The Knight and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period

The Knight and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period

The Knight and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period

The Knight and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period

Synopsis

The suit of armour distinguishes the European Middle Ages & Renaissance from all other periods and cultures. Unlike flexible defences, popular everywhere else in the world, the rigid, articulated, exoskeleton of a suit of armour" was a more extravagant and less adaptable means of personal protection. It required greater metallurgical resources to make, but offered far better protection against available weapons. This book tells the story from its invention in 14th century Lombardy, which depended on the production of the necessary steel, until its eventual decline in the 17th century, principally because of the development of another military technology, the gun. The metallurgy of 600 armours has been analysed, and their probable effectiveness in battle is assessed by means of mechanical tests."

Excerpt

Scientific examination and analysis have for many years been accepted as basic tools for research in almost all branches of archaeology and art-history, but, until comparatively recently, an exception has been the small, and highly-specialised branch that concerns itself with the study of medieval and renaissance armour. This is probably because it is one that has never at any time attracted more than a handful of devotees, and none of these has hitherto had the necessary scientific knowledge, to say nothing of dedication to the subject, to enable them to initiate the necessary programme of research. Dr. Alan Williams, a metallurgist by training, is the first to person to appear on the scene with all the qualifications required, including quite remarkable dedication to performing the essential preliminary task of taking metal samples from a wide range of armours and analysing them During the last thirty years he has devoted his spare time to doing this in the armouries and armour-collections of Europe and North America, and it is the results of this work that are now published in the present volume. The details of hundreds of such samples now made generally available for the first time form a data-base for all future research, which it is to be hoped that it will encourage. It gives me great pleasure to recommend it as a major, and entirely original, contribution to the study of ancient armour.

Claude Blair . . .

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