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Dangerous art

Dangerous Arts‘ is a new book from the Royal Armouries embellished with stunning images of the objects which once adorned the great palaces, tournament fields and parade grounds of the world. The book combines themes of art, conflict, death and beauty to highlight pieces in our collection chosen specifically for their fine craftsmanship and careful design.

Here’s an introduction to just a few of these fascinating objects:

The ‘Burgundian Bard’

A horse armour,

The Burgundian Bard, an ornate horse armour

Situated next to Henry VIII’s famous tournament armour, the ‘Burgundian Bard’ is perhaps one of the collections lesser known treasures. The intricately decorated horse armour was gifted as a wedding present in 1509 to King Henry VIII and his first wife Katherine of Aragon by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. The bard features an embossed pomegranate design with the fruit representing the house of Aragon and also includes symbols of the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece, which Henry VIII was awarded in 1505.

The ‘Painted Sallet’

A painted sallet.

‘The Painted Sallet’ with its colourful decoration.

The sallet is dated from 1490 and is of German origin. It is incredibly rare for painted decoration to survive on helmets such as the sallet, and the colour perhaps challenges traditional views of the medieval period as being full of dark colours and little decoration. The top of the helmet bears a flame design, while the lower part has a chequered pattern in red, white and green.

The ‘Ming Sword’

ornate gold sword pommel

The ornately decorated Ming Sword

The Chinese Ming Dynasty Sword dates from the early 15th century and was likely made for imperial presentation to one of the great Tibetan monasteries of the time. The distinctive monster mask at the top of the sword is known in Tibetan as chibar or ‘that which resembles nothing’.

The ‘Admiral Lord Collingwood Sword’

Ornate sword, with handle of gold.

Ornate sword, complete with solid gold hilt.

Dated from the early 19th century, the Admiral Lord Collingwood Sword was made to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. The sword was created by London-based goldsmith Thomas Harper, with the hilt being made of solid gold. One side of the knuckle-guard states ‘ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN TO DO HIS DUTY.’

Li armour

red helmet with fabric decoration

The Helmet of li Naomasa

This helmet belonged to li Naomasa, one of the four generals of Tokugawa Ieyasu. It is dated from the Momoyama and Edo period, and when the armour is fully constructed it features tall horns covered in gold lacquer. The armour is also laced with intricate white, green and purple silk braid.

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