Dated 1460 in the carved staghorn decoration, this is the earliest known dated crossbow in existence. The staghorn is inscribed with the coats of arms of Württemberg and Savoy, referring to the owner, Count Ulrich V of Württemberg (1413–1480), and his third wife, Princess Marguerite of Savoy (1420–1479). Above the trigger is a German benediction rendered in Hebrew letters. This is a rare and early instance of Hebraic script on a personal item intended for a Christian patron. It can be translated as "Hold God dear and be high-hearted!" or "Hold God dear, high-hearted one!"
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Title:Crossbow of Count Ulrich V of Württemberg (1413–1480)
Maker:Attributed to Heinrich Heid von Winterthur (probably Swiss, active Stuttgart, recorded 1453–1460)
Dimensions:L. 28 1/16 in. (71.2 cm); W. 25 5/8 in. (65 cm); Wt. 6 lb. 9 oz. (2972 g)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1904
Inscription: Inscribed: (in classic Hebraic characters but including several mistakes, on staghorn plaque on underside of stock) HAB GOT LIEB HOCH HERZE; (in Gothic letters, on staghorn plaque with arms of Württemberg) Gloria . in excelsis . deo . Et . in . terra . pax . hominibus . bon[a]e . voluntatis . Laudam[us] . te . Benedicti[mus] . te . 1460; (in Gothic letters, on staghorn plaque with arms of Savoy) O Maria . graciosa . Dei . m[ate]r . generosa . Dig[n]a . laude . gloriosa . Sis . pro . nobis . speciosa . ad[?] M . CCCC . LX.
Marking: Heraldry: [on right side of stock] Württemberg: Or, three stag's antlers fessways in pale sable; [on left side of stock] Savoy: Gules, a cross argent.
Count Ulrich V of Württemberg, Stuttgart (1460–d. 1480); comte James Alexandre de Pourtalès-Gorgier, Paris (probably after 1813)
; Private collection, Europe (?) (by 1892; sold to De Cosson); Charles Alexander Cosson, London (1892–at least 1897; sold to duc de Dino); Charles Maurice Camille de Talleyrand-Périgord, Duc de Dino, Paris (by 1901–04; sold to MMA).
New York. The Cloisters Museum & Gardens. "The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages," March 28–June 15, 1975, no. 236.
Christie, Manson & Woods. Armour and Arms, or, Catalogue of the Famous Collection of Armour and Arms Formed by That Well-Known Connoisseur, The Baron de Cosson, F.S.A., Which Has Been On Loan to the South Kensington Museum for the Last Two Years. London: Christie, Manson & Woods, May 2–3, 1893. p. 33, no. 213.
de Cosson, Charles A. "The Crossbow of Ulrich V. Count of Wurtemburg [sic], 1460, with Remarks on Its Construction." Archaeologia 53, no. 2 pp. 445–64, pl. 34.
Cosson, Charles Alexander. Le Cabinet d'Armes de Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Duc de Dino. Paris: E. Rouveyre, 1901. pp. 93–94.
Dean, Bashford, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Catalogue of European Arms and Armor. Hand-book (Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)), Vol. 15. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1905. p. 123.
Laking, Guy Francis, Sir, Charles Alexander Cosson, and Francis Henry Cripps-Day. A Record of European Armour and Arms Through Seven Centuries. Vol. III. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1920. pp. 135–36, fig. 936.
Dean, Bashford. "A Crossbow of Matthias Corvinus, 1489." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 22, no. 9 pp. 154–57.
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. 100–01.
Nickel, Helmut. Warriors and Worthies: Arms and Armor Through the Ages. New York: Atheneum, 1969. p. 62, ill.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages. New York: Dutton, 1975. p. 222, no. 236, pl. 11.
Isenburg, Wilhelm Karl Prinz zu. Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, edited by Detlev Schwennicke, and Frank Freytag von Loringhoven. Vol. 1. Die Deutschen Staaten. Marburg, Germany: J. A. Stargardt, Berlin, 1980. pl. 123 (genealogy of Urlich V, Count of Württemberg).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, edited by Kathleen Howard. New York, 1983. p. 65.
Paterson, W. F., and Arthur G. Credland. A Guide to the Crossbow. [England?]: Society of Archer-Antiquaries, 1990. pp. 67–68, pl. 12.
Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Summer 1991), pp. 40–41, 64, ill.
Frakes, Jerold C., ed. Early Yiddish Texts, 1100–1750. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. pp. 68–69.
Die Hornbogenarmbrust: Geschichte und Technik. Ludwigshafen, 2006. pp. 42–43, fig. 26.
"Begleitbuch und Katalog zur Ausstellung des Landesarchivs Baden-Württemberg, Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart und des Landtags von Baden-Württemberg." In Landschaft, Land und Leute: Politische Partizipation in Württemberg 1457 bis 2007. Stuttgart, 2007. pp. 104–5, ill. no. II 4 a–c.
Breiding, Dirk H. "The Crossbow of Count Ulrich V of Württemberg." Metropolitan Museum Journal, Metropolitan Museum Journal, 44 pp. 61–87, ill.
Dahlström, Mikael. "Some Thoughts about Three 15th Century German Crossbows." Jahrblatt der Interessengemeinschaft Historische Armbrust (2011), p. 78.
Pyhrr, Stuart W. "Armor for America: The Duc de Dino Collection." Metropolitan Museum Journal, (2012), pp. 202–203, fig. 43.
Pyhrr, Stuart W. "Of Arms and Men: Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan, 1912–2012." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Summer 2012), pp. 7–8, fig. 5.
Breiding, Dirk H. A Deadly Art: European Crossbows, 1250–1850. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013. pp. 23–26, no. 3, figs. 1.6–1.7.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can now connect to the most up-to-date data and images for more than 470,000 artworks in The Met collection. As part of The Met’s Open Access program, the data is available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.