Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Crossbow of Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary (reigned 1458–1490)

dated 1489
possibly Vienna
Central or Eastern European, possibly Vienna
Wood, horn, animal sinew, staghorn, birch bark, iron alloy
L. 29 in. (73.7 cm); W. 24 in. (60.9 cm); Wt. 5 lb. 1/2 oz. (2284 g)
Archery Equipment-Crossbows
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1925
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 373
This crossbow is one of the earliest surviving dated examples to include heraldry in its decoration. It was made for Matthias Corvinus (1443–1490), king of Hungary and Bohemia, whose personal coat of arms and the arms of his kingdom are visible. In addition to its rich ornament, the crossbow is remarkable for its sophisticated firing mechanism.
Ex. coll.: Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary, Vienna (and/or possibly his son, János Corvinus); [Julius Böhler, Lucerne].
Dean, Bashford. "A Crossbow of Matthias Corvinus, 1489." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 22, no. 9 (June 1925). pp. 154–157, ill. pp. 155–156.

Dean, Bashford, and Robert T. Nichol. Handbook of Arms and Armor, European and Oriental, edited by Stephen V. Grancsay. 4th ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 1930. pp. 100–101, fig. 57.

Granscay, S. V. Historical Arms and Armor: Twenty Plates. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1935. pl. 15.

Blair, Claude. European & American Arms, c. 1100–1850. New York: Crown Publishers, 1962. fig. 240.

Kalmár, János. Régi Magyar Fegyverek. Budapest: Natura, 1971. pp. 141–42, fig. 15.

Zolnay, László. Vadászatok a régi Magyarországon. Budapest, 1971. pp. 49–52, ill. pp. 49–51.

Schwennicke, Detlev, Wilhelm Karl Isenburg, and Frank Freytag von Loringhoven. Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln Zur Geschichte Der Europäischen Staaten 3, pt. 1 (1984). pl. 101b (genealogy of the family of Matthias Corvinus).

Die Hornbogenarmbrust: Geschichte und Technik. Ludwigshafen, 2006. pp. 60–62.

Breiding, Dirk H. "The Crossbow of Count Ulrich V of Württemberg." Metropolitan Museum Journal, Metropolitan Museum Journal, 44 (2009). p. 62.

Radway, Robyn Dora, and University of Central Florida. "In the Name of Saint George: Ivory Saddles from the Fifteenth Century." Master's thesis, 2009. p. 27.

Dahlström, Mikael. "Some Thoughts about Three 15th Century German Crossbows." Jahrblatt der Interessengemeinschaft Historische Armbrust (2011). pp. 80–81.

Breiding, Dirk H. A Deadly Art: European Crossbows, 1250–1850. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013. pp. 26–29, no. 4, ill. p. 27 and fig 1.9.

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