Shield of Henry II of France (reigned 1547–59)

Date: ca. 1555

Culture: French

Medium: Steel, gold, silver

Dimensions: H. 25 in. (63.5 cm); W. 18 in. (45.7 cm); Wt. 7 lb. (3175 g)

Classification: Shields

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1934

Accession Number: 34.85


The battle scene at the center depicts the victory of Hannibal and the Carthaginians over the Romans at Cannae in 216 B.C., an allusion to the struggle of France against the armies of the Holy Roman Empire during the sixteenth century. In the strapwork borders are the intertwined letters "H" for Henry II (r. 1547–59); "C" for Catherine de Médicis, his queen; and "D" for Diane de Poitiers, his mistress. Interspersed with the initials are crescents, the king's personal badge and a reference to the moon goddess Diana and her namesake Diane de Poitiers.

The design of the shield is attributed to the Parisian goldsmith and printmaker Étienne Delaune (1518/19–1583), who probably also designed the armor of Henry II in the Museum's collection.