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Title Siege breastplate
Nationality European
Period late 16th century

Siege breastplates were worn, together with a back plate, siege helmet and possibly tassets, from the end of the 16th century through to the Napoleonic Wars by pioneer troops engaged in digging trenches and fortifications during sieges. They had to be quite strong to deal with fragments from artillery shells and sniping from town walls.

This is likely to be of French, German, Italian or Dutch construction. As there are no armourer's marks, it is hard to tell. The date factor is suggested by the peascod shape of the base of the breastplate.

This piece weighs some 6 kilos. The leather strapwork has probably been added when the piece was cleaned (and the red paint added) by the Tower of London Armouries in the 1950s.

There is some minor damage at the right hand neck and a split to the centre of the skirt at the base of the piece. Although it has been cleaned and polished, this plate was clearly originally rough from the hammer, which is what you would expect of ordnance issue equipment of this nature. The reverse shows all the traditional hammer marks, rather heavier than normal, as it's a siege piece.

If you want to comment on this item—re quality, age, etc—please email me.

[Militaria : Armour : European : 16th Century]


Very great item and I'm very pleased with it. The bayonet arrived without any problem. Thank you.

M Z, Slovenia, 21.11.2006

Got the medal today. It's a fine medal and I'm very happy with it. Thanks.

P F, UK, 21.06.2006