ARMOUR & Weapons of The Tudors

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Armour & Weapons
of the Tudors

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The format is Historical info on the left and pics of the Series on the right

Henry VIII as played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers
When asked what the biggest challenges for season 4 were, Jane Bergin, The Tudors costumes designer said :
"Well this was really a heavy year, because there’s nothing as heavy on costumes as battle. That was huge and we made most of the armour and the military clothes in the workshop too. There’s a surprising amount of research material available and we did everything quite authentically. One of the problems with armour that I was trying to avoid was to have the soldiers look too generic on horseback, so I really worked very hard with Liam Rodden who is our head tailor and the influence I took was the Japanese warlords to make people gasp when they saw the King. His costume is extraordinary – like something from a Kurosawa film. Then for the big battle scene we discovered someone in the UK who had Laurence Olivier’s original Henry V tabard (coat of arms) and that’s what our Henry rides into battle with. So there’s this connection with that great actor and film."
Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII
founded the royal armour workshop at
Greenwich Palace
in 1515 & top rank craftsmen were
brought in from Germany to Greenwich.
Average annual pay was approx 10 pounds and a suit of armour
was worth 300 pounds
. There was also a law that a man had to earn more
than 100 pounds to own a gun or crossbow

Armour of the Tudors"No one could stand against [Henry] as the royal giant, clad in ninety-four pounds of armour, thundered down the jousting course. For hours on end he would test strength and match spears against the bravest of the realm. Monarchs as well as subjects could be killed at this mock warfare, and the King of France lost his life in 1559 while practising the dangerous sport. Twice Harry of England was unhorsed, and once he lay unconscious for two hours. On still another occasion he escaped death by a fraction of an inch, when either by mistake or through sheer bravado he failed to lower the visor of his helmet. The Duke of Suffolk's lance struck the King scarcely an inch above the opened visor; the impact was so great that the spear shattered and the King's helmet was filled with bits of splintered wood. By the purest good fortune Henry was not seriously injured, and he announced that none was to blame but himself and insisted that his armourer put his helmet back together again so that he could continue to joust, by the which all men might perceive that he had no hurt " ~ a Tudor Tragedy by historian Lacey Baldwin Smith

  • <a class="external" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill - exhibit at the Tower of London">Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill - exhibit at the Tower of London</a> - The exhibit ran from the 3rd April 2009 to 17th January 2010. The little picture sequence at the end depicts various items of armour that were on display.
  • <a class="external" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="BBC video for the exhibition of Henry's armour">BBC video for the exhibition of Henry's armour</a>
  • <a class="external" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Short video clip on Henry's jousing injuries">Short video clip on Henry's jousting injuries</a>
  • <a class="external" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Arms and Armor—Common Misconceptions and FAQ">Arms and Armor—Common Misconceptions and FAQ</a>

Armour, Shields & Helmets
Henry VIII - Page 2 - The Tudors WikiHenry's armour
Henry VIII's armour in his early years
Henry in armourArmour
Henry VIII - Page 2 - The Tudors WikiHenry's armour
Henry in later years
Henry in armour

Henry's armour

Henrry as played by JRM
Charles Brandon as played by Henry Cavill
Henry in Armour
Henry in Armour
The Tudors Costumes - The Tudors Wiki

Kris Holden-Reid (Compton) said the jousting scenes were fun, "besides the armour that was made for the series was aluminum, not very heavy at all"

Henry's armour
Field Armour of King Henry VIII c.1544
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
Charles Brandon in his armour
Charles Brandon


Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham

in armour which is more medieval
in its look as befits his character
of being the leader of the conservative nobles.
Names of the components of a suit of armour:

1.Helm (Helmet)




5. Chainmaille(Gussets)




9.Faulds (Tassets)



12.Sabatons (Solorets)


14.Arming Cap


16.Haubergeon (Hauberk)


Charles Brandon as played by Henry Cavill
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey as played by David O'Hara King Henry VIII as played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Charles Brandon as played by Henry Cavill Charles Brandon as played by Henry Cavill

