The Tower Armoury in the Fourteenth Century by Thom Richardson

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The documents surviving from the privy wardrobe, the department which administrated the Tower armoury under Edward III, Richard II and Henry IV, provide a unique insight into the use of arms and armour in England as the Hundred Years War unfolded. Here, Thom Richardson expertly brings these documents to life. He answers many long-standing questions and challenges a number of assumptions, notably about the use of the longbow and the wearing of armour during that formative period of English history. Richardson shows how the previously peripatetic armoury became established in the Tower of London at the outbreak of the Hundred Years War, and grew into the national arsenal which today forms the basis of the Royal Armouries, the national museum of arms and armour.


Based on a remarkable series of financial records, painstakingly analysed by one of the world's leading experts on arms and armour, this book is a brilliant assessment of how the English crown prepared for and responded to the demands of warfare. Dr Richardson does his predecessors as keepers of the Tower armouries proud: his conclusions will transform our understanding of the 'English way of war'.
-- Anne Curry, Professor of History, University of Southampton

Thom Richardson brings to light the largest collection of written sources available to arms and armour scholars and enthusiasts. His work on the Privy Wardrobe records held in the Tower of London arsenal establishes new dates for introduction of plate armour, the end of the Great Helm and the proliferation of the longbow - even clarifying how many arrows were carried into battle by individual archers. In short, this book answers century-old questions on fourteenth-century military history; how much easier my own research would have been if this had been available 35 years ago!
-- Kelly DeVries, Professor of History, Loyola University Maryland

Thom Richardson writes as the latter-day successor to the clerks of the Privy Wardrobe who were in charge of the armoury at the Tower of London in the fourteenth and early fifteenth century. In this study of their surviving accounts, Richardson's knowledge of the arms and armour of the period enables him to identify the exact pieces described in their accounts and to relate them to surviving examples, in itself an important achievement. This will be an essential source for anyone interested in the weaponry of the period and the changes in its manufacture and technology.
-- Richard Barber, Honorary Visiting Professor, University of York

‘An outstanding work on the topic … essential reading for all medieval military historians’
-- Dan Spencer, Visiting Fellow, University of Southampton

‘This book will be essential for any scholar studying the arms, armor, and military administration of England during the fourteenth and early fifteenth century.’
-- David S. Bachrach, University of New Hampshire


Royal Armouries
14th Century
234 x 156 mm


Thom Richardson