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Breastplate (body armour): HEN.M.105-1933

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)


Unknown (Production)


Breastplate, for infantry use, decorated with fluting in the 'Gothic' fashion. Of rounded, medially-ridged form, composed of a breastplate proper, covering the thorax, and an upward overlapping plackart, covering the abdomen. The breastplate proper has bold, angular, outward turns at the neck and arm-openings. The arm-openings are each bordered by three flutes which converge slightly before fading out at their upper and lower ends. A pair of rivet-holes for the attachment of shoulder-straps is pierced at the top of each shoulder, while a pair of lace-holes is pierced at the centre of the neck-opening. The upper edge of the plackart is decorated with five cusps, of which the central one terminates in a large leaf-shaped finial pierced at either side of its base with four decorative holes in lozenge formation. The central and outer cusps are fitted with modern round-headed rivets and internal washers that secure the plackart to the breastplate proper. The upper edge of the plackart is bordered at either side by three flutes that converge just below the central rivet. The lower edge of the plackart is flanged outwards to receive a skirt. The flange is pierced at each of its outer ends with a rivet-hole, and fitted at the centre with a pair of externally-flush rivets retaining a fragment of the internal connecting-leather.


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: 20.2 cm
Height: 39 cm
Weight: 2.23 kg
Width: 35.5 cm

Relative size of this object

35.5 cm39 cm20.2 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


Late 15th century
Production date: circa AD 1480


South German

The breastplate is bright with some patches of light pitting. The turns at the arm-openings show some cracks and delamination in the metal.

The first breastplates were not made as a single piece but in two parts – upper and lower sections called plaquarts – usually held together by a leather strap and buckle. In this late example, the two halves are riveted together. The fluting adds strength to the armour as well as creating bold and dramatic decoration. This breastplate was made for use by foot soldiers, the infantry.

Components of the work

Internal Leathers composed of leather ( fragment) Decoration Parts

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Of rounded, medially-ridged form, composed of a breastplate proper, covering the thorax, and an upward overlapping plackart, covering the abdomen; hammered, shaped, riveted with fluted decoration
Medially-ridged Formed

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.105-1933
Primary reference Number: 18570
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 13 April 2021 Last processed: Wednesday 14 April 2021

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Breastplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-08-14 22:46:06

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