Higgins Armory Museum essay
Mr. John Woodman Higgins (death 1961) was a avid collector of medieval armory. He traveled around the world buying armor from the middle ages. In the 1930's, he constructed a building where he put all the armor that he had bought. There are all kinds of armor that he collected: full suits of armor, decorated armor, even some of the most historically significantly suits of armor from the medieval time period. The museum is mostly just armory from the middle ages but there is plenty of armor to look at. If your curious about how much the armor weighed, how the warriors who wore this armor got on and off of their horses, or just what the armor looked like, you can learn about it at the museum. This museum shows you what it was like for the warriors who wore armor or even the nobles who wore armor in the medieval time period for fashion.
Armor was originally made for warriors in battles to protect them so they wouldn't get hurt or killed. The armor was a thick piece of metal and covered the warriors full body. The helm (helmet) had holes on the bottom of the it, so they can breath (though it was hard for them to breath because the helm was so close to their faces). The helms eye spaces were so small the warriors could only see directly in front of them. Soon the armies were making rifles and the armor had to be stronger so that the rifle bullets wouldn't go through the armor. Since the blacksmiths couldn't give a guarantee on the armor so it would be bullet proof. The suits were very expensive and most of the warriors (who were not that rich) couldn't afford them. The nobles would buy the suits to show off how much money they had. They would wear them to parties and public outings. These were the status symbols of the nobles and if you didn't have one or your child didn't have one you were not rich enough to be a noble.
The three major periods of armor were combat, tourament, and decorative. The armor in combat was very flexible,it had good visibility, it was good for defense, and the weight was between 45-80 pounds. The suit had over 200 piece's of plate steel riveted together. The wearer was able to move quickly and comfortably in the suit with it's articuled joints. On these suits there was a lance rest. A lance rest is on the upper right hand side of the breast plate. The lance's were around 10-14 feet long with a long sharp pointed tip on the end. In comparison the tourament armor was not very flexible, you couldn't see that well out of the eye spaces, and it was very heavy at 80-100 pounds. The important thing was that it was very good for defense armor. (Which was what it was!) This was the thickest and heaviest jousting armor that was made in the Renaissance period. The armor was made so it would take the inpact of the lance when it came to the person wearing it. Finally, the third kind of armor made in that time peroid was called decorative, it was very flexible, you could see out of the eye spaces very well, and it only weighed 20-70 pounds. As a result for making the suits for fashion and not protection they were a poor choice for battle. The people who made these suits used acid to burn away some of the metal so that it made a desgin in the armor. Mostly it was only rich nobles who would wear this type of armor.
Some interesting facts about armor are that early knights didn't have elbow, kneecap, shin, or ankle shields. The knights wore about 60 pounds of armor on the battle field. For fashionable suits of armor in the Glothic period, all the shoes had pointed toes. The Maximillion suits of armor had rounded toes in the shoes and rippled grooves in the chest plate. Mail armor is when there are metal circles attached to each other, formed into the shape of a shirt so a knight could wear it as his armor. People had armor made for their children to show how rich they were and what they could afford. (even though the child would out grow the armor in a couple years.) When armor was first invented, the armor covered the knights entire body. Then when armor became more for show and rifles were being used there was less armor worn by the knights. In modern days people in the army wear more armor than they used too. So it's coming back!
The Higgins Museum of Armory is a hands-on, fun place to go for a field trip. One can look through and try on helmets, which in most museums they don't let you do. At Higgins, you can make a art project by simply pressing hard on a design, thats on top of a piece of tin foil. This simple act replicates how they put the decorations on the decorative armor which was worn for fashion statements more than for protection. Overall, the Higgins Museum has something for everyone and provides an opportunity to see what it was like to be a knight in the middle ages. Who knows maybe it will inspire you.