Royal Armouries

Armour of King James II

Images

colour photo of James II's breastplate, helmet, and gauntlet over a buffcoat

Armour of King James II. English, London, 1686 (II.123)

  • colour photo of James II's breastplate, helmet, and gauntlet over a buffcoat

    Armour of King James II. English, London, 1686 (II.123)

  • monochrome photo of a crown and initials stamped on an armour of James II

    Detail of mark on armour of King James II. English, London. 1686 (II.123)

  • monochrome photo of a three-quarter length armour on a stand

    Harquebusier's armour. (II.108)

  • monochrome lantern slide of an armoured figure on a horse

    Toiras breastplates displayed in the White Tower after 1882

  • colour photo of James II's armour helmet with royal coat-of-arms visor

    Helmet of armour of King James II. English, London, 1686 (II.123)

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

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

Date: 1686 | Object number: II.123

Statistics

Object Provenance: English, London, 1686
Object Number: II.123
Total weight: 16.85 kg (37.1 lb)
Pot Weight: 3.32 kg (7.3 lb)
Cuirass Weight: 12.34 kg (27.2 lb)
Gauntlet Weight: 1.19 kg (2.6 lb)

Armour of King James II

Description

This is the last Royal armour in the Royal Armouries collection. The armour is known from the record of its price, £100, to have been made by Richard Holden and delivered on 14 December 1686. It is the only finely decorated royal armour ever known to have been made by a member of the London Armourers Company, and the last.

It is an harquebusier’s armour comprising a pot, breastplate, backplate and long elbow gauntlet, essentially the same as the ordinary munition armours made for the contemporary cavalry, but of rather finer quality. Like the ordinary munition armours the cuirass bears the proof marks that attest that it is bullet proof. The whole armour is decorated with punched, engraved and originally gilt bands of trophies. The faceguard is fretted and decorated with the initials IR for Iacobus Rex and with the Royal Arms and their supporters, the lion and the unicorn. The central band on the breastplate has at the top IR separated by a crown and surmounted by a figure 2, with crossed sceptres below.

Richard Holden, from Swadlincote in Derbyshire, was apprenticed to a London armourer in 1658 and made free in 1665. From 1673 he was supplying munition armour to the Board of Ordnance, and by 1681 he had become the armourer responsible for Royal commissions. He was involved in the negotiations that resulted in the incorporation of the Brasiers into the Armourers Company in 1708, though he was too old to sit on the Court of Assistants that was formed to control the new company. He died in 1709, the last of the London armourer makers.

Tower arsenal. Used for the figure of James II in the Line after Meyrick’s 1826-27 reorganisation; Britton 1830, 277, no.20; Hewitt 1859, II.20.
By Richard Holden, English, London, 1686

References

J. Britton, Memoirs of the Tower, London, 1830, 277, no. 20
J. Hewitt, Official Catalogue of the Tower Armouries, London, 1859, 9, II.23
Viscount Dillon, Illustrated Guide to the Armouries, Tower of London, 1910, 192, II.22
H.L. Blackmore and C. Blair, ‘King James II’s armour and Richard Holden of London’ Journal of the Arms and Armour Society, XIII, 1991, 316-34
C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011, volume 2, 273–5

Statistics

Object Provenance: English, London, 1686
Object Number: II.123
Total weight: 16.85 kg (37.1 lb)
Pot Weight: 3.32 kg (7.3 lb)
Cuirass Weight: 12.34 kg (27.2 lb)
Gauntlet Weight: 1.19 kg (2.6 lb)

Related Objects

James II in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Harquebusier’s Armour Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1630 | Object number: II.108

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Line of Kings