Henry VIII: The art of the armour

Fashion, politics and propaganda in Tudor Britain
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The Independent Online

In addition to being the most highly functioning armour yet produced, seen close-up, the armour of Henry VIII is richly decorated, with astonishing attention to detail.

The various armours were the most lavish ever seen in their day, and reflected the cutting-edge of craftsmanship as well as international fashions - including decorations by Holbein and imports from Milan.

What's more, the decorations themselves - the religious imagery, heraldic and political symbols - relate explicitly to the Tudor saga. Changing allegiances to successive wives, religious views and political ambitions are all here - as such, their art tells us a great deal about Henry's personal beliefs.

In them, Henry was a walking propaganda billboard, and the messages conveyed were highly shaped by the king himself.

Specific examples of Henry VIII's personal armours that illustrate this can be seen close-up and in detail at Henry VIII: Dressed to Kill - in the Tower of London until 17 January 2010. More details at hrp.org.uk