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Transferred from the Rotunda Museum of Artillery, Woolwich, 1927. From Rhodes, acquired by Sir J Lefroy, 1867.

Physical Description

Of rounded form, made in one piece. The upper edge is straight, with a plain, angular and outward turn swollen at centre, and accompanied by a very broad recessed band border. The arm openings are deep, with plain edges, and pierced at the top and bottom for the missing gussets, a flat headed rivet for one of which survives at the left armpit. Near the right arm is a vertical pair of holes for the lost lance-rest. At the waist is a narrow flange, curving down to the centre, and pierced at either side for the attachment of the missing fauld.

The breastplate is embossed with a transverse ridge in a shallow arc over the belly, above which is a central group of six narrow deep flutes of V-section, with three groups of two each at either side, all flaring upwards, each with medial and framing deeply incised lines. The recessed border below the neck is etched with three panels. That at the right contains the martyrdom of St. Sebastian; at centre, the seated Madonna and Christ child; and at the left St. John the Baptist or St. Christopher. All are amidst scrolling vegetation, and incorporate winged cherub heads, on a hatched ground. The area below the ridge is etched between the groups of flutes with a now-rubbed design of flaring volutes with cusped edges. At the edge of either arm is a band of etched running arches.


Dimensions: Height 302 mm, width 331 mm, depth 182 mm Weight: 2.6 kg (5 lb 11 oz)

Inscriptions and Marks

Stamped at the right armpit with the Rotunda number MA 2302.


Bibliographic References

Official Catalogue of the Museum of Artillery in the Rotunda, London, 1874: 140, no. 2302

Official Catalogue of the Museum of Artillery in the Rotunda, Woolwich, London, 1889: 149, no. 16.232

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

W J Karcheski Jr and T Richardson, The medieval armour from Rhodes, Leeds, Royal Armouries 2000: no. 4.35


Comparable breastplates from Rhodes include III.1085 and III.1087. Very similar decoration appears on the light cavalry cuirass at Bologna, Museo Civile (no. MC 1-3, L G Boccia, E T Coelho, L'Arte dell'Armatura in Italia, Milan, 1967, pl.194-7). Both are strongly influenced by the etched armour by Niccolo da Silva, but rather inferior in execution (Pyhrr 1984).