Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Armor That Is "Out Of This World"

You know you designed great armor when...
 ...NASA visits you in the early 1960s to get ideas on how to build a better space suit.

This is Henry VIII's combat armor designed specifically for the tournament at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520. A marvel of early English armor, it was never used as Francis I changed the combat rules shortly before the meeting. Henry scrambled to have a new suit designed. As a result, this armor remains blackened and unfinished.

NASA visited the armories to see how Henry's fully enclosed armor was capable of motion. This study was to help them design the iconic space suits worn on the moon landings. Personally, I think it is another example of how important Henry was/is and how history remains relevant even today. 
Not a single area of Henry's body was exposed. Joints were covered in layered sheets of metal which slid over and under each other. Think for a moment about all your moving limbs. The rear of the thighs, elbows, knees, neck...

The biggest drawback to the armor being fully enclosed was the risk of the wearer becoming overheated. While designed as combat armor, it was only meant to be used for short periods at tournaments. It would have been impractical for campaigning and extended battles.
Henry and Thomas More used to stand on the palace roof and discuss astrology. Some 450 years later, man steps on the moon with a little bit of help from a Renaissance king!

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