Armoured Doublet from England

Armoured doublet, England (late 16th century) Armoured doublet, England (late 16th century) © The Trustees of the British Museum, acc. no. 1881,0802.60.

In medieval Europe, a special form of armour was being worn, called either a jack or a jack of plate. It was the medieval equivalent of a bullet-proof vest. A jack of plate takes the form of a doublet with a series of small iron plates sewn (quilted) between layers of canvas and sometimes felt. This type of armour may weigh about 7.5 kg.

In the British Museum, London, there is an example of a jack of plate that dates to c. AD 1580. It was acquired by the Museum in 1881. This particular example has a standing collar, short caps over the shoulders and a short skirt divided at the rear at waist height. As noted above, it was made from numerous layers of canvas sewn together with a layer of iron plate in between that acted as armour.

In this particular case, the armour element consists of numerous small pieces of iron plate (c. 38 mm in size) with a central hole and cropped corners. Several of the plates appear to have smaller holes suggesting they might be re-used plates from another jack or possibly a brigandine (a similar piece of body armour, but made with metal plates fused together rather than stitched in place). The stitched quilting lines were made using a crossbow twine as the sewing thread. At either end of the front opening is a series of eyelet holes by which the jack is held closed. The outside cloth layer of the jack is considerably damaged where the plates have corroded.

Source: EAVES, Ian, 'On the remains of a Jack of Plate excavated from Beeston Castle in Cheshire,' The Journal of the Arms and Armour Society, Vol XIII, No.2 Sept., pp. 81-154. 

British Museum online catalogue (retrieved 15 April 2017).


Last modified on Saturday, 15 April 2017 18:55