Crossbow of Count Ulrich V of Württemberg (1413–1480)

Maker: Attributed to Heinrich Heid von Winterthur (probably Swiss, active Stuttgart, recorded 1453–1460)

Date: dated 1460

Geography: probably Stuttgart

Culture: German, probably Stuttgart

Medium: Wood (European hornbeam), horn, animal sinew, staghorn, birch bark, iron alloy, copper alloy, pigment

Dimensions: L. 28 1/16 in. (71.2 cm); W. 25 5/8 in. (65 cm); Wt. 6 lb. 9 oz. (2972 g)

Classification: Archery Equipment-Crossbows

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1904

Accession Number: 04.3.36


Dated 1460 in the carved staghorn decoration, this is the earliest known dated crossbow in existence. The staghorn is inscribed with the coats of arms of Württemberg and Savoy, referring to the owner, Count Ulrich V of Württemberg (1413–1480), and his third wife, Princess Marguerite of Savoy (1420–1479). Above the trigger is a German benediction rendered in Hebrew letters. This is a rare and early instance of Hebraic script on a personal item intended for a Christian patron. It can be translated as "Hold God dear and be high-hearted!" or "Hold God dear, high-hearted one!"