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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

Paul van Somer (c. 1576-1621)

James VI & I (1566-1625) Dated 1618?

RCIN 401224

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Compared to his contemporaries, James VI and I (1566–1625) was a man of relative peace. He warned against hasty conflict in his book of advice on government, Basilikon Doron (1599), and even suggested that light armour should be worn in battle for easier 'away-running'. 

The King's reluctance to make war is perhaps clear in this portrait, where armour takes a secondary position. James wears only a gilt gorget (metal collar) with a sombre black doublet and breeches. By this date it was increasingly common to combine armour with civilian clothing, using expensive ornamental pieces to indicate wealth and status. The king appears to have adopted this approach here. On the floor seem to be elements of the armour made for James's son, Prince Henry, in 1608 (RCIN 72831). Henry had died six years previously and the armour's inclusion may indicate the king's continued mourning for the prince.