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Plate mail jacket

Key data

Italy(?), 2nd half 15th century

Iron plates on canvas, riveted, remnants of red half silk

length 56 cm

Inv. 1874.102.


The mail jacket or brigantine consists of a system of tin coated iron plates overlapping like the tiles of a roof, fixed in groups of three to a canvas base by rivets with fluted heads. The jacket was originally lined in red half silk; remains of it were found under the rivet heads. The brigantine thus survives only in part, since of the three layers, iron plates, fabric base and lining, the last is missing. On the back of the plates is stamped a Lamb of God, which may have been either a protective sign for the wearer or the mark of the producer. Like Florentine costume of the time the jacket fits closely around the waist and is opened at the front; it may come from Italy, as Milan was a center of production of such mail jackets. The brigantine was not only used for protection, but was favoured by the nobility as a ceremonial garment. The jacket was preserved in the Basle armoury in the C18 as the "armour of Duke Charles of Burgundy" an attribution that probably saved it from oblivion.

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