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Old 2nd April 2021, 01:34 AM   #23
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 8,315

The 'conquistadors' have been a topic that have intrigued me forever it seems, and some of my favorite art has been with these figures in subject.

Years ago of course my impression was that ALL the Spanish in the New World were conquistadors, and of course they all wore morions and steel cuirasses.
In recent years I was surprised that that was not the case, and that the familiar 'combed' morions were not worn in the early conquests of Mexico and Peru by Cortez and Pizarro (first quarter 16th c). In a reference by Walter Karcheski ("Arms and Armor of the Conquistadors", 1990) he notes these were not worn until later in the century and that many of those worn by the conquistadors were actually produced in Italy. Actually many of the Spanish arms and armor had Italian origin due to the provincial connections.
Also, the members of these expeditions were not not necessarily soldiers, but adventurers, ex soldiers and individuals seeking fortunes. As such, many, if not most were self equipped, using all manner of arms and armor, often obsolete and hastily obtained from many sources. There was little uniformity and the armor breast plates were likely minimally present, with mail more common. The helmets were of all manner, mostly cabassets with the morions more known among officers and well heeled members.

It seems that the North Italian arms producing centers had significant influence and contact with not only Spain, but German armourers to the North, notably Munich as one. While the morion did evolve in Spain earlier with the combed peak added to the plainer 'cabasset', the style did catch on in Italy (the Swiss guards at the Vatican) it does seem that the 'Munich' examples would follow suit.

As Fernando has noted, these morions with the fluer de lys which are typically designated 'Munich town guard' are but one of numerous motif and decorations on these helmets .
* the fluer de lys is said to represent the Virgin Mary, who whom the Munich Town Guard were dedicated.

I believe that numbers of these were perhaps among the holdings in the Bavarian National Museum which were de-accessed early in the century and Dr. Hans Stocklein was somehow involved in cataloging. From there it seems there were examples of the helmets in the John Severence collection that went to the Cleveland museum of art.
These may be possible sources for the Munich Town Guard attribution.
It seems there is a type of sword with rapier style hilt also specified to Munich town guard, so this appellation may have been similarly applied, as other swords of the type are known without the connection.

Last edited by Jim McDougall; 2nd April 2021 at 12:24 PM.
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