This article contributes to the growing body of scholarship on the material culture of the Habsburg-Valois Italian Wars. It explores the ways that hat badges, round gold or bronze accessories worn on male headwear, were idiosyncratic examples of jewelry that partook in ritual acts of deference that characterized visual power plays between men during the period 1494 to 1559. Far from being mere adornments, hat badges were products of the wars that worked within preexisting systems of deference to construct notions of hegemonic masculinity related to princely power, dynastic lineages, and military prowess. In some instances, hat badges could also disrupt traditional meanings of power when utilized by those without proper claim to it, such as mercenaries and women. Hat badges were therefore more than mere adornments. They were objects that worked to simultaneously uphold and undermine ideas of hegemonic masculinity during the wars of the early sixteenth century.
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