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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

Juan Pantoja de la Cruz (c. 1553-1608)

Philip III, King of Spain (1578-1621) Signed and dated 1605

RCIN 404969

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In this portrait of Philip III of Spain (1578–1621), the king's armour creates an impression of both fashionable elegance and martial strength. Grasping his commander's baton and assertively meeting the viewer's gaze, his armoured appearance is a performance of authority. During this period Spain was at war with Protestant rebels in the Spanish Netherlands, and the Immaculate Conception on the upper part of the breastplate symbolises the King's identity as a Catholic warrior, defending true religion. Despite this, Philip is not battle-ready. His extravagant ruff prevents use of the helmet beside him, and his legs are unprotected, suggesting that he is armed for foot combat or the tournament barriers rather than mounted conflict in the field. The armour's primary message is therefore the king's wealth and refinement, and Pantoja has gone to great lengths to indicate this in his rendering of the elaborate gilded bands and rich textile lining. The armour forms part of an aesthetic of power as much as a means of practical force.