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article imageHenry VIII Armor Goes on Display at Tower of London

By M Dee Dubroff     Jun 6, 2009 in Lifestyle
Marking the 500th anniversary of his coronation, armor made for Henry VIII specifically to accommodate his ever-expanding girth will soon go on display at the Tower of London. Read on for more royal details.
Meant to inspire fear and awe in the hearts of his many subjects, the “Dressed to Kill” exhibition displays the largest collection of Henry's surviving armor just a stone's throw away from where he had his second wife Anne Boleyn lost her pretty head. (Any connection to the movie of the same name some thirty years ago about a transvestite killer is purely incidental.)
In the words of curator, Bridget Clifford:
“Henry is one of the most famous Kings in British history. His image has been burned into so many people's psyches. That's why this exhibition is exceptional… It aims to convey Henry's power, majesty and psychology and give him a human face.”
The “merry monarch” was notorious for orchestrating the execution of two of his six wives and his search for a wife who could produce a male heir came to define his rule. But there was another side to this lusty Tudor. Henry was also an avid sportsman, warrior and someone who knew the power of a good wardrobe. Do clothes make the man? Who knows, but surely Henry would have shaken his chubby head in the affirmative. The exhibition includes knives, swords, guns, shields, lances, riding gear and hunting equipment as well as some freestanding suits of armor.
According once again to Clifford:
“Henry liked experimenting with firearms and was rather innovative. The weapons and technology he used during his reign from 1509 until his death in 1547 were considered cutting edge at the time.”
The display of armor is unique because their different sizes illustrate Henry’s progression from a lean young prince to a more portly royal. Designed by some of the finest craftsmen in Europe, he wore his armor as the leader of three campaigns against France and one of the suits was worn at “The Field of the Cloth of Gold,” which was one of the greatest tournaments of his reign.
Many museums have loaned items to this unusual exhibition, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum. The show is expected to run until next January.
Henry VIII lives again through these amazing artifacts from his colorful reign. For many afficianados, the merry monarch never really left this world and has merely traveled on to another quieter, less earthly and lusty plane of existence.
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