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L’armure du XIIIe au XVIIe siècle en Europe : une approche matérielle. Production, nature et circulation du métal

Abstract : The project focuses on a specific object: armor. Between the 13th and early 17th centuries, war practices have undergone major changes, both on the technological level, as well as the organizational one. Accordingly, defensives arms were adapted to the new needs in order to protect their owners. Armor was also in some cases a mark of social distinction. Thus, at the end of the Middle Ages, armor was both an object for everyday military use, massively produced, and a luxury attire. Its fabrication was dominated by several prestigious European centers of production like Milan and Nuremberg and required specific technical skills to shape the metal.In order to shed light on some of the techniques and ancient skills, along with the circulation and exchanges in the European space, this project addresses the study of armor through its materiality, by implementing an archeometallurgical approach. A specific corpus of over a hundred artefacts was collected, characteristic of the evolution of the defensive equipment of the fighters but also of the great European centers of production. Physicochemical analysis of the metal can decipher its nature and reveal the technical skills of the craftsmen. Non metallic phases analysis has allowed to test hypotheses on the provenance of the materials employed.Overall, the results showed the use of alloys of varying nature, sometimes highly heterogeneous, to realize the plates of armor. However, on average the metal employed has a hardness close to a homogeneous steel with 0.4-0.5% carbon. Hardened alloys of high hardness remain very minor in the studied corpus. Specificities were nevertheless noted, such as the use of a specific material, combining several sheets of metal with different properties that could offer better defensive properties. The information acquired also allowed to study the workshop practices implemented by the armorers, whether for the manufacture of a complete set of armor, the mass production of "serial" pieces, or those originating from the same workshop. The results relating to the nature and hammering of the metal have led us to question the exact nature of the intervention of the master armorer who signed the artefact and the significance of the signature of a workshop.
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Emilie Berard. L’armure du XIIIe au XVIIe siècle en Europe : une approche matérielle. Production, nature et circulation du métal. Histoire. Université de Cergy Pontoise, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019CERG0986⟩. ⟨tel-02492587v2⟩

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