Glaive of Emperor Rudolf II (reigned 1576–1612)

Etcher Hans Stromair German

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 371

The knife-like blade is similar to another in the Metropolitan Museum's collection (04.3.97). Two-thirds of each side are etched with a dense strapwork design on a dotted and blackened ground, with traces of gilding. The decoration includes the insignia of Emperor Rudolf II: on the left side, from top to bottom, the date 1577 and the emperor's motto AD SIT (literally "He [God] be with me," but also an acronym for the motto Auxilium Domini Sit Iniquis Terror, "The assistance of God is a terror to the evil ones"), a double-headed eagle surmounted by an imperial crown and holding an arrow in his right talon, the Bindenschild of Austria, and the number 24; on the right side the letter R surmounted by an imperial crown, and surrounded by a sword, scepter, orb, and cross above a shield bearing the arms of Hungary and Bohemia. Etched at the base of the left side of tha blade, near the back, is the etcher's monogram H S (Hans Stromaier), and on the right side a tiny shield with a Greek cross with two pellets above, the etcher's coat of arms. The rectangular shaft of wood is original and retains traces of its brown velvet covering and iron nail heads; a tassel is fastened below the socket.

This glaive is one of a number of identical weapons carried by the bodyguard of Hartschiere of Emperor Rudolf II (reigned 1576–1612) and documented as having been made in Augsburg by the cutler Oswald Salzhuber and etched by Hans Stromaier. A full-scale color-washed pen and ink drawing of one of these glaives, presumably made by Stromaier himself, is preserved in the Vienna Archives, and probably served as a presentation design sent to the emperor in Prague for his approval. Six of these glaives are preserved in the Vienna Waffensammlung, each of them etched with a number, the highest being 74; which indicates that at least seventy-four similar arms were made. The Metropolitan Museum's glaive is the twenty-fourth of the series.

In the same year, 1577, Hans Stromaier is also known to have etched 110 halberds for the Trabanten bodyguards of the emperor. The hapsburg court had two types of bodyguards: the Hartschiere (from French archiers, archers), who carried glaives, were noblemen; the Trabanten, who carried halberds, were commoners.

Glaive of Emperor Rudolf II (reigned 1576–1612), Hans Stromair (German, Augsburg, 1524 or 1525–ca. 1583), Steel, wood, textile, gold, German, Augsburg

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