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Erasmus Kyrkenar (c. 1495-1567)

Erasmus Kyrkenar (or Kirkener) was Master Workman at the royal workshops at Greenwich from possibly as early as 1535 and until his death in 1567. There, he was responsible for the armour for the field and tilt of Henry VIII of c.1540 (RCIN 72834), one of the most important armours in the Royal Collection. The period of his mastership is considered one of the most innovative in the life of the Greenwich workshops, and it was during this time that the particular style and build of its armours was developed.

Krykenar is thought to have been of German origin and first appears on an English royal bill in 1518. In 1519 he was appointed armourer for the King's body, with an annual salary of £10.  By 1539 he had replaced Martin van Royne as Master Workman at the royal workshops at Greenwich, although van Royne stayed on, perhaps as a consultant or in a sinecure role due to ill health.  Kyrkenar died at Greenwich between 27 May and 02 June 1567, and was succeeded in his post by John Kelke.

The royal workshops at Greenwich were established by Henry VIII between 1511 and 1515 and were the main suppliers of armour to the monarch and court from this time until the Civil War. Their armours are distinguished by their high standard of construction and their often elaborate decoration incorporating etching, gilding and colour.  The armours frequently included interchangeable pieces so that the wearer could configure them for different activities in the field (in combat) and at the tournament. 


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