Armour for the joust of war
Dates from about 1500 | Object number: II.167, VII.1365 (Purchased with the aid of The Art Fund & The Pilgrim Trust)
This armour came from Maximilian’s own armoury at Vienna and was probably worn by the Holy Roman Emperor himself. It was specially made for the Scharfrennen, a version of the Joust of War perfected at Maximilian’s court. This was run in the open field with pointed lances.
Did you know?
- The main aim of this form of joust was to knock an opponent off his horse. To add extra drama, this armour has special, theatrical features. Plates covering the helmet’s brow and the shield of the lance (vamplate) were designed to fly off in a spectacular way if struck correctly. This looked very dramatic, as if the armour was breaking up.
- The sharp lance-head concentrated all the force of impact on a single point to unhorse the opponent. The armour for the front of the body needed to be extremely strong. However, there was little protection needed at the back so there is less armour there.
- This armour features one of the earliest examples of a screw thread. It is also very rare for an original spanner for bolting the armour together to survive.
- The horse was trained to wear a ‘blind’ shaffron which covered its eyes completely. It also wore a collar of bells around its neck so that it could not hear an opponent approaching. This was because its natural instinct would be to turn away from the other charging horse.