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

Sources:
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).