Royal Armouries

James I in the Line of Kings

Images

LOK James I

Engraving of James I, Britain, 19th century, from a painting by Paul Vansomer

  • LOK James I

    Engraving of James I, Britain, 19th century, from a painting by Paul Vansomer

  • colour photo of lacquer and gold helmet from a Japanese armour

    Detail of armour presented to King James I in 1613, Japanese, c 1570. xxvia.1

  • colour photo of Prince Henry Stuart's full-length armour with decorated banding

    Armour of Henry, Prince of Wales. Dutch, about 1607 (II.88)

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

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

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    Figure of King James I in the Horse Armoury, The Penny Magazine, 1840

  • monochrome line drawing of a line of armoured figures on horseback

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

  • colour photo of a laced Japanese armour on a wooden box

    Armour presented to King James I in 1613. Japanese, about 1570 (XXVA.1)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of James I

    Carved wooden head of James I. English, about 1688-90 (XVII.47)

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

    Figure of Edward V, with a crown suspended above his head, in the Line of Kings from the 'Horse Armoury' by Rowlandson and Pugin. 1809 (I.345b)

  • colour photo of a firearm with wheellock and inlaid decoration

    Wheellock petronel. German, about 1660 (XII.1200)

  • monochrome photo of an armoured figure mounted on a life-size wooden horse

    The figure of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, photograph about 1870 © Private collection 2013

  • Half armour from a small tournament garniture. English, Greenwich, about 1610

    Half armour from a small tournament garniture. English, Greenwich, about 1610

James I in the Line of Kings

Description

James I was crowned King of England in 1603 after the death of Queen Elizabeth I, when he had already been ruling Scotland as King James VI for 36 years. The Line of Kings has always been very male focused and consequently two of England’s most famous monarchs, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I have not been featured and the Line moved from the figure of the boy king Edward VI straight to James I.

An early mention of James I’s figure in the Line of Kings occurs in one of the Tower of London guidebooks from 1753. In 1761 a guidebook, London and its Environs Described, refers to the figure of James as sitting ‘on horseback in a complete suit of figured armour, with a truncheon in his right hand.’ The figure of James I changed after the re-display by Dr Samuel Meyrick in 1827, in particular because of the weapon James was given to hold. This was perhaps to demonstrate the purpose of his armour as sporting, because by the 1840s James I was shown with a lance. This was noted with some interest in the Tower of London guidebook of 1842, which stated ‘the burdon or lance for running at the ring with which the figure is armed, possesses a formidable appearance, being 14 feet long, and 2 feet 3 in circumference, but the handles of these lances were made hollow, and convey the idea of a weight which they do not in reality possess’. This lance can be clearly seen in the image published by Charles Knight in The Penny Magazine in 1840: it is so long that it goes off the page. It is also prominent in photographs of the Line of Kings taken from the 1860s.

What is also notable about Knight’s image is the appearance of James I’s face. Many of the images of the monarchs in the Line of Kings published by Knight show their visors closed, but this is not the case for James I. This is useful as it allows us to compare Knight’s image with a wooden head that has traditionally been believed to represent James I. The carved wooden head is constructed from two pieces of wood and was made and painted in the late seventeenth century in an attempt to display a life-like representation, to bring life to a suit of armour. It seems likely that this head is the one used for James I since about 1690.

James I is represented in the present Line of Kings display not only by his figure’s wooden head but also by a Japanese armour, which he was sent as a gift by the Shogun of Japan. This was exhibited in the past, when it was mistakenly described as having been presented by ‘the Great Mogul’, close to the Line of Kings in the Horse Armoury.

Related Objects

Armour for a Boy, probably Prince Henry Stuart Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1608 | Object number: II.88

Armour (domaru) Click on the title link above to find out more.

James I (reigned 1603 – 1625) Click on the title link above to find out more.

Howard: patron of arts and antiquities Click on the title link above to find out more.

Villiers: commander and assassin’s victim Click on the title link above to find out more.

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

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

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

Henry Stuart, Prince of Wales in the Line of Kings 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.

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