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Old 4th July 2010, 07:38 PM   #4
kronckew's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: CSA Consulate, Rm. 101, Glos. UK: p.s. - Real Dogs Have Feathering.
Posts: 2,695

henry the eighth was over 6 ft. i hear that king edward of braveheart fame was also. H8's armour is HUGE.

roman legions had a 5 ft. 8 in. minimum (originally 5' 10", but dropped their standards later on)

read somewhere that the middle ages human would still be on our modern gaussian bell curve tho a bit towards the lower end rather than the mean.

a couple of the other sword forums have similar tho inconclusive discussions:

an excerpt from the metropolitan museum of art Arms and Armor—Common Misconceptions and Frequently Asked Questions

13. The size of armor indicates that people in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance were smaller.—In general, true.
Medical and anthropological research demonstrates that the average height of men and women has gradually increased over the centuries, a process that, for reasons of progressively better diet and public health, has accelerated during the past 150 years or so. The majority of surviving armors from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries appear to confirm these findings.

However, when trying to affirm such generalizations from armor, a number of factors need to be carefully considered. First, is the armor complete and homogeneous (i.e., do all parts belong together), thereby giving an accurate impression of the height of the original wearer? Second, even a high-quality armor, made to measure for a particular owner, can provide only an estimate of its former wearer's height with a margin of at least an inch or two (2–5 cm), since the overlap of the protections for lower abdomen (skirt and tassets) and thighs (cuisses) can only be approximated.

Indeed, armor comes in all shapes and sizes, such as armor for children or young men (as opposed to that for adults), and there are even armors made for dwarfs and giants (often found at European courts as "curiosities"). Moreover, then as now, other general factors have to be taken into account, such as differences in average body height between northern and southern Europeans for example, or the simple fact that there have always been people who were exceptionally tall or short when compared to their average contemporary.

Among the famous exceptions are royal examples such as Francis I, king of France (r. 1515–47), or Henry VIII, king of England (r. 1509–47). The latter's height of about 6 feet (180 cm) was commented upon by his contemporaries, and can be verified by the more than half-dozen of his armors surviving today (two of them in the Metropolitan Museum).

For an interesting contrast in the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Arms and Armor, compare the (composite) German harness of about 1530 and the field armor attributed to Emperor Ferdinand I (1503–1564), of about 1555 (33.164). Neither armor is complete, and the sizes of the former owners are necessarily broad estimates, yet the differences in size and stature are remarkable: while the owner of the first armor was probably around 6 feet 4 inches (ca. 193 cm) tall, with his chest measuring about 54 inches (137 cm) in circumference, the owner of the latter harness, probably Emperor Ferdinand, does not appear to have measured more than about 5 feet 7 inches (170 cm) in height.
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