Object Title





Object Number



Old Tower collection

Physical Description

The couter is forged from one piece of bright steel, shaped to the point and inside of the elbow and open at the back. The main edges have file-roped inward turns. The borders are embossed with a design of interlocking vines bearing bunches of grapes. The raised central area of the couter is embossed with a double headed eagle displayed, charged with the arms of Gonzaga and surmounted by a papal crown. Two rivets in the central area (the lower one missing) held the straps which connected it to the upper and lower vambrace. A rivet in the rear edge and another (now missing) near the inside of the elbow held the straps which secured it to the arm.


Weight: 0.368 kg ( 0 lb 13 oz)

Inscriptions and Marks



Bibliographic References

J. Hewitt, Official catalogue of the Tower Armouries, London, 1859, p.21, Inv. No. III.52.

Viscount Dillon, Illustrated guide to the Armouries, London, 1910, p.95, Inv. No. III.42.

Charles ffoulkes, Inventory and Survey of the Armouries of the Tower of London, Vol.1, London, 1916, p. 159, Inv. No. III.764.

J.G. Mann, 'The Lost Armoury of the Gonzagas', Archaeological Journal, Vol.XCV, 1939, pp.245-6;pl.V,b. IExhibition of Spanish Royal Armour, H.M.


Couters of the same general design, embossed with a double-headed eagle displayed but charged with the arms of Austria, are found on the 'oak leaf' armour of the Emperor Charles V in the Real Armeria, Madrid, no. A.49, made by Kolman Helschmied of Augsburg. Couters of a similar character occur on the mid-16th century armour of Carlo Gonzaga, Count of Gazzuolo, in the Hofjõgd- und R³stkammer of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, no. A.632, shown in his portrait in he same collection, no. 8218. The decoration of this armour resembles the designs in the sketchbook of Filipo Ursoni dated 1554, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, no. E1780-1929, which includes eagles and other Imperial badges among its motifs. Ian Eaves suggests the couter might be by Caremolo Modrone, the Milanese armourer employed by the Gonzagas at mantua from 1523 to his death in 1543.