"Henry...collected weapons; he owned 94 swords, 36 daggers, 15 rapiers, 12 woodknives, 7 crossbows and 100 breech loading arquebuses. Only one arquebus [matchlock gun] survives in the Royal Armouries; it bears his monogram and the date 1537. Henry's wooden lance, painted red,gold and black with motifs of leaves and latticework, is also in the Tower , as is a dagger etched with roses and pomegranates, which probably belonged to him. His crossbow, bearing the royal arms and dating from around 1527, is in Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum while his sword and scabbard are in the Royal Collection at Windsor"
~ Alison Weir's Henry VIII and his court

The matchlock, also called the musket, the arquebus, and various other names, was invented in the 15th century.The musket was about five to six feet long, and weighed about twenty pounds. When fired, the musket was supported by a forked stick.
MatchlockThe first dated illustration of a matchlock mechanism dates to 1475, and by the 1500s they were universally used. Despite the appearance of more advanced ignition systems such as that of the wheellock and the snaphance, the low cost of production, simplicity, and high availability of the matchlock kept it in use in European armies until about 1720. It was eventually completely replaced by the flintlock as the foot soldier's main armament.

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey watches as
King Henry fills his musket

Wheel lock:
Wheel lock gun
The firing mechanism of the wheel-lock gun worked on the same principle as a cigarette lighter. A metal wheel rubbed against a piece of iron pyrites. This produced sparks, which ignited the gunpowder in the pan. This fine gunpowder then ignited the coarser powder in the barrel.

In 1608, a Frenchman from Normandy, one Marin le Bourgeoys, was appointed to the French court. He made the first true flintlock for King Louis XIII shortly after his accession to the throne in 1610. This was not an idea that sprang full-blown from his mind, but the result of putting together the pieces of a puzzle which already existed. The development of firearms had proceeded from matchlock to wheel-lock to snaphaunce and miquelet in the previous two or three centuries, and each type had been an improvement, contributing some design features which were useful. It remained for Monsieur le Bourgeoys to fit these various features together to create the flintlock. The new system quickly became popular, and was known and used in various forms throughout Europe by 1630.
Henry fires a flintlock
Henry fires a flintlock in celebration
of his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy's birth.
(This type of gun would not be invented
till a century later)

Bows & Arrows
Long Bow:

This is a bow that is roughly equal in height to the person who uses it.When the longbow was introduced to warfare it revolutionized how battles were fought. Archers could stay behind the front line and loose deadly barrages of arrows at leisure.
Shortbows and crossbows were no match in either distance or accuracy.
Henry & his longbow
Henry with his long bow as Anthony Knivert watches

Henry shooting his bow
Charles Brandon as played by Henry Cavill


Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk
shows his son how to pull a bow

Swords, Lances , Blades & Axes
LongswordBeginning around 1350 the use of very long swords began in earnest. These swords were designed to be used with both hands on the elongated grip or with one hand on the grip and the other on a covered center part of the blade designed for leverage. Tactics included using an overhead plunging attack upon the heaviest plated armor.
Woodcut of swordsmenThe use of these swords, along with the evolutions taking place in firearms development and armor piercing arrows signaled the demise of the mounted armored knight on the battlefield. Use of these swords lasted from roughly 1350 to 1550, declined in the late 16th century, and they were obsolete by the early 17th century.
Henry with his sword
French swordsman
This picture is a French executioner. A typical sword of execution would have had a two inch (5 cm) wide blade which was blunt ended and measured about 40 inches (100 cm) in length.

One example below from Germany bears an inscription which translates: "Whenever I raise my sword I wish the sinner everlasting life."
Jean Rombaud the french swordsman in the seriesThe Frenchman who was brought specifically for the
job of Anne's Execution was called Jean Rombaud
in the series and there is a strong possibility that may have been his name as he was named on the French Rolls of 1530 as such. It is recorded that she did look back several times but she was blindfolded in reality.
sword of execution

A typical Sword of Execution
German - 17th Century
sword of Anne's execution
The words on the sword read:
"La main droite, c'est mon Seigneur.
La vertu, L'amour, La mort."

"The right hand, this is my Lord.
Virtue, Love, Death."
Executioner's sword

Anne gives Henry a lance
Anne Boleyn smiles as Henry tries
out her wedding gift of two lances


Headsman's axe & Block from the Tower of London
Block and Axe at the Tower of London

BardingBards or Barding (definition) : armour or ornament for a horse's neck, breast or flank, ornamental covering for a horse or decorative trappings and harness. There were three basic categories, open, full coverage and extended blanket.

