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Greaves: M.1.1H-1936

Object information

Awaiting location update


Production: Unknown




A pair of greaves and sabatons for heavy cavalry use, decorated with fluting in the Maximilian fashion. Each is formed of a tubular, full-length greave with an integral sabaton of seven lames. The greave, which is closely shaped to the contours of the lower leg, is formed of a medially-ridged front plate and a medially-ridged rear plate, fitted at its lower edge with a pair of short extension-plates. The rear plate fits within the front plate and is connected to it by a pair of internal hinges secured at either end by single, externally-flush rivets. The hinges are accommodated within rectangular notches cut into the upper and lower ends respectively of the outer edge of the rear plate. Attached by single, externally-flush rivets within the upper and lower ends respectively of the inner edge of the rear plate are a pair of short, forward-projecting, modern, spring-strips terminating in plain studs. Each stud projects through a notch cut in the edge of the rear plate to engage one or other of a pair of horizontally aligned holes pierced in the inner edge of the front plate. The upper edge of the front plate slopes upwards to its strongly rounded outer corner. The lower edge of the front plate has plain, inward turns at each side, and an arched cut-out for the foot at the front. The lower end of the arch projects forwards as a small step at each side. The concave upper edge of the rear plate, which rises slightly to its outer end, has an angular outward turn. Riveted at the centre of the upper edge of the rear plate is a large rectangular staple which forms a vertical loop that restrains the strap that secures the lower end of the poleyn around the rear of the greave. The centre of the lower edge of the rear plate is cut with a tall, rectangular slit to accommodate a spur. A pair of large, horizontally-aligned, circular holes, probably added or at the very least enlarged subsequent to manufacture, are pierced to either side of the upper end of the slit, presumably for the attachment of spurs. Attached within the lower edge of the rear plate, to either side of the slit, is a short extension-plate with a plain, outward turn at its lower edge. Each extension-plate is attached to the rear plate by a pair of externally-flush rivets. The sabaton, which fits within the arched lower edge of the front plate of the greave, is formed of seven lames that overlap inwards towards the fourth which is considerably longer than the rest. The seventh lame constitutes the toe-cap, which is of broad, somewhat square form, with a slightly convex front edge and rounded corners. The lower edge of the toe-cap has a partial inward turn at the front, bordered by a single incised line. On the left sabaton, the turn is broken away at the outer corner. The lames of both sabatons are connected to one another and to the greave at their outer ends by modern, externally-flush rivets. Single, externally-flush rivets at either side of the toe-cap retain a modern strap beneath the toes. A single, externally-flush rivet at the centre of the front edge of the toe-cap would have served to secure the front edge of the much wider, original strap. Single, externally-flush rivets at either side of the fourth lame retain fragments of a further strap that passed under the instep of the foot. A vacant hole at either side of the sixth lame of the right sabaton must at one time have held another such strap, representing a later alteration. The left sabaton is repaired with riveted internal patches just to the outside of centre of the third lame, and the front and rear ends of the fourth lame. The longitudinal split occurring between the two patches on the fourth lame is further repaired with brazing.
The second to seventh lames of each sabaton are decorated with a roped, medial ridge that bifurcates on the seventh lame. The 'strands' of the roping are separated by pairs of incised lines. The medial ridge is bordered to either side by five flutes which are emphasised by pairs of incised lines and diverge towards the front. 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


It is likely that the rear plates of the greaves originally reached to the ground, but were subsequently trimmed, necessitating the addition of the movable lower extension-plates, perhaps during their working life. The inner edges of the rear plates are also likely to have been trimmed as their studs, which are now attached to projecting spring-strips, would almost certainly originally have been riveted directly to the edges of the plates themselves. Although the corrosion on the right greave is less severe than that on the left, it is uncertain whether this should be seen as significant.

The greaves and sabatons are bright with medium patination and some pitting overall, most severe on the left greave.

Components of the work

Straps, Leathers composed of leather
Right Depth 30.2 cm Height 46.4 cm Weight 1.73 kg Width 14.0 cm
Left Depth 30.7 cm Height 46.4 cm Weight 1.71 kg Width 13.9 cm

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : Steel, each is formed of tubular, full-length greave with an integral sabaton of seven lames, hammered, shaped, polished, riveted, with fluting, incised lines and patinated

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1.1H-1936
Primary reference Number: 17698
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

Citation for print

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

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Greaves" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-02-26 02:42:14

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{{cite web|url= |title=Greaves |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-02-26 02:42:14|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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