Object Title

Mail shirt

Mail shirt

Date

1331-1370

Object Number

III.1279

Provenance

Purchased from the National Magazine Co. (William Randolph Hearst Collection) October 1952, with the help of the Pilgrim Trust, the National Art Collections Fund and a special Exchequer Grant. one of 52 items purchased together. From the collection of Dr Fritsch, Lucerne, bought privately by Hearst via Raymond Bartell, June 1935

Physical Description

Hip length with fairly wide three quarter length sleeves. Constructed of alternate rows of riveted and welded rings. The mail is of alternate rows of solid and riveted links, and the riveted links are closed by wedge-shaped rivets with small rounded heads 1.47 mm in diameter. The cuffs are bordered by three rows of brass links closed by wedge-shaped iron rivets, and the lower edge by two rows. A collar of heavy 15th century riveted mail has been added to the neck. The shirt probably did not originally have a collar.

Featured in

Hundred Years War

Dimensions

Dimensions: Riveted link diameter outside 12.68 mm, inside 8.66 mm, wire thickness 1.36 mm, wire width 2.00 mm; welded link diameter outside 12.62 mm, inside 8.31 mm, wire thickness 1.30 mm, wire width 2.18 mm. When mounted total height is 1100mm and 500mm wide Weight: 23 lb 6 oz

Inscriptions and Marks

None visible

Associations

Places Germany

Bibliographic References

E.M. Burgess, 'The mail shirt from the Hearst Colection', Antiquaries Journal, 1958 (?).

A.R. Dufty and W. Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, plate CXXVI.

Dorling Kindersley, Weapon. A visual history of arms & armour, Dorling Kindersley Ltd, London, 2006, p. 93

M Levkoff (ed), Hearst the collector, Los Angeles Museum of Art, 2008: 158, no. 18

Notes

Stuart Pyhrr provided a photocopy of Hearst's 'General Memorandum of purchases' for 1935, which lists 28 June 1935, 'Bought from Dr 'Fritsch' a rare chain mail Coat with Beaver and Cape combined of Rudolf Erzherzog von Austria year 1420, Price Austrian schillings 12,000', suggesting that Dr 'Fritsch' was a pseudonym. Traditionally the mail shirt and aventail of Rudolph IV of Hapsburg, Duke of Austria, Carinthia and Ferrette (1339-1365). The hip length mail shirt or habergeon is constructed of alternate rows of riveted and welded rings, the riveted links closed by wedge-shaped rivets. As such it is one of a very few examples of European mail datable to the 14th century. The cuffs are bordered by three rows of copper alloy links closed by wedge-shaped iron rivets, and the lower edge by two rows. A collar of heavy 15th century riveted mail has been added to the neck; it probably did not originally have a collar, and this supports a pre-1350 date for the shirt. The aventail is of mail of all-riveted construction, the links fastened by wedge-shaped rivets. The mail is bordered by two rows of copper alloy links. The basinet with which it is displayed was made in the Armouries workshop at the Tower by Ted Smith, Arthur Davis and Russell Robinson in 1957.