Halberd of Christian I of Saxony (reigned 1586–91)


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 371

These halberds of characteristic shape, with elegantly S-shaped axe blade, long tapering spike with sharp mid-ridge, and fleur-de-lis shaped beak, were made for the Trabantenleibgarde (palace and bodyguard) of the Prince Elector Christian I of Saxony (1586–91). An especially elaborate specimen––apparently an officer's weapon––bears the name of the Elector Christian and the date 1588 and is preserved in the Historisches Museum Dresden, the former electoral arsenal.The entire surface of these halberd heads, including their conical sockets and the long side straps, is covered with etched scrollwork. On one side of the axe blade is an oval cartouche with the arms of the archmarshalship of the Holy Roman Empire, per fess, sable and argent, two swords gules in saltire overall, and on the other side the arms of the duchy of Saxony, barry of ten, or and sable, a crancelin vert in bend overall (i.e., horizontally striped of gold and black, with a green coronet diagonally across). The Trabantenleibgarde consisted of more than one hundred men, and since there are enough of these halberds to make them highly desirable collector's items, no important collection seems to be without at least one.

Halberd of Christian I of Saxony (reigned 1586–91), Steel, gold, wood, German

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