Courtiers hold open the flaps of a royal tent as a 19-year-old King Henry VIII enters the tiltyard at Westminster. This illustration is inspired by a section of the 1511 Westminster Tournament Roll in the College of Arms collections. It visually records an elaborate tournament that took place on February 12-13 to celebrate the birth of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon’s first son, Henry, Duke of Cornwall. I love that the “K” for Katherine seems to cover every fabric design in a gesture of utter devotion. Tragically, the Tudor heir died just ten days later.
As you can see, the original is a very horizontal illustration so, as with other drawings in the book, I took some of the most important elements and modified the scene for a better fit within the book’s trim size. The phrase at the top, “Noble Coeur Loyal” means “Sir Loyal Heart,” a motto that Henry adopted for this particular tournament. I used the below photo of Henry’s armor from around the same time to guide my interpretation of the illustrated details that have faded with age.