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Armouring Maximilian - Chivalry, Tournament and the Culture of the Gift at the Court of Emperor Maximilian I

Armouring Maximilian offers a new evaluation of the armour commissioned by Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) and its complex artistic, political and social meaning. The main focus is on the role of armour during Maximilian’s reign as equipment for tournament and war, as well as a means of princely self-display and a form of diplomacy.

For the first time, the project provides a systematic analysis and conflation of a wealth of different sources – archival documents (both well-known and new ones), images (publications to commemorate Maximilian I) and extant armour (especially those produced in the court armoury at Innsbruck).

Armouring Maximilian examines the whole range of armour ordered by the emperor – from luxurious bespoke commissions to mass-produced munition armour – in a wide-ranging socio-cultural and geo-political context. The research project explores the emperor’s personal contacts and networks, such as the recipients of imperial gifts of armour, jousters invited to participate in tournaments, and the men who worked for him (artists, court officials etc.).

Armouring Maximilian is part of the project Managing Maximilian (acronym: ManMAX), an SFB project financed by the FWF (at a cost of over 4 million Euros) and scheduled to run for four years. ManMax comprises eight sub-projects on which the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Universities of Vienna and Graz, the Albertina and the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna are collaborating. All sub-projects will feed a new prosopographic databank focused on persons at or connected with the court of Emperor Maximilian I.

Bernhard Strigel, Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I, German, ca 1500, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Picture Gallery, inv. 922
A boy’s ceremonial armour made for Archduke (later Emperor) Charles V, Konrad Seusenhofer, Innsbruck and Augsburg (gilt fittings), 1512–13, Vienna, KHM, Imperial Armoury, inv. A 109
A pair of gauntlets made for Archduke (later Emperor) Maximilian I; Lorenz Helmschmid, Augsburg, c. 1485, Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Imperial Armoury, inv. A 58a
Jousting with Sigmund von Welsperg (died c. 1515), in: Freydal, Tournament Book of Emperor Maximilian I, southern German, 1512-15, fol. 29: Vienna, KHM, Imperial Armoury, inv. KK 5073


Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Imperial Armoury

Project led by
Dr Stefan Krause

MSt Rahul Kulka MA (40 h) and Alexandra Burger MA (20 h)

Projected to run

Part 02 of the project
Managing Maximilian (1493-1519) – Persona, Politics, and Personnel through the Lens of Digital Prosopography (acronym: ManMAX)
, SFB F9200, project coordinated by PD Dr Andreas Zajic, MAS.

read more about the project

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