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Breastplate (body armour): HEN.M.9C-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update






Breastplate with skirt, for heavy cavalry use. Formed of a main plate of 'peascod' fashion, with movable gussets at the arm-openings, a skirt of one lame and a folding lance-rest. The broad, concave neck-opening and the gussets have bold, file-roped inward turns. That at the neck is bordered by a V-shaped rib retaining traces of file-roping. The arm-openings of the main plate are bordered by single incised lines. The main plate is pierced near the right armpit with a pair of vertically-aligned holes for the attachment of a folding lance-rest. The latter is attached by two modern screws with slotted, round external heads that pass through holes in its base-plate and are secured on the inside of the breastplate by square nuts. The D-shaped base-plate is cusped at its rear and has a hollow-bevelled edge. The front face of the base-plate is decorated with radiating, filed flutes. The hinged, curved, tapering arm of the lance-rest has a globular terminal and is decorated on its front face with diagonal, filed flutes. The gussets at the arm-openings are secured to the main plate by modern, round-headed rivets at their upper and lower ends. Those at the upper end move within diagonal slots cut in the gussets. The lower rivet of the left gusset lacks its internal washer. The upper end of the main-plate is pierced to either side of its neck-opening with a rivet-hole for the attachment of a missing strap. Later rivet-holes pierced in each of the gussets immediately beneath each of the holes for the attachment of the straps must at some time have served to rigidly secure the gussets to the main plate. They are now occupied by externally-flush rivets that serve to retain modern, double-ended, tongued, iron buckles within the upper ends of the gussets. The buckles have rectangular loops and long, rectangular hasps. The lower edge of the main plate is flanged outwards to receive the skirt of one lame which is attached at either side by a single modern rivet. The rivet at the right side is flat-headed, while that at the left side is round-headed with an octagonal internal washer. The lower edge of the skirt has an arched cut-out over the crotch. The cut-out has a file-roped inward turn accompanied by a recessed border. The border is pierced with three rivet-holes, possibly for the attachment of a missing lining-band. Attached at each side of the skirt by single round-headed rivets with octagonal internal and external washers are a pair of modern leather straps for the suspension of tassets. Vacant rivet-holes located midway between each of the pairs of straps indicate the former existence of a third strap at each side. Part of the composite armour HEN.M.9A-K-1933


History note: Mr James Stewart Henderson of 'Abbotsford', Downs Road, St Helen's Park, Hastings, Sussex

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 15.5 cm
Height: 35.4 cm
Weight: 2.78 kg
Width: 35.7 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1933-03-16) by Henderson, James Stewart


16th Century
Production date: circa AD 1580


Differences in workmanship and in internal and external colour indicate that the left gusset and the skirt are modern restorations. The poor fit of the lance-rest indicates that it is associated with the breastplate.

North Italy

The breastplate and its skirt are bright with a mottled medium pitting and patination overall.

Components of the work

Buckles composed of iron (metal)
Straps composed of leather
Lance Rest

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : Formed of a main plate of 'peascod' fashion, with moveable gussets at the arm-openings, a skirt of one lame and a folding lance-rest; hammered, shaped, riveted, with fluted, bevelled and file-roped decoration

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.9C-1933
Primary reference Number: 17766
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 8 January 2016 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Breastplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-19 10:09:21

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{{cite web|url= |title=Breastplate (body armour) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-19 10:09:21|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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