Royal Armouries

Edward V in the Line of Kings

Images

watercolour detail showing the figure of a king in armour on a horse with a crown above

Figure of Edward V, with a crown suspended above his head, in the Line of Kings from the 'Horse Armoury' by Rowlandson and Pugin. 1809 (I.345b)

  • watercolour detail showing the figure of a king in armour on a horse with a crown above

    Figure of Edward V, with a crown suspended above his head, in the Line of Kings from the 'Horse Armoury' by Rowlandson and Pugin. 1809 (I.345b)

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

    Boy's armour. (II.126)

  • colour photo of a boy's armoured figure with decorated banded edges

    Armour of King Charles I as a boy. Dutch, about 1616 (II.90)

  • monochrome newspaper illustration of an armoured figure on horseback

    Figure of King Edward IV in the Horse Armoury, by Robert William Buss, about 1840

  • 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 a line of mounted armoured figures

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

  • colour portrait of a man sitting at a desk holding a book

    Portrait of William Hutton by an unknown artist, about 1780 © Birmingham Museums Trust

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of James I

    Carved wooden head of James I. English, about 1688-90 (XVII.47)

  • colour photo of the head of a wooden horse

    Head of a carved wooden horse from the Line of Kings. English, 1685-90 (XVII.18)

Carved wooden horse

Object Provenance: English about 1690
Object Number: XVII.18

Edward V in the Line of Kings

Description

Edward V was the son of Edward IV and after his father’s death was next in line for the throne at the age of only twelve. However his uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was appointed Protector. What happened next has developed into legend with no conclusive proof. However, it has been widely believed that Edward V and his younger brother, Richard Duke of York, were murdered on their uncle’s orders and buried in the Tower. Their uncle became King Richard III and the two boys became known as the lost princes of the Tower of the London.

Edward V’s figure was displayed dramatically in the Line of Kings. In a ‘finely decorated’ adolescent’s armour with a crown suspended above his head, a powerful visualisation of the fact that Edward V was proclaimed king, but never crowned. It is not surprising that in the visitor account, A Journey from London to Birmingham, William Hutton comments that ‘Edward the Fifth, of all others, demands our pity.’, because everything about the display of this uncrowned king was designed to evoke pity and emphasise his vulnerability.

He was displayed in a ‘rich suit of armour’, emphasising his royal blood and right to be in the Line. However, as seen in the print produced by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin in 1809, the armour was small compared to the others alongside it. Furthermore, guidebooks record Edward V as displayed holding a lance, which would have represented part of his physical education as heir to the throne, and the lance would have also emphasised his youth.

Out of the Line of Kings, but within the Horse Armoury was displayed a representation of Edward V’s brother, Richard, Duke of York. As it was believed Richard had died at about the age of ten, the armour used was very small. However, the armour that we believe was formerly used to represent Richard, Duke of York, we now know dates from the early seventeenth century and so is much too late to have had any real association with Richard, Duke of York.

When the Line of Kings was expanded and improved in the 1680s, it was only a few years after the skeletons of two children had been discovered during building work at the Tower. Believed to be the remains of the two princes they were later interned at Westminster Abbey. With such an emotive connection to the Tower it would have appeared absurd not to include them in the Line of Kings. However neither the representation of Edward V or Richard, Duke of York, survived the re-display led by the appointed armour expert, Samuel Meyrick in the 1826-7. The desire to evoke an emotive response from the display was replaced by a desire for greater historical accuracy.

Edward V is not represented in the present Line of Kings display but the horse on which his figure was shown sitting can be identified and is on display. Some writers have suggested that the carved head exhibited as probably representing James I & VI may instead have been part of the figure of Edward V.

Carved wooden horse

Object Provenance: English about 1690
Object Number: XVII.18

Related Objects

Boy's Armour, known as the ‘Jeffrey Hudson,’ ‘Richard, Duke of York’ or ‘Dwarf’ Armour Click on the title link above to find out more.

James I (reigned 1603 – 1625) Click on the title link above to find out more.

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

William Hutton’s account of the Horse Armoury 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.

Themes Menu

Line of Kings