Object Title

Tonlet armour - Tonlet armour

Tonlet armour - Tonlet armour



Object Number



Transferred to the Tower from Greenwich, 1649. The legs were purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund, 1971 from the Dymoke Estate at Scrivelsby house, having been on loan since 1947.

Physical Description

With Italian and Flemish components. Great bacinet made in Milan with modified bellows visor. Cuirass probably Italian or Flemish, etched with flutes. Tonlet skirt made of nine lames front and back, hinged on the left and fastened with a strap and buckle on the right. Nine vertical flutes on each. Pauldrons of seven lames each, upper three articulated by rivets, the lower six by internal leathers, all modern. Vambraces and leg defences probably from Italy or Flanders, adapted from previous field armours. The vambraces have narrow articulate lames protecting the insides of elbow joints; the sabatons are detatchable and fastened to the greaves with studs. Etched decoration retains traces of gilding, and includes: St George, and the Virgin and Child on either side of the bacinet skull, and on the pauldrons; the Order of the Garter around the neck of the basinet, and the garter itself at the top of the left greave. The tonlet was originally gilded in a chequerboard pattern, and is etched with stylised foliage and scales on the upper rows, with Tudor roses below. The original finish on the armour may have been black, producing a striking black and gold chequered pattern


As mountedHeight1875 mm
ArmourWeight29.28 kg

Inscriptions and Marks

Crowned MYBacinet
Under a split cross x2 of each on base of skull

Bibliographic References

Claude Blair, European Armour, B.T. Batsford Ltd., London, 1958, p.214-15 right legharness.

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

D. Starkey, Henry VIII, a European court in England, London, 1991, no. IV.2, p. 52.

Ian Eaves, 'The Tournament Armours of King Henry VIII of England', Livrust Kammaren, 1993, pp.15-18, fig.14.

Claude Blair, 'King Henry VIII's tonlet armour', Journal of the Arms and Armour Society, XV.2, September 1995: 85-108.

C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011, volume 1

G Rimer, T Richardson and J P D Cooper, Henry VIII: Arms and the Man, Leeds, 2009, p.122-127


RC2: Permission to lend required from the sovereign