Heavy Metal: Renaissance Warfare at the Folger Shakespeare Library

armor exhibitWarfare today mirrors its state during Shakespeare’s time. Science delivered a period of transformation. As technology improved with the introduction of gun powder and the musket, the role of the armored knight and his physical strength lost its military usefulness.

Most of the custom made armor reflect the look of contemporary fashion. While these breast plates and helmets protected the wearer, they also served as vehicles for establishing social status and as a reminder of familial ties.

You can see these old suits in “Now Thrive the Amorers: Arms and Armor in Shakespeare” that runs thru September 9, 2008. The Higgins Armory Museum, the only museum dedicated to armor in the western hemisphere, lends from its collection of military treatises, fencing manuals, gilded arms and etched armor.

Three quarter armor, coats of arms, broad swords and rapiers line the walls of the Folger Great Hall. A free cell phone audio tour provides additional information on family ties, the day’s fashion trends, and Renaissance battle strategies.

201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
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