Detail of blued and gilt 18th century smallsword

Self-Defence gallery

Throughout history, the use of arms and armour has not been confined to the armed forces.

Individuals have also suffered attacks from other members of the community, and have found ways to protect themselves. Society has also tried to organise itself in various ways to control these violent crimes.

The gallery explores the history of personal protection, from the middle ages to the 21st century. It highlights how these different forms of protection have changed alongside fashions and technological advances. It also explores the sometimes controversial issues of using weapons for self-defence.


  • The Royal Armouries is committed to providing our visitors with disabilities with appropriate facilities.

  • The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds offers a range of facilities, including a shop, cafe, and several picnic areas.

  • How to get to Royal Armouries in Leeds.

Did you know?

Female archers

Bhutala Sri Vira Udaya Marthanda Varma, the ruler of Travancore, kept a corps of 300 female archers.