Renaissance Dissident
Art History from a Different Perspective

Alla Tedesca

Italian ‘Gothic’ Armour and the Export Trade

Book on 15th century North Italian plate armor made in the German style: Alla Tedesca

Alla Tedesca
Italian ‘Gothic’ Armour and the Export Trade

Publication update July 10th 2024:
This book is being republished as a revised and much expanded printed 2nd edition, including brand new material and photos.

Due out: end of August 2024
A4 printed hardback, approx. 160 pages and 170+ illustrations

Limited edition of 300 numbered copies

Order price: €79.95 EURO plus postage

NB: the pre-release discount price offer has now closed

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Please note: this is the final edition of this book: it will not be reprinted, either as a paperback or hardback. Likewise, there will be no digital version of this edition, either on Amazon or in PDF format. When all 300 copies are sold out, that’s it.

In the 15th century, the international arms trade was dominated by North Italian armourers, who tailored their styles for different regional markets. A good example was armour ‘alla tedesca’: ‘in the German style’. But just what was ‘alla tedesca’ armour like, and what was the response of native German armourers? In this publication I examine these questions, together with the effects of regional armour styles, which like languages, didn’t just stop and start at national borders.

This publication is packed with photography of Italian and German armour, and related works of art. It is a mine of information for students of 15th century armour, and there is also much here for the general history reader. Sincere thanks are due to the major museums that have contributed photographic images, or permitted new photography especially for this publication. There are also photos of items from private collections. Contributing museums include: the Bernisches Historisches Museum; the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Imperial Armoury, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Musée de l’Armée, Paris; the Royal Military Museum, Brussels; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Royal Armouries Mueum, Leeds; Glasgow Museums; the Bargello, Florence; the Museo Civico Bolzano; the Historisches Museum Luzern; the Landesmuseum Zürich; the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Köln; the Wallace Collection, London; the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg; the Museum und Galerie im Prediger; Schwäbisch Gmünd and the Castlerock Museum, Wisconsin.

Painting of Christ Before Pilate by the Master of the Lyversberg Passion, c.1470-80, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne
Antonio de’ Seroni and others, composite armour, Museum und Galerie im Prediger, Schwäbisch Gmünd
Painting of The Arrival at Cologne, from the Saint Ursula Cycle by Vittore Carpaccio, 1490
15th century milanese sallet alla tedesca
A painting of Saint Florian by Michael Pacher, c.1480.
Composite Italian and Innsbruck armour in the Bernisches Historisches Museum
Photos from the book, credits from left to right/top to bottom: The Master of the Lyversberg Passion Christ Before Pilate, c.1470-80, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, photo © Rheinisches Bildarchiv Köln; Antonio de’ Seroni and others, composite armour, Museum und Galerie im Prediger, Schwäbisch Gmünd, photo © Christian Wiedner; Vittore Carpaccio The Saint Ursula Cycle, The Arrival at Cologne (detail) 1490, Accademia, Venice, photo: The Yorck Project Gesellschaft für Bildarchivierung GmbH; Milanese visored sallet, c.1470-80, photo author, © Royal Armouries; Michael Pacher Saint Florian, c.1480. © Museo Civico Bolzano/Stadtmuseum Bozen; Missaglia officina (cuirass and right pauldron), Konrad Treytz (great bascinet), anonymous armourers (left pauldron and vambraces) Milan and Innsbruck, comprehensively c.1450-60, photo © Bernisches Historisches Museum.

This photography is combined with extracts from 15th century Milanese, Venetian and Florentine documents and period art, all of which I weave together in the text to give a greater understanding of the North Italian export trade in arms and armour. It is apparent that for the German market, sometimes North Italian armourers just slightly adapted standard armours that they already had in stock, while at other times they made new armours that were still very Italian, but with more Germanic features and decoration, and finally some armourers were essentially making fully-fledged ‘Gothic’ Germanic armour, but with Italian construction methods of strapping and articulation, and Italian helmet shapes.

German armourers were sometimes even trained in Milan, which must have affected the style they worked in when they returned home, and some undeniably German armour has Italian features. Then there is the matter of Italian armourers who emigrated to work in Austria, and the book includes a chapter on armour produced in Innsbruck and the Tyrol, which acted as a cultural crossroads for armour design. The book concludes with the onset of the Italian Wars, and how they appear to have affected armour styles both to the north and south of the Alps.

Section One: National Styles
1. The Lombards.
The arms industry of Milan and Brescia.
2. German Armour. The so-called ‘Gothic’ style of the German states that the Lombards were exporting to.
Section Two: ‘Alla Tedesca’
3. Cuirasses. The different methods of constructing and joining breast and backplates, faulds and tassets.
4. Helmets. Sallets and bevors, great bascinets.
5. Arm Harness. Pauldrons, vambraces and gauntlets.
6. Leg Harness. Cuisses, poleyns, greaves and sabatons.
7. The Infantry. Helmets and body armour.
8. Horse Armour. Shaffrons, crinets and barding.
9. Cultural Crossovers: Innsbruck and the Tyrol. How Italian armourers who settled and worked in Austria may have been influential in creating a plainer local style, which was often an elegant fusion of North Italian and Germanic fashions.
10. Trading Places: The Italian Wars. How these campaigns appear to have affected armour styles on both sides of the Alps.
11. Colour Finishes on Alla Tedesca Armour. Building on Beaten Black and Blue, this chapter looks at different surface colour finishes on this style of armour, both inside and outside mainland Italy.
Conclusion. Alla Tedesca Armour.
Appendix: Armourers’ Marks. Signatures struck on the pieces featured in this book.

A Swabian sculpture of Saint George and the Dragon, c.1460-70, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
A North Italian laminated sallet of c.1490 in the Art Institute of Chicago
Painting of The Massacre of the Innocents by Matteo di Giovanni, in the Museum of Santa Maria alla Scala, Siena
An alla tedesca shaffron and crinet attributed to Romain des Ursins, c.1480-95, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Painting of the Battle of Pavia by an unknown Flemish artist, after 1525. Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama.
Alla tedesca backplate of c.1505-10 made by Francesco Negroli in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Photos from the book, credits from left to right/top to bottom: Anonymous Saint George and the Dragon, Swabia, c.1460-70, sculpture and photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Anonymous, laminated sallet, North Italy, c.1490, helmet and photo: Art institute of Chicago; Matteo di Giovanni The Massacre of the Innocents (detail) 1482, Complesso Museale Santa Maria della Scala, Siena, photo © Scala, Florence; Attributed to Romain des Ursins, alla tedesca shaffron and crinet, c.1480-95, armour and photo Metropolitan of Art, New York; Unknown artist, Flemish The Battle of Pavia, after 1525, Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, photo: Sean Pathasema; Francesco Negroli, alla tedesca backplate, c.1505-10, backplate and photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
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