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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

Erasmus Kyrkenar (c.1495-1567)

Armour garniture of Henry VIII for the field and tilt probably about 1540

RCIN 72834

Lantern Lobby, Windsor Castle

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As a young man, Henry VIII (1491–1547) was an outstanding sportsman, known across Europe for his physical prowess and for his interest in the latest armour and weaponry. After a period of inactivity caused by a jousting accident, he resumed his sporting pursuits in the latter part of his reign, holding two tournaments in 1540. 

This armour may have been made for these events. It is a garniture – an armour with interchangeable pieces which make it adaptable for a number of different tournament activities. In this case, a grandguard, pasguard and manifer were supplied to provide extra protection to the king's left shoulder, arm and hand when participating in the tilt (joust). 

The armour provides a fascinating record of Henry VIII's changing weight and body shape. Made-to-measure, the cuirass (protecting the torso) had a considerable width of 50 inches, but was later extended by 2 inches on either side by the addition extra plate.