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Spanish morion: HEN.M.38-1933

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)






'Spanish' morion, for infantry use, with modern etched and gilt decoration. Formed in one piece with an almond-shaped crown that curves down at each side and rises to a short, backward-directed 'stalk' at its apex; and an integral brim that is turned down at each side and curves up to a point at the front and rear. The edge of the brim has a file-roped inward turn accompanied by a narrow, recessed border. The brim shows two cracks in its left edge and is pierced with three later holes at the centre of its left side. The base of the crown is encircled by fourteen brass-capped, round-headed lining-rivets fitted with brass rosette washers externally, and circular iron washers internally. Two of the external washers are incomplete, and two of the internal washers are missing. Attached at the nape by a pair of brass-capped, round-headed rivets is a modern brass plume-holder with seven radiating arms with outward scrolled ends. The centre of the plume-holder is engraved with a crowned coat of arms.
The helmet is decorated on its crown with twelve vertical bands of etched and gilt trophies that radiate from its apex. Each band is enclosed to either side by three narrow plain bands. The base of the crown is encircled by five narrow, etched and gilt bands, of which the second and fourth are cabled and the remainder are plain. The brim is decorated with etched and gilt scrolling foliage.


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: 38.1 cm
Height: 31.9 cm
Weight: 1.67 kg
Width: 25.5 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


16th Century, Late
Production date: circa AD 1580


Like the comb morion, this type of helmet is often called a ‘Spanish’ morion though they were popular right across Europe. They were used by foot soldiers usually wearing a simple half armour consisting of a cuirass, breast and backplate, and armour for the arms, vambraces. Originally, it would have had cheekpieces on either side to protect the sides of the face and by which the helmet was secured on the head.

North Italian

The helmet is bright with medium pitting and patination overall. The gilding of the etched decoration shows some wear.

The treatment of the etching, taken in conjunction with its freshness relative to the pitting of the intervening surfaces, which appears to have been chemically induced, suggests that it was added to the helmet in modern times.

Components of the work

Decoration composed of gilt
Internal Washers composed of iron (metal)
Plume-holder composed of brass (alloy)
Rivet Caps composed of brass (alloy)
Rosette Washers composed of brass (alloy)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed in one piece with an almond-shaped crown that curves down at each side and rises to a short, backward-directed 'stalk' at its apex; and an integral brim that is turned down at each side and curves up to a point at the front and rear; hammered, shaped, riveted, with file-roping, etched and gilded decoration, recessed borders, and an engraved plume-holder

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.38-1933
Primary reference Number: 18294
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 19 April 2021 Last processed: Thursday 3 August 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 (2023) "Spanish morion" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-12-05 06:46:18

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{{cite web|url= |title=Spanish morion |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-12-05 06:46:18|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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