Maximilian armour

Maximilian armour

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Maximilian armour is a modern term applied to the style of early 16th-century German plate armour
Plate armour
Plate armour is a historical type of personal armour made from iron or steel plates.While there are early predecessors such the Roman-era lorica segmentata, full plate armour developed in Europe during the Late Middle Ages, especially in the context of the Hundred Years' War, from the coat of...

 apparently first made for the Emperor Maximilian I
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian I , the son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor and Eleanor of Portugal, was King of the Romans from 1486 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 until his death, though he was never in fact crowned by the Pope, the journey to Rome always being too risky...

. The armour is characterized by armet
Armet is the name of a type of helmet developed in the 15th century, most likely in Italy, France, Spain and Hungary. It was distinguished by being the first helmet of its era to completely enclose the head while being compact and light enough to move with the wearer...

s and close helmets with bellows visor
Visor (armor)
A visor was used in conjunction with some Medieval war helmets such as the bascinet. The visor usually consisted of a hinged piece of steel that contained openings for breathing and vision. Visors protected the face during battle. Most knights or warriors who wore visors usually were spotted on...

s; small fan-shaped narrow and parallel fluting—often covering most of the harness
A harness is a looped restraint or support. It can also be referred to as an "hitcharness", especially by the Jordanian Armed Forces. Specifically, it may refer to one of the following harness types:* Bondage harness* Child harness* Climbing harness...

 (but never the greave
A greave is a piece of armour that protects the leg.-Description:...

s); etching
Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

; work taken from woodcuts; sharply-waisted cuirass
A cuirass is a piece of armour, formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or other rigid material, which covers the front of the torso...

es, and squared sabaton
A sabaton or solleret is part of a knight's armour that covers the foot. Fifteenth century sabatons typically end in a tapered point well past the actual toes of the wearer's foot...


According to an alternative version, the name is related to Maximilian II
Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor
Maximilian II was king of Bohemia and king of the Romans from 1562, king of Hungary and Croatia from 1563, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from 1564 until his death...

, as the last Maximilian armour was made especially for him in 1557, seventeen years after it passed out of general use.

The armour was designed to imitate the pleated clothing that was considered fashionable in Europe at the time. A trend that developed in 15th-century Europe was to create armour that not only provided the maximum amount of protection, but was also visually pleasing. Maximilian armour combined the rounded Italian style of armour with the German fluted style.

About the term

Not every armour worn by Maximilian I was a Maximilian-style armour. The most famous armour worn by Maximilian was gothic-style armour, which was worn by Maximilian when he was a young prince and later presented as an honourable wedding gift for his uncle Sigmund. Maximilian I became emperor in 1493 and died in 1519, but classic Maximilian armours are known from 1515 to 1525, and similarly-shaped armour with less or different fluting was produced from 1500.

Transitional Schott-Sonnenberg style

Early types of Maximilian armour with either no fluting or wolfzähne (wolf teeth) style fluting (which differs from classic Maximilian fluting) and could be worn with a sallet
The sallet was a war helmet that replaced the bascinet in northern Europe and Hungary during the mid-15th century. Some sallets were close fitting except at the back of the head where they extended and formed a pointed tail. Some Italian ones followed the shape of the neck, and had an additional...

 are called Schott-Sonnenberg Style armour by Oakeshott. This transitional armour was worn from 1500 to 1520, and true Maximilian armour was worn from 1515 to 1525. Some other historians do not fully separate Schott-Sonnenberg style from Maximilian armour.

Italian "alla tedesca" (a la german) armour

Italian "alla tedesca" ("a la german") armour is an Italian armour of 1500–1515 with fluting and the Maximilan breast shape. Knee-long tassets
Tassets are a piece of plate armour designed to protect the upper legs. They take the form of separate plates hanging from the breastplate or faulds. They may be made from a single piece or segmented...

were often worn with a bellows-visored sallet. This kind of armour is considered by Oakeshott to be a kind of Schott-Sonnenberg Style armour made by Italians for the German market.

Parallels with late (rounded) kastenbrust armour

Such armours of the first half of the 15th century are separated by Oakeshott from kastenbrust armour as alwite armour. However, other historians consider it as a kind of kastenbrust armour.