Arms and Armour

Arms and Armour

Wapens en harnassen

Arms and Armour

Our collection offers a fascinating insight into more than fourteen hundred years of military history, with a strong focus on the European battlefield, but also with attention to the global context.

The evolution of weapons and defence equipment is beautifully illustrated in the collection, showing a clear adaptation of military gear and tactics throughout the centuries. Historically rooted by the Manufacture d’Armes de l’État in Liège and enriched with donations and generous gifts from, among others, the École d’Infanterie, Count de Ribaucourt, Georges Titeca, and many others, the collection includes a comprehensive overview of edged weapons from various periods and from all European powers, from the Austrian period to post-World War II.

A significant addition to the collection is the so-called Hallepoort collection, featuring armour, medieval edged weapons – starting with examples from the Merovingian fifth century – firearms, medieval and early modern artillery, hunting weapons, flags, and uniform components. Also of particular interest is the overview of Asian and Oriental weapons and armour, which provides a valuable supplement to the broader picture of military history.

With no less than 564 suits of armour and armour components, 12,645 edged weapons and accessories, 1,589 polearms, and 322 blunt and throwing weapons, this collection offers an impressive and extensive array of military artifacts

Evolution of the Hallepoort Collection

The impressive collection of "arms and armour" from the Hallepoort has its origins in the fifteenth century when Anton of Burgundy - son of Philip the Bold, younger brother of John the Fearless, and Duke of Brabant (1404-1415) - established an armoury in the Coudenberg Palace in Brussels in 1406. This armoury housed personal suits of armour, diplomatic gifts, and war trophies. Over the centuries, the arsenal was constantly supplemented, including contributions from the Habsburgs. However, the collection also experienced unexpected losses, such as the fire that devastated the palace in 1731.

The fate of the collection took an international turn: upon Emperor Charles V's abdication in 1555, his armours were transferred to Madrid, and in 1794, when the Austrians fled hastily from the French revolutionaries, many pieces were moved to Vienna. As a result, the treasures of the Brussels armoury spread to various European cities.

The remaining part of the collection stored in the attics of the Nassau Palace in Brussels during French and Dutch rule became the property of the young Belgian State. The collection grew and diversified, leading to the establishment of the Museum of Ancient Weapons, Armor, Artworks, and Numismatics in 1835. In 1847, this collection found its home in the Hallepoort, a remnant of the second Brussels city wall from 1381, and was renamed the Royal Museum of Antiquities, Armor, and Artillery. The departments of Antiquities and Ethnography later moved to the Jubelpark in 1889 and 1906, respectively, but the weapons and armour remained in the Hallepoort, earning its nickname. The museum was later renamed the Royal Museums of Decorative and Industrial Arts, and the Hallepoort served as a branch. Over time, however, the building proved unsuitable as a museum and had to close its doors in 1976.

A new destination for part of the collection emerged when the idea was proposed to house it in the Royal Military Museum, which was established in 1910 and had been located at the Jubelpark since 1923. In 1987, the collection arrived at the Military Museum, where a special storage space and exhibition hall were set up to preserve and display the pieces under optimal conditions.