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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

Italian School, North Italian

Ludovico Gonzaga (1539-1595) with his Servant. c.1660

RCIN 406014

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Born of the illustrious Duchy of Mantua, Ludovico (Luigi) Gonzaga (1539–1595) spent most of his life at the French court where he achieved military distinction. He became Captain of the Royal Guard in 1559 and a knight in the Order of St Michael in 1561; this portrait appears to have been painted in between those two achievements. A servant prepares Ludovico for heavy cavalry duty on the field, evident from the inclusion of a lance rest, though the pauldrons (shoulder pieces) are yet to be applied. The portrait offers an important insight into the processes of equipping a knight with armour, drawing attention to the arming point used to attach the vambrace (arm defence) to the padded arming doublet worn beneath the breastplate. A pinkish tie on Ludovico's leg below denotes an unidentified political allegiance.