Steel horse armour

The Burgundian bard

Dates from about 1511-14 | Flemish | Object number: VI.6–12

The Burgundian bard, probably by Guillem Margot, presented by Maximilian I to King Henry VIII.

One of a knight’s most valuable possessions was his best horse and because he owned a ‘cheval’, or horse, in French he was called a ‘chevalier’. A horse needed special protection in tournaments and war.

Horse armour, called a bard, was introduced to protect the horse’s head, neck and flanks against blows from lances, swords and, in battle, arrows. Horse armour was first made of textiles or mail. However, from about 1450 steel plate was used.

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The related documents below are free articles from Henry VIII: Arms and the Man.
This major publication Henry VIII: Arms and the Man and can be purchased from The Royal Armouries Shop.



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  • Introduction to Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian I.

  • Published to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the accession of King Henry VIII to the English throne. This definitive publication illustrates and records over 90 Henrician treasures from the Royal Armouries own collections and from around the world.

  • Our top ten objects in the Tournament gallery.

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Did you know?

First commercial steel melting

Benjamin Huntsman of Sheffield is widely credited with the first commercial melting of steel in around 1740, using his crucible process. However, the melting of steel had long been practiced in central Asia and India and was known as Damascus steel.

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