Europe is filled with many fine museums showcasing medieval arms and armor. Famous collections such as the Tower of London or the Hofburg in Vienna get top billing, but there are dozens more. One interesting collection can be found at The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History in Brussels, Belgium.
The medieval section is well laid out with displays running chronologically. Armor and weapons from the same half-century are displayed together, giving the visitor a good overall idea of the military technology of that time.
One minor problem is that the signage is only in French and Dutch. To my surprise, I discovered that I had an easier time reading the Dutch. I studied both German and French many years ago, but my German was always better than my French and so the Dutch was easier to read!
A few displays had no signage at all, such as the case for this rare studded jerkin.
Despite this minor problem, anyone interested in the Middle Ages should not skip Belgium. The country has some 400 castles and several good museums covering the period. The Brussels museum is especially strong in medieval polearms and early black powder weapons. You’ll be seeing some of those in later posts. And their gift shop is to die for. Any Black Gate reader could easily drop huge wads of cash on their fine selection of books (including many in English), model soldiers, scale models, calendars, posters, etc.
In my next post, I’ll be giving you a look at the museum’s other galleries.
Sean McLachlan is a freelance travel and history writer. He is the author of the historical fantasy novel A Fine Likeness, set in Civil War Missouri, and the post-apocalyptic thriller Radio Hope. His historical fantasy novella The Quintessence of Absence, was published by Black Gate. Find out more about him on his blog and Amazon author’s page.
All photos copyright Sean McLachlan. This trip was supported by Visit Belgium. All opinions are my own.