The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Mail fragment
  • Mail fragment
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • 16th century
  • Iron
  • Length: 140 cm
    Diameter: 0.785 cm, rings
    Weight: 1.93 kg
  • A19
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
Further Reading
  • In the early 20th century this large piece of good quality mail was mounted under the composite German armour A20, to cover the gaps between the armour plates around the neck and shoulders. Later, it was removed, re-examined and re-identified as a brayette, a mail piece of armour vaguely similar in form to a pair of underpants, worn with German armour of the late 15th and early 16th centuries to protect the hips, buttocks and crotch. It appears that this identification is correct, although the piece is now incomplete. The part that survives comprised the rear and upper front parts of the brayette, wrapping around the body to join vertically up the front of the wearer's lower torso. The cod-piece is now missing. This part would have been comprised of a narrow strip of mail running up between the legs, covering the area of the perineum, before expanding into a shaped cod-piece panel designed to protect the groin. Several complete mail brayettes survive in other museum collections (for example Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Department of Arms and Armor inv nos. 27.183.9, 27.183.11, 27.183.13 and 27.183.14) , and all are comprised of a panel of similar size, shape and proportions to this piece, combined with the shaped cod-piece.