Royal Armouries

Greenwich Armour for Field and Tournament

Images

Greenwich Armour for Field and Tournament II.40

Armour for Field and Tournament. English, Greenwich, about 1590 (II.40)

  • Greenwich Armour for Field and Tournament II.40

    Armour for Field and Tournament. English, Greenwich, about 1590 (II.40)

  • monochrome photo of an armoured figure holding a wooden baton

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

  • monochrome drawing of an armour in outline

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

  • monochrome drawing of an armour in outline

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

  • monochrome drawing of an armour in outline

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

  • monochrome drawing of an armour in outline

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

  • monochrome drawing of an armour in outline

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

  • 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 )

Date: 1590 | Object number: II.40

Statistics

Object Provenance: English, Greenwich, about 1590
Object Number: II.40
Burgonet Weight: 2485 g
Gorget Weight: 1875 g
Right pauldron Weight: 1860 g
Backplate Weight: 3160 g
Breastplate and tassets Weight: 7950 g
Lance rest Weight: 296 g
Right vambrace Weight: 1835 g
Right gauntlet Weight: 810 g
Left pauldron Weight: 2360 g
Left vambrace Weight: 1805 g
Right cuisse and poleyn Weight: 1155 g
Right greave and sabatonWeight: 1575 g
Left gauntlet Weight: 790 g
Left cuisse and poleyn Weight: 1300 g
Left greave and sabaton Weight: 1570 g
Total as mounted: 25.5 kg (56 lb 6 oz)

Greenwich Armour for Field and Tournament

Description

The armour is a small garniture, which can be assembled for the field of battle as a lance or demi-lance armour, or for any of the tournament events, the tilt, tourney or foot combat.

It is conventionally shown assembled for the field, with a burgonet and falling buffe, articulated gorget, breastplate with a deep peascod, lance rest and central plugged hole for mounting the grandguard, modern hinged hasps at either side, the fauld and tassets permanently attached by hinges, backplate with steel shoulder straps, pauldrons of five lames all on internal leathers, overlapping upwards in characteristic Greenwich style, vambraces with turners and bracelet couters fitted with articulating lames inside the elbow joins and with articulated cuff plates, fingered gauntlets with mostly restored scales, fitted with linings in 1978, cuisses of eight lames overlapping upwards and articulated on sliding rivets at the outside, leathers at the centre and inside, articulated to poleyns with wings, greaves and sabatons extending to the soles, with articulated sections at the ankles and sabatons of tem lames, these and the articulated sections at the ankles joined by rivets at either side and medial leathers.

The armour also has an armet of characteristic Greenwich fashion, turning on the collar, a locking gauntlet, and set of tilt reinforces. The exterior is bright, all the main edges have roped inward turns with recessed borders containing brass-capped iron lining rivets, and all the subsidiary edges are bordered by double incised lines.

The armour is one of the few that can be fixed in the pre-Meyrick Line of Kings, as it is known to have represented William the Conqueror, by which nickname it is still affectionately known. After 1827 it became the armour of Sir Henry Lee.

Because the armour is plain it has never been possible to identify its original owner. The royal workshop made many armours in the late 16th and early 17th century, for infantry ( ‘footman’s armor’ ) and cavalry ( ‘fielde armor complete’ or ‘tilte armor compleate’ ), both black and white (left black from the hammer or polished bright), and it is unknown whether all were decorated or some left plain. One was a ‘white Tilte armor compleate for the Kinges Maiesty’ for James I, and it is tempting to identify this armour with the king.

The portrait of Robert Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex by William Segar in the National Gallery of Ireland shows the earl in a black version of a very similar armour, however.

Old Tower collection, probably brought from Greenwich in 1649

References

J. Hewitt, Official Catalogue of the Tower Armouries, London, 1859: 8, II.13
Viscount Dillon, Illustrated Guide to the Armouries, Tower of London, London, 1910: 111, II.11

Statistics

Object Provenance: English, Greenwich, about 1590
Object Number: II.40
Burgonet Weight: 2485 g
Gorget Weight: 1875 g
Right pauldron Weight: 1860 g
Backplate Weight: 3160 g
Breastplate and tassets Weight: 7950 g
Lance rest Weight: 296 g
Right vambrace Weight: 1835 g
Right gauntlet Weight: 810 g
Left pauldron Weight: 2360 g
Left vambrace Weight: 1805 g
Right cuisse and poleyn Weight: 1155 g
Right greave and sabatonWeight: 1575 g
Left gauntlet Weight: 790 g
Left cuisse and poleyn Weight: 1300 g
Left greave and sabaton Weight: 1570 g
Total as mounted: 25.5 kg (56 lb 6 oz)

Related Objects

The Foreigner’s Guide and the Horse Armory, 1729 Click on the title link above to find out more.

John Newbery’s Historical Description and the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

Benjamin Silliman’s Visit to the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

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

Lee: Queen Elizabeth I’s Champion Click on the title link above to find out more.

Cuirassier Armour Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1610-25 | Object number: II.94

William Combe and the Microcosm of London William Combe and the Microcosm of London

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Line of Kings