Higgins Armory Museum

Solely dedicated to arms and armor

Higgins Museum

Arms and Courtly Life

The Chivalric Warrior

Armor was designed to protect the knight on the battlefield. Contrary to the popular myth, the armored knight was neither lumbering nor clumsy. A full suit of armor weighed only about 60 pounds, and was fully articulated to allow almost total freedom of movement. Nonetheless, the added weight, increased heat insulation, and restricted oxygen flow placed strains on the armored knight, who needed to be in top physical condition to fight in armor.

Manufacture & Design

Armor was manufactured by highly skilled specialists who ntrained for years to master the delicate art of shaping steel to match the complex contours and motions of the human body. Their clients demanded work that was not only functional but beautiful: armor like clothing was a statement of fashion and status, and the aristocratic knight needed to dress the part.


Fighting on horseback in a full suit of armor was a demanding martial art. Tournaments emerged around the time of the First Crusade (c. 1100) as a way for knights to practice their skills. As chivalric culture became more refined in the late Middle Ages, the tournament placed increasing emphasis on safety and spectacle. These festive events remained popular after 1500, and were used by Renaissance monarchs as a way to display their wealth, importance, and medieval lineage.


Hunting is among the oldest of human occupations. Once used for sustenance, by the Middle Ages and Renaissance it was mostly a pastime of the nobility. Elaborate rituals of the hunt were matched by equally elaborate equipment, as aristocrats sought to impress their fellow hunters with their wealth and taste.

Ceremony & Spectacle

Pageantry was central to the cultural life of the medieval and Renaissance court. Elaborate matched sets of armor and weapons were carried by personal bodyguards to emphasize the importance of their lord, and ingenious curiosity weapons were sought out by aristocratic collectors to decorate their castles and impress their visitors.