Star objects

Star objects

Presentation armour to King James VI & I

This exhibition is now closed

Silvered and engraved armour,
about 1515

Silver and engraved armour of Henry VIII, about 1515What is it?
This silvered and engraved armour belonged to King Henry VIII and was decorated by Paul van Vrelant in Greewich, London. It is accompanied by elaborately engraved, Flemish-made horse armour.
Where is it from?
This armour was possibly one of the first works produced in Henry’s new workshop at Greenwich in about 1515; the horse armour was imported from Flanders, and the whole harness was decorated with engraving, silvering and originally gilding by a Flemish goldsmith, working for the King in London.
What does it tell us about its royal owner?
The decoration celebrates the marriage of Henry to Katherine of Aragon. This can be seen in the edge of the skirt which features intertwined initials of Henry and Katherine and the pattern of scrolling foliage with Tudor roses and pomegranates of Aragon all over the armour.
The wings of the poleyns bear the sheaf of arrows badge of King Ferdinand II of Aragon, Katherine’s’ father and the toecaps of the sabatons have the castle badge of Katherine’s mother, Queen Isabella of Castile.
The bard (horse armour) is decorated with scenes for the lives of Henry and Katherine’s patron saints, St George and St Barbara. The bard is stamped with the ‘M’ mark ascribed to Guille Margot, a Flemish armourer working in Brussels for the Habsburg monarchy.

Presentation armour, about 1610

Presentation armour to King James VIWhat is it?
A diplomatic gift brought back from Japan by Captain John Saris of the East India Company in 1613, this armour is one of two
presented to King James I by Tokugawa Hidetada. 
Where is it from?
Designed by Iwai Yozaemon of Nara in about 1610, this stunning piece was assembled by the personal armourer of Tokugawa Hidetada's father, Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun.
Additional information
This armour has been displayed at the Tower from 1662 but was for centuries wrongly labelled as the ‘armour of the Great Mogul.’

Gilt armour, about 1612

Gilt armour of King Charles IWhat is it?
Gilt armour belonging to King Charles I. The surface is covered in gold leaf with engraved and punched foliage decoration.  This is unusual as gilt decoration was normally fused to the surface of armour by the dangerous process of mercury-gilding.
Where is it from?
This unique example was created in the Netherlands in about 1612.
What does it tell us about its royal owner?
This spectacular armour was actually made for Henry, Prince of Wales, Charles I’s older brother, but on his death in 1612 Charles inherited Henry’s armour – and four years later his title.

Field and tournament armour, 1540:

Field and tournament armour of Henry VIII, 1540What is it?
Of a type known as a garniture; a single armour with a set of alternate pieces that could be combined to create armours for use in a number of different tournament events. This garniture is unique in having a double set of all pieces.
Where is it from?
Constructed in 1540 this armour was made in Greenwich, London for one of the last tournaments that Henry VIII was known to have organised. This armour has one of only two known existing examples of a ventral plate. This is an inner breastplate that is worn under the principal breastplate to provide additional support. The etched and gilded decoration of the armour was designed by the king’s court artist, Hans Holbein.
What does it tell us about its royal owner?
Henry VIII was 49 when this armour was made. By then his fitness and health had declined. As can be observed in the great size of the garniture, Henry had put on a lot of weight in his later years. His poor physical condition meant that it was unlikely that he actually competed in this tournament.

Boy's armour, about 1615:

Boy's armour made for Charles IWhat is it?
This horseman’s armour was made for the future Charles I, possibly to celebrate him becoming Prince of Wales in 1616. It later passed to his eldest son, the future King Charles II.
Where is it from?
This armour was constructed by a Dutch designer in about 1615. Additional pieces for use on horseback include a matching shaffron (head defence) for a pony and saddle steels. The armour has extra pieces for use on foot as an infantry officer, an open faced ‘pikeman’s pot’ helmet, short tassets and a rondache.

Armour for Charles Stuart, Prince of Wales, about 1638-1640:  

Harquebusier's armour for Charles Stuart, Prince of WalesWhat is it?
One of the earliest examples of the triple-bar pot helmet, this armour shows that its young prince owner was given the latest in technology and fashion.
Where is it from?
This English designed armour was probably constructed in Greenwich in about 1638-1640 for Charles Stuart, Prince of Wales, who later became King Charles II. At this point in history, light cavalrymen (harquebusiers) were beginning to replace the more heavily armoured traditional cavalrymen (cuirassiers). 
What does it tell us about its royal owner?
The breastplate is actually ‘recycled’ – traces of a design can be seen suggesting that it may have formed part of an unfinished armour for Charles's uncle, Prince Henry.  

Armour of King James II, 1686: 

Harquebusier's armour belonging to King James II in about 1680What is it?
By the 1680s, armour was in decline as the use of guns became more widespread.  This is a decorated version of the armour worn by light horsemen at this time.
Where is it from?
This armour was made in 1686 by Richard Holden, the last working armourer in London, who was paid £100 for it. Also featured is an English buff coat from about 1680 that did not orginally belong with this armour.
What does it tell us about its royal owner?
Worn by King James II, you can tell this armour was designed for a King as the elaborate face-guard with the royal coat of arms replaces the plain triple-bar guard of helmets for ordinary cavalrymen. 

Pair of flintlock pistols, about 1695:  

Flintlock pistols possibly for King William III in about 1695What are they?
A pair of the stunningly embellished flintlock pistols. 
Where are they from?
Possibly made for King William III and depicting his image, these pistols by the Huguenot gunsmith Pierre Monlong were decorated in London in the latest French fashion and are of the finest quality.

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