Royal Armouries


In 1500 Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I was Europe’s most powerful ruler and a famous tournament competitor. His court invented new forms of jousting and he employed many of the best armourers, including members of the Seusenhofer and Helmschmid families.

Maximilian I wrote books in which he was the thinly disguised hero and presented himself as the last great chivalric knight.

Henry VIII married Katherine of Aragon, whose sister Juana had married the Emperor Maximilian’s son, Philip. Young Henry admired Philip and Maximilian and aspired to be like them.

Maximilian I wanted Henry VIII as his ally to attack France and presented him with gifts of fine armour. When Henry’s troops captured the French city of Tournai in 1513 he celebrated victory by jousting in the market square.

Learn more about the objects in the gallery at Tournament Top Ten

Der Weisskunig (the white king)

Did you know?

The first modern rifle

The French 1886 8mm Lebel rifle was the first modern rifle, having a small bore and using smokeless powder in place of the older "gunpowder".