Object Title





Object Number



Tower Arsenal. Probably sold from the Palace at Greenwich about 1649. Purchased back by Edward Annesley, and moved to the Tower by 1650

Physical Description

This full field armour is engraved and gilt overall. It comprises a close helmet, a gorget, a breastplate, a pair of tassets, a backplate, a culet, cuisses and poleyns, greaves and sabatons, pauldrons and vambraces, gauntlets. The close helmet comprises a skullpiece, a bevor, a two-piece visor and double gorget plates. The skullpiece is made in two halves with a low comb. The face-opening is square-cut around the face with an inward turn at the brow. It is bordered by 21 lining rivets, of which one is missing, six are round-headed and the rest flush. There is a sprung-stud on the right side of the face-opening which passes through a pierced hole on the bevor to secure the visor in the raised position. The lower rear edge is flanged for the rear gorget lames, above which are 9 round-headed lining rivets of which two are missing. Low on the right side is a pierced stud for the the attachment of the bevor swivel hook. At the rear base of the comb is a characteristic plume-tube surmounted by three fleur de lys which is riveted to the skull through bilobate wings. The bevor overlaps the side face-opening of the skullpiece and is shaped for the chin. It is aticulated by a pivot-pin at either side of the skull. It has a turned upper main edge with 14 lining rivets of which 6 are clustered at the chin. It is flanged at its base for the front gorget lames. On the right side one swivel-hook secures the bevor to the skull, while another secures the visor to the bevor. The visor consists of an upper and lower part and is articulated by the same pivot-pin as the bevor at either side of the skull. The upper visor is prow-shaped with two vision slits. It is shaped to overlap the comb of the skull and is flanged to fit within the lower visor. The lower visor is pierced with a rosette of ventilation holes on either side. The right upper edge of the lower visor has a vertical slot to engage the missing lifting-peg of the upper visor. Low on the right side is a pierced stud for the the attachment of the bevor swivel hook. The gorget plates consist of a front and rear plate each with two lames overlapping upwards and articulated by a rivet at either side. A pair of horizontally-aligned rivets at the front and rear are for securing the central, internal strap-end. The lower main edge of both plates is turned and is bordered by 24 lining-rivets. The gorget consists of a single plate front and rear which are secured by a flat-headed rivet on the left and closed by a mushroom-headed stud and pierced opening arrangement on the right. The gorget has a raised neck whose main edge has a inward turn and a plain lower edge that is shaped to a blunt point. The lower edge is bordered by 26 lining rivets while the upper edge has 14 lining rivets. At either side of the rear plate is a strap to secure the pauldrons. The breastplate is is made in one piece and is shaped to a small point at the base. The main edges have inward turns. The lower edge has an outward flange which serve to support the tassets. There are 24 lining-rivets bordering the lower and side edges. At either side of the neck is a strap to secure the breasplate to the backplate. There are hinged Greenwich-style hasps at either side with a three-hole option for perfect fitting. There is a large, crudely pierced hole bordering the centre of the neck edge. The right and left tassets are composed of 7 lames which overlap upwards and each is shaped to the thigh. The lames are attached to each other by the usual arrangement of a central and inner leather and an outer column of sliding-rivets. The top lame functions as a fauld and has 12 round-headed lining rivets. Both halves of the fauld plate are fitted with pierced lugs for the hooks of the sword hanger. The lowest lame has a mushroom-headed stud at the centre and inner side and a swivel-hook at the outer side. The tassets and culet are fastened together at the sides by hinges with removeable pins, the whole being secured in position by a buckle and strap fitted on the inner upper edge of each tasset. The backplate is made in one piece, has an outward flange at the lower edge which serves to support the culet. Modern buckles on a pair of new horizontally-aligned rivets conceal a single rivet-hole for the original buckle. The deep culet of six lames comes well forward at the sides, the ends fitting beneath the rear edges of the tassets. The six lames articulate on a column of sliding rivets at either side and a central internal leather. The culet and tassets are fastened together at the sides by hinges with removeable pins. The top plate is bordered by 15 rivets while the bottom is bordered by 30. The cuisses are each composed of 9 lames which overlap upwards and a poleyn of three lames above a main plate and two below. The poleyns are now detacheable with a keyhole slot and pin arrangement. They have a heart-shaped fanplates The greaves are attached to the poleyns by turning-pins and studs. Each greave is composed of two plates which are closed by an embossed hinge and pin top and bottom. The front plate side edges are bordered by lining rivets. The rear plate carries spurs with six-pointed rowels. The square-toed sabatons comprise 9 metatarsal lames. The pauldrons are symetrical. Each is composed of an angular main plate with four lames above and six below which underlap outwards from it. The main plate is bordered by lining rivets. The four upper lames articulate on the usual arrangement of internal leathers and sliding rivets. The six lower lames articulate on three internal straps. The strap-ends are riveted to a turner into which rotates the tubular upper cannon. The couter is composed of an encircling main plate with fanplates. The mainplate has three lames above and below which underlap outwards from it. The lowest lame is riveted to a two-piece lower cannon. The outer plate is attached to the inner by an applied internal hinge and closed by a sprung stud. The gauntlets are fingered. Each is composed of a slightly pointed cuff made in one piece joined at the inner wrist, 6 underlapping metatarsal lames, a knuckle plate and originally 6 finger lames. The thumb knuckle is underlapped by four lames above and originally four below. One is now missing on each thumb. The armour is entirely gilt, the surface being chased with a fine scrolling pattern of flowers and foliage executed with an engraving tool and fine punches. The surface of the armour is decorated by chasing using a chisel held vertically and and a series of shaped punches. A fluid, complex and floreate linear decoration covers the central body of the plates while a rigid, simplistic repeat patterning fills the subsidiary borders. The chased lines produced have a smooth rounded section and slightly raised burrs on either side produced by the displaced metal. The decorator built up the linear decoration in stages. At first, he chased the fine curving lines to produce 'stems'. A primary stem was generally started in the lower right and left corners of a plate. These two stems develope secondary, meandering shoots and eventually meet in the centre of the plate. This is most easily seen in the breastplate and backplate. Each flower, fruit and leaf was built up using a selection of shaped punches. Next, a matting punch was used to fill in the leaves. Finally, dots were applied using a small circular punch. This was used fill in in the ground and at terminals of shoots. The plates are bordered with double lines between which the outer edges are narrow bands of simple floral ornament. The turned edges are decorated with a punched chevron pattern instead of being roped.The decorator produced the repeat patterning by first filling the field with stippling and then used only shaped punches to create simplistic floreate designs.



