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Stechzeugfragment of Emperor Maximilian I (1490-1519)

Stechzeugfragment of Emperor Maximilian I (1490-1519)


Forged iron, brass, leather

Lent by the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, Vienna 9.2017

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The combatant would have worn a padded cap within the helmet to cushion the blow of the pointed lances used in this form of jousting.


This partial suit was made for the personal use of Maximilian I, who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1493. It is constructed for use in a special form of the joust known as the German course, which was practiced only in the Germanic lands. This version eliminated the tilt barrier, the wall separating the two mounted combatants. Its armor was the highly specialized Stechzeug,displayed here, featuring a “frog-mouthed helm” and the use of blunted lances for safety. Without the tilt barrier, the possibility of dangerous collisions between riders necessitated the development of specialized heavy armor like this to protect the contestants. The extremely heavy helmets of the Stechzeug are explained by the fact that the aim was to detach the crest of the opponent's helmet, resulting in frequent full impact of the lance to the helmet. Maximilian I was a great enthusiast of knightly skills, hunting, and tourna­ments. He sponsored some of the most extravagant tournaments of his era and was a noted patron of fine armor.

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