Royal Armouries

Edward III in the Line of Kings

Images

colour photo of a carved wooden head of Edward III

Carved wooden head of Edward III. English, about 1688-90 (XVII.41)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Edward III

    Carved wooden head of Edward III. English, about 1688-90 (XVII.41)

  • monochrome line drawing of a line of armoured figures on horseback

    The Horse Armoury, by an unknown artist, early 19th century © Royal Armouries 2013

  • 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 line drawing of an armoured figure on horseback

  • monochrome sketch detail showing the figure of a king in armour on a horse

    Detail of Edward III in the Line of Kings holding the sword with two crowns. Early 19th century drawing (I.277)

  • watercolour detail showing the figure of a king in armour on a horse holding a sword

    Figure of Edward III in the Line of Kings holding the sword with two crowns, detail from 'The Horse Armoury' by Rowlandson and Pugin. 1809 (I.354b)

Wooden Head of Edward III

Object Provenance: English
Object Number: XVII.41

Edward III in the Line of Kings

Description

The reign of Edward III is best remembered for his role in the Hundred’s Year War. This prolonged conflict with the French began in 1337, after Edward had been on the throne for ten years. It could easily have been thought that the war would be short as Edward won decisive victories and by 1360 England ruled a quarter of France.

Considering his military victories, it is surprising that Edward III’s presence in the Line was not celebrated more. In the Journal of William Schellinks, written in 1661, the display of an equestrian figure of Edward III is mentioned. He is also referred to in the guidebook London and its Environs Described in 1761. However in a few accounts he is only mentioned in reference to other family members, such as the father of John of Gaunt and Edward, the Black Prince.

From the Tower of London guidebooks we know that Edward III’s figure held a sword that had two crowns which the authors claimed alluded to his sovereignty in England and France. It is surprising that this is not picked up in the various visitor accounts. However we can see it in artists’ impressions of the Line at the start of the nineteenth century. From these we have been able to identify the armour probably worn by the effigy of Edward III and also the wooden head used in the construction of his figure.

The wooden head is made of oak and probably constructed between 1688 and 1691. The beard on the head looks less grey than the illustrations and the guidebooks suggest, but this may be due to the head being varnished at a later date, and though this discoloured varnish has largely been removed some patches remain.

The armour used for Edward III was a 16th century example and definitely not a piece contemporary with Edward III’s reign. In an article in The Gentlemen’s Magazine in 1827 Samuel Meyrick, the expert in historical arms and armour chosen to re-display the Line of Kings in 1826-7, mentions Edward III as one of the monarchs he had ousted from the Line due to the inaccuracies of the former display.

Edward III is represented in the current King of Kings display by his finely carved and painted wooden head.

Wooden Head of Edward III

Object Provenance: English
Object Number: XVII.41

Related Objects

John Newbery’s Historical Description and the Horse Armoury Click on the title link above to find out more.

William Schellinks at the Tower in 1661 Click on the title link above to find out more.

Edward III (reigned 1327 – 1377) Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1688 | Object number: XVII.41

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Line of Kings