Early 16th century
Iron embossed, riveted
height 50 cm, length 65 cm, width 40 cm
The shaffron or headpiece, part of a horse's armour, is hammered from four iron plates and riveted together. Tubular, octagonal cups protect the ears, projecting grilles the eyes. At the front centre a blank, laterally folded targe is riveted to the headpiece. Groups of three ridges radiate from under the large and from the central ridge. A broad, recessed strip runs round the edges. Technically remarkable features are the low number of rivets and the fact that the side pieces fit over, not under the centre piece, which would prove a drawback in battle since the rivets could easily be broken. As the shaffron was a unique item in the Basle armoury - it is mentioned for the first time in the inventory of 1591 - the legend came into being that it was part of the personal armour of Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy. The piece probably owes its survival to the attribution. The fluting and the rough hammered finish argue against its being a Burgundian work of the C15; it was probably produced by an armourer in the early C16.