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Keith Dowen

Keith Dowen is Assistant Curator of Armour at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

After working at the Wallace Collection in London for a number of years as a long-term volunteer conservation department assistant and freelance arms and armour researcher, Keith was appointed Assistant Curator of European Armour at the Royal Armouries in October 2014. The following year he was awarded an MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from University College London, having written his dissertation on the evolution of armour in early 14th century Europe.

Keith has lectured widely, both in the UK and abroad, on a range of subjects encompassing both arms and armour and British military history. In 2012 he was appointed Honorary Deputy Editor of the Journal of the Arms and Armour Society and in 2016 he joined the editorial board of Acta Militaria Mediaevalia. Since joining the Royal Armouries Keith has been heavily involved in a number of on-going museum projects across the UK concerning the display and interpretation of 17th century arms and armour and has organised a number of specialist seminars. Keith Dowen is also involved with the identification and cataloguing of finds of medieval arms and armour from archaeological sites in Poland.

Keith’s main area of interest focuses on the Thirty Years War and British Civil Wars and he has spent a number of years researching buff-leather coats and the manufacture, supply and design of 17th century armour. Other major areas of research include the evolution of armour in the 14th century, particularly with regard to the early development of plate, and the equipment of the common soldier from the 12th to the 16th centuries.

Print publications

  • Dowen, K. 2010. Edward II, the Civil War and the Battle of Boroughbridge. Hobilar 76
  • Dowen, K. 2015. The Seventeenth Century Buff Coat. Journal of the Arms and Armour Society, Vol 21. No. 5
  • Dowen, K. 2016. An Early Medieval Sword in the Wallace Collection. Acta Militaria Mediaevaliatom XI
  • Dowen, K. 2017. Protestant Challenge, Catholic Reaction. Military History Monthly. Issue 80
  • Dowen, K. 2017. Buckingham’s Wars. Military History Monthly. Issue 80
  • Dowen, K. 2016. The State of Militia and Private Armouries in England and Wales on the Eve of the Civil Wars. Journal of the Arms and Armour Society. Vol 22. No. 2
  • Dowen, K. 2017. Seventeenth Century Buff Coats and Other Military Equipment. Leather in Warfare: Attack, Defence and the Unexpected, ed., Q.Mould. Archaeological Leather Group/Royal Armouries pp. 116-129
  • Dowen, K. 2017. The Introduction and Development of Plate Armour in Medieval Western Europe c.1250-1350. Fasciculi Archaeologiae Historiae Fasc. XXX. Łódź.
  • Dowen, K. 2019. Arms and Armour of the English Civil Wars. Royal Armouries. Available to buy.
  • Dowen, K. 2019. ‘Cancered, rotten and not worth anie thinge’? The Armour of the Jacobean and Caroline Militia in England and Wales. Journal of the Arms and Armour Society Vol. 23, No. 2
  • Dowen, K. 2019. Gerat Barry: Soldier, Military Theorist and the Irish Rebellion of 1641. ‘Britain Turned Germany’. The Thirty Years’ War and its Impact on the British Isles 1638-1660, ed. S. Jones. Helion Publishing
  • Dowen, K; Marek, L; Słowiński, S; Uciechowska-Gawron, A and Myśkow, E. 2019. Two Twelfth-Century Kite Shields from Szczecin, Poland. Arms & Armour Volume 16 Number 2
  • Dowen, K and Hurst, S. 2020. Tudor Power and Glory: Henry VIII and the Field of Cloth of Gold. Leeds: Royal Armouries
  • Dowen, K. 2021. The Mortuary Sword. The Protector’s Pen. The Newsletter of the Cromwell Association. Vol. 23. Issue 2. pp. 14-15
  • Dowen, K. 2021. The 1520 Foot Combat Armour of Henry VIII: Design, Technology and Meaning. In, Williams, A and Dowen, K. (eds). Arms and Armour: History, Conservation and Analysis. Essays in Honour of David Edge. London: Archetype Press pp. 1-31
  • Dowen, K. 2022. The Puissant Pike. The Protector’s Pen. The Newsletter of the Cromwell Association. Vol. 24. Issue 1 pp.15-16
  • Dowen, K. 2022 (contributor) In Impey, E. (ed). 2022. Treasures of the Royal Armouries. A Panoply of Arms. Leeds: Royal Armouries
  • Dowen, K. 2022. Le Camp du Drap d’Or et les Armures d’Henry VIII. In, Beaufils, O and Capodieci, L. (eds). La Cour en fete dans l’Europe des Valois. Tours: Presses Universitaires François-Rabelais

Digital publications

  • Dowen, K. 2018. Dutch Cuirassier Armour. [online] Royal Armouries. [Accessed 3 Apr. 2019]
  • Dowen, K. 2018. The Cuirassier in the Eighty Years War, [online] Brabants Erfgoed. [Accessed 3 Apr. 2019]
  • Dowen, K. 2015. Leather Buff Coat. [online] Royal Armouries. [Accessed 3 Apr. 2019]