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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Thu 25 Jun, 2009 6:33 pm    Post subject: Why did France require Henry VIII to wear a Tonlet?         Reply with quote

There is a certain suit of armour for foot combat belonging to Henry VIII which I have seen in different books and on various websites; it always seems to be accompanied by a note about how the rules of the Field of the Cloth of Gold tournament were changed at the last minute by the French and so the armour was never worn, instead being replaced with a different harness supposedly cobbled together at the last minute. This latter armour featured a bellows-visored helm and a long tonlet skirt. From http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerofLondon/stories/p...jects.aspx:

Quote:
Constructed in 1520 at his royal armour workshop, Henry was supposed to wear this armour for a foot combat at the Field of Cloth of Gold. However, the rules of the competition were changed only three months before this tournament and so it was never used


Quote:
Where is it from?
This armour was also constructed at the royal workshop and Henry VIII wore it to compete in the foot combat at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520. As new rules for the foot combat were announced just three months before the tournament, there was no time to create a brand new armour. This was constructed by using pieces of pre-existing armour, supplemented with several new items and special decoration.


The first harness:



The second:



What is the deal here? Does anyone know WHY exactly the French changed the rules at the last minute? Was Francis just trying to deliberately inconvenience Henry? Or was there some actual reasoning behind the change of rules requiring a tonlet skirt (and, from what I've read elsewhere, narrower vision slits in the visor?)

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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Jun, 2009 7:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I figure I'll bump this once because I'd really like to know more about this rule...anyone have any idea?
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Witek Chmielewski





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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2009 2:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, relations between the two powers might have seemed cordial at that point, but with Anglo-French relations being what they were up to that time, I can only interpret this as a deliberate attempt to cause trouble for Henry as all evidence indicates that this was going to be a magnificent armour when completed.

With all the emphasis on opulence and 'showing off' that the Field of the Cloth of Gold saw from both powers, preventing an especially stunning piece from being used could be seen as a valid strategic move in the game for prestige.

The Tonlet armour looks hastily thrown together, and it was. Only the pauldrons and the tonlet were new. Even the engraved detail is lacking something, compared to for example, the Silvered and Engraved armour of 1515.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2009 8:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I ask this question in complete seriousness: was this tonlet armour an attempt to prevent Henry from showing off his codpiece? It seems pretty well established that Henry loved to wear large codpieces both in his armour and in his regular dress clothes; if Francis really wanted to insult Henry's pride, requiring him to omit the codpiece from his tournament harness and instead wear a metal skirt seems like it would really do the trick. Do you think there's anything to this theory?
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Boyd C-F




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2009 10:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe the French were worried he hadn't sired an heir at that time and wanted to protect his franks and beans... Razz
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Steven Holden





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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 3:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam D. Kent-Isaac wrote:
I ask this question in complete seriousness: was this tonlet armour an attempt to prevent Henry from showing off his codpiece?
Close. The pelvic articulation was a technical tour-de-force, completely enclosing rather than relying on fauld and tassets.

Witek Chmielewski wrote:
The Tonlet armour looks hastily thrown together, and it was. Only the pauldrons and the tonlet were new.
Which raises the question of why a tonlet was not simply fitted to the new armour. Thoughts?
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Witek Chmielewski





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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 5:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam - Metal codpieces would have been part of armoured fashion of the time, so I don't think Henry's would have been seen as an embarassment, although maybe you're talking about its ridiculous size?

As Steve and I were saying, this armour was technically very advanced, and so this would have been a likelier factor in the changing of the rules. It's the renaissance version of the space race I guess. These things have always happened between great powers.

Here's a picture of the back of the first harness -



I haven't really seen anything from the period quite as ambitious as that harness. I just love it.

Steve - As far as I know, the tonlet on that harness is attached directly to the breastplate. In my opinion to do that to the first harness would have meant adding far too much extra weight to the whole piece. The tonlet armour doesn't have tassets, a long cuisse, or a culet or anything of the sort as the tonlet is there in their place, which suggests that weight was an issue when using a tonlet. Also, it would have been redundant to have two layers of protection, and heat build-up might have been exacerbated by such a setup.

In addition, perhaps the armourers and even the king wanted to complete the first armour at a later date, and so just set it aside.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What I was trying to say was that maybe Francis wanted Henry to NOT be able to show off his huge codpiece, because it was so large and he was so proud of it. Francis's options, then, would have been to either wear a codpiece of his own which was so ridiculously huge that it made Henry's look small, or do away with the codpieces altogether so Henry wouldn't get to show his off. He probably had a Samson complex about it anyway; maybe his skills in the tournament would have suffered without the confidence instilled by his codpiece? Laughing Out Loud

(Why didn't they include this in The Tudors? Seriously, it would have been great material for the show. Truth is stranger than fiction!)

I have the Osprey book "Tudor Knight" illustrated by Graham Turner; it has a photo of front and rear views of the original tournament armour and it is indeed amazing. Not an inch of skin is left enclosed; the legs and arms are completely articulated and it would have looked truly amazing if it were etched and gilded. It's a great tragedy of armour history that this one was never completed!

