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Cuisses: M.1.1G-1936

Object information

Awaiting location update


Production: Unknown




A pair of cuisses and polyens for heavy cavalry use, decorated with fluting in the Maximilian fashion. Each is formed of a long cuisse, comprising a main plate and an upper extension-plate, and a winged poleyn of four lames. The gutter shaped main plate widens to its slightly convex upper edge which slopes up to the outside and has a boldly-roped partial inward turn. The 'strands' of the roping are separated by pairs of incised lines. Fitted within the upper edge of the main plate is a short extension-plate which has a more strongly convex upper edge decorated with a matching roped inward turn. The turn is bordered by seven round-headed rivets with octagonal, internal washers that retain the remains of a large, semi-circular, leather lacing-tab. The extension-plate is connected to the main plate by a round-headed sliding-rivet with an octagonal internal washer at its outer end, and by internal leathers at its centre and inner end. Each leather is secured to the extension-plate by a pair of externally flush rivets, and to the main plate by a pair of round-headed rivets, except in the case of the inner leather of the left cuisse which is secured to the main plate by a pair of externally-flush rivets. The central leather of the left cuisse has torn away from its upper rivets. Both leathers of the right cuisse are modern replacements. The main plate is pierced at its upper inner corner with a construction-hole that aligns with the inner of the underlying pair of rivet-holes for the attachment of the inner leather. The hole in the left cuisse is occupied by a modern round-headed rivet, while that in the right cuisse remains vacant. The main plate, in both instances, has a straight inner edge and a slightly convex outer edge that curves in strongly at its lower end. Attached by a modern round-headed rivet with an octagonal, external washer at the upper end of the outer edge of the main plate is a modern buff-leather strap that passes around the rear of the thigh to engage a modern single-ended, tongued, iron buckle that is secured by a modern round-headed rivet within the upper end of the outer edge. The buckle is of rectangular form with elaborately filed decoration. Its hasp has cropped corners. Attached within the inner and outer edges of the main plate by three externally-flush rivets in each case are the remains of leather bands which project slightly beyond the edges of the plates. It is possible that the rivets that retain these bands, together with the rivets that retain the present strap and buckle, occupy holes that formerly served to secure bifurcated straps. The main plate of the right cuisse is repaired at the centre of its lower edge with a small riveted internal patch. Brazed repairs are in evidence just above this patch and a little to the inside of it. Overlapping the lower edge of the main plate of each cuisse is a poleyn of four lames that overlap outwards from the second which is shaped to the point of the knee and has a large, oval wing with a medial pucker at its rear end. The edge of the wing has a roped inward turn accompanied by a recessed border. The 'strands' of the roping are separated by pairs of incised lines. The lower edge of the fourth lame is decorated with a matching turn and border. The lower corners of the fourth lame project beyond the other lames. The lames are connected to one another and to the cuisse at their outer ends by modern round headed rivets with washers, and at their inner ends by externally-flush rivets. The poleyn was originally fastened around the back of the knee by a strap that was riveted within the front end of the wing of the second lame and engaged a buckle riveted at the inner end of that lame. A fragment of the strap of the right poleyn, secured by an externally-flush rivet, survives. The strap of the right poleyn and the buckles of both poleyns are now represented only by vacant holes. Attached by a modern externally-flush rivet to the outer lower corner of the fourth lame of each poleyn is a modern buff-leather strap that passes around the rear of the greave and engages a double-ended, tongued, iron buckle with filed and incised decoration that is attached by a similar rivet to the end of another, but shorter, buff-leather strap that is in turn attached by a modern round-headed rivet to the inner lower corner of the same lame. The upper edge of the third lame of the right poleyn is repaired just to the inside of centre with a riveted internal patch. The outer end of the lower border of the fourth lame, and the front end of the border of the wing of the second lame of the left poleyn have been pierced with later holes that have subsequently been partially closed.
The main plate of each cuisse is decorated across its upper edge with three flutes, and down its length with thirteen flutes, all emphasised by pairs of incised lines. The longitudinal flutes diverge slightly towards their upper ends, and continue downwards to the lower border of the poleyn. The wings of the right and left poleyns are decorated with sixteen and fifteen flutes respectively, which diverge from the medial pucker in each case towards their front ends. 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

Acquisition and important dates

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


16th Century, Early#
Production date: circa AD 1520


Despite the discrepancy in the number of flutes that decorated the wings of their poleyns, and minor differences in the placing of certain rivets such as those for the central internal leathers at the tops of the main plates of the cuisses, the cuisses and poleyns appear to constitute a pair, or at the very least derive from the same series of armours.

Subtle differences in the workmanship and colour of the lowest two lames of the left poleyn, suggest that they may conceivably be restorations.

The cuisses and poleyns are bright with light to medium patination overall. The main plate of the right cuisse shows evidence of a horizontal cut near its upper end, just to the outside of centre.

Components of the work

Buckle composed of iron (metal)
Straps, Leathers composed of leather
Right Depth 20.2 cm Height 43.2 cm Weight 1.28 kg Width 16.0 cm
Left Depth 20.6 cm Height 46.7 cm Weight 1.31 kg Width 17.2 cm
Thumb Defence

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : Steel, each is formed of a long cuisse, comprising a main plate and an upper extension-plate and a winged poleyn of four lames, hammered, shaped, polished, riveted, with fluting, incised lines and patinated

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: large number '2' painted in white

  • Text: 2
  • Location: Internally in the upper extension-plate of each cuisse
  • Method of creation: Painted in white
  • Type: Number

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1.1G-1936
Primary reference Number: 17697
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 11 January 2016 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Cuisses" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-02-22 18:58:15

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