Picture of the armour collection

Collections

A collection of memories

The Royal Armoury's oldest artefacts are the sets of royal state and ceremonial weapons that were stored in the old Three Crowns Palace during the 16th century. Even back then guests at the court were most likely allowed to view them occasionally, and marvel at the wealth of the new Vasa dynasty of Gustav Vasa and his sons Erik XIV, Johan III and Charles IX. The Swedish renaissance kings were very particular about their reputation in Europe, where every court of merit possessed elegant collections of weaponry.

It was in this royal armoury that Gustavus Adolphus in the 1620s wanted his blood-spattered clothes to be saved "as a perpetual memorial". This became the Royal Armoury's hallmark: blood-marked costumes preserved to bear witness to royal valour.

In the 1850s the ceremonial costumes of Sweden's royals were taken from the Royal Wardrobe and incorporated into the Royal Armoury. Other valuable ceremonial props for parades, such as saddles, had been on view in the Royal Armoury since the 17th century whilst it was not until the end of the 19th century that the royal carriages were moved there from the Royal Stables.

Amongst the richly decorated saddles and harnesses are various diplomatic gifts from kings and sultans. Honorary gifts such as extravagantly equipped horses were gradually replaced by Orders of Chivalry, many examples of which may also be found in the Royal Armoury.

Artefacts with some association to the royals at war, or with political or ceremonial affiliations, have principally come to the museum directly from the royal family. Since the middle of the 19th century however, the museum has also received items such as royal costumes donated by or acquired from the general public. These reflect different types of relationships between the royals and the Swedish people.

The Royal Armoury's collections can also be studied for examples of changes in style and fashion, craftsmanship and materials. A royal commission has often signified high quality work accompanied by reliable documentation.

The Royal Armoury's treasures have been exhibited in many different locations in and outside Stockholm. By the middle of the 19th century plans had been made to incorporate it into the National Museum, inaugurated in 1866, but when space there quickly ran out, alternative housing was provided within the newly erected Nordic Museum in 1907.

In the 1970s the Royal Armoury was moved to the cellar of the Royal Palace's southern wing where it is now located.