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Master Thesis

Armures du salut ou armures du pouvoir. Comparaison des collections princières d’armures de Dresde et d’Ambras vers 1550-1620

Abstract : Around 1550-1620, the Holy Roman Germanic Empire is frail because of the religious disagreement between Catholics and Protestants, and because of the weakening of the imperial power. During the same period, some collections of luxurious armour were expanding in several princes’ residences, like the Lutheran Dukes of Saxony and the Catholic Archduke of Tyrol. The armour is invested with symbolic meaning regarding piety and power, expressing the Christian humility of the owner as well as his heroic glory. A tension emerges then from the collections: are they an expression of confessional identification or rather an aspiration to greater authority? The biblical images present on some cuirasses bear witness to a competition for the figure of the perfect Christian. But the diversity of the armours, their forms and decorations, encourage us to look further. Henceforth produced as works of art, and not only as the knight’s dress, they are radiant in the princes’ courts. Their value is so huge that they are considered like a diplomatic gift. This value leads us to regard the Saxe-Tyrol relationship from a different perspective than mere rivalry. Instead of opposition, their collections show similarities. In both cases, their brilliance seems to transfer onto the collector, conferring on them a lot of honour. The iconographic sources indicate how our princes appropriate this object, to the point that it becomes an extension of their body. Majestically armour-clad, they appear like demigods, suggesting a demonstration of politic authority. Thus, collections of armour may be a means to claim more autonomy of the prince’s power, in a context of a precarious imperial legitimacy.
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Master Thesis
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Léna Baudin. Armures du salut ou armures du pouvoir. Comparaison des collections princières d’armures de Dresde et d’Ambras vers 1550-1620. Histoire. 2014. ⟨dumas-01146252⟩



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