Royal Armouries

Henry V in the Line of Kings

Images

colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry V

Carved wooden head of Henry V. English, about 1688-91 (XVII.44)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry V

    Carved wooden head of Henry V. English, about 1688-91 (XVII.44)

  • monochrome photo of a model of jousting knights and large wall-mounted arms display

    Plaster model of jousting knights in the New Horse Armoury. 1870s (XVII.29) © Private collection 2013

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of a line of mounted armoured figures

    ‘Interior of the Horse Armoury’, anon engraving, The Penny Magazine, 1836 © Royal Armouries 2013

  • monochrome pencil and ink sketch of a line of armoured figures on horseback

    The Horse Armoury, by an unknown artist, early 19th century

  • 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 )

Possible wooden head of Henry V

Object Provenance: English
Object Number: XVII.44

Henry V in the Line of Kings

Description

Henry V is most famous for his victory against the French at the battle of Agincourt where the English longbowmen triumphed.

This success was celebrated in the Tower of London guidebooks where Henry V was described in the 1753 guide as the ‘warlike and Victorious Henry the Vth, who by his conquests in France gained immortal glory’. This was echoed in at least one London guidebook, London and its Environs Described, published in 1761, which used the phrase ‘victorious Henry V’.

However the guidebooks give no detail about the armour that the figure of Henry V was wearing, what weapon he was holding or any other detail to represent his successes. Prints and drawings from 1800-25 give an impression of Henry V’s figure in a white armour and holding a sword.

Samuel Meyrick, the expert brought in to re-display the Tower collections in the 1826-7, records that Henry V was one of the representations removed as the suit of armour worn by the figure did not originate from the period in which Henry V had lived.

Nonetheless we believe that the wooden head used for the figure of Henry V has survived. It is made of oak and was probably carved between 1688 and 1691. Over time it has been stripped and cut down, with none of the original paint surviving. Though down to the basic wood, it has a distinctive long, straight, aquiline nose. Compared to the other heads there appears to be a slight smile on Henry V’s face – perhaps this is a sign of the carver’s attempt to acknowledge Henry’s victories?

Henry V is represented in the present Line of Kings display in the White Tower by this carved wooden head from his figure.

Possible wooden head of Henry V

Object Provenance: English
Object Number: XVII.44

Related Objects

Plaster Model of Knights in Combat Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1421 | Object number: XVII.29

Henry V (reigned 1413 – 1422) Click on the title link above to find out more.

Object number: XVII.44

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

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Line of Kings