Object Title

Half Armour

Half Armour



Object Number



Purchased from the Earl of Meath, through Christies, London, 13 July 1987. From the collection of the Earl of Meath at Kilruddery, Bray, Co Wicklow, Ireland, conservaed at the Tower in 1965 and placed on loan AL.4 there from 30 May 1971.

Physical Description

The gorget has a main plate with three lames above front and rear, overlapping upwards. The lames are articulated by rivets at either side, sliding on the upper lame, and medial leathers, all modern and originally terminating in three rivets at the bottom. The upper main edge has a plain, angular inward turn, the side edges half turns, and these and the lower main edges have recessed borders containing ten lining rivets round the lower edges and nine around the upper. The main plates are riveted at the right, attached by the original hinge at the top, and fastened by a pin catch on the upper lame and a stud and keyhole slot on the mainplate at the right. At either shoulder is riveted a modern strap for the pauldrons. The rear of the right shoulder has a working-life riveted repair, and the front of the left shoulder has a large, messy modern riveted repair cutting the keyhole slot. At either shoulder of the front plate is a rivet hole matched by a hole at either side of the lower neck lame, possibly for a short additional leather. The gorget is fluted, etched and formerly gilt. It is embossed at front and rear with sprays of three, four and three flutes, and single flutes at either shoulder, each with etched lines delineating the crest. The subsidiary edges are cusped and scalloped at the fluting. The main bands between the fluting, the central flutes, the single flutes at the shoulders, the recessed borders and the subsidiary edges are etched with simple scrolling foliage on a hatched and formerly gilt ground. The breastplate is globose, with a straight upper edge and a gusset at either arm riveted at the bottom and articulated by a sliding rivet at the top. The neck and gusset edges have plain, angular outward turns. At the top of each gusset is a large rectangular-framed buckle for the shoulder straps, the right one decorated with punched hatching. There is a single waist lame to which a fauld of three lames is attached, riveted at either side. The lower lame has a modern mushroom headed stud at either side and an old but refitted turning pin at the centre, for the tassets. The breastplate is decorated with a central spray of ten flutes with a spray of four at either side. Between the sprays are broad bands of etched scrolling vegetation on a cross hatched ground bordered by simple guilloche on the bands at either side of the centre. The central spray of fluting terminated in a transverse flute at the level of the chest, on which is etched +IESUS AUTEM TRANSIES PER MEDIOM ILLORUM IBAT ('and Jesus passed through the midst of them', Luke iv.30). Above this is an etched triptych with rectangular panels bordered by multiple lines and simple guilloche. The right panel depicts the martyrdom of St Sebastian, tied to a central tree and framed by building, The central panel is decorated with the Madonna and Child seated on a chair with a spangled back in a room with a view. At the left is St Barbara holding a chalice beside a two-windowed tower. The neck and gusset edges and the tops of the central flutes are edged with vegetation. The waist lame is plain, and the fault lames decorated with sprays of eight, ten and eight flutes. The bands between and outside the flutes and the central two flutes of each spray are etched with foliage matching the breastplate. Each tasset is of nine lames terminating above the knee, with a deep lower lame. The lames are articulated by sliding rivets at the outside and by leathers at the centre and inside. The inside edges have partial inward turns, the outer edges have been cropped probably in their working lives on all but the upper two lames of the right tasset and the lower three of the left. The lower main edges have double recessed borders, the outer ones containing ten and nine modern lining rivets (right and left). Original flush lining rivets survive on right 8 and left 3, otherwise all rivets are modern. The tassets are decorated with sprays of ten flutes, the subsidiary edges cusped with the fluting. The outer borders, two central flutes and the outer borders of the lower edges are etched and formerly gilt with scrolling foliage on a hatched ground, broadly matching that of the fauld. The lowest lame of each tasset is associated, having cross hatched ground, lame 5 of the right tasset has three etched flutes, while all the others have hatched grounds, suggesting they are composed from three similar armours. The right tasset has a working life repair on lame 6, a modern repair on lame 1 and some brazing on lame 7. The left tasset has working life repairs on lames 3, 5 and 6, a modern repair on lame 1 and some brazing on lame 7. The backplate has a straight upper edge and a narrow waist lame with a culet of three lames. The neck and arm edges have plain, angular outward turns. At either shoulder is a modern strap on two rivets, and at either armpit a pair of construction holes. The waist lame is overlapped by the main plate to which it is attached by three rivets, and the upper culet lame attached by rivets at either side like the other culet lames. The lower main edge is bordered by twenty modern lining rivets of an original twenty one. It is decorated with four sprays of four flutes, and pairs of broad flutes at either arm. The culet has sprays of four, ten and four flutes. The recessed borders of the main edges, the bands between the flutes and the two central flutes of the culet are etched with scrolling foliage on a cross hatched and formerly gilt ground. The flutes parallel to the main edges are etched with a zigzag on a cross hatched ground, and a similar bands with floral ornaments runs across the top of the flutes below the neck. The etched bands flaring to either shoulder are edged with guilloche. The arm defences are composed of spaudlers permanently riveted to vambraces. Each spaudler comprises a main plate with an articulating lame and a deep upper plate above, and three lames below, all overlapping away from the main plate which has a slight bulge at the front. The main edges of the upper part of the main plate and those above have partial inward turns. The upper lames are articulated with rivets front and rear, the lower with sliding rivets at the rear, and by leathers at the centre and front. At he centre of the top plate is a large hole to fit over a peg, and a D-shaped buckle, the right one with a decorated hasp. The spaudlers are attached to short turners, tubular with riveted seams at the rear, which rotate on short upper cannons cut away at the front for the elbow joint. At the bottom is a short extension plate attached by four flush rivets. These are connected by pairs of articulating lames to couters each with a heart-shaped wing and an embossed dome and rosette at the point of the elbow. Below the couter are two more articulating lames, the subsidiary edges cut into an ogee shape. The lower cannons are made of two plates hinged on the inside with pin catches at the outside. The rear plates have extension plates like those of the upper cannons. The spaudlers are decorated with three pairs of flutes, the main edges of the upper plates having broad recessed borders. The rear of each upper cannon has a chevron of three ridges. Each lower cannon has a very brad recessed border at the main edge, and is decorated with three pairs of flutes flaring upwards. The main edges and non-fluted parts of the spaudlers are etched and formerly gilt with bands of scrolling foliage on a hatched ground, the two central bands with symmetrical sprays of foliage running down the centres. The partial turn at the top is etched with a wavy line as are the ridges of the turners. Each upper cannon is etched with a Classical portrait medallion. The edges of all the lames are etched and formerly gilt with narrow bands of foliage. The wings of the couters are embossed with sprays of six flutes, of which the upper one and central pair have etched decoration, on the right with candelabrum ornament at the centre and foliage at the top, the left with candelabrum ornament at the top and foliage at the centre. The rosettes at the points of the elbows have alternate petals etched with the same foliage. The lower cannons have narrow bands of etched foliage at the upper edges, inside the recessed borders, at the subsidiary edges and outside the spray of flutes, The flutes outside the middle pair are decorated with candelabrum ornament. The right arm has modern riveted repairs at lames 2 and 6 of the spaudler. The lame below the couter is modern, and the lames below that and the lame above the couter have brazed repairs. Lame 2 of the spaudler has a working life repair, as does the turner. The lower lames have an extra set of rivet holes where they were once riveted solid. The left arm has a modern repair on the lame above the couter, a working life repair on the lame below it, and a braze below that. All the leathers and articulating rivets are modern.


