Elizabethan London

Elizabethan London
Tyburn was an infamous execution spot west of London, used since medieval times. The Tyburn "tree" - a unique, multi-person gallows - erected in 1571 became a popular public spectacle, drawing crowds of thousands.Tyburn Tree blog is less blood-thirsty but hopefully topical, interesting and informative, if slightly bent to my personal topics of interest - books, writing, history, technology, with a smattering of politics and dash of pop culture, science and the downright strange. So "take a ride to Tyburn" and see what happens...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I was wandering through the Met's extraordinary medieval art and armour collection, when I was genuinely startled to find myself confronted by Henry VIII's armour. 

Technically this was his field armour, probably less ornate than his wear for ceremonial purposes but, after studying the man and the era for the last six or seven years, it was startling to have a sudden intrusion of his actual armour into my day, particularly as I had no inkling it as part of the collection.  According to the Met, the armour dates to 1544 and was probably worn by Henry at the siege of Boulogne.  The first impression was that Henry must have been, true to his reputation and his portraits, a fairly stout individual.  The armour was 51 inches across the chest and 49 inches around the waist.  The suit resembles an ornate steel-clad gorilla and gives you a sense of the strength of the man.  It weighs more than fifty pounds, so I expect it was not worn lightly.

Henry was a man often unfairly castigated for certain actions and undeservedly praised for others.  Most famous for his succession of wives and mistresses, and for his role in the English Reformation, Henry was very much a man who believed in his own eminance and  God-given divine right to rule as King.  Self-doubt was never a very apparent weakness and Henry had, if anything, an utter belief in the rightness of his own positions, even when he hadn't clearly articulated them.  He was also an extravagent spend-thrift who took a fiscally sound kingdom under Henry VII and turned it into a nearly bankrupt state.  Henry's fiscal state was as much a driver of the English Reformation as was Henry's need for a divorce.

Still, the Met's Armory and Henry's pugnatious field armour are a fascinating and spectacular surprise.  I highly recommend taking a look.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck in publishing The Jesuit Letters. Would love to read it. Elizabethan England is one of my favorite periods of history. If I find a good literary agent I will send him your way.