The Avant Armour

Contributed by Kelvingrove Art Gallery

The Avant Armour, war armour made in Milan around 1440 © Glasgow City Council (Museums)

The earliest near-complete European armour in existence it weighs less than 26kg certain parts are 4mm thickThis is the oldest near-complete armour in the world and is in remarkably good condition. It remained in the castle armoury of the von Trapp family in the Alps until being bought by William Randolph Hearst the American newspaper tycoon in the early-20th century. Often referred to as the Avant armour, this word - meaning 'Forward!' - is inscribed on the edges of the breastplate. Made by Giovanni Corio and three brothers with Giovanni da Garavalle (contracted to make leg armour by the brothers in 1438), their workshop was in the renowned armour-making city of Milan. Each piece is marked with the maker's mark. Beautifully shaped, this war armour is made to fit its owner perfectly so as not to impede manoeuvrability. It provides excellent protection against all weapons encountered on the medieval battlefield. Certain parts of the armour are almost 4mm thick. It was bought for £7000 by the Greenock shipbuilder R. L. Scott who left it to the people of Glasgow in 1939.

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