Dimensions: as mounted height 760 mm, width 760 mm; gorget height 203 mm, width 340 mm, depth 230 mm; breastplate height 380 mm, width 360 mm; right tasset height 275 mm, width 220 mm; left tasset height 268 mm, width 202 mm; backplate height 385 mm, width 380 mm; right vambrace length 620 mm; left vambrace length 620 mm. Weight: total 11,795 g, gorget 1155 g, breastplate 3765 g, right tasset 690 g, left tasset 660 g, backplate 2460 g, right vambrace 1530 g, left vambrace 1535 g.

Inscriptions and Marks



Places Italy

Bibliographic References

T Richardson 'The 'Iesus Autem Transies' armour', The Armourer, Summer, 1988 (with the wrong illustration)


The breastplate is part of a large group of armour with triptychs and inscriptions. The same inscription is found on the breastplate and basinet visor of Churburg 13 (Trapp and Mannn 1929: 19-26) and the ex-Ressman possibly ex-Churburg gauntlets in the Bargello, Florence (Boccia and Coelho 1967: pl. 7). It is also found on an armour like the Meath one once in the castle of ValÞre at Sion (Mann 1929: pl. lxxvi fig. 2). The talismanic use of St Barbara and St Sebastian on this group is common, see Churburg 70 (Trapp and Mann 1929: 165-7) Solothurn no. 2 (Wegeli 1905: 1, pl. 2) and the diamond embossed Bargello M.756 (Boccia and Coelho 1967: 228-35, pl. 223-6). It is difficult to assess the degree of composition of the armour. The decoration of the gorget is not matched by any other element. The back and breastplate are a very good fit and their decoration is close enough to suggest that they belong together. Comparing the cross-hatching it is clear that the fauld, culet and lowest tasset lames belong together, the remainder of the tassets belonging to another armour except for right lame 5 which is further associated. The arm defences are homogeneous, and could possibly belong with the hatched-ground tassets. The fauld has lost at least one lame, probably two (compare III.1087 from Rhodes and its fauld AL.85 from the Higgins Armory Museum). The armour was extensively restored by Mr E H Smith of the RA in 1965. Flakes for analysis were taken by Alan Williams in September 1988, culet lame 1 and left tasset lame 2.