Courtly armour in the late Middle Ages

Several impressive armourers worked at imperial courts in the late Middle Ages. One famous individual was Lorenz Helmschmid from Augsburg (active 1467–1515), who created impressive designs for the Holy Roman Emperors Frederick III (r. 1452–1493) and Maximilian I (r. 1486–1519). Lorenz achieved master status in his craft by 1477, and the rank of court armourer by 1491.

Several impressive pieces of armour by Lorenz Helmschmid are preserved in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and other museum and private collections around the world. The Met has in its holdings a sallet designed and constructed by Lorenz for Maximilian I. Executed in steel and copper alloy, the helmet is also decorated with gold accents bearing the fleur-de-lis along the visor, characteristic of late Gothic luxurious armour. Another example is Maximilian’s pair of tournament pauldrons (or shoulder defenses), used in the joust, created by Lorenz. Each pauldron also displays Lorenz’s mark and the fir cone of Augsburg on the terminal lame. The next issue of the magazine features other impressive examples by this leading courtly armourer (including on the cover).

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