Notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly wore this suit of homemade iron armor in his final shootout with police. (A policeman is modeling the armor in the photo.) The armor protected Kelly, although his unarmed arms and legs were wounded.
Photograph by Oswald Thomas Madeley, courtesy the State Library of Victoria. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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  • On June 28, 1880, police captured notorious Australian bushranger Ned Kelly. A “bushranger” was an outlaw who used the Australian Outback as a place of refuge from legal authority. Ned Kelly and the “Kelly Gang” were bushrangers wanted for murder, bank robbery, and cattle and horse theft. 
     
    After years of eluding police, the Kelly Gang was finally cornered at a hotel in the small town of Glenrowan, Victoria. Instead of surrendering, the Kelly Gang came out with guns blazing, causing injuries and death for hostages, police, and members of the gang itself. 
     
    Perhaps most famously, Ned Kelly equipped himself with a remarkable suit of homemade armor. The armor was iron, and weighed 41 kilograms (90 pounds). It included a helmet, breastplate, backplate, and shoulder guards. The heavy armor protected Kelly from a hail of bullets, although he was injured in his unprotected legs and arms.
     
    Ned Kelly’s reputation has outlived the man himself, who was executed for his crimes just four months after being captured. Kelly has become an icon—a popular, if controversial symbol of rebellion in Australia. He has been the subject of dozens of books, films, songs, and paintings. Even the police station in Jerilderie, a town robbed by Kelly, is modeled on the design of his armored helmet.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    armor Noun

    protective covering.

    authority Noun

    person or organization responsible for making decisions.

    bushranger Noun

    18th- and 19th-century bandit who took refuge in the Australian Outback (bush).

    cattle Noun

    cows and oxen.

    controversial Noun

    questionable or leading to argument.

    crime Noun

    unlawful activity.

    elude Verb

    to escape or avoid detection.

    equip Verb

    to prepare or provide the right equipment.

    execute Verb

    to put to death by order of the law or in a well-planned manner.

    hail Noun

    forceful shower of something.

    hostage Noun

    person held as security until certain terms and conditions (such as payment of a ransom) are met.

    icon Noun

    an image or person used to represent something.

    murder Verb

    to kill a person.

    notorious Adjective

    well-known for negative reasons.

    Outback Noun

    remote, sparsely populated interior region of Australia.

    police Noun

    local, state, or national government organization for law enforcement.

    rebellion Noun

    organized resistance to an authority.

    refuge Noun

    shelter or protection from danger.

    remarkable Adjective

    unusual and dramatic.

    reputation Noun

    estimation or value in which a person or thing is held.

    robbery Noun

    illegal taking of another person's or organization's property.

    surrender Verb

    to give up.