Some of the pieces of horse armour were: - The chanfron, to protect the horse head. - The crinet, to protect the neck of the horse. - The peytral, to protect the chest zone, on this piece is were the heraldic emblem could be. - The flanchard, to protect the sides zone of the horses. - The crupper, To protect the croup or the back part of the horse. - We also can name the pommel, as the part joined to the saddle, though its function was to protect the warrior more than to protect the horse. The function was protect the warrior from knocks in the genital zone.

Henry & Charles
Horses in chain mail "type" of barding
16th century plate armour for men and horsesKnight's typical heavy armor and barding for the horse found typical of the 16th Century Charles Brandon
Henry at the field of cloth of GoldHorses played a vital role in the economy of pre-industrial England. They acted as draught animals, pulled ploughs, waggons and coaches, worked machines, and transported goods around the country. As saddle animals they enabled their riders to carry out a wide variety of tasks, and at all levels of society they were regarded as status symbols in a unique relationship with man shared by no other animal. During the Tudor, horses were needed in ever-growing numbers, and for a greater variety of tasks. Henry on his horse
Henry had a stable of 200 horses & was the first patron of horse racing, despite the Pope's demands for cessation of all racing in England.

His favorite breeds were the Barbarys (from Spain and Italy) and Neapolitan Coursers, which cost about 12,000 English pounds in today's money. He encouraged the breeding of the Irish hobby, an ancestor of the Connemara & founded the Royal Paddocks at Hampton Court.

Many said that Henry was a grand horseman in his youth. He had stud farms at Hampton Court and in Nottinghamshire.

Thomas Kryvet was Henry's first Master of the Horse.
The Tudors Armory - The Tudors Wiki
Tapestry of Knight on a horse owned by Henry
The Tudors Armory - The Tudors Wiki
rijks museum
JRM as Henry
Horses & barding


<embed height="350" src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" wmode="transparent"/>
Jousts & Tournaments
Jousting 1546
The jousting that was played in Tudor times, was most likely to have been the INDIVIDUAL JOUST which took effect after 1420 and involved an encounter with lances between two knights. The rules were simple. If a combatant struck either rider or horse he was disqualified. A clean hit to the center or "boss" of the shield shattering the lance, or unseating the opponent scored points.
The Tudors Armory - The Tudors Wiki

The Tudors Armory - The Tudors Wiki
The Tudors Armoury - The Tudors WikiIn later times the third type of Joust was introduced, this was known as The PRACTICE TOURNAMENT and was less brutal than the two before its time. This type of joust involved very little ceremony and few rules of which Henry VIII would not have been fond of as he enjoyed a grand ceremony for his jousts and made sure rules were in play.
Henry was a keen jouster. Twice he nearly died. He fought his friend, Charles Brandon, without covering his face. Brandon's lance landed just one centimetre away from making a hole in the king's head. Then when Henry was 44 years old, he was injured again. He was crushed by his horse and lay unconscious for two hours.
The Tudors Armory - The Tudors Wiki
Jousts were big events. They were often held on special occasions. Many thousands of people watched, not just nobles. Anyone could get in for about 12 pence.

There might also be plays and other entertainment put on at the same time. Many knights dressed up as heroes from history. When Henry married Katherine of Aragon in 1509, she played the role of a Greek goddess and the knights fought a joust for her.
joust in the late 15th century
The Tudors Armory - The Tudors Wiki
The Tudors Armory - The Tudors Wiki
knights and lost jousts

This is an earlier depiction of the aftermath of a thirteenth century joust, known as the TOURNEY PROPER This form was the most brutal and costly in lives. All participants, upon hearing the charge, promptly melee' crashed onto the tournament field and proceeded to unhorse all others by any method at hand until a winner was determined.
[source: <a class="external" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Squidoo</a>]

joust display
The Tudors Armory - The Tudors Wiki
William Compton

  • Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight by David Edge and John Miles Paddock - Crescent Books
    New York, 1988
  • The Reign of Chivalry by Richard Barber - St. Martin's Press, New York 1980
  • The Life, History and Magic of the Horse by Donald Braider - Madison Square Press, Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers New York, 1973