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Arms & armour

Predominantly 16th- and 17th-century European swords, daggers, firearms and powder-flasks with an emphasis on ornate decoration.

The arms and armour collections, chosen for ornate decoration rather than chronological development, were formed by Alice de Rothschild in the early 20th century, assisted by the Keeper of the Royal Armouries, Sir Guy Laking. The collection consists of mainly European swords, daggers, firearms and powder-flasks of the 16th and 17th centuries, originating from the great armour-producing regions of Italy, Austria, Germany, France and England.

It holds some historically significant objects, including pieces owned by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the 16th century: elbow plates by the renowned Milanese armourer, Filippo Negroli – the only armourer to be included in Vasari’s Lives of the the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects – and a helmet made by Caremolo Modrone. A 16th-century parade shield, made by Elisius Libaerts, is probably from the collection of Henry II of France.