Royal Armouries

Cuirassier Armour

Images

colour photo of a three-quarter length decorated armour

Cuirassier armour of Count Capodalista. Italian, possibly Brescia, about 1620 (II.192)

  • colour photo of a three-quarter length decorated armour

    Cuirassier armour of Count Capodalista. Italian, possibly Brescia, about 1620 (II.192)

  • monochrome photograph of a full length man's armour

    Cuirassier armour, English, London and Greenwich, 1610-25 (II.94)

  • colour photo of armour decoration showing the crucifixion

    Detail of cuirassier armour of Count Capodalista. Italian, possibly Brescia, about 1620 (II.192)

  • colour photo of an armour gauntlet showing decoration

    Detail of cuirassier armour of Count Capodalista. Italian, possibly Brescia, about 1620 (II.192)

  • monochrome photo of armoured figure in front of stained glass window

    The Capodalista armour in the New Horse Armoury. About 1880 © Private collection 2013

  • coloured engraving of a long hall displaying arms and armour

    The Great Horse Armoury, Tower of London, by Sir John Gilbert, engraved by Henry Melville, 1841-44

Date: 1620 | Object number: II.192

Statistics

Object Provenance: Italian, possibly Brescia, about 1620
Object Number: II.192

Cuirassier Armour

Description

This is a homogeneous demilance or cuirassier armour thought to have been made for count Annibale Capodalista (1598–1672), a member of a noble Paduan family who served the Venetian Republic as a mercenary commander.

It comprises a closed burgonet, the helmet made in the form of a conventional close helmet but fitted with a falling buffe instead of a lower bevor, gorget, back and breastplates, the latter with a flange at the waist to which long tassets of twenty lames plus a poleyn and extra lame at the bottom. The backplate is fitted with a most unusual culet of scale armour.

The vambraces are of conventional form, the pauldrons with main plates with two lames above and three below, permanently riveted to upper cannons with turners, bracelet couters with single articulating lames above and below, and lower cannons hinged at the rear and fastened with pin catches at the front. The gauntlets comprise cuffs and metacarpal lames only, having lost their finger and thumb scales.

Every element is etched and gilded on its original russet ground with a repeating design of crowned double-headed eagles in Classical arcading, and the breastplate is etched at the neck with a larger double headed eagle.

The armour was purchased by the Board of Ordnance in 1840 from the Gothic Hall run by the Bond Street dealer Samuel Luke Pratt. Pratt claimed to have bought it from count Oddi of Padua, and it was supposed to have belonged to one of his warlike ancestors. By the early 20th century it was considered a fake, like many (but not all) the purchases made from Pratt, and transferred to Windsor Castle in 1901. It was returned to the Tower Armouries in exchange for another cuirassier armour (II.95) in 1914, restored to its original attribution.

References

J. Hewitt, Official Catalogue of the Tower Armouries, London, 1859: 15–6, II.67
C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011: 2, 250-5

Statistics

Object Provenance: Italian, possibly Brescia, about 1620
Object Number: II.192

Related Objects

Cuirassiers’ Cuirasses Click on the title link above to find out more.

Cuirassier Armour Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1610-25 | Object number: II.94

Cuirassier Armour Click on the title link above to find out more.

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