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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 9:32 am    Post subject: Gothic armour - the finer details         Reply with quote

I have always had a deep appreciation for the armourer and his craft. Gothic armour is my personal favorite, as it is quite stunning and intricate, as well as very functional. While looking closely, I have been quite taken by some of the amazing piercing and trim work that I have seen. Below, I have attached a few examples of some of these finer details. One thing I have noticed is a recurring heart motif. I find this intriguing, and a tad puzzling - why hearts? At any rate, discussion and more examples anyone might have would be greatly appreciated!

I suppose it's a bit evil of me, but there is a cat in the bag - there is a project this research is going towards... and no, I won't let it out. It'll be well worth the wait, I promise! Wink

Details from a harness circa 1480 attributed to Arch Duke Sigismund of Tyrol:



Though the harness itself (located in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore) is of an Italian form, the hearts appear again here on the besegews. Beautiful work...

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Gary Grzybek




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When I visited the Philladelphia Art Museum there were several pieces that caught my eye in this manner. In some cases it was not only the aesthetic details but the clever and ingenious way they were put together. Some of the locking and fastening mechanisms on the tilting armor just blew me away.

Very cool stuff Big Grin

Gary Grzybek
ARMA Northern N.J.
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Grzybek wrote:
In some cases it was not only the aesthetic details but the clever and ingenious way they were put together.

I agree completely, Gary! Though the Gothic period was not the end of armour, and things did continue to evolve, it is by far the most beautiful of all - to me, at least. The latches, locks, hooks, pins... lots of these are still quite useful in other applications today. The fluting work, the interaction of pieces... just "OH MY GOD!" amazing. I spent a few hours in the small collection in the St. Louis Art Museum a few months back examining every detail I could take in on their 2 harnesses and 4 (perhaps 5) other helms. Sadly, I didn't have a camera with me - was an unplanned stop.

Here's another example of the wonderful piercing work, this time on a harness supposedly from around 1460, no additional information. This is a series of hearts (again!) and edgework on the lames of the breastplate.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 10:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great photos Aaron, thanks!

Gothic harness is also my favorite from that era. I love the sweeping lines of it. I don't see a lot of hearts in these motifs though. A lot of fluer de lies (sp?), but not many hearts. Regardless, I doubt if there was a strictly feminine conotation with the heart as there commonly is today. A certain family, who's name escapes me but will obviously be mentioned by someone, displayed the heart as a key figure in their familial arms because they had taken the heart of Robert Bruce to the holy land. I don't think it had the same valentine's day/care bear meaning that it has today. Big Grin

Neat!

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The heart motif was popular in Poland as well where it commonly seen on cheek plates for the zischagge familly of helms and is also frequently seen on German made funiture into the 19th century. I'm don't have the foggiest as to the significance of it though.
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Great photos Aaron, thanks!

I'm hoping to find/post more, and that others will kick in a bunch as well! I hate being without access to my books...

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Gothic harness is also my favorite from that era. I love the sweeping lines of it. I don't see a lot of hearts in these motifs though. A lot of fluer de lies (sp?), but not many hearts.

The fleur de lis is a noble symbol, and definitely not just proximal to France, though it's become associated heavily with French culture - it is (or was... Worried ) plastered all over the French Quarter in New Orleans. In the first picture, there is actually the filligree work akin to a fleur de lis on the top of the work on the lames of the breastplate.

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Regardless, I doubt if there was a strictly feminine conotation with the heart as there commonly is today. A certain family, who's name escapes me but will obviously be mentioned by someone, displayed the heart as a key figure in their familial arms because they had taken the heart of Robert Bruce to the holy land. I don't think it had the same valentine's day/care bear meaning that it has today. Big Grin

Neat!

I agree. My initial thought was something like WTF?! hearts?!? but I am coming around to it now. Hearts may be a possibility, though I do want to see a bunch more examples of these detailed embellishments.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 11:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allan Senefelder wrote:
The heart motif was popular in Poland as well where it commonly seen on cheek plates for the zischagge familly of helms...

Yes - that's another place I have commonly seen this, though I am pic- and resource-deficient here. Thanks for bringing this up, Allan! I knew there was another set of examples I was not quite remembering...

Allan Senefelder wrote:
... and is also frequently seen on German made funiture into the 19th century. I'm don't have the foggiest as to the significance of it though.

It still often appears on things like quilt racks and headboards.

As Patrick said, it's undoubtedly changed in symbolic meaning - somehow becoming associated with mushy love and stuff... not that this is a bad thing... just perhaps misunderstood through today's eyes. I mean... here comes Sir Someoneorother, charging down the list, lance in hand, with his heart-pierced armour... I bet he'll show you his "sensitive" side if you make fun of him! I think this is an interesting lesson in cultural and symbolic changes!

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Perhaps they didn't see the romantic aspect of chivalry as being soft and effeminate as the modern mind does?

It's interesting how some perspectives change over the centuries, yet some remain the same.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 12:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Perhaps they didn't see the romantic aspect of chivalry as being soft and effeminate as the modern mind does?

Of chivalry, perhaps not. I think subsequent romanticism has molded the concept of "chivalry" to be the romantic ideal of our modern age.

Patrick Kelly wrote:
It's interesting how some perspectives change over the centuries, yet some remain the same.

Absolutely. Partially off topic (but hey, it's my party Big Grin ), but still on the topic of hearts and symbolism through the ages, here's a pic of a tapestry in the Musée de Cluny in Paris, titled "The Offering of the Heart", circa 1410 - well before the time these armours would have been hammered out - which shows a man offering his heart to a woman - in the "Valentine Heart" shape... so yes, there was a meaning to this symbol!




