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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

Attributed to Eliseus Libaerts (active 1561-1569)

Parade shield ('The Cellini Shield') mid-sixteenth century

RCIN 62978

Queen's Guard Chamber, Windsor Castle

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This shield is one of the finest examples of parade armour made for the French court in the middle of the sixteenth century. It shows four scenes from the life of Julius Caesar, each crowded with realistically proportioned people and exceptionally well executed. The detail is rendered on blued steel through crisp embossing and very delicate examples of counterfeit-damascening – a technique in which gold or silver wire or foil is applied to a metal surface. The superb quality of the decoration led to the shield's attribution in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to the Italian Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571), but, for all his versatility in various arts, Cellini did not in fact make any armour.

The purpose of the elaborate decoration is made clear by an inscription on the outer bands, which warns that there is 'no more terrible evil than ambition', which brought about the fall of both Pompey and Caesar.