Steel horse armour

The Burgundian bard

Dates from about 1511-14 | Flemish | Object number: VI.6–12

The Burgundian bard, probably by Guillem Margot, presented by Maximilian I to King Henry VIII.

One of a knight’s most valuable possessions was his best horse and because he owned a ‘cheval’, or horse, in French he was called a ‘chevalier’. A horse needed special protection in tournaments and war.

Horse armour, called a bard, was introduced to protect the horse’s head, neck and flanks against blows from lances, swords and, in battle, arrows. Horse armour was first made of textiles or mail. However, from about 1450 steel plate was used.

Did you know?

Want to know more?

The related documents below are free articles from Henry VIII: Arms and the Man.
This major publication Henry VIII: Arms and the Man and can be purchased from The Royal Armouries Shop.



To read PDF documents you will need Adobe Reader. Reader
If you do not currently have it installed you can download Adobe Reader for free.


  • Introduction to Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian I.

  • Published to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the accession of King Henry VIII to the English throne. This definitive publication illustrates and records over 90 Henrician treasures from the Royal Armouries own collections and from around the world.

  • Our top ten objects in the Tournament gallery.

To close the image view pop up click on Esc.

Did you know?

Thunder birds are go!

Artillery pieces before about 1700 were often classified by names. A rare type of very big gun was known as a basilisk, a more common long powerful gun was known as a culverin while smaller versions were named after birds of prey such as saker and falcon.

Specialist enquiries

Got Excalibur in the loft or "that arrow" from the Battle of Hastings above the fireplace?

Contact our experts to find out if you've got a historical gem or a car boot sale classic.