Horse Armor Made for Johann Ernst, Duke of Saxony-Coburg (1521–1553)

Armorer: Kunz Lochner (German, Nuremberg, 1510–1567)

Date: dated 1548

Geography: Nuremberg

Culture: German, Nuremberg

Medium: Steel, leather, copper alloy, textile

Dimensions: Wt. including saddle 92 lb. (41.73 kg)

Classification: Armor for Horse

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1932

Accession Number: 32.69


This full bard comprises a shaffron, closed crinet of plate and mail for the neck, a peytral for the chest, flanchards for the sides, and a crupper for the rear of the horse. All elements are embossed in low relief with diagonal bands of overlapping scales and are etched overall with dense foliate scrollwork inhabited by grotesque creatures. The shaffron bears an escutcheon plate etched with the arms of Saxony and has applied ear guards, now cut down, that originally took the form of curled ram's horns.

In addition to the escutcheon, the bard's original owner, Johann Ernst, Duke of Saxony-Coburg (1521–1553), is identified by a series of initials found centrally on the peytral which are an abbreviation of his motto, name, and title. The letters also include the year 1548, which indicate that this bard was made for the duke's attendance at the Imperial Diet in Augsburg that year, a form of summit conference of the ruling nobility and imperial cities of the Holy Roman Empire that was convened by the emperor Charles V. This particular Diet was known as the geharnischter Reichstag (armored congress) since the attending princes and leading military commanders presented themselves in their finest armor and accoutrements.

As indicated by the presence of Nuremberg city marks struck on the inside and outside of three plates (presumably quality-control marks), this bard is a product of that city. And although a maker's mark is absent, the form of the bard, its embossed and etched decoration, as well as the ram's-horn ear guards justify an attribution to Nuremberg's leading armorer of the period, Kunz Lochner (1510–1567). The original elements of the partially restored man's armor (29.151.2), mounted as part of this group, were also made by Kunz Lochner but—although contemporary—do not belong to the horse armor. The saddle also does not belong.