Take this field armour of King Henry the VIIIth or armour from this time period (~1500s). How much give or excess room would there be for a person who was taller/shorter or fatter/slimmer that wore that or similar armour?

Subsequently, the armor was given to William Herbert (ca. 1507–1570), first earl of Pembroke, Henry’s esquire and an executor of his will. metmuseum.org

The article says it was inherited by William Herbert (who on cursory glance was not as large a man), if he ever wore it himself what measures would need to be taken to make it 'fit' properly? Likewise if someone who was larger (in height or weight) was intended to wear such an armour (say somebody with a 72in waist instead of Henry's 58-60in waist, or a foot taller).

Fabric can be made bigger or small to fit a new wearer in numerous ways, but you can't use a thread unpicker on metal be it rivets or welds as far as I'm aware. Removing fabric requires scissors, or even just a fold and some extra sewing to make a better fit. Not so with metal armour, and even if you did the armour needs to be protective as well as fitting.

In essence: was armour from this period ever taken in or let out like clothes or otherwise modified?

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – MCW
    Commented May 23, 2022 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


Henry had already had one piece of armour adjusted - his own.

On the Royal Collection Trust website (accessed 2022/05/06) there is a gallery of images of a different set of armour, titled "Armour garniture of Henry VIII for the field and tilt". One piece of the armour has obviously been adjusted:

cuirass backplate with an extension riveted in place

To allow for the King's increasing girth, the backplate of the armour has been extended by 5.1 cm at either side by the addition of plain plate secured with rivets. Cylindrical studs under the arms designed to receive the hasp projecting from the breastplate have also been adjusted twice: by about 2.2 cm on the first occasion, and a further 3.2 cm on the second.

So these sets could be adjusted and extended, but much less likely 'taken in'.

So in the case of 'sharing', it seems unlikely the larger person couldn't wear it without a permanent adjustment.

As for wearing armour too large for you, to a certain extent you can wear sightly more padding.

In this case however it was not sharing that took on place, or even inheritance but simply an adjustment to make sure the armour truly was fit for a king.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.