Iron, etched and gilded
Lent by the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, Vienna 7.2017
The year of his marriage, 1571, is etched into the decoration of the helmet.
This armor belonged to Charles II, Archduke of Austria, for use at the lists, an enclosed area where tournaments were held. A native of Vienna, he was the third son of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Anne of Bohemia and Hungary. In 1559 and again from 1564–68 negotiations took place to arrange a marriage between Charles and Elizabeth I of England. The negotiations dragged on until Queen Elizabeth decided that she would not marry the archduke; religion was the main obstacle to the match. Charles was a religious Catholic and proponent of the Counter-Reformation. The Hapsburgs were great enthusiasts of tournaments and patrons of fine armor as evidenced by this suit. Such extravagant and expensive decoration, as seen here, was a mark of status for noblemen and royalty.
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