Friday, 5 June 2015

Military History Photo Friday: Luxury Armor in Vienna

I've posted here before about visiting the lovely city of Vienna, which feels like a museum with all its palaces, elegant nineteenth-century cafes, and fine squares. While I wouldn't want to live in a museum for very long, I certainly enjoyed my visit.

One interesting spot was the Royal Armory, housed like many Viennese museums in an old Hapsburg palace. It has one of the best collections of luxury arms and armor made for nobility in Europe.

Above are three suits of blued steel made in Augsburg around 1570. Blued steel is created by heating the metal to 300°C, polishing it, and reheating it to 300°C again. It creates an attractive finish but doesn't make the steel stronger.

Below are two other blued steel harnesses with gold inlay, and a shield that you wouldn't want to use in battle. They were made around 1575 for Don Juan de Austria, the illegitimate son of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, back when the empire included Spain. He led the Spanish to victory over the Ottomans in the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571, the same battle where Cervantes got wounded.

For more on this amazing collection, check out my post on Black Gate about The Royal Armory of Vienna.

Photos copyright Sean McLachlan.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those are impressive! Such elegant designs.

D.G. Hudson said...

Elegant designs, I agree, but how well did they protect? In Spain or other warm climates, I'd think such armor would be very warm to wear. . . I like seeing suits of armor, and wondering how they managed to do anything in them. Vienna sounds like the kind of city I'd like to visit.

Sean McLachlan said...

D.G.: They offered good protection. Several examples have test marks from early matchlock firearms. The maker would fire at the breastplate, leaving a little dent to prove the armor was strong. But yeah, they were hot. During an extended battle, many knights would die of heat prostration.

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