(About) Bavarian Gothic
The Gothic armor produced by expert armormakers House of Warfare is truly second-to-none. Starting from actual historical examples in museums and collections, their designers have overseen the creation of some of the very finest reproduction armor, at prices that every LARP enthusiast or re-enactor will love. Their Gothic Leg Armor is a tour-de-force: a painstaking reproduction of an integrated plate armor system from the high-point of the Age of Chivalry.
By the early 15th-century, plate armor had been the most desired and desirable battlefield advantage for almost a century. It was seen as an integral part of the knightly character, embodying the virtues of an imagined ‘golden age of chivalry’ that was already fading rapidly into the past. Thus, wealthy patrons and aristocrats from across Europe would commission not just mere suits, but entire interchangeable garnitures of armor, with a vast array of interchangeable parts for tournament and battlefield use, showing off their highly-developed tastes and cutting-edge styles. Gothic armor dates from this period: when armor wore its wearer, just as much as the other way around.
The Apogee of German Style
Our Gothic Leg Armor consists at heart of a pair of open cuisses (thigh armor), with each attached to an articulated poleyn (knee armor). Each of these parts would have originally been individually attached by a knight’s squire, and would have taken an age to fit, lace and secure properly, so this integrated unit represents the simplification of the armor concept into one easily usable by a LARP roleplayer or re-enactor. With this useability in mind, House of Warfare have constructed the Gothic Leg Armor out of 16-gauge mild steel. Typical battle-armor from this period tends to have been slightly thinner, at around 18- or 20-gauge; 16-gauge armor was reserved for tournament armor. This extra weight is barely noticeable when properly distributed and makes for a more resilient armor – our Gothic Leg armor is more than capable of withstanding LARP use, re-enactment and simulated combat.
The design of the cuisse is instantly recognisable as High Gothic in style. The rigid part of the cuisse itself is actually constructed by several overlapping metal plates which have been carefully shaped and riveted together – this was innovated by late-medieval armorsmiths to provide greater robustness at critical points in the armor. The steel edges of the cuisse have been rolled, and as well as looking attractive this also means that they won’t catch or snag at other clothing or mail. They are striped with the characteristic triple-crease of High Gothic armor – a technique which imbues the steel plate with extra resilience to crushing blows. Each cuisse also has an extending plate attached to the outer thigh by three sturdy metal hinges which turns the cuisse closer towards a ¾ cuisse than an open one– again, this would have been enormously valuable for an armored combatant, ever-wary of having their legs snagged from under them by opponents armed with halberds or other hooked polearms.
Below the cuisse, the poleyn is an advanced multi-part construction seen only as riveting technology allowed the complex articulation of multi-point joints in the 1400s CE. It consists of four riveted lames (two above the knee and two below) that permit full and free movement of the leg, and a domed knee-plate incorporating a wide leaf-shaped sideplate. This pattern of sideplate developed to protect the rear of the knee, which in Gothic armor of this type was protected only by gousset, an under-layer of fine mail. The poleyn is anchored to a half-greave at the bottom – this can either be displayed proud on its own, or it can be hooked into a set of full greaves.
H3: An Unshakeable Foundation
The Gothic Leg Armor is secured snugly by three robust leather straps, and with the hinged section of the cuisses, they will form a snug fit at rest and during physical activity. Although they are fantastic stand-alone pieces, they are also designed to be a modular part of a whole armor garniture, just like the originals: the top of the cuisse is riveted with a rugged leather tab with holes for pointing laces to connect to the rest of your armor, and the half-greave has punched holes to accommodate greaves with securing pegs. Note: Even though the interior is painted with anti-rust paint, this armor is not stainless steel, and should be kept dry to prevent corrosion. It should be lightly oiled when stored in between use.
In all, our Gothic Leg armor is a spectacular achievement: a re-enactment grade piece of armor with unmistakeable authenticity, with the wearability of a slip-on day costume for a fraction of the price of similar pieces. It would make a flawless addition to your re-enactment impression of a late-medieval German mercenary, or a striking step-up in the quality of your fantasy paladin LARP outfit. You honestly need not compromise.
(Curiosity) Revolting Craftsmen in Late-Medieval Bavaria
The finest arms and armor in the early-medieval period had been made along the fertile Upper Rhine plain: Anglo-Saxon, Carolingian and Viking blades can all be traced back to the Frankish and German smiths in that region. But as trade links expanded and the Late-Medieval kingdoms of Central Europe developed, the Danube became the home of some of the finest armorers in Europe. The Dutchies of Swabia and Bavaria within the Holy Roman Empire were centres of armor production, with the Free Imperial City of Augsberg and the unofficial Imperial capital at Nuremberg being the most prolific.
The production of arms and armor was a boom industry, and it placed artisans at the centre of a maelstrom of new influences. The guilds they formed were highly organised, and managed to force concessions from the patricians and burghers to protect their jobs: for example, the council in Nuremberg proclaimed “No citizen, whether smithy or not, shall transfer a smith to his work within seven miles in all directions, with the exception of hammer smiths”, upon pain of forfeiting a quarter of his income! This all came to a head in 1346, when an uprising of skilled craftsmen and apprenticed was crushed by the city’s authorities – and thereafter the guilds were much placated. But the 15th century was a turbulent time for the relations between craft and city, and the production of exquisite armor took place amongst constant bargaining and bartering between patrons and patricians, and masters and apprentices. The passion and ferocity of those artisans is inescapably bound up in our Gothic Leg Armor.
- Material: 16-gauge mild steel
- Secondary materials: Leather
- Style: Gothic
- Weight: 33 lbs (pair)
Length: 24.9 Inches
Width: 9.3 Inches
Thigh Circumference: 18.3-24.6 Inches
Knee Circumference: 16-22.6 Inches
Ankle Circumference: 13.8-20 Inches