Formerly Master Armourer to the Royal Armouries

Art and Arms in the Western Alps

Milan, Savoy and “the French style” 1400-1500

Book about 15th century Italian armour in the French style by Chris Dobson

Art and Arms in the Western Alps
Milan, Savoy and “the French style” 1400-1500


A4 Format PDF, 100+ illustrations, almost all in colour
*This PDF format eBook is available exclusively from this website*
ISBN 0-9541633-5-4

Price: €19.95

Publication due end of January 2020: available for pre-order now*

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This book is similar to Chris Dobson’s ebook on Italian armour ‘alla tedesca’, but this time examines Italian armour in use in the Western Italian Alps and beyond, in France and Burgundy.

1. The Prism of Art
2. Head Defences:
Armets; Sallets; Bevors; Close Helmets; Kettlehats; Burgonets; Nasals and Lobster Tails
3. Body Armour: Cuirasses; Brigandines; Mail
4. Armharness: Pauldrons; Vambraces; Gauntlets
5. Legharness: Cuisses; Greaves; Sabatons
6. The French Style

In the 15th century, the Duchy of Savoy was a state that straddled these alps, with its capital to the north-west, in Chambéry, in modern-day France, and the Italian regions of Piedmont and the Valle d’Aosta roughly correspond to Savoyard territories within the alps, and the smaller neighbouring states of Asti, Saluzzo and the Duchy of Monferrato. This was an area where the old feudal system was alive and well, and the power and legitimacy of the noble families of the area was derived from the Valois Kings of France, and the Holy Roman Emperors. The Dukes of Savoy patronized French artists, and with its unique geographical situation, half-in and half-out of the Italian peninsular, the Duchy evolved its own artistic language, heavily influenced by the French Gothic. This ‘language’ was disseminated by itinerant artists, moving from commission to commission in small and isolated communities, and whilst the quality of their work is often not on a par with the output of the Florentine studio system, in some cases it is every bit as good as the best Florentine art of the period.

Fortunately for the student of arms and armour, these painters delighted in filling their frescoes with a ‘cast of thousands’ of armoured warriors, and in this book, Chris Dobson examines this largely-unknown art, together with period documents and surviving pieces of armour to see what they can tell us about 15th century Italian armour “in the French style”. This book is packed with photos of the art of Piedmont, together with comparable artworks from other parts of Italy, France and Burgundy, and surviving armour from private and public collections:

The Art Institute of Chicago; The Cleveland Museum of Art; La Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris; Le Musée Cluny - Musée National du Moyen Âge, Paris; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The J. Paul Getty Museum; The Gwynn Collection; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; L’Associazione Culturale San Sebastiano; Il Centro Culturale Diocesano di Susa; La Soprintendenza per i Beni e le Attività Culturale della Regione Autonoma Valle d’Aosta; ** and with new, specially-commissioned photography from the Royal Armouries, Leeds **.

Milanese armour in the frescoes of Piero della Francesca in Arezzo, Italy
15th century Italian sallet with articulated neck guard
15th century Piemontese fresco of the Crucifixion
15th century Italian barbuta in the MET, New York
Hardened Leather Horse Bard
Manuscript illuniation of Louis XII of France, 1498-99
Photos from the book, credits from left to right/top to bottom: Piero della Francesca, The Legend of the True Cross, 1460, Arezzo, photo Public Domain, the Yorck project; 15th century Italian sallet with articulated neck guard, private collection, photo © Chris Dobson; Giovanni Mazzucco The Crucifixion, 1488, Chapel of San Bernardo, Castelletto Stura, photo © Chris Dobson; 15th century barbuta in the MET New York (CC0 1.0); Anonymous The Crucifixion, c.1425-30, Castle Church of La Manta, photo © Chris Dobson; Jean Bourdichon Louis XII of France with Saints, photo Getty Museum (CC-BY-SA 4.0).
© Chris Dobson 2020. All rights reserved | P.IVA 03799630045