Skip to main content

Cuisses: HEN.M.14K-1933

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)






Two cuisses and poleyns almost forming a pair, for light field use. Each formed of a gutter-shaped main plate, a modern upper extension plate and a winged poleyn of five lames. The main plate is boxed in three vertical panels separated by a medial and a lateral ridge. Its upper edge, which slopes up slightly to the outside, has a bold, plain, partial inward turn accompanied by a recessed border containing six modern round-headed lining-rivets. The innermost and outermost rivets are fitted with square or octagonal internal washers and now serve to attach the upper extension-plate within the upper edge of the main plate. The extension-plate is connected to the main plate medially by a modern internal leather secured to each element by a pair of round-headed rivets with square, octagonal or circular internal washers. In the case of the right cuisse, the inner of each pair of rivets has been omitted. The hole for that in the main plate is filled with a round-headed rivet that does not now engage the leather. The short upper extension-plate of each cuisse has a strongly convex upper edge that rises towards its outer end. The edge has a plain, partial inward turn accompanied by a recessed border containing seven modern lining-rivets, all of which are round-headed except for the outermost one of the right cuisse, which is flat-headed. The lower end of the main plate is decorated with a pair of markedly diverging, curved, shallow flutes. The cuisse is now fastened around the rear of the thigh by a modern buff-leather strap that is cut with slits at either end to button over modern rivets that project from near the upper end of each side of the main plate. The rivets have flat, radially-fluted heads. The holes that they occupied would originally have served to secure conventional straps and buckles. The outer edge of the main plate curves inwards to a rounded corner at its lower end. Attached to the lower edge of the main plate is a medially-ridged poleyn of five lames that overlap outwards from the third. The lames are connected to one another and to the cuisse at their outer ends by externally-flush rivets, some of which are replaced. Rivet-holes pierced in the lower edge of the main plate of the left cuisse, just to the inside of each of the present articulation-points, suggest that the poleyn now mounted with it is associated. The edges of all five lames of the poleyn are cusped medially. The edges of the first, second, fourth and fifth lames are also cusped at their articulation-points. The third lame is shaped to the point of the knee and has an oval, centrally-puckered wing that is obtusely pointed at its rear. The edge of the wing has a plain, partial inward turn accompanied by a recessed border, except at the pucker. The point of the knee is decorated with a vertical, elongated, almond-shaped rib. The rib of the left poleyn is decorated with file-roping. A similar, more slender horizontal rib, without roping, decorates the side of each poleyn just in front of the pucker of the wing. The rib of the right poleyn is slightly longer than that of the left poleyn. Located just behind the horizontal rib of each poleyn is an externally-flush rivet that would originally have served to attach a strap and buckle that engaged a strap riveted at the inner end of the same lame. The rivet for the inner strap is externally-flush in the case of the right poleyn, and round-headed in the case of the left poleyn. It is probable that each poleyn would originally have been extended downwards by a further plate that formed a short shin-defence. The holes for its attachment have been opened out to crudely-formed key-hole slots intended to receive the turning-pins of the greave associated with each cuisse and poleyn in modern times. Part of the composite armour HEN.M.14A-L-1933.


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

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Acquisition and important dates

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


16th Century, Early#
Production date: circa AD 1510


Spanish, possibly Aragonese

The cuisses and poleyns are bright with a light to medium patination overall, and a few small patches of heavy pitting.

The cuisses would not originally have been fitted with upper extension-plates.

Components of the work

Cuisse Straps composed of leather ( modern)
Internal Leather composed of leather ( modern)
Left Depth 13.8 cm Height 39.2 cm Weight 1.04 kg Width 17.3 cm
Right Depth 13.8 cm Height 40.4 cm Weight 1 kg Width 17 cm
Rib Decoration

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : Each formed of a gutter-shaped main plate, a modern upper extension plate and a winged medially-ridged poleyn of five lames; hammered, shaped, riveted, with incised decoration, file-roped ribs and recessed borders

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.14K-1933
Primary reference Number: 17935
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 14 September 2022 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) "Cuisses" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-19 14:20:16

Citation for Wikipedia

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

{{cite web|url= |title=Cuisses |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-19 14:20:16|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: M.13-1941

Composite armour

Accession Number: M.1.1A-H-1936

Sign up for updates

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