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Ailette \Ai*lette\, n. [F. ailette, dim. of aile wing, L. ala.] A small square shield, formerly worn on the shoulders of knights, -- being the prototype of the modern epaulet.


n. A small square shield, formerly worn on the shoulders of knights, being the prototype of the epaulet.


The ailette ( French language for little wing) was a component of thirteenth century knightly armour. Usually made of cuir bouilli (sometimes of plate or parchment), ailettes were thick, quadrangular pieces of leather or wood that attached to the shoulders by means of silk or leather cord. Ailettes were usually flat and nearly rectangular in shape, and usually decorated with heraldic designs.

Ailettes made brief appearances between 1290 and 1325 before giving way to more protective joint plates that covered the joint gap in the shoulders.

The purpose of ailettes is a matter of disagreement amongst scholars. Some, such as Charles ffoulkes, claim that they enhanced protection to the neck, while others, like Ewart Oakeshott, argue that they were used primarily for decorative and heraldic reasons.

Ailette (river)

The Ailette is a long river in the Aisne département, eastern France. Its source is at Sainte-Croix. It flows generally west-northwest. It is a left tributary of the Oise into which it flows between Manicamp and Quierzy, northeast of Compiègne.

On most of its course, it shares its valley with the '' Canal de l'Oise à l'Aisne.

Usage examples of "ailette".

Allemant, Vaudesson, Malmaison, and Chavignon, with 8000 prisoners, were taken on 23 October, and by the 27th the French had captured Pinon, Pargny, and Filain, and pressed through the Pinon forest to the banks of the Ailette and the Oise and Aisne canal.

Beginning on the 17th with an attack on a ten-mile front between Tracy-le-Val and Vingre he had steadily pushed on until by the 23rd his left flank held the Oise as far as its junction with the Ailette and his front faced the latter canalized river as far as Guny.

By the 29th he was across the Ailette and threatening to turn the whole German position south of the Somme at Chauny.

Then when they crossed the open they came to the Ailette Canal, in which wire entanglements had been placed.

Their hilltop controlled passage through the valley of the Ailette to the greater valley of the Oise.

He further donated to the monks of Nogent for their sole use the rights to the fish in the river Ailette over a given distance from the Rue de Brasse to the Pont St.

The silver ailettes topped a breastplate of gold, sculpted with muscles.