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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug, 2008 10:44 am    Post subject: Tall armours         Reply with quote

There is the old theory that medievals were, on average, much shorter than we are. While more recent science has shown that the difference is much smaller than previously thought, the notion persists.

Of course, then as today, there were above-average height people. Some of them left behind beautiful armours. Here are a couple. I'd love to see more.

The first is a composite North German Heavy Field Armour from the armoury of Heinrich I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel. It's dated 1549. The size of the greaves indicate some of its parts were meant for someone about 6 feet 4 inches.

The second is the harness of Ulrich IX von Matsch, dated to c. 1450. I'm not sure of the exact height, but you can see the difference in height in the pic of armours from Churburg below. Note: In that pic, it's displayed with a great bascinet that doesn't belong. The second pic shows it with a sallet that does.



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North German Heavy Field Armour from the armoury of Heinrich I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel

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Churburg Armours.jpg
From the Churburg Castle Armoury.

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Big Churburg harness.jpg
Harness shown with sallet.

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Ulrich Text.jpg
Catalogue text

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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug, 2008 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad,

Good idea. I will look around for some pictures of some. The on that comes to mind is the 16th century suit that was later thought to be of John of Gaunt (which it clearly was not) and stands 6'9"

Philip de la Beche a mid 14th century noble was called a giant while living and from his effigy they have figured him close to 7 feet!

Ulrich IX's suit was the first thing I noticed in the picture when I saw it.... hard not to see it I suppose!

RPM
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug, 2008 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The armour on the left is 6 ft 9 in tall and first listed in the inventory in 1660 as armour for John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, but is now believed to have been a gift from the Duke of Brunswick (North German) to Henry, Prince of Wales, son of James I. The armour on the right is 37.5 in tall and is probably a trial piece for a lost armour of Charles I, but at earlier times were thought to have been either the armour of one of the murdered princes (Richard, Duke of York) or Jeffrey Hudson, the dwarf of Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles I.

(Description gathered from Google)


I took this photo at the Tower of London a few years ago.



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Armour at left: 6' 9" next to a trial armour measuring 37.5"

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Fabrice Cognot
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug, 2008 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you check Manoucher's "Musée de l'armée" thread, you'll see King Francis' armiur - the man was 1,96m tall.

But the tallest ever must be this one :



Ok there's a catch, the small armours around it were made for children and young boys.

Still, the big one in the middle was made for a man about 2,60m tall, one Bartlmä Bon, from Riva, near Trent, who took part in a tourney in the presence of the Imperial family in Vienna in 1560 - probably under the patronage of Archduke Ferdinand II. Now kept where it belongs, in the Ambras castle.



And on the opposite end we have :


Made for Ruppert, a dwarf at the court of Duke Johan Casimir. Weights over 16 kg, fully functionnal. Veste Coburg.

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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug, 2008 1:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, firstly guys, I want to say hello. I'm new on myArmoury and I'm from Poland.

I don't have too great knowledge about swords and stuff, so expect that most time I would be probably asking questions
Blush

Your site is great I must also say.

Anyway in the topic of tall armours: I don't believe in much smaller medieval folks. I've seen a works about common man height in the late XVIII century and it was about 166 cm - indeed then, height was low, but the conditions of life of common man then were really bad. Other factors probably too.

Germanic and Celtic people in antic could be as high as 177cm on average (many modern white populations are shorter).

It always irritate me in museums when guide talks something about tiny medieval man. Some small, most certainly children/dwarf armour is an example, and somewhat guide can't see logical connection with huge bihander sword in show casr nearby.

In the castle of Hochosterwitz they have an authentic armous of guards, and they all look in 170 - 182 range. Indeed shorter than modern white poeple, but not so drastically.
From less boring than my rants things - they also have armour of guy called "Hauptmann Schenk" his armor stands near the other armors, and his proportions are easily visible - not only he was 225cm, but also really powerfully builded. His leg was almost thicker thicker than my waist. Helmet was most impressive though... This guy had huge head.

Here's the link to the picture http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/336e60/ (sorry for that, not yet sure how to do link descriptions here)
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug, 2008 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IIRC, one of the reasons for the "small medieval men" myth is that modern curators sometimes displayed armour without proper understanding of how it fit the body. They might have all the pieces of an already mis-matched harness basically just stacked up on a wooden form. Theoretically, that could lead to a false impression of the size of the presumed wearer.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug, 2008 7:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's another pic of the 6'9" harness in the Royal Armouries/Tower.


