Helmet

Helmet

c. 1560 - 1580

Steel

Overall: 34.5 x 32 x 22 cm (13 9/16 x 12 5/8 x 8 11/16 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Severance 1916.1502

Fun Fact

Jousting contestants wore armor and charged at each other full speed on horseback, attempting to dismount the other with a lance. Such equipment protected contestants from injury, much like the helmet worn by football players today.

Description

This armor was developed for the joust—a sporting combat of arms between two mounted contestants. This example shows the asymmetry of jousting armor. The participants rode along a wall-like barrier known as a "tilt" with their left sides facing. Consequently, armor on that side of the body tended to be thicker. Note the larger reinforcment plate (called a grandguard) over the left shoulder for extra protection. Also, the breath holes in the helmet were placed on the right side (farthest from an opponent's lance) to avoid injuries from splinters. The bracket attached to the right breastplate is called the lance-rest, a shock-absorbing support designed to accommodate the lance when "couched" under the right armpit. The popularity of jousts and tournaments peaked around 1500 and required armor and other sporting equipment adapted for the endlessly varied games. By the reign of Emperor Maximilian I (1493–1519), there were at least 11 different forms of mounted jousts, exclusive of the numerous ceremonial combats on foot that employed such varied weapons as swords, halberds, pikes, and throwing axes. Each blow in the contest, especially favored in Germany, was carefully numbered and prescribed by rules.

See also
Collection: 
MED - Arms & Armor
Department: 
Medieval Art
Type of artwork: 
Arms and Armor
Medium: 
Steel

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