoulder defenses shaped for the tournament, a besagew to cover the right armpit, a reinforcement for the left elbow, and two gauntlets. The right gauntlet is bifurcated (the index and middle fingers are protected by the same lames, separate from the lames that protect the ring and small fingers). The left gauntlet, of mitten form, extends from hand to elbow. This type of heavy gauntlet is often referred to as a manifer, which translates quite literally to "hand of iron."
The legs are protected by cuisses, poleyns, demi-greaves, and mail shoes whose toes are protected by steel caps. The ribbed targe (shield), cuisses, and poleyns were not originally from this harness.
Much of the armour is decorated with etched bands: the outer bands decorated with various foliate designs surrounding a plain inner band. The helm, gauntlets, vambraces, and backplate are decorated with a more elaborate version of one of these etched bands. The collar and emblem of the knightly Order of the Golden Fleece is etched into the top of the breastplate.
The heavy helm (19 pounds, 13 ounces) is plain on its front where it might receive lance strikes, but is richly decorated on its back side, featuring the heads of two fire-breathing monsters. The greaves, which cover only the shin and sides of the leg, are bordered with leaves; the sides of the greaves are shaped to follow the outline of the foliage.
The complete horse armour (bard) is an impressive specimen on its own. The chanfron features the emblem of the Holy Roman Empire on a small shield. The pieces that protect the horse's ears are shaped like rams' horns. Overlapping lames and scales form the neck protection, called the crinet.
The peytral, which protects the chest, features two embossed lions, both of which are removable. The protection for the horse's rear, the crupper, is etched with Biblical scenes of combat, depicting David and Goliath and Samson versus the Philistines.
The tail piece is shaped like a ram's head. Between the peytral and crupper on either side is a flanchard designed to protect the horse's flanks. It is completed by armoured reins and a saddle. The plates on the bard are decorated with bands of etching, embossing, and raised roping. The larger pieces also are decorated with an oak leaf pattern. The bard, minus its saddle, weighs around 97 pounds.
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