Object Title

Crinet - Of mail

Crinet - Of mail



Object Number

VI.655 B


Purchased from Czerny's International Auction House, 6 February 2007.

Physical Description

The crinet forms a tube, open at both ends, and widening from one end to the other to fit the horse's neck. The solid links are circular and even and the rivets that fasten them closed are of a wedge-shape. The mail is formed of sections in which rows of riveted and solid links alternate. The riveted links have high, rounded rivets on the outside and the narrow, flush rectangles, characteristic of the wedge-shaped rivets of European medieval mail, on the inside. Near the upper end of the longest (rear) open side are two rivets with washers retaining the bases of one or two buff leather straps. These are positioned in a place where they would naturally connect to the pommel of the saddle to secure the crinet in position. The mail is marked directly opposite the upper row with a watershed, where the rows of mail join at an angle. At the front end of this join is an area of damaged mail where some links have been stretched to an oval shape, some have lost their rivets and some are probably missing. This area has been repaired with some pieces of iron wire. Otherwise the mail is remarkably undamaged throughout, with only a few individual links lost. The mail is somewhat corroded around the area of the damage, whereas throughout the rest of the garment it is evenly patinated.
Examination of the links reveals a regular construction with no obvious repairs, though there are areas where the rows do not alternate regularly. No signed links are evident. The solid links also have the characteristic flattened circular form found on the few known European medieval mail garments of this construction.





LinkDiameter8 mm
OverallLength745 mm
OverallWidth830 mm
OveralWeight5.3 kg

Inscriptions and Marks



Places Italy/Europe


This is the earliest known example of a mail crinet, worn to protect the horse's neck over layers of textiles. One of the few representations of a shaffron of this type, on a knight from a chess set in the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, dated to 1350-1360, is shown with a complete mail bard partly covered in fabric (accession number 68.95, Western European, possibly English), while another representation from a manuscript of Christine de Pisan, shows a similar plate shaffron and mail crinet (Christine de Pizan, 'L'Épître Othéa' in BL Harley MS 4431 fol. 112: "The Book of the Queen" (various works), c. 1410-14, France - Paris). European mail of this period and construction is relatively rare, and the Royal Armouries collection includes only two examples, III.28, a mail coif and III.1279 the mail hauberk traditionally of Rudolph IV of Hapsburg, Duke of Austria, Carinthia and Ferrette (1339-65).