Dressed to Kill.

Dressed to kill. I am not speaking of the beautiful woman, dressed in black, bejeweled in Harry Winston Diamonds , wafting over the red carpet. No, I am speaking of this. The knight and the horse in armour. In the 15th Century this was the real “dressed to kill”.

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This armour was made in Germany in 1480. Complete armour for the horse before the 16th Century is extremely rare and this is one of only three that exist in the world.  The knights armour weighs 27.16 kg  and the horse’s 10.17 kg. Both are made of hardened steel plates. How did I come to see this?

My husband and I visit London twice a year to see our son who lives there and we had signed up to take part in a four day tour of Arms and Armouries organized by Caroline Stanley whose tours we have taken before. The expert who was with us every day was Dr. Edward Impey, the Director General and Master of the Royal Armouries.  It was a splendid tour and on the first day we went to see the Wallace Collection in London. Their armour collection is most impressive and Keith Dowen, the Assistant Curator of European Armour at the Royal Armories, took us through the displays. I was most interested in the armour for the horses…of course!

The shaffrons protected the head of the horse. There would have been padding underneath the metal so the shaffron would be made big enough to accommodate this.

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The armour on the horse’s head also was designed to have an intimidation factor. Was it a horse or a dragon?Wallace (37 of 50)

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Even coming down the hallway the mounted knight is impressive and intimidating!

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FASHION IN ARMOUR   Knights were men of fashion as well. In the 15th Century the foot armour and spurs looked like this.

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The long pointed toe could be removed for walking.The spurs are lethal and I hope the knights did not use them too much. By the early 16th Century the fashion had changed and the footwear and spurs looked like this.

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The armour shown in the photo below is German from 1532-1536.

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Even the stirrup irons were highly decorated.

And saddles ( 1460-1480) did not look too comfortable but they were works of art.

Armour was never mass produced on an assembly line. It was crafted by hand and custom fitted for the knight. What better way to show how important and wealthy you were than to spend money on getting a fabulously impressive suit of armour, either for war or for jousting.   After all you can’t wear paintings or other works of art.

The arrival of gunpowder and guns brought changes to armour and the amourers would fire a bullet into the armour to show it was “bulletproof”. This is the reason you will see a small dent in armour that has been “proofed”. But eventually the extravagant armour fell by the wayside as warfare changed. However, there are many paintings that show military leaders in armour, long after it wasn’t in regular use. In this way they could reinvent themselves as a knightly warriors.

The horses were considered very valuable to the knights. A good horse could make all the difference on the field of battle or at the tournament. These horses were not the huge Shire horses and were actually smaller and faster animals specially trained for jousting or for battle.  Our guide Keith Dowen had a special tribute to horses on his tie.

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That evening we went to the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers in the City of London. Fearless Leader Caroline went up to the large wooden doors and rang the doorbell.   The door swung open and we were greeted by……….the Beadle! As I stepped inside I knew I was entering another era. We dined in the splendid livery hall. If those pieces of armour could speak what tales they would have to tell us.

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That was the end of Day One of our tour. The second day we journeyed out of London to a stately home and in the evening we dined in the White Tower at the Tower of London. That was an evening I shall never forget.  I will post about it soon!

17 Comments Add yours

  1. saraannon says:

    The horse armor built for Spanish horses that was on display in Albuquerque until recently had full body armor for the horse that reached from shoulder to hip and went down below their belly line on both sides. The long necked spurs that went with the knight’s armor were barely long enough to reach past the armor and touch the horse’s sides. SO perhaps those spurs and that armor are not a set, or the set is not complete. It takes a lot of fine Toledo steel to cover both sides of a horse!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      I think the armour is complete but the size of the horse in terms oa height and depth of its belly is another variable. The horse model dates from the early 1900s I believe. But if the Royal Armouries attest it to be complete I think we can assume that it is.

      Like

  2. The mere sight of the knight and the dressed horse is quite intimidating. Any foe that sees this in battle probably died before being struck. Why is there only 3 of these. They must be very expensive to make. Thanks for sharing, Anne. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      The armor dates from 1480 and there are only 3 left that have all the parts. They were expensive to make even back in the 15th Century. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

  3. Wonderful visit, what tales they will tell, whether they will tell how much horses were helpful to humans or how much humans disturbed this wonderful being for our greed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Your observation is very accurate Subbashini.

      Like

  4. O.D. says:

    Lol that armor is so intimidating 😅😅😅😅

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Emma Cownie says:

    This must have been very expensive stuff, sort of the C15th equivalent to a armed car.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      One of our guides also referred to the suit of armour as being similar to driving down the road in a Ferrari. They were very expensive. I have the cost of a suit armour for Henry VIII that I will talk about in a later post
      Thanks for commenting Emma.

      Like

  6. Laleh Chini says:

    You are never boring. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Laleh!😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. dprastka says:

    Absolutely beautiful photos and what a grand tour of the past. Amazing what horses and Knight’s wore. I agree as you stated where you dined, if the walls and armoury could talk! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for this comment. The armour would have much to tell us I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nilzeitung says:

    sehr schön >>>!!!! So great exhibition had to have been seen, now belong in My Visit List, also gave Knight Bread Dort!!??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thanks for commenting. Do visit the Wallace Collection it is worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nilzeitung says:

        In the seriously I will do, there was also on the hidden street on a small town south of Istanbul small antique also charging in Vienna, I also visited, (but this was coincidence. Incredible rescuers protective clothing from Missing, in berlin very often watch!!! Many love thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

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