Boy's Armour 1610, © © Royal Armouries
This is an impressive and mysterious set of armour and even the museum curators
aren’t sure who the original owner was.
Some experts think it was connected to the Stuart King, Charles I because the helmet with a crest of a dragon is identical to one depicted in this bronze bust of Charles I.
It’s also believed the armour could have belonged to Charles I as a boy because he may have had rickets as a child, stunting his growth in his arms and legs.
Others believe this is ‘the Jeffrey Hudson armour’, named after its owner who was a dwarf who served Charles I’s wife, Queen Henrietta Maria.
Things to think about:
- Why do you think boys as well as men had armour? What about women and girls?
- Do you think this armour was used in combat?
- What details and patterns can you see on the armour? Why do
you think they were used in particular?
- If you misplaced an object of yours, how would people know it belonged to you how could it be traced back to you?
This suit of armour is a little mysterious and could be used as a basis for a research project where students decide who they believe the true owner for the suit was.
Alternatively students could be asked to design their own suit of armour with an element that reflects them.
- Helmet of burgonet form; the skull is embossed with a scale pattern and has a crest in the form of a dragon riveted to it. There is a peak embossed as the upper part of a monster’s head attached by rivets and partly covering the front of the skull, cheekpieces also riveted on and a chinpiece riveted inside the latter while a neckguard is riveted over the base of the skull. The helmet has been subjected to considerable alteration and its original form is difficult to determine. Breastplate of typical early seventeenth form; wide tassets of seven lames, a culet of five lames is attached to the backplate. Full arm-pieces, the main plates of the pauldrons being embossed as dragons masks. The gauntlets have a moveable plate on the underside of the cuff in the Greenwich manner. Complete leg-pieces, the cuisses with two articulations in the upper part; the sabatons of eleven lames. Although this armour has been in the Armouries at least since the 18th century and possibly earlier, references to it in the inventories and guidebooks are vague and uninformative. It may be the small armour which in the 18th century was labelled Richard, Duke of York and by 1830 Charles, Prince of Wales, but the descriptions are too vague for this to be certain. The armour is quite well proportioned and is correctly constructed and would be wearable by someone small enough. Hewitt in his catalogue of 1859 suggests that it was made for a dwarf and in this connection Jeffrey Hudson, the dwarf of Queen Henrietta Maria may be suggested as a possible owner. Hudson who entered the Queen’s service about 1630, is described as being about eighteen inches tall at this date though he later grew to a height of over three feet. The helmet is identical to that worn by Charles I in Le Sueur’s bust at Stourhead, Wiltshire. This has also lost its wings. The armour might therefore have been that of Charles I as a child aged about ten, J.J Keevil, ‘The illness of Charles, Duke of Albany (Charles I), from 1600 to 1612: an Historical Case of Rickets’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 1954, IX.4, 407-19, suggests that, at an early age, he suffered from rickets, which would have stunted his growth, and resulted in feeble limbs and a swollen head, the exact form exhibited by the little armour. References A.R. Dufty and W. Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, plate LXVIII. N. Hall, ‘The giant and the dwarf’, A. Borg, Strange stories from the Tower of London, London, 1976. B Clifford and K Watts, Princely armours and weapons of childhood, Leeds, 2003.
- This is an impressive and mysterious set of armour and even the museum curators aren’t sure who the original owner was.