Beautiful armor suits?

Feb 2015
289
Netherlands
I was looking for some medieval armor suits that are really beautiful with all kinds of decorating. They dont have to be practical in combat, ceremonial armor suits are fine too. I have a fiery discussion with a friend about how boring the armors in the games are and I want to show him that there are real armors that are beautiful too!
I would think, although I'm no expert in this field, that most "battle" armor in the middle ages was functional. In any case, look at it like this. If I was a foot soldier in the 10th century and I was lucky enough to have any armor at all I would want my armor to be functional!

That said there have been some finds of exceedingly ornate armor that appears to have been used in battle. A number of years ago a guy in England made an astonishing find of Anglo-Saxon armor that had been buried (and never picked up) after a battle and was decorated with more than 5 kilograms of gold. Nothing boring about that.

Much of the ornate armor you see in Europe in museums these days is from the late middle ages. Much of it is also specialized jousting armor (refer to pictures above). It's really nice but not built nor intended to be used on the battlefield.
 
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authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
The ornate helmets, sword handles, scabbards, belt buckles, should clasps, pyramid mounts etc belonged only to the elite. Most troops had no armour. Even if they were on the winning side in a battle, they couldn't take their pick of the spoils, that was divided out according to rank.

Exactly how armour held a special place in the minds of the men can be seen from Harald Hardrade's maille byrnie shirt which was full length and which was called Emma, "Emma hét brynia hans; hon tóc ofan í mitt bæin hanum".

Maille was expensive as each ring in the chain was rivetted to its neighbours, unlike the pressed replicas one sees today.




Replica iron age sword in scabbard found at South Cave, Humberside. The handle is indian elephant ivory.




7th century anglo saxon sword pommel from Aldborough, the garnets are lost:



Cloisonné ostrogothic belt buckle. The garnets are from India:

 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
5,033
Australia
Heavily decorated armour goes back to the Bronze Age. The Mycenaean stuff seems to have been particularly impressive - decorated with embossing, gilting, and enamel. There are plenty of examples of this on other items in their grave goods. Not much armour has come down to us but there are some very nice shields and helmets. Decorated armour has always been the most flamboyant way to display your wealth and prestige.

These date to the classical period:

 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,872
Cornwall
There are a couple of suits in the small castle at Cortegana, SW Spain which we saw a few years ago.

Startlingly small because as we know people in those days were shorter on average.
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,011
MD, USA
Startlingly small because as we know people in those days were shorter on average.
Not necessarily. Average height may have been a little less (not always!), but armor today is often displayed in a way that makes it look smaller than if it were being worn properly. Breastplates and cuirasses often look too small since they don't cover the whole torso, because the wearer needed to be able to move. Helmets are often smaller than modern replicas, simply because the amorers back then were MASTERS at making something fit very well, whereas we tend to make things too big and add a lot more padding to fill in!

Also, there seems to be some skewing in the artifact record, since armor pieces that fit many warriors would be re-used and handed down and modified and recycled and eventually disappeared. So at least some pieces that are still in museums today have survived simply because they were *too small* to fit anyone besides the original owner! Well, except for Henry VIII's stuff, that guy was huge. (Well, okay, he was also KING, so his armor didn't get reused as much!) It's like getting to a T-shirt sale late--all that's left are "smalls" and a few "Extra Large".

Matthew
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,175
Portugal
Not exactly beautiful but quite curious is the helmet of the Portuguese king D. João I, or maybe I should say attributed to king D. João I, that is currently in the Porto Military museum (I think it is still there):

Gisa – Documento subordinado/Ato informacional – Exposição Histórico-Militar : elmo chamado de D. João I : séc. XV

The odd thing is that if a man puts the helmet, he doesn’t see a thing, he would need to have his eyes in the forehead, so probably it was a funerary helmet.
 
Feb 2017
256
Devon, UK
Not exactly beautiful but quite curious is the helmet of the Portuguese king D. João I, or maybe I should say attributed to king D. João I, that is currently in the Porto Military museum (I think it is still there):

Gisa – Documento subordinado/Ato informacional – Exposição Histórico-Militar : elmo chamado de D. João I : séc. XV

The odd thing is that if a man puts the helmet, he doesn’t see a thing, he would need to have his eyes in the forehead, so probably it was a funerary helmet.
That's a 'frog mouth' tilting helmet designed purely for the joust. It's also the style most commonly represented in heraldry where it's usually referred to as an 'esquire's' helm.
Frog-mouth helm - Wikipedia