Medieval Armor

German Steel Armor

Embossed German Steel Helmet
The Best of Blacksmithing

    The best of the medieval blacksmith’s art was the armor produced by the European “armourers.” There developed in Europe, exquisite armor fit for princes and kings. The advent of the matchlock gun put an end to the battlefield use of full body armor, but the making of this type of armor continued for an extensive period. Jousting was the sport of knights and the royal houses so production of fine armor was a necessity.
    Shown here on the left are two examples of German armor, a full body armor and an embossed steel helmet, both images from photographs taken by my wife, Patty Smoot, at the great Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Spanish Conquistador.     The first European armor in the Americas was that of the Spanish conquistadores as they conquered Mexico and Peru and later explored what was to be become the United States. The first English armor in the British American colonies was that of the soldiers who garrisoned the ill-fated Roanoke colony, 1580s, followed by the establishment of the Virginia colony at James Fort (Jamestown), 1607.
    Armor played only a small and rather unsuccessful part in early Virginia history. So why even mention Medieval Armor on an American Blacksmith website?
    The reason is that the medieval European armor set the standard for fine blacksmithing. Those old time smiths hammered out (forged) sheet plates from hunks of steel and welded the plates together into usable pieces. From there, they created body armor and one piece helmets. They embossed the helmets and produced incredible art. When the Metropolitan Museum of Art was assembling its collection, it had its own armourer. Today, there are a few American armourers still making fine armor.
London Band, 1653.