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Backplate (body armour): HEN.M.119-1933

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)


Production: Unknown (Possibly)




Backplate, for use by an harquebusier, with punched engraved and gilt decoration. Formed in one-piece with a narrow flange at the waist. It has straight sides and is only weakly shaped to the shoulder-blades. Its arm-openings, its high neck-opening and its waist flange have plain inward turns bordered by round-headed lining-rivets with circular internal washers. A pair of large flat-headed rivets at each shoulder retain fragments of the missing shoulder-straps. The inner rivet at the left shoulder is a later replacement. The right shoulder is pierced with a wiring-hole. A rivet-hole pierced at each side of the waist served to attach a missing waist belt.
The backplate is decorated with recessed bands and borders of punched, engraved and gilt scrolling foliage, involving, in the vertical bands, trophies of arms.


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: 16.9 cm
Height: 46 cm
Weight: 1.81 kg
Width: 35.5 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


17th Century, Late
Production date: circa AD 1680


Backplates were usually thinner and lighter than breastplates to keep the overall weight of the armour down. This late example weighs just 1.81 kg. This style of armour was used by cavalry soldiers called harquebusiers because they were armed with a short musket called an arquebus. It is decorated with recessed bands and borders of punched, engraved and gilt scrolling foliage with trophies of arms. This type of decoration, often found on armour, was used by the wearer to indicate his wealth and status as an officer and a gentleman.

The backplate is bright with a light patination overall. The gilding is worn.

Possibly Dutch

Components of the work


Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed in one-piece with a narrow flange at the waist; hammered, shaped, riveted, decorated with recessed borders and bands of punched, engraved and gilt scrolling foliage

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: PB/31a
  • Location: Breastplate
  • Type: Tag
  • Text: PB/31b
  • Location: Backplate
  • Type: Tag

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.119-1933
Primary reference Number: 18598
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 13 April 2021 Last processed: Friday 8 December 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 (2024) "Backplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-21 00:39:22

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