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In order to pursue his ambitions in France, Henry VIII formed an alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I. This painting records their meeting and the main events pertaining to Henry’s first campaign against the French in 1513.

The composit

An introduction to European armour in the Royal Collection

Jacob Halder (active 1576-1608)

Armour garniture of Sir Christopher Hatton for the field, tourney, tilt and barriers 1585

RCIN 72835

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This armour is illustrated in the 'Almain Armourer's Album', a record of all the decorated armours made in the royal workshops at Greenwich between 1557 and 1587. Many of the designs, documented by the Master Armourer, Jacob Halder, were for prominent advisors and military leaders at the Elizabethan court. The drawings, along with small traces of blueing on the armour, indicate that it originally had a striking blued ground, which has since partly oxidised to a russet colour.

The helmet of the armour is particularly ingenious. It incorporates a series of hooks, catches and push-buttons to secure and protect the wearer's head. Two hinged cheek-pieces meet and lock at the chin, and their lower edges rotate and lock onto the gorget (neck-piece) to provide rigid protection for the neck. A sprung stud above the right cheek-piece serves as a prop for the visor, keeping it in a raised position if desired. 

  • Creator(s)

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    Jacob Halder (active 1576-1608) (armourer)

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    Royal Armouries [Greenwich] (place of production)

    English (nationality)

  • The armour is illustrated in the 'Almain Armourer's Album', a record of all the decorated armours made at the royal workshops at Greenwich kept by the then master-armourer Jacob Halder. It appears sixteenth in the Album, with an inscription indicating that it was made for 'Sr Christofer Hattone' (1540-91).  The armour seems to have been intended for tournament, rather than field use, with four further pieces for the tilt illustrated alongside it – a close helmet of the type that rotates on its gorget, a grandguard, a pasguard and a manifer.

    Jacob Halder, the maker of this armour, became Master Workman of the Almain Armoury on 9 October 1576 and held that office until his death on 21 March 1608. He is first recorded at Greenwich in a list of Almains of about 1557.

    The armour was given by Sir Christopher Hatton to Robert Dudley (1532-88), 1st Earl of Leicester (1564-88), who subsequently wore it for a head-and-shoulders portrait of 1585-8. It later entered the Tower Armouries and in 1685 appears to have been issued to Charles Dymoke, the King's Champion, for use at the coronation of James II.

    The armour stayed in the hands of the Dymoke family for close to two centuries, but on 17 July 1877 was offered at Christie's as lot 1, among objects from the Dymoke armoury at Scrivelsby.  On this occasion it went unsold, but it was subsequently acquired by James Gurney who passed it on to the Paris dealer, Frédéric Spitzer (1815–90). After Spitzer's death, the armour was acquired for the nation by means of a public subscription organized its then owner, Charles Davis MVO of 147 New Bond Street. It was presented to Edward VII on 13 June 1901.

    Recorded as items 1867A, 2041, 2045, 2046 and 2047 in the North Corridor Inventory of Windsor Castle.

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