Saddle Steel Set

ca. 1570
Etched steel
27.159.14a: H., 8 1/2 in. (21.59 cm); W., 11 1/4 in. (28.58 cm); 27.159.14b, c: H., 10 1/4 in. (26.04 cm); W., 6 1/2 in. (16.51 cm); 27.159.14d, e: (d, e) H., 6 1/2 in. (16.51 cm); W., 12 in. (30.48 cm)
Saddle Plates
Credit Line:
Gift of George D. Pratt, 1927
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This complete set of saddle steels is part of an unusually large armor garniture (acc. no. 27.159.1), which contains pieces for use in battle and for the tilt in both the Italian and German fashions. The tilt was a tournament fought on horseback between two opponents armed with lances and separated by a lengthwise barrier.
    The armor as mounted is equipped with a helmet and vambraces (arm defenses) for the tournament. The buffe (chin defense), second breastplate (27.159.2), and manifer (reinforced left gauntlet) (27.159.6) would have been added to make the armor ready for exchange pieces for different forms of the tournament. For the German tilt, the trellised targe (shield) (27.159.7), small elbow defense (27.159.5), and small stomach defense (27.159.3) were added. For the Italian tilt, these elements were replaced by the form-fitting reinforce covering the left half of the torso and left shoulder (mezzo sovrapetto) (27.159.2) and the larger elbow defense (soprabacciale) (27.159.4).
    The garniture also includes two complete sets of saddle steels (27.159.13, .14) (only one is exhibited) and two vamplates (conical hand defenses affixed to the lance) (27.159.8, .9). The decoration consisting of etched bands containing trophies of arms and musical instruments was a popular design found in many variations in Italy throughout the second half of the sixteenth century.

  • See also
    In the Museum