13.00 - 14.00
Cost: Free

Armour and the Afterlife: Knightly Effigies in England and Wales

Armour and the Afterlife: Knightly Effigies in England and Wales

Lecture by Dr Tobias Capwell, FSA.

One of the most important of all medieval artforms is to be found not in museums, but in churches. Funerary effigies – carved in alabaster, sandstone, or some other ‘freestone’ – were not just elaborate tomb markers. Although they did serve as a reminder of a dead person’s life, they were above all motivators of intercessionary prayer. This was an artform on which the soul of the artist’s patron literally depended. This crucial function created a form of sculpture that comprises many of the most detailed and tangible representations of medieval people as they were in life.

Effigies not only bring us face-to-face with the real inhabitants of the medieval world, they also provide a unique way for us to understand the art of the historical English armourer. Almost no English armour survives from the medieval period, but many beautiful, long-lost pieces were cunningly observed and reproduced in sculptural form by the effigy carvers. Effigies are an often-overlooked resource for studying armour. On a fascinating tour of armoured effigies in England and Wales, we encounter the true splendour of the medieval knight.  

Dr Capwell is Curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection in London, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and an internationally-acknowledged expert on Medieval and Renaissance weapons. His book, Masterpieces of European Arms and Armour at the Wallace Collection (2011), was named Book of the Year by Apollo Magazine in 2012. Dr. Capwell appears regularly on television, most recently as presenter and armour advisor on Richard III: The New Evidence (2014), and as the writer and presenter of Metalworks: The Knight's Tale (2012). Recent publications include The Noble Art of the Sword: Fashion and Fencing in Renaissance Europe 1520-1630, ex. cat. (2012) and ‘The Arming of an English Man-at-Arms, c. 1415’, appendix, in Sir Ranulph Fiennes new book Agincourt: My Family, The Battle, and the Fight for France (2014).

After 15 years of research, Dr. Capwell’s book Armour of the English Knight 1400-50 was published in 2015; it is the first of two volumes exploring the story of armour in late medieval England.


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