Perhaps there was some romanticism to this armour even in 1475, afterall!

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Perhaps there was some romanticism to this armour even in 1475, afterall!


I think there definitely was, both in expression as well as the idea of chivalry. It was there, but that doesn't mean they neccesarily practiced it. If you read any of the old original sources on the code of chivalry and courtly love it's pretty obvious that it just isn't our modern perception of the issue. Then, as now, there was the imagined ideal and the practiced reality. Rarely are/were the two the same thing.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A thought or two, perhaps abstract but possible. Looking at social status, as displayed by the tarot; We see four major suits. Cups, Swords, Coins, Wands.

Cups=Hearts; church, clergy

Swords=Spades; royalty, power

Coins=Pentacles=Diamonds; merchants, guilds, industry

Wands=Clubs; peasants, farmers

I would suggest the hearts to be a talisman of the church. Aren't we looking at a time frame when most of Europe was the Holy Roman Empire and the rest was still struggling with the seperation of church and state? Serving God, or trusting to God?

I don't know how well that translates to the use of diamonds and hearts in weapons as well. It's more common than just coincidence.

Cheers

GC
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 1:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Quote:
Perhaps there was some romanticism to this armour even in 1475, afterall!


I think there definitely was, both in expression as well as the idea of chivalry. It was there, but that doesn't mean they neccesarily practiced it. If you read any of the old original sources on the code of chivalry and courtly love it's pretty obvious that it just isn't our modern perception of the issue. Then, as now, there was the imagined ideal and the practiced reality. Rarely are/were the two the same thing.


I think there is a ton of truth to this, Patrick! I have read some of these original works... and no, they aren't quite what my girlfriend would consider her idea of "chivalrous". I kind of laugh when I hear a woman say "Where's my knight?" - uh, yeah... Lady, like you'd actually want one.... but I know what she's after.

This is a fun exercise - attempting to look through 15th Century eyes, to see and understand contemporary art/structure.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
I would suggest the hearts to be a talisman of the church. Aren't we looking at a time frame when most of Europe was the Holy Roman Empire and the rest was still struggling with the seperation of church and state? Serving God, or trusting to God?

These examples are armours from the mid to late 15th Century...

This is a concept I had briefly considered, but not thought through yet. I appreciate your bringing it up! There is tremendous religious symbolism present throughout the ages - the cinquefoil, the "M" - both also quite common, both related to the Virgin Mother. What makes me perhaps question this - at least one of these was the armour of a Duke - clearly nobility. I don't dismiss the idea, though! As you say, it's very common - perhaps moreso than coincidence - if so, there must be some reason...

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, romantically speaking, the heart is also symbolical of faith.
Perhaps they thought putting lots of faith on their armour and weapons meant they could have faith in it;)

The church of the Holy Roman Empire seems to have had significant influence from the 9th century to the 19th.

The symbology of the tarot would have been brought back from the early crusades and reinterpreted by Europeans.

Full harness was most common among nobility, no? It might be worthwhile looking at differences in decoration between battle armour and parade or tourney harness.

Random thoughts.

Cheers

GC
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This carries this thread further off the original topic, but may help explain a possible connection with Glen's suggestion of the heart as a link to the Church.

There is an interesting article by Dr. Jager titled The Book of the Heart in Late Medieval Piety, which comments on prayer "from" or "in" the heart. The following painting is in the Metropolotin Museum of Art, and was painted around 1480:



Note the devotional or prayer book - a cordiform, or heart-shaped book! According to Jager, there are extant examples of such books...

Pretty interesting stuff, actually.

So... I suppose the thread has taken on two intertwined paths - that of the appreciation for the decorative elements on Gothic armour, and the possible symbolism behind it. I'm very interested in both; let's please continue!

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Anton de Vries





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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 2:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Found these modern gauntlets here


 Attachment: 56.92 KB
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
Well, romantically speaking, the heart is also symbolical of faith.
Perhaps they thought putting lots of faith on their armour and weapons meant they could have faith in it;)

Funny! This is reaching further than I would... but random thoughts are always a good thing.

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
Full harness was most common among nobility, no? It might be worthwhile looking at differences in decoration between battle armour and parade or tourney harness.

I'll agree that these are probably not your typical standard-issue pieces... but for my research and project, I want to focus on these.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 3:32 pm    Post subject: A couple of more ramdom thoughts         Reply with quote

On the Sacred heart, Osiris and Vishnu

http://philologos.org/__eb-ttb/sect54.htm

Yet another twist Wink Patron saints associated with armourers (I see five) include Saint Barbara (interesting character) who is always depicted holding forth a cup/chalice.

The Vishnu connection is making me scratch my head a bit though because we don't (I don't, am I missing something?) see a heart shape in Celtic art and I'm determined to someday complete the real path of migration.

I'm going to have to switch to the PC to follow this much further. I was just caught up in the symbology and origin thereof.

Cheers

GC
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Mat Billings




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 6:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Whoa! Seriously looking forward to your resutls on this!

I'm seriously into gothic armor because of the curves and metal forming, not to mention how everything rounds out nicely throughout the harness in both proportion and looks; to me, it's like the difference between a honda pony and a ferrari! I can only imagine the time and labor involved in making such a harness; modern methods or without, it doesn't matter! Big Grin
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Mark Mattimore




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2005 9:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

According to the "Dictionary of Symbols" by Carl G. Liungman (a competent but limited resource work) the heart is symbolically related to the medieval symbol for flight and fire. Although this may have little to do with the present topic of armor motifs it is still an interesting insight worth considering.

Lets also not forget that the heart is a symbol associated with blood, a correlation that is perhaps much more relevant to this subject matter. Just a thought.

In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro.
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