Skip to main content

Breastplate (body armour): M.1.1C-1936

Object information

Awaiting location update


Production: Unknown




Breastplate with skirt and tassets, for heavy cavalry use, decorated with fluting in the Maximilian fashion. Formed of a strongly rounded main plate with movable gussets at the arm-openings, a waist-plate, a skirt of three lames, tassets of five lames each, and a folding lance-rest. The very shallow neck-opening of the main plate and the gussets have bold, angular, inward turns. The main plate is pierced at the right armpit with a pair of vertically-aligned holes for the attachment of a folding lance-rest. The latter is secured by two probably later screws, with internal, slotted round heads, passing through these holes into its threaded base-plate. The lower screw has a larger head than the upper one. The D-shaped base-plate is decorated around its curved edge with widely-spaced file-roping bordered by a single incised line. It is also decorated with single incised lines running diagonally from its corners to its centre. The hinged, curved arm of the lance-rest is decorated with four diagonal pairs of incised lines on its front face, and with a filed notch on the lower front edge of its tip. The main plate is decorated, except at its top and sides, with seventeen flutes which are emphasised by pairs of incised lines and diverge upwards and outwards from its lower edge. The outer four flutes at each side terminate at the centres of the arm-openings, while the central nine flutes terminate at a transverse band of three flutes that runs across the main plate from arm-opening to arm-opening. The centre of the neck-opening is pierced with a pair of lace-holes. The gussets at the arm-openings are secured to the main plate by modern round-headed rivets with octagonal, internal washers at their upper and lower ends. Those at the upper ends move within slots in the gussets. Attached within the upper end of each gusset by a single externally-flush rivet is a modern, double-ended buckle with a central tongue, roller, elaborately filed decoration and a plain, round-ended hasp. The left buckle lacks its roller. Fitted within the lower edge of the main plate is a waist-plate which is deeply notched at each side and flanged outwards to receive a skirt. The waist-plate is secured to the main plate at either side by a modern, round-headed rivet with an octagonal internal washer. The flange of the waist-plate is fitted with a skirt of three upward-overlapping lames. The third lame has a shallow, arched cut-out at the centre of its lower edge. The edge of the cut-out has a plain, inward turn accompanied by a recessed border. The lames are connected to one another and to the waist-plate at their outer ends by modern round-headed rivets with octagonal, internal washers. The rivets move within diagonal slots in the first and second lames. Later holes at the lower right corner of the second lame and at the upper right corner of the third lame were at one time occupied by a rivet that rigidly secured the two lames to each another. The lower edge of the third lame is pierced to either side of its cut-out with a pair of rivet-holes that must at one time have served to attach a connecting-leather. The skirt is decorated, except at its sides, with twenty-one flutes which are emphasised by pairs of incised lines and diverge downwards and outwards. Attached to either side of the skirt by a pair of modern, round-headed rivets with octagonal, internal washers are a pair of tassets of nearly rectangular outline that are curved to the thighs. The inner rivet for the right tasset occupies the inner of the pair of leathering-holes on the lowest skirt lame, while the corresponding rivet for the left tasset occupies a later hole pierced just within them. each tasset is formed of four upward-overlapping lames of which the fourth is taller than the rest and has a plain, inward turn at its slightly convex lower edge, accompanied by a recessed border. The first lame of the right tasset and the second lame of the left tasset are modern restorations. The inner ends of the first and third lames of the left tasset are restored with riveted patches. The lames of the tassets are in each case connected to one another by modern round-headed rivets with octagonal washers moving within slots at their outer ends, and by modern, internal leathers at their inner ends and centres. The leathers are secured to each lame by single rivets which are externally-flush except on the fourth lame where they are round-headed with octagonal internal washers. Each lame, except for the restored ones and the partially restored first one of the left tasset, is pierced just within the inner leather with a hole for a second leathering-rivet. These holes now remain vacant except on the fourth lame where they are in each instance filled with a modern, round-headed rivet. Modern, decorative round-headed rivets occupy construction-holes in the second to fourth lames of each tasset aligning with holes occupied by the rivets now securing the inner leathers. Each tasset is decorated at its inner end with eight diverging flutes, serving as a continuation of the outer flutes of the skirt. The inner three flutes of each tasset have been added in modern times. Part of the composite armour M.1.1A-H-1936


History note: Stated in the manuscript catalogues of the Stead Collection to have come from a Dresden collection. Mrs E.W. Stead and Mr Gilbert Stead of Dalston Hall, Cumberland.

Legal notes

Given by Mrs E.W. Stead and Mr Gilbert Stead

Measurements and weight

Depth: 16.2 cm
Height: 62.6 cm
Weight: 3.92 kg
Width: 50.0 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1936-01-15) by Stead, E. W. and Gilbert


16th Century, Early#
Circa 1510 CE - 1515 CE


Since the skirt and the tassets have differently orientated slots for the sliding-rivets at their outer ends, and were originally decorated with different patterns of flutes, it is clear that they are associated with one another. Since the skirt and breastplate have differing numbers of flutes, it would appear that they also are associated with one another, especially as the outer ends of the former show evidence of having been trimmed. The skirt itself appears to be formed of associated and perhaps partly reworked plates. Its first lame differs from the others in that its flutes do not extend all the way down to its lower edge and are not separated at its upper edge by shallow filed notches. The waist-plate is also likely to be associated as its outer ends show evidence of trimming, and its upper and lower edges do not run entirely concentric with the overlapping edges of the skirt and main-plate of the breastplate. Since the contours of the base-plate of the lance-rest do not exactly match those of the latter, it is conceivable that the lance-rest is associated too.

The breastplate, skirt and tassets are bright with light to medium patination overall.

Components of the work

Leathers composed of leather
Arm Openings

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : Steel, formed of a strongly rounded main plate with movable gussets at the arm openings, a waist-plate, a skirt of three lames, tassets of five lames each, and a folding lance-rest, hammered, shaped, polished, riveted and decorated with incised lines and fluting in the Maximilian fashion

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: maker's mark consisting of a cross paté between four trefoils within a shield

  • Location: Right of centre of neck-opening
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: miniscule gothic 'n' within a pearled circle

  • Location: Inside of breastplate, near right shoulder
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: pairs of triangular dots

  • Location: All plates except two of tassets
  • Method of creation: Struck
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: painted in white with a large number '4'

  • Text: 4
  • Location: Inside of breastplate
  • Method of creation: Painted
  • Type: Number

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1.1C-1936
Primary reference Number: 17689
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 11 January 2016 Last processed: Thursday 3 August 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Breastplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-10-04 12:17:15

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=Breastplate (body armour) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-10-04 12:17:15|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

More objects and works of art you might like

Composite armour

Accession Number: HEN.M.24A & B-1933

Composite armour

Accession Number: M.13-1941

Half armour

Accession Number: HEN.M.4A-D-1933

Composite armour

Accession Number: M.1.1A-H-1936

Suggested products from Curating Cambridge

You might be interested in this...

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...