Object Title

Boy's armour

Boy's armour

Date

1610

Object Number

II.126

Provenance

Tower arsenal? Has been in the armouries since at least the 18th century. See notes for further details.

Physical Description

Helmet of burgonet form; the skull is embossed with a scale pattern and has a crest in the form of a dragon rivetted to it. There is a peak embossed as the upper part of a monster's head attached by rivets and partly covering the front of the skull, cheekpieces also riveted on and a chinpiece rivetted inside the latter while a neckguard is rivetted over the base of the skull. The helmet has been subjected to considerable alteration and it's original form is difficult to determine. Breastplate of typical early seventeenth form; wide tassets of seven lames, a culet of five lames is attached to the backplate. Full arm-pieces, the main plates of the pauldrons being embossed as dragons masks. The gauntlets have a moveable plate on the underside of the cuff in the Greenwich manner. Complete leg-pieces, the cuishes with two articulations in the upper part; the sabatons of eleven lames.

Dimensions

Dimensions: Height to crown of helmet: 35.7 in, Overall height: 37.5 in [Dimensions to be checked] Weight: 11lb 10 oz

Component parts

Inscriptions and Marks

None.

Bibliographic References

A.R. Dufty and W. Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, plate LXVIII.

N. Hall, 'The giant and the dwarf', A. Borg, Strange stories from the Tower of London, London, 1976: 47-49

B Clifford and K Watts, Princely armours and weapons of childhood, Royal Armouries, Leeds 2003: 21

Notes

Although this armour has been in the Armouries at least since the 18th century and possibly earlier, references to it in the inventories and guidebooks and vague and uninformative. It may be the small armour which in the 18th century was labelled Richard, Duke of York and by 1830 Charles, Prince of Wales, but the descriptions are too vague for this to be certain. The armour is quite well proportioned and is correctly constructed and would be wearable by someone small enough. Hewitt in his catalogue of 1853 suggests that it was made for a dwarf and in this connection Jeffrey Hudson, the dwarf of Queen Henrietta Maria may be suggested as a possible owner. Hudson who entered the Queen's service about 1630, is described as being about eighteen inches tall at this date though he later grew to a height of over three feet.


Notes in the inventory record that the helmet is identical to that worn by Charles I in Le Sueur's bust at Stourhead, Wiltshire (National Trust Property). This has also lost its wings (colour scan of bust is on inventory file)


The armour might have been that of Charles I as a child. J.J Keevil, 'The illness of Charles, Duke of Albany (Charles I), from 1600 to 1612: An Historical Case of Rickets', Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 1954, Vol. IX No. 4, pp.407-19, suggests that, at an early age, he suffered from rickets, which would have stunted his growth, and resulted in feeble limbs and a swollen head.