Gothic plate armour

A suit of Maximilian plate armour of the late 15th century, made by Lorenz Helmschmied of Augsburg, now kept in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

Gothic plate armour (German: Gotischer Plattenpanzer) is the term for the type of steel plate armour made in the Holy Roman Empire during the 15th century.

While the term "Gothic" in art history covers the 12th to 15th centuries, Gothic plate armour develops only during 14201440s, when the technological development of armour reached the stage where full plate armour (including movable joints) was made, and national styles of "white armour" began to emerge, specifically German ("Gothic") and Italian. Centers of armour production in the period included Augsburg, Nuremberg and Landshut.

The Gothic style of plate armour peaked in type known as Maximilian armour, produced during 15151525. By this time, full plate armour had become mostly limited to elaborate "parade armour" not intended for battlefield use, while for practical use, half-armour (Halbharnisch) became increasingly common, eventually giving rise to the early modern cuirass.

In to the classification due to Oakeshott (1980), High Gothic armour was worn during the later 15th century, a transitional type called Schott-Sonnenberg style was current during c. 1500 to 1515, and Maximilian armour proper during 1515 to 1525.

Gothic armour was often combined with a Gothic sallet, which included long and sharp rear-plate that protected the back of the neck and head. Maximilian armour of the early 16th century is characterized by rounder and more curved forms, and their ridges were narrower, parallel to each other and covered the entire armour.

Methods of single combat in this type of armour are treated in the German fencing manuals of the period, under the term Harnischfechten ("armoured combat").

See also


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