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Armor for use on horseback in the field
Armor for use on horseback in the field, c. 1505
Made by the armorer Matthes Deutsch, German (active Landshut)
Etched and partially blued and gilded steel; leather; textile
Weight: 58.5 lb. (26.53 kg)
Gift of Athena and Nicholas Karabots and The Karabots Foundation, 2009
2009-117-2
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Horse and Man Armors

These armors, one for a horse and one for a man (see image below), were made over five hundred years ago in Germany. Constructed of steel plates that fit tightly together, they were designed to provide protection in battle.

The horse armor was made for Duke Ulrich (OOL-reesh) of Württemberg, Germany, when he was just twenty years old. It was made for a special journey he planned to take with Maximilian I of Austria to Rome, where Maximilian was to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. The armor protected the horse and showed the duke’s wealth and status, since only high-ranking noblemen could afford armors as fine as this one. Its decoration conveys important ideas as well: a golden-winged dragon on the chanfron (horse’s headpiece) shows fierceness, and elegantly dressed women hold banners with the duke’s personal motto (view additional images). A literal translation of the motto is, "I have it in mind." Duke Ulrich’s contemporaries would have understood this phrase to mean, "I can accomplish what I set out to do."

This horse armor is extremely rare because it is one of the earliest complete examples in the world and its pieces have remained together for centuries. Its gold decoration also adds to its uniqueness. It was made by a famous master armorer, a person who specialized in making armor. The man armor was not made for Duke Ulrich, but it is from the same region and time period. Made by another master armorer, it was beautifully decorated with designs in gold.

Horse and Man Armors, c. 1505
Germany
(Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Athena and Nicholas Karabots and The Karabots Foundation, 2009)
[ Horse Armor Details ]

Let's Look

  • How would these armors protect a horse’s or man’s body?
  • Describe the designs on the armors.

Let's Look Again

  • Imagine wearing the man armor. What would it feel like?
  • How would you breathe? See? Move?
  • What do these armors tell us about the men who owned and used them?

This object is included in Looking to Write, Writing to Look, a teaching kit developed by the Division of Education and is generously supported by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation Inc.

 

For more information, please contact The Division of Education by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .

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