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Russ Thomas
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 2:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
The armour on the left is 6 ft 9 in tall and first listed in the inventory in 1660 as armour for John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, but is now believed to have been a gift from the Duke of Brunswick (North German) to Henry, Prince of Wales, son of James I. The armour on the right is 37.5 in tall and is probably a trial piece for a lost armour of Charles I, but at earlier times were thought to have been either the armour of one of the murdered princes (Richard, Duke of York) or Jeffrey Hudson, the dwarf of Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles I.



The so called 'John of Gaunt' harness is interesting, unfortunately it has suffered from being lent out by the 'Tower' for various reasons over the years, and is today not in a very good condition as a result of that. I have never heard fo it having been given as a present to Henry, Prince of Wales before. Where did you hear or read of this please Nathan? The armour is dated to between 1540 and 1550, probably the earlier date I think, and Henry died in 1612, so a presentation piece seems unlikely,and I have never heard of that possibiltiy before. Also, it would seem that most of the Stuarts were not particularly tall, but that of course does not rule out the possibility of it having been a presentation piece.
The smaller harness (II.126) is also quite delightful, but according to Karen Watt's book 'Princely Armours and Weapons of Childhood', 2003, Hudson stood only 18" (46cm) tall, so we must perhaps think of it as possibly a toy, or an armourers model, with later alterations. It clearly has been reworked over the years.
Henry VIII himself stood nearly 6' 2" tall, ( 1.86cm) as did Francois I, and this was considered very tall for the age. As has been discussed on another forum between James Gillaspie, Robert MacPherson, Wade Allen and myself, the armours from the sanctuary of the Donna delle Grazie, in Mantua, show a maximum height of about 1.65cm, considerably shorter than todays average. However, in my own experience of handling genuine armour, the biggest difference is not so much in the height as such, but in the thickness. People where, in those days, much thinner than we are today.

A great topic Chad ! Happy

Regards,

Russ

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 2:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Thomas wrote:
I have never heard fo it having been given as a present to Henry, Prince of Wales before. Where did you hear or read of this please Nathan?

I unfortunately failed to photograph the exhibit card at the Tower and so googled the phrase, in italics. It was said to have come from the card. I cannot verify that, nor the claims it makes, however.

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Russ Thomas
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 2:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a picture of what I mean with them having been a 'bit' thinner than we are today ........

Perhaps this was the extreme ??

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Russ



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Russ Thomas
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 2:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
I unfortunately failed to photograph the exhibit card at the Tower and so googled the phrase, in italics. It was said to have come from the card. I cannot verify that, nor the claims it makes, however.


Oh well, never mind, it could still well have been a diplomatic gift, and an especially impressive one given the size of it ! Happy It would certainly impress me !! Big Grin

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Torsten F.H. Wilke




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 10:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ,

I have recently started to believe that fighting men were not actually figured so extremely slender around the waist during those times. That wasp-waisted cuirass must have stemmed from the need for the whole thing to stay in place during extreme combat moves, and the need to get as much weight off the shoulders for enhanced upper body performance. Wasn't it around this time period that fighting techniques on foot were at their zenith of development? On the other hand, the Beauchamp effigy is also very tight around the waist, so maybe this was partially a concern much earlier on. It is very interesting to hypothesize about the various schools of thought on the functionality of armour through the ages, and their relevance to advances in armouring techniques.

A very snug fit almost requiring a corset seems like it would help put all the weight of a breastplate, faulds, and tassets squarely on the lower body, and keep it in place during a wide range of advanced combat moves. The exaggeratingly flared faulds seem like they would allow any range of footwork and leg movement, even letting a fighting man to do "the splits" if necessary, without much loss in coverage. Furthermore, taking all the weight of the cuirass off the shoulders would enhance blow strength and strike speed, and make the combatent less subject to upper body fatigue. However, I am also wondering how such a tight mid-section would affect breathing, as that would have a significant effect upon aerobic performance.

Anyone here have any thoughts on this?
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 11:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Artwork of the period almost invariably shows men who look extremely thin by modern standards, but although the wasp-waist shown here might be close to the actual size of the wearer's waist, the other parts of the armour are probably significantly larger than the part of the body they protected, especially the head and chest--think of all the padding involved for liners and arming garments. That's what makes the waist size look so strange to us. As far as I know, the harness doesn't reflect the proportions of the wearer's naked body. Clad in his civilian clothes the wearer would probably just look like a thin but very fit man--a modern marathon runner or cyclist.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 11:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just for curiosity's sake, here are two German paintings of St. Sebastian, ca. 1500-1510, superimposed over the wasp-waisted German armour of roughly the same period shown above:


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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 11:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One more--this one gives a particularly good idea of (probably idealized) proportion between waist, chest and hips of a muscular man of the period.


