Table of contents:

What kind of armor were worn by European monarchs, Japanese samurai and soldiers of the First world war
What kind of armor were worn by European monarchs, Japanese samurai and soldiers of the First world war
"Under the formidable armor, you know no wounds …": The most interesting armor in history

Armor designed to protect a warrior, emphasize his status or intimidate the enemy, remained in demand for many centuries. And the talent and imagination of their creators, the gunsmiths of the past, even today, in the 21st century, continue to amaze and delight.

The first armor to protect warriors from spears and swords was simply crude metal plates. But with the increasing complexity of the weapons used, armor also improved, they became more durable and, at the same time, light and flexible.

In the Middle Ages, a rider dressed in armor with a sword or spear in his hands was a terrible and often invincible weapon, nothing prevented him from attacking almost anyone.

But it is impossible to constantly fight, and gradually knightly tournaments came to replace the battles, while the armor to a greater extent became a reflection of the social status and welfare of their owners.

Tournament of knights, medieval miniature Javelin duel

Armor became more and more expensive and soon became available only to wealthy people. And the very best armor was so expensive that only the highest royalty could purchase it.

Emperor Maximilian I Armor

Armor of King Henry VIII - his beauty and pride

In the Middle Ages, along with the gunsmiths, the knights themselves, who were well versed in knightly equipment, directly participated in the creation of armor. The English king Henry VIII, who knew all its subtleties, was especially attentive to the arms business.

Portrait of Henry VIII by Holbein

Most people know Henry VIII as the polygamist king. He had six wives: he divorced two, executed two, two died themselves.

Six wives of Henry VIII

The king was also a great lover of exquisite weapons and armor, knightly tournaments. And he could not come to terms with the fact that Britain at that time was importing both weapons and military equipment from Europe.

Italian gunsmiths were the first to arrive in England at his invitation, but nothing came of them. Then Heinrich relied on German and Flemish masters. Arriving in England in 1515 and settling not far from London, in Greenwich, they founded a weapons workshop there, in which they began to make armor for Henry and his entourage. And it went well, over time this workshop gained worldwide fame. Here, within the framework of the cultural traditions of England, a completely unique Greenwich style was born, in which the weapon traditions of several countries - Germany, Holland, Italy - were mixed. Greenwich armor is an interesting "hodgepodge".

Of course, great merit in the formation and development of the arms business in England belonged to Henry VIII, but, nevertheless, at the same time, he did a lot for himself personally. His royal armor was originally not designed for military purposes, and therefore looked very noble and not at all intimidating. And for his infantrymen, he continued to order cheap armor in Italy.

1515 armor

Armor of Henry VIII 1514-1515. From the book Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight

In 1515, a tournament armor was made for 23-year-old Henry, intended for foot duels, since the king was a big fan of such tournaments. At first, the armor was gilded, but later it was covered with silver and decorated with a very elegant engraving, the theme of the decor was the wedding of Henry and Catherine of Aragon. On the details of the armor, you can see images of St. George and St. Barbara, an ornament of climbing plants - Tudor roses and Aragon pomegranates. The hem of the skirt is decorated with intertwining initials of the names of Heinrich - "N" and Catherine - "K". Special cutouts are made on the skirt of the armor so that it would be comfortable for a king in armor to sit on a horse.These cutouts could be closed with removable parts if necessary.

In 1520, by order of the king, several sets of armor were made for the famous tournament at the Field of Golden Brocade.

"Steel spacesuit" 1520

Armor of 28 year old Henry VIII. 1519-1520 years. Royal Armories at Leedsoyal Armories at Leeds

This set was made in 1520 by order of the king for the famous tournament at the "Field of Golden Brocade". And it stood out not for its decor, since it was absolutely not decorated with anything, but for the perfection of its design and craftsmanship. Its design is such that there was not a single part of the body that would remain open and unprotected. A real "spacesuit" made of steel … The weight of this armor, made by the master Martin Van Rijn, is 42, 64 kg, and the height is 187, 9 cm. But this armor was not completely finished yet.

