Detail View: The AMICA Library: Harquebus Armor of Pedro II, King of Portugal

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Creator Name: 
Holden, Richard
Creator Nationality: 
European; British; English
Creator Dates/Places: 
recorded 1658-1708
Creator Name-CRT: 
Attributed to Richard Holden
Harquebus Armor of Pedro II, King of Portugal
Title Type: 
Object name
Full View
Creation Date: 
ca. 1683
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Steel, engraved, blued, and gilded
Classification Term: 
Total Wt. 43 lb. 5 oz. (19.6 kg)
AMICA Contributor: 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
15.113.1-5; 29.158.885
Credit Line: 
Armor: Rogers Fund, 1915; Buff coat: Bashford Dean Memorial Collection, Funds from Various Donors, 1929

This armor can be identified by its decoration as having belonged to Pedro II (r. 1683-1706). The decoration includes the crowned monogram PR, for 'Pedro Rex' (Pedro the King), and the cross of the commander of the Order of Christ, a hereditary office held by the kings of Portugal.

Harquebusiers were armored cavalrymen generally equipped with a carbine (known as a harquebus) carried at the right side on a shoulder belt, a pair of pistols holstered at the front of the saddle, and a sword. This form of armor, consisting of a triple-barred helmet, a cuirass with a bulletproof reinforcing breastplate (not shown), and an elbow gauntlet, was common in England until about 1645. The armor of King Pedro is significant not only as a late example of this type but also as the probable work of the little-known armorer Richard Holden of London. A similar armor made by Holden in 1686 for James II of England (r.1685-88) is in the Royal Armouries in the Tower of London. The armor is shown with an associated buff coat. This sturdy leather defense, which provided effective protection against sword cuts, was worn throughout the seventeenth century, first in conjunction with armor and later alone.

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