Royal Armouries

Boy's Armour, known as the ‘Jeffrey Hudson,’ ‘Richard, Duke of York’ or ‘Dwarf’ Armour

Images

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

Boy's armour. (II.126)

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

    Boy's armour. (II.126)

  • colour photo of a 3D dragon decoration on top of an armour helmet

    Detail of dragon on boy's armour. (II.126)

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

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

Statistics

Object Provenance: Probably English, about 1610
Object Number: II.126
Overall height: 95.25 cm (37.5 in)
Weight: 5.3 kg (11 lb 10 oz)
Marks: none

Boy's Armour, known as the ‘Jeffrey Hudson,’ ‘Richard, Duke of York’ or ‘Dwarf’ Armour

Description

Helmet of burgonet form; the skull is embossed with a scale pattern and has a crest in the form of a dragon riveted to it. There is a peak embossed as the upper part of a monster’s head attached by rivets and partly covering the front of the skull, cheekpieces also riveted on and a chinpiece riveted inside the latter while a neckguard is riveted over the base of the skull. The helmet has been subjected to considerable alteration and its original form is difficult to determine.

Breastplate of typical early seventeenth form; wide tassets of seven lames, a culet of five lames is attached to the backplate. Full arm-pieces, the main plates of the pauldrons being embossed as dragons masks. The gauntlets have a moveable plate on the underside of the cuff in the Greenwich manner. Complete leg-pieces, the cuisses with two articulations in the upper part; the sabatons of eleven lames.

No marks

Although this armour has been in the Armouries at least since the 18th century and possibly earlier, references to it in the inventories and guidebooks and vague and uninformative. It may be the small armour which in the 18th century was labelled Richard, Duke of York and by 1830 Charles, Prince of Wales, but the descriptions are too vague for this to be certain.

The armour is quite well proportioned and is correctly constructed and would be wearable by someone small enough. Hewitt in his catalogue of 1859 suggests that it was made for a dwarf and in this connection Jeffrey Hudson, the dwarf of Queen Henrietta Maria may be suggested as a possible owner. Hudson who entered the Queen’s service about 1630, is described as being about eighteen inches tall at this date though he later grew to a height of over three feet. The helmet is identical to that worn by Charles I in Le Sueur’s bust at Stourhead, Wiltshire. This has also lost its wings. The armour might therefore have been that of Charles I as a child aged about ten.

J.J Keevil, ‘The illness of Charles, Duke of Albany (Charles I), from 1600 to 1612: an Historical Case of Rickets’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 1954, IX.4, 407-19, suggests that, at an early age, he suffered from rickets, which would have stunted his growth, and resulted in feeble limbs and a swollen head, the exact form exhibited by the little armour.

Tower arsenal since at least the 18th century

References

A.R. Dufty and W. Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, plate LXVIII.
N. Hall, ‘The giant and the dwarf’, A. Borg, Strange stories from the Tower of London, London, 1976.
B Clifford and K Watts, Princely armours and weapons of childhood, Leeds, 2003.

Statistics

Object Provenance: Probably English, about 1610
Object Number: II.126
Overall height: 95.25 cm (37.5 in)
Weight: 5.3 kg (11 lb 10 oz)
Marks: none

Related Objects

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

Thomas Quellin(us) and the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

Edward V in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

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