Tournament set "Steel skirt" 1520

1520 armor for the tournament on the "Field of Golden Brocade"

The second armor for the famous tournament weighing 29, 28 kg and a height of 1875 mm differs in that its individual parts were made individually by craftsmen from different countries. The helmet depicts Saint George and the Mother of God with a child. On one of the details near the neck there is the order of the garter, and near the left knee on the leggings there is an imitation of the ribbon of this order. The skirt is decorated with floral designs and Tudor roses.

Armor of Henry VIII from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Silver and Etched Armor of Henry VIII from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 1527 Height 1850 mm. Weight 30.11 kg Armor of Henry VIII of England 1544 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Armor set of 1540

Armor of 1540. Stored in the Tower of London

Under Henry VIII, the so-called armor headsets appeared. Perhaps this was due to the fact that the armor became very expensive and not everyone could afford to have several sets. And the armor headsets, representing a full knight's armor, differed in that they had several additional parts - helmets, leggings and legguards, which could be combined to obtain armor for different purposes. For Henry, such a set was made when he was 48 years old.

Knight's set of Henry VIII. Modern drawing Two variants of armor

Lost Armor and the "Horned Helm" of Henry VIII

In those days, ceremonial armor was also in demand, which had nothing to do with military affairs. Therefore, in their manufacture there were completely different priorities, it was hardly possible to fight in such armor. Such a ceremonial set was presented to Henry in 1514 by Emperor Maximilian I. Unfortunately, only this "horned helmet" has survived from the whole set. The set included several helmets, but this one was kept separately, and this saved him.

Polish winged hussars

The "winged" hussars were the elite cavalry of the Kingdom of Poland. The hussars gained fame not only thanks to the victories they won, but because of their rather unusual appearance - when they moved, their wings fluttered behind their backs.

Hussar attacks the Turkish Janissary

The first mention of the winged Polish horsemen appeared only in the middle of the 17th century, and about the horsemen with huge pairs of wings on their back, familiar to us from the movies, only at the end of the 17th century. It was then that the hussars won a number of serious victories on the battlefield.

There is still debate about the purpose of these wings, which are a kind of "visiting card" of hussars. The most preferable version is that the hussar wings perform a purely decorative function.

Hussar wings attached to the cuirass. Late 17th - first half of the 18th century

By the way, for the first time, the wings were not used by Polish hussars, but by Turkish riders "Delhi".

Delhi warriors

Delhi warriors

The Delhi warriors fought in the ranks of the army of the Ottoman Empire and, often under the influence of opium, showed miracles of incredible courage and recklessness. They were not dressed in armor, but in the skins of wild animals. They used the feathers of birds of prey as decoration. From them the tradition of decorating themselves with feathers passed to the Hungarian hussars, and only at the end of the 17th century did the “winged” Poles appear.

Samurai armor

The armor of Japanese samurai warriors is one of the most perfect in terms of the optimal ratio of the degree of protection of a warrior and his mobility, and they consist of many parts. The main weapon used by samurai is not a sword, but arrows. Therefore, the main purpose of the armor is to protect the samurai from the hail of arrows fired at him. Before the battle, the samurai puts on more than twenty items, many of which are attached with cords.

Putting on armor - from a loincloth to suneate (leggings) Putting on armor - from haidate (hip protection) to uva-obi (belt) Putting on armor - from sode (shoulder pads) to kabuto (helmet)

In addition, Japanese armor is capable of terrifying the enemy with its appearance.Their indispensable attribute is a frightening Mengu mask with protruding teeth, a terrible grin or a frightening beak.

Mengu mask

Armor of the first world war

Brewster's armor

During the First World War, completely unexpectedly long written off as unnecessary attributes of medieval warriors, such as chain mail and armor, became again in demand. A set of armor, consisting of a breastplate and a helmet, called Brewster's armor, developed by the Americans in 1917, was very useful to the snipers who appeared in that war. And despite its heavy weight (18 kg) and a somewhat strange appearance, this armor perfectly withstood the hit of bullets fired by the enemy's well-aimed arrows.

And here what the most bizarre and fashionable helmets of medieval knights looked like… These are real works of art!

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