Watch a short video of the battle gear.
Battle Gear of Henry V
Date: Helmet and saddle, early 1400s. Shield, late 1300s. Sword, 1400s or early 1500s
Size: Helmet H:425mm, W:254mm, L:324mm. Shield, H:610mm, W:394mm. Sword, H:895mm. Saddle, H:393mm,W: 546mm, L:673mm
Made in: England
Made by: unknown
Material: steel, iron, wood, leather, hessian, textile
In Shakespeare’s day, there were two easy ways to learn about national history: you could go to the theatre and see England’s famous victories chronicled in performance; or you could head to Westminster Abbey where in amongst the royal tombs you could be instructed on the ‘living monuments’ of dead kings.
If you did either, it’s probable that one monarch’s heroic deeds would have stood out above all others – those of England’s valiant, dashing, and heroic ‘warrior king’ Henry V.
In the 1590s, as England headed to war with Spain 150 years after Henry’s death, spectacular chivalric displays at Westminster and performances on stage across the river, harked back to this powerful king who personified the ability to unite Englishmen against the enemy.
This object is from Westminster Abbey
'Follow your spirit, and upon this charge/Cry "God for Harry, England, and Saint George!"'
Henry V, Act 3 Scene 1
'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers:/For he today that sheds his blood with me/Shall be my brother ..." '
Henry V, Act 4 Scene 3
- Funeral achievements are the armour, weapons and banners of a medieval lord offered to his burial church and displayed over his tomb
- The most famous examples are of the Black Prince at Canterbury Cathedral and Henry V at Westminster Abbey
- The embalmed body of Henry V's wife, Queen Catherine, was on display near to his tomb
- Almost 200 years after Catherine's death, Samuel Pepys was one of the visitors to see her and kiss her on the mouth
- Henry V is Shakespeare's only history play of the 1590s about a successful king
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