The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Demi-shaffron
  • Franz Grosschedel (active between: 1555 - 1578/9)
  • Landshut, Germany
  • c. 1571
  • Medium-carbon steel, tempered, copper alloy, velvet and gold, etched, gilded and blackened
  • Weight: 1.7 kg
  • A359
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • In 1571 Archduke Charles II of Austria married the Princess Maria of Bavaria. This union, which sealed an alliance between the two major Catholic powers in South Germany against the Protestant German princes, was an enormously important event at the Austrian court. To mark the occasion jousts and tournaments were held at Vienna and Graz, with many of the most powerful Imperial Princes taking part, foremost among them the groom’s brother, the Emperor Maximilian II himself. Many magnificent armours were created specially for this great celebration, which went on for many days. The Emperor’s armour was made by Franz Großschedel of Landshut, Court Armourer to Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria and son of the great Wolfgang Großschedel, armourer to King Philip II of Spain. A magnificent occasion demanded magnificent armour, and Großschedel did not disappoint, forging a state-of-the-art garniture for the Emperor’s personal participation in the festive combats. This complex creation provided complete armours for all the fashionable varieties of joust, tourney and foot combat, along with the appropriate horse armours. In 1572 the Emperor finally paid the staggering sum of 2550 florins for the completed work, the equivalent of several million pounds in modern currency.

    Today this great armour is known as the Rosenblatt (‘rose-leaf’) garniture. It takes its name from its decorative scheme, in which all parts of the armour have been etched, gilt and blackened with extraordinarily fine strapwork bands filled with twisting rose branches bristling with sharp thorns. Its core elements are now in the collection of the Hofjagd –und Rüstkammer, Vienna (inv. no. A474), although other pieces, separated in the nineteenth century, may be seen at the Musée de l’Armée, Paris and the Royal Armouries, Leeds. Two further parts are in the Wallace Collection, the present half-shaffron and the lance vamplate A342. Both pieces are emblazoned with the Emperor’s arms encircled by the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece. The arms on the vamplate, one of several made for the garniture, are also crowned, while those on the shaffron escutcheon are carried by the double-headed imperial eagle.