The building in which the "Pious Society of Gunsmiths and Tinkers" is located. The main hall was built in the XIV century, although then, of course, the house itself was rebuilt, and more than once. In the Great Fire, he did not burn, in 1940 bombs destroyed the surrounding buildings, but he was not touched ... Well, he obviously patronizes the gunsmiths and tinkers!
"... and I wrote them in ink on this scroll ..."
(Jeremiah 36: 18)
(Jeremiah 36: 18)
History and documents. How often do historians face truly insoluble problems? For example, someone's armor or an interesting effigy was found. But they are not dated. Who made the armor, for whom, in what year. Yes, of course, their shape can tell a lot. Metallographic analysis will identify the metal, and by the similarity of the analyzes it will be possible to find out which workshop they came from. But ... there is no direct evidence. All indirect. That is why the album "Almain", created in the Royal armory the chamber in Greenwich, London, between 1557 and 1587, is of such great historical value. Indeed, on its pages, many impressive armor created by her masters are captured.
Content that pleases
The album contains 29 sketches of armor on 56 sheets, and each time we see a figure dressed in full armor, most of which can be clearly seen, and opposite it is an image of its additional details. That is, before us are drawings of not just armor, but headsets that could be easily turned into armor for light cavalry, infantry and into purely knightly armor for tournaments.
The cover of the "German Album" (this is how its old name is translated into modern language)
Several lost drawings left tantalizing prints on the back of other sheets, and they testify that this album was once larger. Some of the armor made according to his sketches have survived to this day, and some of them have minor changes compared to the original sketch. In addition, it was the armor in which people fought, and they fought not in a tournament, but in the bloody arena of the battlefield.
Armor of the "Earl of Worcester" for William Somerset, 3rd Earl of Worcester, circa 1570. Album "Album". © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Who is who from the Elizabethan court
The album originated in an era when Queen Elizabeth's courtiers fought for her favor with every display of devotion, courage and theatricality. Elizabeth encouraged rivalry between courtiers. And they paid up to £ 500 for an ornate piece of armor, which they also required a royal license to order.
Sir Robert Dudley
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and rumored lover of Elizabeth I, ordered several suits of armor from Greenwich. Dudley was known to his rivals as a "favorite" in connection with the queen. Elizabeth herself called him with her "eyes." Two drawings in the album are annotated directly to him, including one drawing with his emblem and lovers' knots - a clear hint of his "devotion" to the queen. Dudley hosted Elizabeth I at his Kenilworth Castle in 1575 as part of one of the most famous events of her reign - an expensive three-week festival of theater, dance, knightly tournaments, hunting, boating and fireworks. The virgin queen knew how to have fun, to be sure!
Earl of Leicester, armor of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (detail), circa 1565. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Sir Henry Lee
Sir Henry Lee has been a Master of the Armory since 1580. As the organizer of the Joining Day knights - costly knights, poetry, music and feasting festivals aimed at honoring the queen - Lee needed to "show himself." Which he did, because his armor is one of the most striking in this album. For example, Lee's armor, circa 1585, is lavishly decorated with quatrefoils (a symmetrical shape consisting of four petals, usually semicircular, arranged like petals of a flower or four-leaf clover) and mimics the fashion for clothing with cuts that were needed to show even richer fabrics. under them. Under his armor, Lee wore green stockings and chasses, the colors of which were also used for the scabbard of his sword. A green quilted lining, probably of silk, can also be seen inside the burgoon's right cheek, its open light cavalry helmet.
Sir Henry Lee, Master Farmory, armor for Sir Henry Lee, master of the armory, circa 1585. As you can see, the set even included stirrups and an armored saddle with a horse mask. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Sir Christopher Hutton
The most generous customer was Sir Christopher Hutton. Hatton had at least three, and possibly four, pieces of armor in his album, parts of which have survived from all of them. It was rumored that, like Dudley, Hatton was Elizabeth's lover. Their correspondence was passionate and romantic. Hutton was free to spend money on art, and his orders for armor were quite costly, in addition, he also built Holdenby House and partially financed the travels of Sir Francis Drake. After his death, his heirs were left with an unfinished stately home and a debt of 42 pounds sterling. The lovers' knots engraved on them, tied to a Tudor rose, practically turned his armor into a love letter on steel.
Sir Christopher Hutton, armor for Sir Christopher Hutton (detail), 1578-1587. The horse mask - shaffron - is decorated with the owner's emblems. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Duke of Finland
The Greenwich workshop has occasionally served clients from all over the world. "Duke John of Finland, Prince of Sweden" was the son of King Gustav Vasa of Sweden and Duke of Finland from 1556 to 1568. He made several appearances at the court of Elizabeth at the beginning of her reign, in part in an attempt to marry the Queen and his father. He liked the life of the nobles in England. It was recorded that
"The Duke of Finland still rests here and moves from good to better every day, doing his best to have fashionable clothes and succeed in playing with 'tuns' (tennis)."
It is possible that the armor in the English style was ordered by him for self-assertion.
Artist and gunsmith
The drawings, which were probably used as working templates, were created by Jacob Halder, who was originally from Landshut, in southern Germany, and was first listed as Almains (that is, Germans) who worked at the Armory in 1558. Halder was a master gunsmith at Greenwich from 1576 to 1607 and died in 1608. We know that Halder created the drawings, because this was written about in two cases at once: “These drawings were made by me, Jacob". It is believed that under his leadership, the heyday of the Greenwich armor took place.
