Royal Armouries

Howard: patron of arts and antiquities

Images

Thomas Howard

Engraving of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arudel and Surrey (1646), London, 19th century, engraved by H.Robinson.

  • Thomas Howard

    Engraving of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arudel and Surrey (1646), London, 19th century, engraved by H.Robinson.

  • colour photo of a boy's full length armour with a wooden head

    Boy's armour. (II.126)

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    Figure of King James I in the Horse Armoury, The Penny Magazine, 1840

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    Figure of Sir Horace Vere in the Horse Armoury, The Penny Magazine, 1840

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of a line of mounted armoured figures

    ‘Interior of the Horse Armoury’, anon engraving, The Penny Magazine, 1836 © Royal Armouries 2013

  • monochrome photo of an armoured figure mounted on a life-size wooden horse

    The figure of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, photograph about 1870 © Private collection 2013

Tilt armour

Detail Text: Concordance suggests the armour worn by Howard was II.74
Object Provenance: German, Augsburg, about 1580
Object Number: II.74

Howard: patron of arts and antiquities

Description

Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel was an interesting addition to the Line of Kings during the 1827 re-display. The Line of Kings had previously been a display of selected British monarchs displayed in armour and on horseback from William the Conqueror to George II. Writing in 1824, Dr Samuel Meyrick had criticised this display as being inaccurate with monarch shown in armour completely inappropriate to their time period.

The re-display attempted to address the inaccuracies as well as demonstrate the collections strengths and convey a sense of the development of armour, within a narrative that celebrated monarchy.

Figures of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel and Horace Vere, Baron Vere of Tilbury, were used to demonstrate both loyalty to the crown and variations of armour design in the sixteenth and seventeen century. They stood next to each other between the figure of James I and the armour for Henry Stuart, Prince of Wales from 1827 to 1842.

Howard is different from the other nobles chosen as he was not renowned for military successes or for being a royal favourite. Instead Howard has been remembered as a patron of the arts and antiquities.

The Howard family had been disgraced but under James I, Thomas Howard, was reinstated to some of his family titles. Following Howard’s political success and family inheritance, by 1616 Thomas Howard was one of the three wealthiest peers in England. Howard used this wealth to expand his art and sculpture collection and also provide patronage to artists and antiquarians.

Howard was involved in politics and a member of the Privy Council, but after Charles I did not act on a petition to restore his family title of Duke of Norfolk, Howard sought the right to travel again. He accompanied the newly married couple, Princess Mary and William of Orange to Holland in 1642 and he stayed abroad during the English Civil War, dying in Padua, Italy in 1649.

Thomas Howard was not a warrior but he was still displayed in armour. Both Howard and Vere were displayed in cap-a-pie – full-length – armour and holding maces. This would have a notably different effect from the titling armour and gilt armours on display on the monarchs around them.

In the 1827 Tower of London guidebook Howard is described as having ‘his eye towards the sovereign’, which would probably have been James I. It is possible that one of the surviving wooden heads (xvii.53) that looks to the side was used for Thomas Howard. This head was made in the nineteenth century so could have been commissioned for the display, and would be evidence that the representation of Howard was carefully orchestrated and planned.

Though not much of note is said in the Tower of London guidebooks regarding Howard and Vere, the fact that their names were chosen to represent particular suits of armour from the early seventeenth century, shows that they were deemed as worthy examples of courtiers during this period. Howard particularly for his patronage of the arts and antiquities which were qualities considered to be just as important for a gentleman as military prowess.

Tilt armour

Detail Text: Concordance suggests the armour worn by Howard was II.74
Object Provenance: German, Augsburg, about 1580
Object Number: II.74

Related Objects

Samuel Meyrick and the Rearrangement of the Horse Armoury, about 1824-1827 Click on the title link above to find out more.

James I in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Henry Stuart, Prince of Wales in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Vere: forgotten outside the Tower? Click on the title link above to find out more.

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