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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 2:19 am    Post subject: Armour on The Tudors (show) - realistic?         Reply with quote

I have been watching The Tudors, the Showtime show about a highly fictionalized life of Henry VIII. There have been a few jousting scenes and I noticed that the armour somehow looks...not right. There are things missing that seem like they should be there, like arm guards, and the armor in general seems too loose-fitting and large and not really like it was custom made for the wearers. I was wondering if anyone else felt the same way? I've attached a few images of said armor, screen captures from one of the joust scenes.

Charles Brandon and William Compton. Brandon's harness looks too large and it lacks arm guards. Compton's looks slightly more realistic.

The Duke of Buckingham in an exceptionally fake looking harness covered in spikes.

King Henry with a Maximilian style bellows helmet which does not match the rest of the armour - and there are no arm defenses whatsoever, nor a gorget or any other form of neck protection.

Charles Brandon with what I guess is a "Great Bascinet" - still somehow looks unrealistic and ill-fitting:


I'll admit I am FAR from an expert on armour, but from what I've read and seen of it in my research, there is something somehow "wrong" with the suits depicted on The Tudors. I couldn't fault a hobbyist for having suits like these but
for a show with a multi-million dollar budget and presumably some historical consultants, I would think they would try to get the armor to look a little more like the actual examples of suits from this time period.
It is a decent show, though. The story is pretty captivating, if historically inaccurate. I was kind of disappointed that they started right in with Charles V as the Holy Roman Emperor - disregarding the fact that it is not chronologically accurate, I would really have liked to see Maximilian I portrayed on screen. He seems like he would have been quite the colorful character, almost as interesting as Henry in some ways.

I'm only up to Episode 6 of the first season - to anyone who has seen the whole thing, are there many other good scenes of jousting or battles to look forwards to?

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Daniel Michaelsson




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 3:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with what you've said, although I have seen period depictions of plate without arms. I think they pander to popular pre-conceptions rather than following the actuality of period arms and armour. I think they should fire their costume consultants.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 5:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm also seeing a line of, uh, "ladies" in the back of that last shot, and not one has any sort of headwear! To omit major articles of clothing in a show that's supposed to be a "lavish" look at history is just weird. Tudor women's headwear is highly visual and very distinctive!

Nice to see they haven't made all the armor a dull black/brown/gray, at least.

Matthew
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 7:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's also quite hard for me to believe that a noble as wealthy and powerful as the Duke of Buckingham would have been wearing such an ugly and cheap looking harness as the one depicted in the show. It seems to be made to look "evil" instead of like something a high ranking man would have actually worn. In reality I suspect that the Duke would have had a much more elaborate and beautiful suit of armour than Henry's courtiers Brandon and Compton - who didn't even have titles, at the time of that jousting scene in the show.
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 7:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually the Buckingham harness is trying to be something that existed. There are several harnesses withthat type of decoration. There are parts of one from Rhodes ( can be seen in the book Armour from Medieval Rhodes ) and several complete examples in texts. The examples i've seen have casquettel helmets rather armets or close helmets.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow; I would never have thought. I guess there were all kinds of styles back then so there's no reason why something like that couldn't have existed - but I wouldn't think a very rich and powerful noble like Buckingham would have worn such a comparatively drab harness to a royal tilt against King Henry. If for no other reason than he probably would have made a point of upstaging Henry's ornately-armoured courtiers who he clearly looked down on in the show. But maybe he was the type to forgo embellishment in favor of a utilitarian design; I don't know.

What exactly do you mean by Casquettel helmets though? I haven't seen that term before. Google search doesn't bring up much.

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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 7:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A helmet like the one in this thread http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...casquettel

A casquettel burgeonette is subclass of burgeonette where the back of the helmet is made up of a series of articulating lames. The helmets for the particular style of armour in question matched the raised, repoussed pyramid decortaive motif of the body armour.
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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 8:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It only gets worse. The props AND the show. I couldn't quite bring myself to get into it like I did with Rome (which has its fair share of failures too).

I think the last jousting scene has props with GLARING gaps, especially at the shoulder lames -- as if it started to fall apart during shooting and nobody noticed.

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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 8:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Damn. That is disappointing. Half the reason I'm watching the show is because I'm hoping to see jousting or battle scenes. For the life of me I don't get how big-time studios with huge budgets are unable to get details like this right.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 9:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam D. Kent-Isaac wrote:
Damn. That is disappointing. Half the reason I'm watching the show is because I'm hoping to see jousting or battle scenes. For the life of me I don't get how big-time studios with huge budgets are unable to get details like this right.


Because they don't care. It's not their job to make accurate documentaries. Their job is to make money. Hiring knowledgable experts is expensive. Researching and recreating the all the intricacies of decorated, noble 16th century ars and armour is expensive and time-consuming. Why would they spend the time and money when those details won't change the viewer ratings in any appreciable way? Studios care about money. Research expense = less profit. Viewer ratings = more advertiser money and more profit. They will spend their time and money where it gets them the biggest return on investment. It's that simple.

You have to keep in mind 2 things:

1) The relatively small number of people who actually know why the armour and arms are bad aren't the primary audience nor even a significant chunk of the audience.
2) The arms and armour are props and back-drop, not the focus of the series. So while we care intensely about such things, they aren't the focus of the producers or the vast majority of the viewing audience. They are telling a story about people, not a story about arms and armour.

