Royal Armouries

Jouvin de Rochefort’s View of the Tower Armouries

Images

monochrome engraving of a man in a long wig holding a map

Portrait of Albert Jouvin de Rochefort. About 1680 © Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

  • monochrome engraving of a man in a long wig holding a map

    Portrait of Albert Jouvin de Rochefort. About 1680 © Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

  • monochrome photo of a child's size breastplate

    Breastplate associated with Will Somers. (III.157)

  • monochrome photo of an armoured figure holding a wooden baton

    Greenwich armour for field and tournament. (II.40)

  • monochrome engraving of an armour with a helmet with curly horns

    The figure of Will Somers engraved in 1794

  • watercolour detail showing the figure of a king in armour on a horse

    Figure of William the Conqueror, detail from a watercolour of the Line of Kings. Early 19th century (I.69 )

Jouvin de Rochefort’s View of the Tower Armouries

Description

Albert Jouvin de Rochefort (about 1640 – about 1710) was a French mapmaker and traveller. During his journey to England he visited the Tower of London and visited its armouries, seeing the display later known as the Horse Armoury:

‘The great arsenal consists of several great halls, and magazines filled with arms of all sorts, sufficient to equip an army of an hundred thousand men. Our conductor showed us a great hall, hung with casques and cuirasses for arming both infantry and cavalry; among others were some which had been worn by the different kings of England during their wars; they were all gilded and engraved in the utmost perfection.
We saw the armour of William the Conqueror, with his great sword, and the armour of his jester, to whose casque was fitted horns; he had, it is said, a handsome wife. Moreover they showed us a cuirass made with cloves and another of mother of pearl; these two were locked up in a separate closet. We passed into another hall where there were nothing but muskets, pistols, musketoons, bandoliers, swords, pikes and halberds arranged in a very handsome order so as to represent figures of many sorts. We saw William the Conqueror’s musket which is of such length and thickness that it is as much as a man can do to carry it on his shoulders. We descended from this room into another place, where there are magazines of cannon, bullets, powder and match, and other machines of war, each in its particular place. But after all, this is nothing when compared to that of Venice’.

In visiting the Tower of London and viewing its armouries Rochefort would have been typical of educated, well-off travellers with an interest in culture and history. His unfavourable comparison of the London armouries with their equivalents in Venice may reveal his cultivated taste – or a personal bias.

Related Objects

Will Somers’ Breastplate Click on the title link above to find out more.

Object number: III.157

William the Conqueror in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

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