Reinforced tournament armour, attributed to Philip II, 1560
This famous armour is said to have belonged to the Habsburg king Philip II. It was made under the supervision of Wolfgang Grosschedel, a famous Bavarian armourer active between 1517 and 1562, who also produced other pieces for the Spanish monarch.
Various curators and specialists confirm that this armour shows strong similarities with the armour created for Philip II by Wolfgang and Franz Grosschedel, currently kept at the Real Armería (Royal Armoury of Madrid).
This armour was forged in Landshut around 1550-1560, and was intended for the Welches Gestech, a German tournament on horseback popular during the 16th century, in which a fence separated the participants.
This type of armour is characterised by its reinforcements on the left-hand side, which had to endure the majority of blows and hits during engagement. This side of the armour was also not supposed to be as flexible as the right-hand side, where the lance was held.
The shield, attached to the breastplate and covering the chest and the left shoulder, was fitted with elaborate metalwork, the purpose of which was to entangle the opponent’s lance, thus preventing it from sliding upwards and injuring the neck or face. The neck, elbow, forearm and left hand were equipped with additional reinforcements as well. The tassets, protecting the hips and thighs, featured similar strengthening. They were forged in one piece, the one on the right slightly shorter than the one on the left.
However, the armour’s sturdiness does not detract from its gracefulness. The many engravings and embellishments following the outline of the armour are a sight for sore eyes.
Tournament armours were generally speaking heavier than armours intended for the battlefield, because of the many additional reinforcements. All in all, this armour weighs some forty kilos, which is about twice as much as armour intended for warfare. That may seem a lot, but is roughly equivalent to the load carried by a modern-day soldier.