The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Shield
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • c. 1485
  • Wood, iron, leather, gesso, black paint and gold
  • Height: 53.7 cm
    Width: 50.8 cm, greatest
    Weight: 4.62 kg
  • Inscription: 'E W I G M ? U H K · E E Z 'Eternal....'
  • A309
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Bouched horseman's shield, of wood, roughly rectangular in outline, the corners rounded. It is strongly concave, moulded with three vertical ribs and widely bouched for the placement of the lance on the right side. It is covered with leather, coated with gesso, painted black, with interlacing foliage in gold; on a riband across the centre is inscribed, in black and red minuscules:–
    ('Eternal ---- -----').

    Both the top corners of this shield curve back on either side of the face. The 'bouche' is very large, entirely open to the rider's right, and is set nearly half-way down the shield. The mounts on the back have been altered several times but, apart from the usual ring and hook for the guige, the most noticeable feature is a large sheet-metal staple nailed on almost in the centre of the back. All these features taken together suggest most strongly that A309 is an early example of a Renntartsche, a shield for use in some kind of early form of a Rennen-class joust.

    Said to have come from 'the Imperial Arsenal at Vienna', together with a fluted armour of about 1520, and a lance painted white with gold eagles on it at intervals, both now at Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire. (Skelton, Engraved illustrations, I, 1830, PI. XVII.)

    Compare to a shield in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, bearing the arms of the Behaim family of Nuremberg (1925.26.6). Across the centre of its back are nailed two horizontal steel mounts one above the other, about an inch apart. From the centre of each projects a fixed ring placed so that a pin passed through the top one might pass through a staple-like fixing on the breastplate and finally through the lower ring, thus locking the targe and breastplate together.

    A Rennen armour with a shield similar to this one is illustrated in the Thun Sketchbook, on fol. 8 (Gamber, Vienna Jahrbuch, LIII, pp. 33-70, Fig. 57). Possibly A309 was made for an early Rennen armour made for the future Emperor Maximilian I, in about 1480-85.