Royal Armouries

Burgonet

Images

LOK Burgonet IV.154

Burgonet. German, probably Augsburg, about 1600

  • LOK Burgonet IV.154

    Burgonet. German, probably Augsburg, about 1600

  • monochrome photo of a display of armour including a helmet under a glass dome

    Burgonet in bottom LH corner in the New Horse Armoury. About 1870 (IV.154)

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of a line of mounted armoured figures

    ‘Interior of the Horse Armoury’, anon engraving, The Penny Magazine, 1836 © Royal Armouries 2013

  • LOK Burgonet IV.154-2

    Burgonet. German, probably Augsburg, about 1600

  • LOK Burgonet IV.154-3

    Burgonet. German, probably Augsburg, about 1600

Object number: IV.154

Statistics

Object Provenance: Burgonet, German, probably Augsburg, about 1600
Object Number: IV.154
Height: 33 cm (13 in)
Weight: 2.35 kg (5lb 3 oz)

Burgonet

Description

Steel helmet consisting of two-piece high combed skull with hinged cheek-pieces on either side. The russet coloured surface is finely embossed with bunches of fruit and flowers interspersed with birds and insects, and around the neck flange with grotesque dolphins, all set on a matted ground.

There are sections left free from embossing in the centre of the cheek pieces; at the back, on the brow, either side of the skull and on either side of the comb. These spaces are overlaid with applied cast copper ornament that has been chased and gilt.

The decoration on the comb, cheek pieces and sides of the skull consist of a figure in Roman armour lounging against a trophy of arms all bordered by strapwork. The decoration at the back of the skull includes a plume holder sprouting from between a pair of captured armoured figures with hands bound behind their backs again set against a trophy of arms. Applied copper gilt borders.

This helmet was acquired in 1826 – unfortunately a period when formal acquisition records are patchy, but about the time of the opening of the New Horse Armoury when Sir Samuel Meyrick was taking in hand the early Line of Kings display and removing the more glaring errors.

At a time when attempts were being made to widen the scope of the Armouries collections such highly decorated pieces provided an attractive contrast to the plainer munition armours that formed the majority of Tower stores. Originally such heavily decorated armour was intended for display and wear in parades – the equivalent of modern full-dress uniform rather than campaign-wear.

Class 4, number 53 in Hewitt’s 1859 catalogue, it is described as;

‘Richly embossed and chased casque. The principal ornaments are of gilt metal riveted upon steel. The subjects are armed figures, military implements, birds, fruits and flowers. Purchased in 1826.’

By ffoulkes inventory of 1916 there is a much fuller description;

‘Class IV. 154 Burgonet (XVIth – XVIIth Century) (plate XXII) – The whole is russetted and finely embossed and chased with fruits, birds and fishes. Over these are applied decorations of gilded metal showing classical warriors, trophies of arms etc, probably the work of Aleesandro Algardi of Bologna. The general feeling of the craftsmanship displayed is not unlike that shown on the suit of king Sebastian of Portugal, made by Anton Peffenhauser (Madrid, A.290). Weight 5 lb 4 oz. Purchased in 1826’.

Publications

Illustrated in A R Dufty and W Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, plate XCVII, where it is dated last quarter of the 16th century.
‘Treasures from the Tower of London’ exhibition in 1982, catalogue no.10 , described as ‘Open-faced parade helmet (burgonet)’. The catalogue notes that a very similarly decorated cap-à-pie armour in the Electoral Armoury at Dresden was bought in Augsburg in 1602 for the Elector Christian II of Saxony and is dated 1599. In the latter’s case the applied decoration shows equestrian figures .
C.Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries Masterpieces of Medieval and Renaissance Arms and Armour from the National Collection, ed H Prunner, Vol II p 194-7

Statistics

Object Provenance: Burgonet, German, probably Augsburg, about 1600
Object Number: IV.154
Height: 33 cm (13 in)
Weight: 2.35 kg (5lb 3 oz)

Related Objects

Samuel Meyrick and the Rearrangement of the Horse Armoury, about 1824-1827 Click on the title link above to find out more.

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