Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Dates from about 1575 | English, Greenwich | Object number: II.81
This splendid armour was probably made for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to wear during the pageants and displays he organised to entertain the Queen during her visit to his estate, Kenilworth Castle in 1575.
It is set up for the tilt (Joust of Peace over a barrier). It was made in the royal workshops at Greenwich under master armourer John Kelte.
The armour’s decoration, which was formerly gilded, includes his initials, family badge, (the bear and ragged staff), and the Orders of the Garter and St Michael.
The shaffron (horse’s head-defence) is decorated with the bear, the only surviving example of true embossing in the entire Greenwich production.
A copy of this shaffron was used in the 2001 film, A Knight’s Tale, starring Heath Ledger.
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