«These details were made by me, Jacob”, Note by master gunsmith Jacob Halder on the armor design for William Somerset, 3rd Earl of Worcester, circa 1570. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Etching, gilding and bluing
Many of the armors are featured in the album with a high degree of color and decoration. Most of these patterns are characteristic of armor from the 1570s and 1580s, when Elizabethan fashion became its most extravagant. The design of the armor was very different. Used arabesques, patterns of flowers and mythological figures. Moreover, sketches were often bought from jewelers and embroiderers.
The decorative techniques that allowed craftsmen to keep up with modern fashion included acid etching, gilding and bluing.
The etching on the armor was similar to the embroidery on the fabric. Acid etching created a characteristic surface decor contrasting with the smoother areas of the polished metal. It was also used, in particular, to decorate items that require durability, such as jewelry and document boxes, locks and keys. After acid treatment of the scratched pattern on the wax, it was removed, and then the resulting indentations could be gilded or blackened. This technique made it possible to decorate armor and objects with rich decor, without violating the structural integrity of the metal.
What's remarkable about that? Yes, legs, of course! Women hid them under fluffy skirts, but men showed their muscular, slender, beautiful, elegant legs to everyone. Moreover, they were covered with silk stockings! Young Man Among Roses, portrait miniature, Nicholas Hilliard, England, circa 1590. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Many of the drawings in the album are painted in a variety of colors. Armor designed to be crafted from plain steel is shown in white with light blue highlights. Many of them are deep reddish brown. Looking at the surviving armor, it seems that it shimmers in various shades of black and blue, which is a consequence of their heat treatment. But an X-ray analysis of the design of Lord Buckhurst's armor showed that the reddish-brown color is a film of iron oxides with traces of zinc and lead. Areas of blue were examined on Sir Henry Lee's stirrups and armor from 1587 and identified as a source of indigo-based paint.
The nobles who ordered the armor from the Greenwich workshop were without doubt the fashion leaders of their time. They were the main beneficiaries of luxury laws that regulated the cut, shape, materials and decoration of clothing according to the status of the individual. Well, their armor was just a kind of clothing.
Armor of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, Greenwich, circa 1587 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Early sketches of the armor show a tendency towards a simpler design, with vertical stripes of ornamentation contrasting with patches of white polished metal. In the 1570s, a swollen and exaggerated belly known as a "pod" was common in both doublets and cuirasses. Tight-fitting stockings were tried to be exposed as high as possible to accentuate the long slender legs, which, incidentally, corresponded to the shape of the armor for protecting the legs, which repeated the natural profile of the entire leg.
George Clifford's armor (breastplate and shoulder pad) close-up. The gilded roses of the Tudors and fleur-de-lis, connected with a cord with loops, are clearly visible. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The brightest armor of the 1580s is undoubtedly the armor of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, the surface of which was adorned with Tudor roses, heraldic lilies and lovers' knots. Clifford was the commander of the naval fleet, who made a name and fortune for themselves on privateer operations in the West Indies. His armor is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and is the most impressive of the surviving Greenwich armor of the era.
The last drawing in the album, recently identified, is labeled "Sur Bale Desena" and refers to Sir Horatio Palavicino (Baldesina), a wealthy Italian merchant and diplomat who was knighted by Elizabeth I in 1587. Palavicino was an agent of Queen Elizabeth and was wealthy enough to lend her money. Preparing to defend Britain against the Spanish armada, he built and armed the ship at his own expense.
The armor, in which Henry Lee ordered to fight the Spaniards, has been preserved in one of the halls of the Pious Society of Armourers and Tinkers in London. There are no unnecessary details for the tournament in its design. All items are intended for use in combat. Much to Lee's annoyance, he was sent to guard the north of England in the wilderness. His armor is rather austere - an early hint of the later aesthetics of XNUMXth century men's fashion.
Sir Bale Desena, armor for Sir Horatio Palavicino (Valdesina), circa 1587. Armor below the knees was no longer provided! © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
However, they were still decorated with hop flowers and pomegranate fruits. In addition, the drawing tells us that they also had to be with red and green details, probably with an enamel finish, which is a surprising extravagance for armor designed for combat.
Armor for Sir Harry (Henry) Lee, Master of the Armory. Greenwich, 1587 © Pious Society of Armourers and Tinkers, London
Real works of high art
The album testifies not only to the tremendous skill of Greenwich's gunsmiths, but also to the costs that were invested by customers of high-quality armor. These ensembles were a kind of private yachts of our era, for they cost the owner something about 2 million pounds sterling in modern prices. Each of these armor was made strictly to individual order, reflecting the posture and figure of only its owner. It was expected that the knights would move smoothly and silently in armor, because all joints were adjusted in the most careful way. According to the Spanish writer Luis Zapata,
"It was indecent for the knights to move in armor that rattled like bowlers."
The armor preserved in museums has largely lost much of its color decor. Album "Almain" allows you to visualize what the armor of the Elizabethan era looked like in reality. And it was really quite unusual armor, decorated with engraved, blued and gilded ribbons, combined with richly colored silk and velvet, with dyed ostrich feathers on the helmet, in which their owner, sitting on a horse, properly dressed, became no longer a rider. , but turned into a monumental work of art.