ArmourHeight169 cm
ArmourWeight33.2 kg
right gauntletWeight0.578 kg
left gauntletWeight0.59 kg
GorgetWeight1.09 kg
right greave and sabatonWeight1.39 kg
left greave and sabatonWeight1.44 kg
Left tassetWeight1.59 kg
Right tassetWeight1.66 kg
Right tasset (top)Weight1.86 kg
Left tasset (top)Weight2.22 kg
Left vambrace and pauldronWeight2.95 kg
BackplateWeight4.23 kg
BreastplateWeight4.45 kg
HelmetWeight4.9 kg

Inscriptions and Marks


Bibliographic References

A.R. Dufty and W. Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, plate L, LI detail of decoration.

T. Richardson, 'H. R. Robinson's 'Dutch armour of the seventeenth century'', The Journal of The Arms and Armour Society, vol.XIII, no.4, March 1991, pp.256-278, p.258ff.

C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011, volume 2, 236-41


The Tower Guide books dating back to the 18th century describe this armour as having been presented to the King Charles I by the City of London, but research has failed to confirm this tradition. The armour is listed in the View and Survey of the Armouries taken in 1660 where no reference is made to this. The armour was, however, made for the King’s elder brother, Henry, and its commission was perhaps prompted by the 1607 portrait of Maurice of Nassau in gilt armour by Michiel Janszoon van Miereveldt commemorating the former’s victory at Nieuwpoort in 1600. Maurice was greatly admired by Henry who is known to have had it copied for his own collection in 1610. His continuing fascination with Maurice could have easily encouraged him to obtain similar armour for himself. The armour was identified as that of Charles I by 1675 at least, 'Armour Cappape richly guilt & graven made for King Charles ye 1st with Gauntlett and Shaffron of the same and Guilt Steeles for a sadle' (ffoulkes 1916: 88, citing I.1). From the Restoration it served as the armour of Charles I in the Line of Kings.

Claude Blair discovered documentary evidence of the price of the armour, £450. Following Cripps Day (Fragmenta Armamentaria vol. 1.4 An introduction to the study of Greenwich armour, Frome, 1945: 66, Blair identified this as the 'Armor of great vallew of his late Majesties made last for his owne person put to sale at Somerset House ye which I procured of one Willet to prevent ye loss of it' (unpublished lecture, 1985). A V B Norman adds the details that one of the inventories of sale of Charles I's goods notes that the armour was provided for sale by Mrs Sherman, the widow of Nicholas Sherman, late Master Workman at the Almain Armoury at Greenwich (also denoted by the letters GW beside her name on the MS). It is possible that the armour was at Greenwich before the Civil War. Among the Stuart armours in the View and survey of 1628 (SP Dom Chas I vol. 139 no. 94) in the greate chamber late Mr Pickeringes 'One guilte and graven old armor for the field complete' though that armour was 'wanting one gauntlet'.

RC2: Permission to lend required from the sovereign