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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 8:51 am    Post subject: The armours in the Greenwich Album - what happened to them?         Reply with quote

The Greenwich Armourer's Album, otherwise known as An Elizabethan Armourer's Album or simply "The Jacob Album" is a book of 29 armour designs for various gentlemen of Queen Elizabeth's court. Of these armours, I am aware of only 5 that still exist: Cumberland (George Clifford,) Leicester (Robert Dudley,) Worcester (William Somerset), Buckhurst (Thomas Sackville, co-author of Gorboduc,) and James Scudamore, who was Custos Rotulorum of Herefordshire and a popular tilter. Cumberland's and Scudamore's armours are in the Met Museum; the others are, I think, in the Tower of London. Please correct me if there are other armours from this book still extant.

My question is what happened to all the other ones? There are some designs for a lot of very prominent gentlemen in that album, particularly Sir Henry Lee, Elizabeth's jousting champion prior to the assumption of that title by George Clifford; he has two separate garnitures shown in that album. One of them looks truly spectacular and I really wish it were still around:

[ Linked Image ]

Were these armours simply lost to the ages, packed away in old attics and never found? Were they eventually melted down and used to make other armour? Were some of them badly damaged in the tournament or in battle and scrapped or something?

Are there magnificent Greenwich armours hidden away in old castles in England, waiting to be found? From what I read on Sir James Scudamore's harness, it was discovered in a chest in the attic of an abandoned tower at Holme Lacey in the early 1900s, covered in rust and nearly ruined by moisture; it was meticulously restored by the armourers at the Metropolitan Museum and now it looks fantastic. Will other discoveries be made in coming years?

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two of the ones you mentioned can be seen in some of our Feature articles:

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_16c_armour.html
http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_mow_clifford.html

I want to say the Lee armour survives as well.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 11:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Royal Armouries has a number of surviving Greenwich harnesses. I don't think all of them are in that book, though.

Also, do you know that all those designs were actually made? Some of those design books may very well have been proposals that never were made into armour. For example, I believe the Clifford armour is slightly different in the sketches in that book than it is in real life.

A helm of one of Sir Henry Lee's harness survives. It's in the Royal Armouries, and is published in Dufty's European Armour from the Tower of London. It differs from the sketch you posted.



 Attachment: 83.12 KB
lee helmet.jpg
Helm of Sir Henry Lee - Royal Armouries

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

I just wanted to add this to the topic because I was impressed with it when I saw it in person.

Here is a photo I took of the Almain Album at The Victoria and Albert Museum showing elements form the George Clifford armour located at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2009 2:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Also, do you know that all those designs were actually made? Some of those design books may very well have been proposals that never were made into armour. For example, I believe the Clifford armour is slightly different in the sketches in that book than it is in real life.

A helm of one of Sir Henry Lee's harness survives. It's in the Royal Armouries, and is published in Dufty's European Armour from the Tower of London. It differs from the sketch you posted.


That is a good point. I'm not sure if all of them were actually made. The original text of the album has been preserved on several archives, including a list of all 29 of the men who would receive the armours in the album. You can read it here

there's one interesting mystery in the list of names, and that is "Bale Desena." All of the other gentlemen in that album can be identified, but nobody knows who Bale Desena was. Given the huge variety of different spellings for surnames in that album, it's likely that "Bale Desena" is but one spelling of the name. It is written in that text that a family of that name was seated at Liege (Belgium). I wonder who this man was?

Thanks for that picture of Henry Lee's helmet - I was not aware that any of his armour survived. It is indeed different from the sketch posted - Lee, being Master of the Armoury, had several armours in that album, and the photo of the helmet does in fact match a different sketch from that album of one of his other garnitures. I can't find a link to it but it is pictured in my "Tudor Knight" book.

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