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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


Armour of Henry, future Prince of Wales, for the tilt about 1607

RCIN 72830

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The etched decoration of this armour was well-suited to Henry, Prince of Wales (1594–1612), heir to a maritime nation. It includes military trophies, mermen blowing conches, ships, anchors, oars and tridents, as well as the figure of Neptune, god of the sea, on the breastplate and backplate. 

The nautical theme was evidently a popular one. In a masque held at Whitehall on 5 June 1610, two days after Henry had been installed as Prince of Wales, his mother Queen Anne dressed herself in the guise of Thetis, wife of Neptune, and presented King James with a trident and the Prince with a rich sword and a scarf. The tilting on the following day was followed by ‘a gallant Sea-fight’ and a display of fireworks.