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Breastplate (body armour): HEN.M.17C-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update


Production: Unknown




Breastplate, for use by a cuirassier. The breastplate is made in one piece with an upstanding flange at its neck-opening and a flange at the waist. It is medially-ridged and dips down at the centre of the waist. Its arm-openings, narrow neck-opening and waist-flange have plain inward turns. The turns at the arm-openings are bordered by pairs of incised lines. Riveted low down at each shoulder is a modern mushroom-shaped stud with an oval head, intended to engage the shoulder-straps of the backplate. Two of the three holes pierced below each of them, at either side of the chest, may have served to retain pierced studs and swivel-hooks that originally engaged and secured the shoulder-straps. A modern swivel-hook riveted at each side of the breastplate serves to engage the pierced studs riveted at each side of the backplate. A later hole is pierced to the inside of each of the swivel-hooks. A modern mushroom-shaped stud for the suspension of the tassets is riveted at each side of the waist-flange. Part of the composite three-quarter armour HEN.M.17A-G-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: 16.5 cm
Height: 36.5 cm
Weight: 1.15 kg
Width: 35.0 cm

Relative size of this object

35 cm36.5 cm16.5 cm What does this represent?

Relative size of this object is displayed using code inspired by Good Form and Spectacle's work on the British Museum's Waddeson Bequest website and their dimension drawer. They chose a tennis ball to represent a universally sized object, from which you could envisage the size of an object.

Acquisition and important dates

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


17th Century
Circa 1620 CE - 1630 CE


The armour is bright with a variable light to medium patination overall. It has suffered some dents, buckles and cracks.

The breastplate and the backplate do not fit each other perfectly, but otherwise match each other so well that they probably derive from the same series of armours. The form of their neck opening indicates that they were intended for wear without a collar. It is conceivable that they were originally made for wear by an harquebusier together with an open-faced close helmet, pauldrons and a skirt.

Components of the work


Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : The medially-ridged breastplate is made in one piece with an upstanding flange at its neck-opening and a flange at the waist; hammered, shaped, riveted, with incised decoration

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.17C-1933
Primary reference Number: 17993
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 8 January 2016 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

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 (2022) "Breastplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-11-26 20:35:50

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{{cite web|url= |title=Breastplate (body armour) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-11-26 20:35:50|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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