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Zac Evans




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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The reason the armour was not allowed was not because it did not have a tonlet but rather because the armourers had developed it to have locking gauntlets meaning Henry couldn't be disarmed. This would have given him a huge advantage, and I suppose that as the french didn't have technology like that they decided to stop him from using that armour. I would imagine the new armour was given a tonlet because it is less labour intensive than an articulated fauld with codpiece.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That makes sense; however, why didn't they just modify the already-built armour to have non-locking gauntlets rather than use a completely different harness?
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If the locking gauntlet theory proves true, you could make a case that Henry himself caused the switch. Here's why. In the lead-up to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, Henry and Francis exchanged cordial correspondence in which Henry spoke of this gauntlet design. Francis was intrigued and Henry agreed to have one made for him. I don't believe Henry followed through. The extensive preparations for the meeting of the two monarchs in France called for complete equality in everything: number of followers/size of retinue, distance of tents from the field, etc. If Henry had technology (in the form of those gauntlets) that Francis didn't, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the French changed the rules to try to ensure parity.

After all, this meeting/series of feast/tournament was the PR event of the century. Both Wolsey and the French would have fought hard for equality to ensure their monarchs would not have inherent disadvantages in comparison to the other.

The above theory is largely speculation on my part, of course. I'll do some more looking and see if I can dig up anything more.

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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do we know what changes the French made that caused one armour to be scrapped? From what I've read, the combatants at that tourney jousted on horseback, but also fought on foot with swords. I'm starting to think that tonlet armours were considered appropriate for foot combat with swords and other styles were not. According to the book Treasures from the Tower of London: Arms and armour, the non-tonlet harness was made "for friendly combat on foot at the barriers with axes."

It may just be coincidence, but the Royal Armouries has displayed the tonlet harness with a sword and the other harness with a pollaxe. Charles V's magnificent "hunt" tonlet armour was said to be used for fighting with swords.

Perhaps a change in the combat style necessitated the change in armour?

Fashion may have played a part, too. Supposedly the non-tonlet armour was once black and rough from the hammer and part of a group of 4 similar harnesses. It's become bright with 300 years of cleaning.

The tonlet harness is more decorated and also has a helm made by the Missaglias of Milan. Perhaps it was chosen because it was more decorative and because it bore parts by a famed family of armourers.

I'm leaning toward the harnesses being specific to certain kinds of combat. Hopefully others will chime in so we can know more.

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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most people don't know it, but Paris has THREE such armours, that were actually finished. Only one has locking gauntlets, though. Two are of German make; one by a Seusenhofer, for a Medici, the other Innsbruck as well and also possibly a Seusenhofer, the third by Niccolo Silva.


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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 2:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

THANK YOU for posting those incredible photos! I had no idea there were other such harnesses made. The articulation on those is just incredible, and the etched designs are absolutely amazing. I think my favorite is the one in the center with the bellows type visor.
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Jul, 2009 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam D. Kent-Isaac wrote:
(Why didn't they include this in The Tudors? Seriously, it would have been great material for the show. Truth is stranger than fiction!)


Because the costume director decided not to include codpieces at all. A shame, I say. It was the decision that broke the series for me. I simply can't see good (or not-so-good) King Harry as a whole man without his codpiece.
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Jul, 2009 12:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have lots of other pic's of these, but I don't have time to resize them. I'm just glad the size limit was up'ed to 220 KB. Don't miss the last pic.


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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Jul, 2009 2:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, here's another, not at Paris, made by a Seusenhofer about 1515.


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Ushio Kawana




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jul, 2009 8:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Mr. James Arlen Gillaspie Happy
Quote:
Most people don't know it, but Paris has THREE such armours, that were actually finished. Only one has locking gauntlets, though. Two are of German make; one by a Seusenhofer, for a Medici, the other Innsbruck as well and also possibly a Seusenhofer, the third by Niccolo Silva.

I looked for tsese photos all the time! ....and I found a large photo in "flicker". Happy

Louis 14th armor as a child
http://www.flickr.com/photos/damienhowley/3170536253/ (click "zoom icon: ALL SIEZES")
http://www.flickr.com/photos/damienhowley/3170536253/sizes/o/ (size: 2304x3072)

I'm interested in Medieval Arms and Armor.
But... My English is very poor ><;
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jul, 2009 12:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Umm... I don't know why the fellow that took that picture labeled it that way. It was made about 1515, over 100 years before Louis XIV was born.
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Olaf Bourve




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Jul, 2009 9:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Arlen Gillaspie wrote:
I have lots of other pic's of these, but I don't have time to resize them. I'm just glad the size limit was up'ed to 220 KB. Don't miss the last pic.


well i love these pics from that close armour in paris. since you have lot more pics from this armour, i beg you to send some to my e-mailadress: odinhro@yahoo.de.

thankt you very much

olaf
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