Royal Armouries

Henry VI in the Line of Kings

Images

monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

Figure of King Henry VI in the Horse Armoury, The Penny Magazine, 1840

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    Figure of King Henry VI in the Horse Armoury, The Penny Magazine, 1840

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    Figure of King Edward IV in the Horse Armoury, by Robert William Buss, about 1840

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    Figure of King Henry VII in the Horse Armoury, The Penny Magazine, 1840.

  • 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 newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    James II from Charles Knight, London, 1842.

  • colour portrait of a man sitting at a desk holding a book

    Portrait of William Hutton by an unknown artist, about 1780 © Birmingham Museums Trust

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry VI

    Carved wooden head of Henry VI. English, about 1688-91 (XVII.43)

Henry VI in the Line of Kings

Description

Henry VI’s reign was a turbulent one. Following what is believed to be his mental breakdown, Henry VI’s throne came under dispute in what became known as the Wars of the Roses.

The Tower of London guidebook of 1753 noted of the eventful reign: ‘no less that 16 battles were fought at home and abroad’. This not only included the battles of the Wars of the Roses but also the rise and fall of Joan of Arc in France. Furthermore William Hutton remarked on the peculiarity of displaying a Line of Kings with the two ‘mortal enemies’, Henry VI and Edward IV, sitting ‘quietly together’.

The guidebooks and accounts do not give many clues about the armour worn by the pre-1827 representation of Henry VI. The early 19th century illustrations also do not help. However we know that in 1827 Samuel Meyrick, the armour expert employed to re-display the Horse Armoury more accurately, used the armour formerly worn by the figure of Henry VI for George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Meyrick retained a figure of Henry VI in the New Horse Armoury, equipping it with mail and plate armour, and a bardiche, or ‘huge battle-axe’.

We also believe we can identify the wooden head used on Henry VI’s figure in the Line of Kings. It is one of the heads carved and painted in about 1690 but it has since been stripped of its paint.

Henry VI is represented in the present Line of Kings display by the bardiche with which his figure was armed from 1827 and the wooden head which probably formed part of his figure.

Related Objects

Bardiche traditionally associated with Col Gardiner's death at the battle of Preston Pans. Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1795 | Object number: VII.866

Henry VI (reigned 1422-1461) Click on the title link above to find out more.

Edward IV in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

William Hutton’s account of the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

Samuel Meyrick and the Rearrangement of the Horse Armoury, about 1824-1827 Click on the title link above to find out more.

Henry VII in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

William Schellinks at the Tower in 1661 Click on the title link above to find out more.

The Genesis of the Line of Kings, 1685-1692 Click on the title link above to find out more.

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Line of Kings