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Object Title

Shield - Buckler

Shield - Buckler

Date

1540

Object Number

V.21

Provenance

Purchased from Samuel Luke Pratt, 1859. From the Bernal collection, sold Christie's 27 March 1855 lot 2395.

Physical Description

This round, concave buckler is formed of a wooden core reinforced with a series of concentric steel rings riveted together by rows of brass rivets, the heads of which also create a decorative ‘beading’ effect. These rings and rows encircle the central conical iron boss from which projects a short, blunt, spike. The boss is hollow to allow the hand to hold the transverse wooden grip, which is bound to the shield by steel bands. The back of the buckler is lined with pig-skin tooled with a cross-hatched pattern.

Featured in

Techniques

Handmade

Materials

Dimensions

OverallDiameter362 mm
OverallWeight2440 g

Bibliographic References

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

T Richardson and G Rimer, Treasures from the Tower in the Kremlin, Moscow, 1997, cat. no. 14, pp. 54-5, 175

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

Notes

Bucklers are small, functional, shields used together with a weapon such as a sword. They can be of various shapes, not just round, but all share the common feature of bearing a central grip at the back. This concave buckler is formed of a wooden core reinforced with a series of concentric steel rings riveted together by rows of brass rivets, the heads of which also create a decorative ‘beading’ effect. These rings and rows encircle the central conical iron boss from which projects a short, blunt, spike. The boss is hollow to allow the hand to hold the transverse wooden grip, which is bound to the shield by steel bands. The back of the buckler is lined with pig-skin tooled with a cross-hatched pattern.
The buckler is one of a unique type known to have been manufactured in the area around the town of Wrexham, on the English-Welsh border. It appears to have been extensively used by infantrymen, and civilians, from about the late 1440’s until 1580, although only 31 now survive. Others have been found near neighbouring English border towns, such as Oswestry and Shrewsbury, both in Shropshire. That they were associated with Wrexham is clearly shown by the entry in the 1547 Inventory of King Henry VIII which lists: ‘Item twoo wreckesham Buckelers’. Some Welsh buckler makers moved to London and in the 1520’s one Geoffrey Bromefeld is known to have worked for Henry VIII. In February 1530-31 he was made ‘the kinges boucler maker’
The finest surviving Wrexham buckler is the gilt and etched example, decorated with the Tudor royal arms, in the Musée de l’Armée, Paris (I.6). It possibly originally belonged to or was made for Henry VIII in about 1510-30.
Bucklers, such as this were probably not only made for Henry VIII and as gifts, but were also made for issuing to members of Henry’s Royal bodyguard. Wrexham bucklers, some also with gilt decoration (as well as similar, basket-hilted swords to that described above), are also borne by various members of Henry’s retinue, in the painting of The Embarkation of Henry VIII at Dover, of about 1545-50 (RCIN. 405793). In the companion painting The Field of Cloth of Gold (RCIN. 405794) also of about the same date, another page bears a buckler suspended from a sword-hilt and slung over the forearm. The paintings also show that when not in use bucklers could be carried, presumably by a strap or thong looped around the grip, suspended from the hilt of a sword or a belt at the hi

Thumbnail image of Buckler
Thumbnail image of Buckler
Thumbnail image of Buckler
Thumbnail image of Shield - Buckler
Thumbnail image of Shield - Buckler
Thumbnail image of Shield - Buckler
Thumbnail image of Shield - Buckler
Thumbnail image of Shield - Buckler
Thumbnail image of Shield - Buckler
Thumbnail image of Shield - Buckler