After the invention of gunpowder, the arms that dated back to feudal times lost their defensive value which made it so that great noble families would create museums of arms where they could display war armour connected to the family's glorious acts.
The offensive and defensive arms reflect how wars evolved from the 15th to the 19th century. The Cerralbo museum of arms contains approximately 700 pieces from various origins (Europe, America, Asia and Oceania) acquired in Spain as well as abroad mainly at the Hôtel Drouot and Hôtel des Commisaires-Priseurs auctions in Paris.
The most important armour of the collection is intimately related to the historical and heroic acts of the House of Cerralbo, which are represented on the Main Staircase. Of all of the war armour, we shall highlight the mid 17th century armour which, according to tradition, belonged to Cerralbo's distinguished ancestor Pablo Fernández Contreras,1st Earl of Alcudia, Admiral of the Spanish Squad which defeated the Dutch Squad in 1635.
Also on display are firearms such as arquebuses, rifles, shotguns and pistols, all a reflection of the evolution of these arms over time with examples and elements from the 16th to 19th century.
Out of all of the museums arms, the pieces originally from Borneo, Philippines, India, Japan, Malaysia, Turkey, Morocco and Oceania are particularly noteworthy. Some of them were acquired at the auction of 15th to 18th century art and other interesting objects held at the Chateau de Saint-Jean in Nogent-le-Rotrou by the Hôtel Drouot in 1877. Other pieces were picked up by Cerralbo himself during his trips to Constantinople, Scutari and Adrianople (now known as Edirne, Turkey).
The most unique pieces are the war armour originally from 18th century Japan comprised of copper, lacquered leather and colourful ribbons. Its privileged armour that belonged to samurais, individuals of the military class that had the privilege of carrying two sables, called wakizashi. One example of these is also on display.