Knights and armor. In the 15th century, a new, very curious tournament on clubs appeared in Germany, which was a group battle of two knightly detachments. And they armed themselves for this battle with a blunt and heavy sword and a mace made of hard wood up to 80 cm long. A spherical head and a disc of sheet iron were provided on the handle of the mace to protect the hand. The mace thickened from the handle upwards and at the same time also had a faceted shape. Although it was made of wood, a blow with such a “tree” on the helmet, which was tightly attached to the crown of the head, could have very dangerous consequences. Therefore, specifically for this type of tournament, gunsmiths created a spherical helmet with a large volume. Now the knight's head, enclosed in such a helmet, never touched its walls anywhere, and he himself rested only on his shoulders and chest. Additional protection was a comforter, which covered the entire head, except for the face, and had a thick felt pad. But to ensure a good view, the visor on the helmet was replaced by a hemispherical grille made of iron rods.
Designed around 1400, this special tournament helmet was the first non-combat tournament helmet. The grille, which replaced the visor, provided good protection only from these weapons and at the same time gave a good view. In addition, the fight with heavy swords and maces demanded to ease the breathing of the fighters. To save weight, these helmets were often made of pressed leather. This helmet belonged to Emperor Maximilian I and his son Frederick III (1459 - 1519) and is exhibited in room 1. It was made around 1480-1485.
The concepts of beauty and functionality at the time were somewhat different from those of today. Therefore, it is not surprising that helmets appeared that had a steel frame, but covered over it with boiled bovine skin. Moreover, the leather cover was painted with tempera. In other cases, the helmet frame was covered with linen, covered with a chalk primer and also painted with the owner's emblem. Such helmets already existed around 1480, and it was they who were very often depicted by both miniaturists and … heralds who painted helmets on the coats of arms. But note that such impressive-looking knight helmets have never been combat ones.
The helmet to the cuirass of the armor was firmly attached with the help of leather belts, which were threaded into the staples or with the help of sometimes very ingenious devices.
And they threw their caps into the air
Already in the XII and XIII centuries, helmets were decorated with so-called helmet-mounted decorations. It happened that these were voluminous heraldic figures made of papier-mâché or boiled leather, and sometimes something that contained a hint of the lady of the knight's heart. For example, it could be a sleeve, gloves, or her scarf. No wonder the sleeve of the dress even became a heraldic figure. The image of the sleeve was a testament to the success of the owner of the coat of arms precisely in battles at tournaments, since the ladies used to reward the winner by throwing jewelry and their sleeves torn from their dresses to him! Everything is like Pushkin's, isn't it? But only the role of caps was played by sleeves! It is interesting that helmet-mounted jewelry in this tournament was used not so much to impress the audience, although, of course, for this, but also to knock them down, since the victory was awarded to the one who knocked this jewelry down with his club. from the enemy's helmet.
"Tournament on clubs" "Book of tournaments" by Rene of Anjou, 1460. (National Library, Paris)
The main thing is to withstand a blow with a heavy blunt object
Such a helmet could also be forged in the form of a hemisphere from a solid metal sheet. gland. In this case, he had a reclining visor shaped like a convex lattice. Since the metal was very hot in the sun, the helmet was covered with a piece of cloth - a basting that fell from behind to the knight on the back. On pot-shaped helmets, such outlines began to be used already in the 13th century. The fabric for them could be silk, or it could be a thin linen. Usually the color of the basting coincided with the main color of the knight's coat of arms. The cuirass for the tournament on clubs was made not of metal, but of thick boiled leather for the tournament, and was also covered with fabric embroidered with emblems. Around 1440, metal "ventilated" cuirasses came into vogue, in which they began to punch holes for air. They did not fit tightly to the chest and back, so that the air cushion formed there did not allow the knight to overheat during a very hot fight.
The device of a helmet for a tournament on clubs. The Tournament Book by Rene of Anjou, 1460. (National Library, Paris)
The rest of the parts that protected the hands could be either leather or metal. The main thing from which they had to protect well was a blow with a heavy blunt object. Therefore, it was impossible to use such armor for spear fights. So these were the first highly specialized knightly armor, suitable exclusively for the merrymaking and … a new headache for the knightly estate, because they cost little less, if not more (taking into account the expensive fabrics and embroidery on them!), Than the most durable battle armor.
The legs of the knight in battle armor were protected by armor. But were they needed in tournament armor, especially in spear fights, where the main goal was either the helmet or (most often) the opponent's shield. Therefore, in the end, protection from dilje began to be used - knee armor, which did not protect the legs below the hips and knees.
Tournament with clubs. "History of the Trojan War", 1441 Germany (National Museum, Berlin)
Saddles to match the riders
Already in the tournament, special saddles appeared on the clubs, which differed from the combat ones. They had a raised seat, so that the horse would not in any way interfere with his rider's use of his weapon. In fact, in such a saddle the rider was not so much sitting as he was standing in the stirrups. The front bow of the saddle was exceptionally high, and in the upper part of it there was a bracket for which the knight could hold on with his left hand, striking with his right. Accordingly, the rear bow was also so high that the rider's fall from the horse was virtually excluded. Like the rider, his horse was covered with "clothes" painted with heraldic images. However, by the end of the 15th century, the club tournament began to go out of fashion.