What I don't understand, quite honestly, is why people get upset about this stuff. Happy It won't change. We need to get over ourselves. If we were a huge, rich chunk of the viewing population, the studios would need to factor us into their plans. We're not.

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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, you're right. It's a matter of perspective. I run into the same thing with firearms in movies - guns that never run out of ammunition, guns that automatically go "CHH-CHH" as soon as they are drawn even if the action is not being operated, guns being fired indoors with no ear protection and not having any effect whatsoever on the characters' hearing, etc. I always wonder how they are able to get away with such gaffes, but when you get down to it, I guess the relatively small percentage of viewers who are familiar with firearms is miniscule compared to the viewers who wouldn't really care one way or the other. (I think historical armour inaccuracies should get a little more of a pass in this case, since I guess it's hard and expensive to hire armour experts and replicate armour and other such things - it's a little harder for me to excuse someone firing 20 successive shots out of a .38 revolver...indoors...with no earplugs... Laughing Out Loud )

Interesting that someone pointed out before the inaccuracies with the female costumes on The Tudors (lack of headgear.) I would never have caught that, but I imagine there are many serious enthusiasts of Tudor-era fashion who would spot those mistakes immediately (but maybe not the mistakes in the armour.)

I still enjoy the storyline and the acting enough to keep watching the show; Henry is such an unlikable character and yet I still can't stop watching him. Despite all the factual blunders in the story, Rhys-Meyers did do a commendable job in the lead role.

Are there any movies or shows that anyone could recommend which have particularly realistic and accurate depictions of period-correct armour and weapons? (Don't say A Knight's Tale!)

ETA: For that matter, are there any good documentaries on armour?

PS: Though I am American I am conforming to the English spelling, as it is, after all, the one used officially on this website.

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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The clothing in the show is extremely anachronistic. It's comprised of pieces that are based on items from a wide span of time and often the same costume has influences from multiple cultures and periods. The fabric choices are often absolutely horrible and very wrong. The profiles and proportions are often modernized to make them more flattering for today's audience. The accessories are very wrong.

Having said that, the costumes are very attractive and I give the costume designer big props. Seems odd I'd say that? I understand what is trying to be accomplished with a series like this and I think the costumers have done well.

The arms and armour in the show have very much of the same problems as has already been covered here.

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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:

1) The relatively small number of people who actually know why the armour and arms are bad aren't the primary audience nor even a significant chunk of the audience.
2) The arms and armour are props and back-drop, not the focus of the series. So while we care intensely about such things, they aren't the focus of the producers or the vast majority of the viewing audience. They are telling a story about people, not a story about arms and armour.

What I don't understand, quite honestly, is why people get upset about this stuff. Happy It won't change. We need to get over ourselves. If we were a huge, rich chunk of the viewing population, the studios would need to factor us into their plans. We're not.


If the story holds up on it's own, is internally consistent then one way to still enjoy them is to not compare them to real history since they don't stay close to real history anyway.

So with us enjoying so-called " historical " programs is to judge them as if they where totally invented stories: We already know better so we can ignore the inaccuracies if we choose to do so, but the harm is done to people who " think " they are seeing something representing real history! On the plus side some will pick up a book due to curiosity and actually learn about real history.

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Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Thu 28 May, 2009 11:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bill Hickey




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 2:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In more recent episodes, battle armor was shown being worn. This was much less decorative and much closer fitting than the jousting armors pictured above. Perhaps as the show has gained popularity, more attention is being paid to things like this. Or maybe they are just wrong in different ways.

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 6:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm going to go with just wrong in different ways. I'm not knowledgable enough to give a detailed rundown of what is wrong and what is not wrong. For that matter I'm not sure it really matters unless one wants to show off, but as a whole, the fit still seems off.
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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 6:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My favorite "bad costume" moment was when Henry decided to go to another room and have an arm wrestling match with some guy. I can't remember the specifics, but I do remember that Henry was wearing a doublet,. A sleeveless doublet. And there was no shirt underneath. So we could all marvel at the actor's finely developed biceps.

I guess... that's what that choice was about! It so ripped me out of the story line, I gave up on the show entirely. I gave a huge pass to so many things, but the reality is, for me, it so distracted from the story that I kept losing believability...

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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 8:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Hickey wrote:




What is the man on the far left wearing? Is that some kind of "Great Bascinet" which encloses the whole head or is it a conventional bascinet with a bevor?

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 8:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the plus side I did catch an episode that involed a very attractive woman in some wicked cool thigh high shiny black leather boots. Totally not period and I totally did not care! Blush Big Grin
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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2009 11:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
On the plus side I did catch an episode that involed a very attractive woman in some wicked cool thigh high shiny black leather boots. Totally not period and I totally did not care! Blush Big Grin


Yup, some times who cares about historical accuracy: O.K., that was all wrong but WTF?! Razz Laughing Out Loud

Now I guess I will have to buy the DVDs. Blush Laughing Out Loud

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PostPosted: Fri 29 May, 2009 9:51 am    Post subject: Re: Armour on The Tudors (show) - realistic?         Reply with quote

Adam D. Kent-Isaac wrote:

The Duke of Buckingham in an exceptionally fake looking harness covered in spikes.



The helmet is awful, but the body and arms look to be a pretty good (plastic) reproduction of this Milanese intantry officer's harness, circa 1525:


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