Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
Parts of a field garniture with associated helmet, gauntlets, greaves and sabatons
Consisting of a close helmet with integral gorget-plates (mantelhelm), a gorget, cuirass and skirt, a pair of tassets, a pair of tasset-extensions, and a pair of further extensions including poleyns (all three together forming long cuisses), a pair of symmetrical narrow-fronted pauldrons, a pair of besagues, a pair of symmetrical vambraces, a pair of mitten gauntlets and a pair of greaves and sabatons.
The decoration of the original parts of the armour, which is etched in relief against a blackened ground mostly relieved by rows of small bright dots, consists mainly of wide vertical or diagonal bands enclosed within narrow borders with the intervening areas left bright. The bands contain floral candelabrum ornament, somewhat elongated, slender allegorical and classical figures, some of them named, grotesques, trophies, and classical heads within wreaths of laurel, all in the Mannerist style. In some places the edges of the bands are breached and the decoration spreads out beyond them at each side. These particular areas are etched in relief with symmetrical interlacing strapwork entwined with fine arabesques, all against a plain blackened ground. A similar combination of strapwork and arabesques occurs at the apex of the cup of each couter.
The turned and finely roped edges of all the plates are followed by a relatively broad band of wire-like foliate interlace arranged symmetrically around the central line of the band, all against a plain blackened ground, and consisting of stylized diamond-shaped quatrefoils alternating with ‘Turkish knots’ of an unusual form resembling five stylized diamond-shaped quatrefoils arranged 1, 3 and 1, each linked to its neighbour by curved lines forming the outline of a vesica piscis. The knots are absent from this pattern in the borders of the skirt-lames, and of the gorget.
The edges of all the transverse lames, except those which are turned, are etched with stylized roping consisting of a series of inclined Ss against a plain blackened ground. The edges of all the bands are followed by a narrow etched and blackened line from which numerous wiry, foliate tendrils project into the plain areas.
The turned edges are closely and relatively finely roped with a file. Except on the rim of the gorget, the direction of the roping reverses at the centres.
The rivets, most or all of which have been renewed at some time, are all of iron. The plates are pierced in many places with quite large round holes apparently made in order to fix the armour rigidly for display. Many of these have now been filled with patches. The leathers and straps have all been renewed.
The cuirass is dated 1563; the helmet and gauntlets roughly contemporary; the greaves and sabatons about 1800.