Half Armor for a  Pikeman Officer

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English, Greenwich

Half Armor for a Pikeman Officer, 1625/30

Steel, brass, leather
H. 94 cm (37 in.)
Weight: 23 lb. 6 oz.
George F. Harding Collection, 1982.2177a-f

Half armor was worn by both foot soldiers and light cavalrymen. English Pikemen were infantrymen (foot soldiers) so named for their principal weapon, the pike, a staff that measured 16 to 20 feet in length. Abundantly studded with steel brass-capped rivets within embossed V-shaped motifs, a pikeman’s armor included a helmet (pott), cuirass (breastplate and backplate), gorget (collar), and tassets (riveted steel skirt plates attached to the breastplate). For protection, the down-turned, wide-brimmed pott was originally designed to deflect arrows away from the neck, while the tassets shielded the waist and upper thighs. The patterned breastplate with bulbous tassets reflects the style of a doublet, with a wide full skirt over bulky trousers, which was fashionable at this time. The shoulder strap reinforcement and tasset hinges suggest that this harness belonged to an officer of the English Pikemen or even a member of the English royal bodyguard—the Yeomen of the Guard.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Included in Special Exhibition at Art Institute of Chicago, 1971.

Publication History

Walter Karchieski, "Arms and Armor in the Art Institute of Chicago" (Art Institute of Chicago/Little, Brown, and Company, 1995), p. 36 (ill.)

Ownership History

S.J. Whawell Collection, before 1926. Sold