The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Halberd
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany, Saxony
  • c. 1586 - c. 1591
  • Steel, pine, hardwood and gold, etched, gilded and blackened
  • Length: 80.3 cm, including socket
    Length: 54 cm, straps
    Weight: 3.3 kg
  • A954
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Halberd, one of twelve in the Collection, belonging to a much larger series made for the guard of the Elector of Saxony; all of the twelve at the Wallace Collection are of one pattern, differing only slightly in the details. Each has a head with long, two-edged, strongly ridged spike; axe-blade, with the cutting-edge shaped as a double curve; drooping fluke, shaped like the top of a fleur-de-lys; socket of circular section with mouldings at top and bottom, and four side-straps with shaped ends (one strap has been broken off and is now missing); the surface of the blade is etched with strapwork enclosing scrolls of foliage on a blackened ground, and in the centre scrolled cartouches, containing the insignia of the Arch Marshalship of the Holy Roman Empire: party per fesse two swords in saltire and gilt, upon one side, and the arms of Saxony upon the other; pine staff of circular section inlaid with nine longitudinal rows of barley-shaped studs in hardwood (probably box), to facilitate the grip. The socket is fully gilt, and the straps, bearing etched panels, are secured by round-headed steel rivets.

    Large numbers of these halberds and their accompanying morions (see A114) exist in public and private collections, including the Royal Armouries; they were carried by the personal Guard of the Electors of Saxony, and date from the end of the 16th century to the beginning of the 17th.

    German (Saxon), about 1586-1591.

    Laking, European Armour IV, fig. 1419 (a).

    According to H. Nickel (in Stüber and Wetter, 1982, pp. 168-90, fig. Ic), this pattern was carried by the Trabantenleibgarde of the Elector Christian I of Saxony. For examples of their helmets see under A114-18. A960 has the remains of its original caul and tassel.