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sebastian3.jpg


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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 12:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
... parts of the armour are probably significantly larger than the part of the body they protected, ...

Sean, you brought up a very good point there.

There has got to be some room left for padding and cooling purposes. But, I wonder what the average thickness of such padding or arming garments is, for I still don't think it would exaggeratingly change the overall fit of the armour, at least to the extent being discussed here. An overly loose and ill fitting harness could easily hinder the user in difficult combat situations, since you wouldn't want it to start taking on a life of it's own, lol. Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't the garments under the leggings usually fairly thin, with almost no padding whatsoever? And, aren't the leggings and arms also required to be fairly close fitting? On merit of the size of the legs alone, one should probably assume that the accompanying bearer's waist would be squeezed significantly in a wasp-waisted cuirass, otherwise a fairly grotesque physique would be implied...

Edit: Chad, I realize this is heading away from the original "Tall Armours" topic. Hope you don't mind, or maybe it should be split.
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 11:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ,

Regional height in period varies as well, something to keep in mind when looking at those suits in particular. Italians tended to be shorter in period than say the northern Europeans. The averages I have seen vary but 5'6" seems pretty reasonable with one work arriving at this height going over a huge sample of actual remains. They broke it down by region not countries for the most part but it does seem that in England men tended to be a bit taller by an inch or so than the general average.

When I was working at the museum I noted that many of the German and northern European armours of 16th and 17th century I could put on while a 1560ish Italian suit I really liked the cuirass was too small around the waist, though I could put the helmet on and if it had not been for the narrow waist the chest area was quite sufficient I think. I am by no means hefty at about 6 foot 175-180 but my guess is that the issue here is regional size than average European size.

Something from a study done on the general survey of height over time I find interesting is that people after the medieval period began to diminish again in height, the lowest point seemingly in the industrial revolution. It was not until decades after this changed and people began to increase in height. The medieval period was actually a peak in height over the last hundreds of years if not longer but I cannot remember exactly. I want to guess that it was all the way into the BC era though.

Nathan,

Thanks for posting pictures if it. Last time I saw it I got pictures of me and my brother standing next to it.

RPM
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PostPosted: Thu 07 Aug, 2008 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean, Torsten,

I think that the waist of the shown harness probably was quite near to the actual size. Yes, they wore padding underneath, but as has been mentioned, that for example on the legs would be minimal. I have never, it must be stressed, seen this harness, so I cannot comment on it's overall proportions, but I think that this waist measurement is probably near to the actual size, and it seems to be tiny ! The last thing that one wants to do is restrict the wearers breathing capacity, but at the same time , the armour needs to be very close fitting, as there are few things worse, or more dangerous, than armour that moves independantly of it's wearer! Perhaps James Gillaspie, who has seen and studied items in the collection can shed some light on the matter?
Randall, that is an interesting observation regarding regional differences, and one that I had never really paid much attention to. It certainly needs to be looked into more thoroughly!
I am 6'2" tall, and as a child my ,mother was always going on about 'her boys' (my father included ! Big Grin ), as my late father, my brother and I were all well over 6', and in the 1960's and '70's that was considered tall, but nowadays many people are well over 6'.... where were they when I was younger !? WTF?! I was the third tallest person in my school in 1970- 73 ! But today , 6' plus is not considered especially tall, even amongst my own age group.
I would like to know the waist measurements of the Maximillian (A.60.) and Sigismund ( A.62.) armours, which if memory serves me well enough, were 5'5" and 5'7" tall respectively, and are very slender in proportion.

Regards,

Russ

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PostPosted: Thu 07 Aug, 2008 9:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Getting back to the point of the thread, this (probably) last field harness of Henry VIII would have been much taller than it is mounted (he's been short shanked!), and this is by no means rare. The ‘gorilla’ look is a good tip-off that something is amiss. The famous harness of Friedrich the Victorious in Vienna (first pic) is very large, and mounted too short by a good three inches at the very least, last I saw. Museums (like the one the Mavtova armours are in, and the traveling Graz exhibition) often buy manikins all the same size, usually small enough to fit the smallest harness. Russ, I didn't have time to measure A 60, but A 62's was 249 mm across. It's not that hard to find an 18 year old with that sort of waist and average height, but as the years go by... It seems that the lifestyle of the 15th c. fighting man preserved it a lot longer.


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Lawrence Parramore





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PostPosted: Fri 08 Aug, 2008 12:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe I have read that some wore corsets to give them a nice waist ?

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