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Why does design matter in arms and armor?

Armando, age 10, tours the Arms and Armor galleries and interviews a curator about why design—whether plain or fancy—matters in the making of armor.

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Video transcript

#metkids q&a The Metropolitan Museum of Art Why does design matter in arms and armor? Armando, age 10. ♪ (medieval music) ♪ Hi, I'm Armando, and I'm ten years old and live in New York City. Are you the head of the Arms and Armor? - Yes, I am. - Yeah. I'm here to speak with Pierre, the head of the Arms and Armor department in the Met. So Armando, you've always been interested in this stuff? I have always been interested in the medieval ages, including, like, the armor that they wore and the weapons that they used. Well, what do you think is so interesting about these things? Well, the armor-- they can make it so they protect the body, but they can still move. So, you're very interested in design? Yes. And that's one reason I love this material-- is because it's so clever. And beautiful. - Let's take a look. - (Pierre) Great. ♪ (medieval music) ♪ (Armando) What would a nobleman do to get some armor? So, the noblemen would have armor made to their measure and sometimes even, if they couldn't go themselves, they would send their clothing, and messenger said, "Make an armor that fits this clothing." What did the soldier sometimes do if their armor got ruined? They would have it replaced. They would have it replaced or they would be reimbursed, especially to noblemen. If their horse got killed in combat or if their armor were damaged, they would sometimes ask the more powerful noblemen they were serving, "Please reimburse me for my losses at war, in your service." That's a pretty fair deal. So, can you tell me something about this specific piece of armor? Sure. This is an armor that was made in the late 16th century, around 1600. It doesn't have protection for the elbows. It doesn't have protection for the legs. It's complete. it's just to allow the arms and the legs to move freely. And it's decorated, but the decoration is very simple. You have areas of the steel that have been polished, so that they look like plain metal, and other areas have been painted black, to create a contrast. But very few armors would be completely plain-- They would always have something decorative about them. ♪ (medieval music) ♪ This armor looks very different than the last one that we saw. It has much more armor on the legs and a more enclosed helmet. You can see the emblems of France and England on it and the initials of the queen of England, the E .E. This was made for a nobleman who was the champion of the Queen of England. So, when there was a joust, he jousted for her. When he won, she won. And this is not an armor you could buy in a shop, because the armorists, who made this, were working for the king and queen of England, and they would only make armors that they authorized. So they are among the most beautifully made armors that exist from Renaissance Europe. Well, thank you for showing me about all this armor. It was a pleasure to meet you. Thank you, Armando. The pleasure was all mine. I can tell you've already been reading and learning a lot about this, but we're all students at heart. It never ends, so it's a long journey. Please come back. This is Armando, signing off for the Met. ♪ (medieval music) ♪ what's your #metkids question? You know how do I do it for the camera like that. Each other like that. ♪ (medieval music) ♪