16th Century Battle armour

More armour from the Kienbusch Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, PA, USA.

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UPDATED September 16th, 2019.


Click on these thumbnailed pictures to see the larger photo.

Full view of this armour. Picture is blurry.Front view of upper half of armour.Front right quarter view.Front right quarter view upperDetail inner left side armDetail left side

A light open helmet for comfort and easy breathing, the bevor providing most of the protection for the wearers face. Insides of the elbows protected by laminations in addition to the fan shaped extension at front of couters. Shoulders of breast plate appear to pass right over the tops of the shoulders rather than ending inches short of the top. This would offer more protection but fatigue the wearer faster.

Both shoulder reinforcements on the pauldons appear to be riveted in place rather than detachable. A buckle is riveted to the middle of the top edge of the uppermost pauldron lamination somewhat rearward. A leather belt riveted to the shoulders of the breast plate passes through this buckle to secure the pauldron to the shoulder. A leather belt and buckle riveted inside the lowermost lamination of the pauldron and these secure the lower part of this defense around the rerebrace and upper arm. Beads are rolled along the upper edges of the rerebraces and lower edges of the lower pauldron lamination and when the pauldron is strapped on around the arm, the rerebrace bead fits inside pauldron lower lame bead and rotates inside of when the arm is twisted. Rerebrace is fastened to the arm and supported by points sewn to the arming doublet and points pass through the leather gusset riveted inside the rerebrace.

No belt and buckle fasten the inside of the elbow joint. the small laminations inside the elbow joint keep the arm defense fitting closely. Vambrace is of two pieces and hinged along the outside edge. Hinges hidden beneath the gauntlet cuff and fan extension of couter. I couldn't photograph these. There appears to be no sign of any belts and buckles to close the the vambrace and I believe snaps or studs engaging corresponding holes in the opposite plates, allow the wearer to snap the vambrace halves in place.

Detail left side body and shoulder defensesLeft side fauld detailDetail right side body and leg defensesDetail right side bodyDetail left shoulderDetail left side fauld and legs

Tuille type tassets are fastened to the armour with a belts and buckles. The leather belts riveted to the upper edge of the lower fauld lamination and buckles riveted to the upper edges of the tassets. As can be seen in these pictures, the cuisses are short and have no articulated extensions to allow them to be worn higher up the leg. The tassets are needed in this armour.




Right front shoulder detail pauldronsDetail top of armour, helm and bevorLeft side upper armourDetail left side middle of body defenses.Armour for legs and feetDetail left side polyens, greaves, and solarettes

Lots of protection for the wearers neck, provided by a high guard on the should reinforcing plates. The left guard noticeably higher than the right. Bevor is free floating rather than mounted to the front of the breast plate, and is fastened around the wearers neck with a leather belt and buckle riveted along the rear edges of the gorget plate. Gorget plate is rather long and reaches almost halfway down the chest.

Gauntlets are very plain. A long cuff reaching halfway up the arm, no fluting or edge decoration. Cuff fastens to the wearers arm with leather belts and buckles riveted to the lower edges of the cuff on the inside, one near hand and one near end of the cuff. The buckle is fastened to a leather belt rather than riveted to the edge of the armour with an iron clip. The buckle meets the belt about half way around and under the wearer's forearm. Two articulation plates and a main hand plate make up the articulation for the wrist. A leather strap secures the hand plate to the wearer's hand, and is riveted to an extension on the outside edge of the hand about 1/3rd of the way from the wrist, and two-thirds of the way forward of the wrist on the thumb side to allow the strap to pass between the thumb and knuckle joint. The main thumb plate is secured to the main hand plate with a hinge riveted to both plates. A short knuckle plate begins articulation to the fingers. Deep fluting in the German style mimic the fingers in this semi-mitten finger gauntlet. Fluting begins in the front of the main hand plate about 3/4ths of an inch from the knuckle plate. Three finger mitten plates make up the bulk of the finger defenses. I couldn't see a strap riveted to the articulation rivets of the mitten plates and must assume these have rotted off. So either the leather pad which was sewn to the back of the glove, was riveted to the articulation rivets, or a strap once existed and would have been riveted to the last rivet in the mitten plates. Rivets appear over the tips of each finger in ends of the last mitten lame.

Since the mitten is so short, the tips of the fingers would have been exposed. German style semi-mitten gauntlets often used individual finger plates sewn to the gloves at this exposed point as suggested by the rivet placement in the ends of the last mitten lames, but also common in Italian armours, were chain mail mittens to protect the finger tips. We can only speculate on this.

Detail left side leg defenses and kneesDetail leg defenses front right quarterGauntlet left hand frontGauntlet right hand top front quarter viewRight gauntlet, this view is dark but should print well.Left gauntlet front view

Upper cuisse plate does not appear to have any articulations. A simple short plate with a large leather gusset riveted to its decorative rivets along the upper edge. Cuisse is supported by points sewn to the arming doublet and tied through the leather gusset. A leather belt and buckle riveted along the middle rear edges of the cuisse, fastens around the wearer's leg. Poleyns and lower knee plate defense are riveted together. A leather belt and buckle are riveted to the middle of the rear edges of the poleyn cap plate and fastened around the back of the wearers knee, with the belt riveted to the inside of the knee joint place on the outside of the plate. And the buckle riveted inside the fan extension of the poleyn along the outside of the knee joint. A leather belt and buckle also secure the lower knee joint plate to the wearers calf of the leg. The leather belt and buckle riveted near the lower edge of the lower knee plate along the rear edges, the belt riveted outside the plate inside the leg and the buckle riveted outside the the plate on the outside of the leg.

Greaves are in two pieces which completely surround the calf of the leg. Outside edges fastened together with two hinges riveted along the outside edges of the outside of the greaves. Upper half of the insides of the greaves are fastened around the leg with a leather belt and buckle. The belt riveted outside the front plate rear edge. The buckle riveted to the front edge of the rear plate. Lower part of greaves appear to be fastened together with a stud in the front edge of the rear plate and a corresponding hole in the rear edge of the front plate- and snapped together.

All pictures are originals by the author and filmed in 1992.

Philadelphia Museum of Art. http://www.philamuseum.org/  No pictures of armour at this website. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a large and important collection of medieval arms and armour. As far as I can find, none of the armour is shown on their website, but there is mention of the collection at http://www.philamuseum.org/information/history/pg06.shtml which details the history of how the armour collection was first acquired in the early 1970s. When searching for information on the arms and armour collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, use "Kienbusch" as the keyword.

The author can be emailed at address in picture below:


Latest update November 21st, 2000.