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Breastplate (body armour): HEN.M.110-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update


Production: Unknown




Breastplate with skirt for infantry or light use. Formed of a rounded, medially-ridged main plate projecting forward over the belly and fitted with moveable gussets at the arm-openings, a separate waist-plate and a skirt of three lames. The almost straight neck-opening and the gussets have boldly roped inward turns. The main plate is pierced just below the centre of the neck-opening with a pair of lace-holes. A later hole is pierced just below them. The gussets are secured to the main plate by modern, round-headed rivets at their upper and lower ends. Those at the upper end move within slots in the gusset. Attached to the top of each gusset by a single externally-flush rivet is a small, double-ended buckle with a central tongue, filed decoration and plain rectangular hasp, of which the right is damaged and the left is restored. Fitted within the lower edge of the main plate and secured to it by three modern, round-headed rivets, of which the right one retains an internal washer, is a waist-plate which is flanged outwards to receive a skirt and decorated at the waist-line with a pair of incised lines. Attached to the waist-flange by a modern, round-headed rivet with an octagonal internal washer at either end is a contemporary, but associated, skirt of three upward-overlapping lames, each of which is medially ridged and decorated at the centre of its upper edge with a filed ogee. The rivets occupy modern holes in the first lame of the skirt that have been pierced just to the inside of the original connecting-holes which are now filled with modern, round-headed rivets. The outer ends of the skirt-lames have file-roped partial turns accompanied by recessed borders. The lames are connected to one another by sliding rivets near their outer ends, and were formerly connected to one another by internal leathers secured by externally-flush rivets at their outer ends and to either side of the centre. Fragments of the leathers are preserved at the right outer end of the second lame and the left outer end of the third lame. The third lame is fitted at either side with a pair of modern straps for the attachment of tassets, although the arrangement of the rivets and holes in that lame show that the missing tassets were originally articulated to it directly. The straps are retained by the sliding rivets that connect the third to the second lame and by round-headed rivets that occupy modern holes pierced to either side of the centre of the third lame. The right end of the third lame, which was broken off through the slot for the sliding-rivet, is replaced by a modern restoration secured by three externally-flush rivets.


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: 18 cm
Height: 43 cm
Weight: 3.099 kg
Width: 35.3 cm

Relative size of this object

35.3 cm43 cm18 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


Mid-16th Century
Production date: circa AD 1540


South German

The breastplate and skirt are bright with light patination and some patches of pitting, especially at the gussets which show some rust-perforations.

Components of the work

Internal Leathers composed of leather ( fragments)
Main Plate
Skirt Lames

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed of a rounded, medially-ridged main plate projecting forward over the belly and fitted with moveable gussets at the arm-openings, a separate waist-plate and a skirt of three medially-ridged lames; hammered, shaped, riveted, with incised, file-roped and filed decoration, and recessed borders

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.110-1933
Primary reference Number: 18580
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 11 January 2023 Last processed: Wednesday 11 January 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 (2023) "Breastplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-02-02 09:40:27

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