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Object Title

Armour for field and tournament

Armour for field and tournament

Date

1540

Object Number

II.8

Provenance

Transferred from Greenwich in 1649. Mitten gauntlets transferred from Windsor Castle, 1914.

Physical Description

Close helmet, the skullpiece with low comb. One piece visor, the vision slit with central division and another on either side, the lower part pierced with numerous small horizontal slits for ventilation. There is a spring catch on the chinpiece to secure the visor when closed and a second catch, now missing to keep it in the raised position. The chinpiece opens on the visor pivots and is secured to the skullpiece by another spring catch. The helmet appears to have been originally made to fit on to the top plate of the gorget but the hollow flange at the bottom edge has been removed. The gorget proper has tow movable lames at the neck and is worn over the cuirass, the main plates being embossed to fit over the turns at the upper edges of the breast and back-plates.


The breastplate with slight central ridge has movable gussets; there are three pegs or staples for securing the missing reinforcing breastplate and in the centre a hole for the bolt which as well as holding the reinforcing breast also secured the inner ventral plate (see 8s). There is a similar hole in the backplate for the rear plate of the ventral harness. The backplate has been increased in sixe by means of plates riveted to either side. The breast and backplate are fastened together over the shoulders by hinged steel shoulderstraps of typical Greenwich design. The cuirass is articulated once at the waist and to this plate on the breast is attached a fauld of three lames and long tassets of six lames all the plates overlapping downwards. To the backplate a culet now of three lames (a fourth, upper lame missing) is attached by turning pins.


Armpieces with full pauldrons of five lames, the right pauldron reduced in depth in front for the lance. Both have been fitted with detachable upright guards that for th right shoulder missing. The rerebraces are made in two pieces connected by sliding rivets to alow a certain turning movement. The Greenwich design couters have large detachable plates wich completely encircle the inner bend of the elbow this being also protected by articulated splints. Miten gaultlets, the boxed cuffs opening on hinges. The cuishes have extensions to the main plates at teh top articulated on rivets and leathers; poleyns with large fan-plates. The greaves end at the ankle being intedged to fit over high, boot-like sabatons now missing.


Decoration. This consists of narrow bands ethced and gilt with scrolling foliage on a plain ground which border all plates, the outer edges of the main plated being sunken.

Featured in

Dimensions

Dimensions: height as mounted 1875 mm (74 in) . Waist external 1292 mm (51 in), chest external 1380 mm (54.5 in) Weight: 35.33 kg (77 lb 13 oz)

Inscriptions and Marks

The upper plate at the front of the gorget bears the date 1540, while the band at the upper edge of the breastplate bears a crowned H in the centre.

Bibliographic References

G.F. Laking, A Record of European Armour and Arms London 1920, III: 228-31

C Beard, 'An iconographical problem', Connoisseur, LXXXVII, June 1931: 358-65.

J G Mann, 'Greenwich armour and sculptured tombs' Connoisseur, LXXXVIII, Aug 1931: 88-95.

C Blair, 'New light on four Almain armours: 2, Connoisseur, 144, Dec 1959: 240-44

A.R. Dufty and W. Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, plates IV, XVIII-XXIII.

Ian Eaves, 'The Tournament Armours of King Henry VIII of England', Livrust Kammaren, 1993, pp.24-38, figs 20, 21, 24.

C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011 volume 2

G Rimer, T Richardson and J P D Cooper, Henry VIII: arms and the man, Leeds, 2009, p.223

Notes

This armour together with II.9, now transferred to Windsor Castle, is one of the armours mentioned in the inventory drawn up in 1547 after Henry VIII's death and described as being at Greenwich. The decoration is attributed by C Blair to Giovanni de Maiano, a Florentine working in England for Henry's court (C Blair, 'New light on four Almain armours: 2', Connoisseur, 144, Dec 1959: 240-44). The scene of tritons found on the grandguard and breatplate appears on a sketch by Hans Holbein in the Museum of Fine Arts, Basel (H M Tower of London, Exhibition of armour made in the Royal Workshops at Greenwich, London, 1951, figs 1-2) so it is most likely that Holbein at least contributed to the design. In any case, we find a 'Master Hans' who has been identified as Holbein working under de Maiano on the paining of the triumphal arches at Greenwich (Blair, also A B Chamberlain, Hans Holbein the Younger, London, 1913, I: 311-7), so the two were co-operating at this time. Greaves fitted with new hinges, May 1949. Two gorget plates removed. RC2: Permission to lend required from the sovereign. The waist dimension was traditionally published as 54 in (Greenwich catalogue etc,), but on the label of 1998 in the Tower display the chest is given as 54 in. This was checked in 2007 by Chris Smith and Bridget Clifford: the external waist is confirmed at 51 in.

ii.8j - cod piece
ii.8 was displayed mounted in the Horse Armoury in the earliest illustrations of the display (1805) and thereafter in stereo cards etc - and the cod piece may have been removed even before Victorian sensibilities could be offended.
ffoulkes "Inventory and Survey of the Armouries of the Tower" (1916) p.107 notes that it preserves its crimson velvet and horsehair lining, and has escaped 'the overcleaning of past ages'. It was on display in the Armouries in the 18th C where as ffoulkes coyly puts it 'the cause of certain scandals'.

No record of the date of its removal to Windsor, but Laking chanced across it at the end of the 'previous century 'in the Round Tower and it returned to ToL July 22, 1914.

p.70 reveals more, with saucy comments on it from M Cesare de Saussure visiting in 1725 ["If you press a spot in the floor with your feet you will see something surprising with regard to this figure; but I will say no more, and leave you to guess what it is"] and Ned Ward 1660-7 (TheLondon Spy), the brayette 'in those days being shown on the figures, with a freedom customary to that period'. There was a story that sticking a pin into the lining increased lady's chances of falling pregnant, and no doubt it was quite a profitable side line for those touring visiting parties. ffoulkes notes however, thataccording to Walpole's 'memoirs' (vol IV, 226) such 'offences against modesty in the Armouries were stopped by the influence of Archbishop Secker in the middle of the 18th C'. Boreman's Guide of 1741 ends his description of the Armouries with 'an indelicate rhyme on the subject' which may well have surprised his childish subscribers.
Thomas Secker (1693 - 1768); Archbishop of Canterbury from 1758.
Boreman - Curiosities in the Tower of London, vol 2 (1741) p.60 - Gale ECCO print edition
"I have now told my young readers all the fine things that I know of in this pompous place, excepting one,
And that's a secret
Which king Harry has to show; And so must remain,
Till they to men and women grow"

Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII
Thumbnail image of Armour for field and tournament of King Henry VIII