A Rare French 'Toiras' Pikeman's Back-Plate
Lot 182
A Rare French 'Toiras' Pikeman's Back-Plate
Sold for £1,080 (US$ 1,815) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
A Rare French 'Toiras' Pikeman's Back-Plate
Circa 1625
Of steel, shaped to the back and base of the neck, and with an out-turned flange along the bottom, the main edges with plain bold turns bordered by incised double lines, incised with the name 'Toiras' centrally above the bottom flange, and retaining the rear ends of the leather shoulder-straps, each covered with a riveted steel plate bordered by incised double lines
43 cm. high


  • Provenance:
    Tower Of London Armouries

    The inscription on this back-plate refers to Jean de Saint-Bonnet, maréchal de Toiras (1585-1636), a distinguished French general in the service of Louis XIII, and later of the Duke of Savoy. In 1623 he was made governor of Fort Louis, in the port of La Rochelle on the French Atlantic coast, then a Huguenot (protestant) centre. As the result of a Huguenot rising in 1625, the King went to war with them, and in 1627 his forces besieged La Rochelle. The rebels were supported by Charles I of England, who sent a relief force under the command of the Duke of Buckingham, which landed and occupied the nearby island of Ré. It was eventually heavily defeated by the French royal forces, as was another expedition sent in 1628. Toiras played a prominent part in the defeat of the rebels, and the pieces under discussion, which, according to C.J. ffoulkes were captured 'from a French ship', must have been intended for his troops

    The Tower Armouries' Remains (inventories) for 1676 and 1688 contain the following entries relating to the Toiras pieces:
    'Armes of the Toryas Provision Backes 236
    Brestes 229'

    'Armr of Toiras Provon 339 Backs at 8s a pce, 239 Breasts at 8sa pce.'

    The number had been reduced to two hundred and thirteen backs and breasts by the time ffoulkes published his inventory of the Tower Armouries in 1916 (Nos. III. 184-396). A number of these, of which this back-plate is presumably one were sold through Sotheby's in the 1960s

    See C.J. ffoulkes, Inventory and Survey of the Armouries of the Tower of London, 2 vols. 1916, I, p. 153; and A.R. Dufty & W. Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, p. 9 & pl. CXX