In order for the participant's head to be protected from the opponent's blows, comforters made of quilted linen were worn under the helmet. These "caps" by themselves gave good protection, moreover, the head in them did not touch the surface of the helmet. This 1484 helmet liner is part of a series of six helmet liners that were made by Klaus Wagner, Christian Schreiner and Christian Spohr. This series was ordered for the tournament in honor of the second wedding of Sigismund (1427-1496), Duke of Forward Austria and Count of Tyrol to Catherine of Saxony, held in the same year 1484. Owner: Sigismund (1427-1496), Duke of Forward Austria and Count of Tyrol). Materials: quilted fabric, hemp, leather.
Weapons and duels for every taste
In addition to equestrian tournament combat, there was also a foot battle, and at all times it was treated with great respect. After all, it was implied in any case that the knight has a horse, otherwise he simply would not be a knight. But the fact that he could skillfully fight on foot for a long time (the horse fight was still quite short) emphasized his skill. As a result, in the 15th century, foot duels received a very pompous name: "old German foot combat." Their popularity is growing, which leads to the emergence of new specific armor, as well as weapons. For example, in the miniatures of the famous "Manes Code", we see combatants fighting with swords and with fist shields - bucklers in their hands. Spears were also used, both short and long enough, as well as war hammers and alshpis with piercing blades and with two discs on the handle. By the middle of the 15th century, as can be seen from the illustrations in the book about tournaments, which belonged to Emperor Maximilian I, it was possible to fight not only with swords, but also with maces, the same alshpis, axes, daggers, dussaks (a rather specific weapon that had only a blade, and a handle in the form of a hole in its back without a guard), axes and even … battle flails, which seem to be quite common weapons.
A duel of foot soldiers on short spears. "Tournament Book" of Emperor Maximilian I (Vienna Imperial Armory)
The most convenient type of helmet for such fights turned out to be an arme with a spherical shape and a rising visor of a complex shape. The internal volume of the arme was large enough that the head would not come into contact with the helmet in any way.
Milanese armor in the French style for the foot battle of Claude de Vaudre, chamberlain of the Duke Karl of Burgundy Charles the Bold. In this armor, he participated in a tournament with the participation of Emperor Maximilian I during the festivities in Worms in 1455. The mark on the armor belongs to the Italian armor officer Giovanni Marco Meravilla, who ran a large armor workshop in Milan. The nephew of the famous Antonio Missaglia, he sold his products throughout Western Europe, including Burgundy. A feature of the armor for a walking duel was a characteristic barrel-shaped "skirt" made of hoop rings, which made it look like a modern folding tourist cup. This shape provided the greatest possible protection for the legs while combining it with maximum mobility. Following the client's French tastes, the heavy helmet is made in the shape of a grand bascinet with a large perforated and slotted visor. The Milanese armor made the shoulder pads symmetrical and removed the protruding edges from them, while asymmetrical shoulder pads were common in Italy. It is interesting that sabatons - knightly plate shoes were without spurs, that is, they were adapted exclusively for walking and by 1480 had wide and blunt noses in the manner of rough peasant shoes. Exhibited in hall №1.
But this is a typical battle armor of 1450. The armor belonged to the Elector Friedrich of Palatinate and was made in Milan by the craftsmen of the Missaglia family. It bears the stamps of Tommaso Missaglia, Antonio Misaglia, Innocenzo da Faerno and Antonio Seroni, that is, four craftsmen had to work on it at once. Such a division of labor was common in large Milanese companies of the time, where there was already a specialization of craftsmen in various parts of armor. The Milanese craftsmen quickly adapted to the tastes of the knights of France, and specially made the "alla francese" armor for export. The differences were in the symmetrical shoulder pads and the presence of small disks to protect the armpits. The helmet is made in the style of "big bascinet", like a large helmet with a round visor. Steel shoes (sabatons) traditionally end with long late Gothic socks. The dating of the armor is based on historical data. The fact is that Elector Frederick the Victorious began his reign in the Palatinate in 1449, and it is likely that on the occasion of this important event he ordered this new armor for himself. The armor is on display in hall №1. Owner: Elector Frederick I (1425 - 1476). Son of Ludwig III of the Palatinate. Manufacturer: Tomaso and Antonio Negroni da Ello, called Missaglia (1430-1452, working in Milan). Material and technologies: "white iron", forging, leather.
When looking at armor for combat on foot, it's easy to see that it is specially designed to give combatants maximum protection. So, over time, the skirt acquired the shape of a bell, so that all blows would slide off it, but at the same time the mobility of the hip joints was maximum.
This is especially noticeable in comparison with the armor (see the figure on the left) of the same time directly for the battle. This armor is getting more and more lighter. The so-called "three-quarter armor" appeared, which did not have plate covers on the legs, except for the plate legguards that reached the knees. There also appeared special Reitar and pike armor, which were worn by people who were no longer of a knight's rank.
However, this is a topic for a separate story, and it will certainly appear here over time. For now, we will continue to consider tournament armor, since now their varieties, as well as the types of tournament fights proper, have appeared more and more every decade since the 16th century …
P. S. The author and the site administration would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the curators of the chamber, Ilse Jung and Florian Kugler, for the opportunity to use photographic materials of the Vienna Armory.