"KD Garniture" Harness of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Aragon, Castile, Naples, Sicily, and ruler of territories in Burgundy (1500-1558)
This harness for field or tournament is one of the better-known and more elegant examples of the 16th century armourer's craft. Built as a complete harness with pieces of exchange (extra pieces that could replace or be added to the harness for various styles of combat), it is most often seen as it is configured here.
It is often known by one of two names: the armour de bordes adiamantados (armour with diamond-studded borders) or as the "KD" Garniture for the letters on the raised haute-piece of the left pauldron (said to signify Karolus Divus—Divine Charles—an imperial title).
It is comprised of an armet, gorget, cuirass with tassets in front and back, asymmetrical pauldrons, a besagew to protect the right armpit, vambraces, mitten gauntlets, cuisses, poleyns, greaves, and splayed-toed sabatons. The armet has a rondel at its back and is bordered at its base by a small skirt of mail. The armet also features a pierced, reinforcing browplate. The removable lance-rest on the breastplate is etched and gilt and decorated with filework on its edges.
Many of its surfaces are fairly plain, but border sections are highly decorated. The decoration on the larger plates is usually in the form of five bordering bands. The outer two bands are roped in opposite directions. Immediately inside those bands are two bands, etched and gilt. The central band features raised pyramidal shapes whose sides are etched.
Etching, gilding and diamond shapes abound all over the harness, though Helmschmid shows some restraint, breaking this up with the large expanses of unadorned steel.
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