Archer's bracer

From England, AD 1475-1525

This archer's bracer is made of cuir bouilli (boiled leather). It is stamped with a crowned Tudor rose, oak leaves and acorns and the inscription 'ihc helpe' ('Jesus help'). Bracers were worn on the forearm, and had two uses. The first was to protect the forearm from the bowstring, and the other was to keep any loose sleeve material out of the path of the string. Bracers could be made of any hard material, such as ivory or horn, but were usually made of leather. The leather is softened in water, stretched over a mould of the required shape, and then heated until dry: it dries to a harder finish if it is dipped into boiling oil. Bracers are fastened around the forearm by a buckle at the end of Y-shaped leather straps rivetted to the bracer. The original rivet holes can be seen on this example.

The engraved coat of arms, inscription and the punched background decoration on this bracer were originally gilded and coloured. Bracers recovered from the wreck of the Mary Rose, King Henry VIII's flagship, which sank in 1545, have similar decoration. The heraldic badges or coats of arms might indicate in whose service the archer was fighting. The English medieval longbowman developed a fearsome reputation, and English armies gained many victories due to their superior archery skills.

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More information


D. Starkey (ed.), Henry VIII, a European court i (London, Collins & Brown, 1991)

C. Bartlett and G. Embleston, English longbowman 1330-1515 (Osprey Military Warrior Series, 1995)


Length: 12.400 cm

Museum number

M&ME 1922,1-10,1



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