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German arms

Reference code
German arms
Early 16th century (after 1531)
Level of description
Extent and format
ff. v + 528.
Leather binding, brown, rebacked. Brief annotations, fol. 134v, in a different hand, with dates 1567, 1574. 'Franciscus Nau Parisiensis anno dni 1609', fol. 338v. Later inscription, 18th century, 'zur Wendter. Bibl.', fol. iv.
Scope and content
A large collection of coats of arms, mostly in colour, relating mainly to the Holy Roman Empire but including arms of sovereigns and nobility in other parts of Europe and a wide selection of fictitious arms; mostly after 1531 (date of the election of Ferdinand I as King of the Romans, see fol. 9v) but including earlier material, eg. fols. 1-4v, several references to the Emperor Maximilian (d. 1519), and the arms of his son Philip the Fair (d. 1506). German. Probably written in south west Germany or Switzerland. The volume is a compilation, written on at least two kinds of paper, trimmed, and bound partly out of order. Several sections are unfinished or incomplete and there is some repetition. There are a number of blank printed or pen shield outlines. Main contents (as now bound):-

(1) Fictitious arms beg. with 'Die Drey ersten Woppen' (sic) (Abysay, Sabday and Banayas), other groups of three, the Nine Worthies, etc. fols. 1-4v;-

(2) Arms of the Emperor Maximilian (d. 1519), fol. 8, his son Philip I (the Fair) of Spain (d. 1506), fol. 8v, and his grandsons, the Emperors Charles V (abdicated 1556), fol. 9, and Ferdinand I, here described as King of the Romans (1531), fol. 9v; arms to be borne by any Emperor who should reconquer the Holy Land, fol. 10, or conquer and convert a non-Christian country, fol. 10v; electors, fols. 14-16; Margaret of Austria, fol. 19; full titles of the Emperor Charles V, fol. 19v; Albrecht, Duke of Mecklenburg (Prince of the Wends), fol. 20v. fols. 8-20v;-

(3) Old and New Austria followed by various duchies, fols. 34-7; Heinrich, Duke of Mecklenburg, fol. 37v; Duke of Schleswig, fol. 38; miscellaneous real and fictitious arms including large groups of kings, eg. fols. 50-9v, 65-9v, and mythological figures such as Gog and Magog, fol. 59. fols. 34-69v;-

(4) Imperial arms (cf. fol. 8), fol. 70; arms of an Emperor who should reconquer the Holy Land, fol. 70v (cf. fol. 10); electors, fols. 71v-4v; quaternionen (groups of four), fols. 75-9v, 126-9v; full titles of the Emperor Maximilian, fol. 90; followed and interspersed by large collections of German arms, including 'Die Hern von Wende' (fol. 155v), with a few foreign and fictitious arms, probably misbound and originally part of section (6) below. At fol. 125v the standard bearer relates to section (5). fols. 70-182v;-

(5) Arms of tournament societies (of SW Germany), with standard bearers, some female. Preceded (fol. 193) by a list. fols. 193-258;-

(6) A large collection of German arms, partly coloured, with a few foreign and fictitious arms. Misbound, and interspersed by blank shield outlines. See also section (4) above. fols. 263-520. At the front of the volume, fol. v, a full-page representation of the arms of death, supported by a skeleton and a female figure (costume resembling the female standard bearers in section (5)); surmounted by a helm, an hourglass and clock as crest, over which two arm bones hold a rock. The achievement has many features in common with the escutcheon of death (Plate 41 of Holbein's Dance of Death, first published anonymously in Les Simulachres ... de la mort (Lyons, 1538)). Above the arms four lines of verse, arranged in three lines, entitled 'Die Woppen des Todes' (not a translation of the moralised verse in the 1538 edition), read: 'Mag adel gut, sterck, Jugents Zier, han fryd Vnd Rhw/ o todt Von dyr Als das das leben Je gewan/ Vnd todtlich ist das muss darvon’.
Previous reference number(s)
Archival history
Owned by Dr Henry Wellesley, of Oxford (1791-1866); his sale, Sotheby's, 3 Aug. 1866, lot 228. Later acquired by Alfred William Morant, FSA (bookplate, fol. ii); his sale, Puttick and Simpson, 24 May 1882, lot 1471 (cutting, fol. iv). Franks bookplate, fol. i; bequest plate, fol. iii.