Coat Of Plates

Examination of St. Maurice Coat of Plates

by David Counts

This carved figure, c.1250-1300, is that of one of the earliest coat-of-plate configurations. The effigy is that of St. Maurice and it can be found in the Magdeburg Cathedral, Germany. A number of authors (Thordeman of Wisby fame, Nicolle, etc.) have noted the early appearance of German coats-of-plates in the eastern regions of “Germany,” and have pondered possible Slav, Hungarian, or Mongol influence in the development of these coats-of-plates.

Dr. Nicolle interprets the armour as a “cloth-covered garment in which the hidden metal splints or lamellae are indicated by two rows of rivets plus some additional rivets near the shoulders. ” Dr. Nicolle interprets this coat-of-plates as being worn over a mail hauberk, but under the separate mail coif. However, Claude Blair interprets the mail coif as being attached to the coat-of-plates. Dr. Nicolle suggests the lower panels were “non-protective flaps.” If correct, perhaps these flaps are an attempt to retain the outline of the knightly gown (surcoat).

St. Maurice Coat Of Plates
St. Maurice Coat Of Plates

Claude Blair. European Armour circa 1066 to circa 1700. B. T. Batsford, Ltd., London: 1958; 3rd impression 1979. ISBN 0-7134-0729-8.
Paul Martin. Armour and Weapons. Herbert Jenkins, London: 1968. SBN 257.6604.4. The attached scan is Plate 28.
David C. Nicolle. Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era 1050-1350. Kraus International: 1998. ISBN 0-527-67128-2 (set).