The most remarkable Christmas present in the Royal Armouries collection

Foot combat armour of Christian I Elector of Saxony, by Anton Peffenhauser. II.186

 

Gifts make up a large part of our collection here at the Royal Armouries museum, from direct gifts given to the museum to objects whose provenance were once diplomatic court gifts or even Christmas presents. This December we have been looking at one of the most ostentatious Christmas presents in our collection; this Foot Combat Armour gifted to Christian I, Elector of Saxony in 1591.

As a representation of great technical and artistic capabilities of the times, arms and armour have often been a diplomatic gift of choice across courts and cultures. In addition, the vital role of armour in court pageantry and spectacles especially in the 16th century made it the ideal gift for royalty. Sophia of Brandenburg commissioned Anton Peffenhauser to make not one but twelve identical sets of this armour as a Christmas present for her husband, Christian I. Widely known at the time as the ‘King of Armourers’, Peffenhauser’s elaborate work demonstrates the highest display of craftsmanship. Decorated in etching and gilding with bold floral scrolls, the armour was intended to be worn by Christian I and his courtiers. Sadly, Christian died before ever receiving this generous gift. However, we are lucky enough to now hold one of the remaining foot combat armours in our collection today, which you can see here in our Image Library

II.186 Foot Combat Armour made by Anton Peffenhauser of Augsburg (1525-1603), the foremost German armourer of his day, it is blued, etched and gilt.

 

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