Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1591 SaxonTrabantengarde 

SubjectTrabantengarde noble bodyguard
Culture: German Saxon
Setting: Reformation, Germany late 16th-early 17thc
Evolution ... > 1403 German Raubritter 1494 Gothic German Ritter 1529 Austro-German Ritter > 1591 Saxon Trabantengarde

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Higgins Armory Museum > Great Hall
"The duke-electors of Saxony were powerful German princes who maintained a personal bodyguard unit (Trabantengarde), which during the reign of Christian I and II numbered 200 horsemen and footsoldiers."


* Imperial Austria 1992 p51
"By at least the fourteenth century, arms and armour had been made for the sons of important individuals who aspired to the knightly class.  Such items were not intended as war equipment, but mirrored faithfully the full-sized items used by their fathers.  Also used in great numbers were armours made for the retinue and bodyguards of important officials and nobilitiy, such as the Trabants (subordinate commanders) of Georg Khevenhüller zu Aichelberg, Baron of Landskron and Weinberg."

* Higgins Armory Museum > Great Hall
"The bodyguards' armor and uniforms are generally black with gold decoration, as these are the heraldic colors of the Saxon ducal coat-of-arms."

​* Capwell 2012 p90
"The latest war and tournament armour was supplied by the celebrated South German workshops at Augsburg, Innsbruck and Nuremburg, while jousting armours of a uniquely Saxon style were produced locally.  Some of the most opulent parade armour in the French style was acquired from the greatest European masters of the time, including the goldsmith-armourer Eliseus Libaerts of Antwerp."

Rapier & Dagger

* Capwell 2012 p204 (Jutta Charlotte von Bloh, "The triumph of the rapier in the armoury of the Prince Electors of Saxony" p202-227)
"The emergence of the Degen, a cut-and-thrust sword of slender proportions, probably began in Italy and Spain as early as the 15th century as a result of the development of early modern cities.  Like the medieval arming sword, it has a straight, double-edged blade.  In the course of the 16th century, thanks to Spanish Habsburg political dominance, the Degen was quickly adopted throughout Europe.  The different which emerged were motivated by varied aspects of modern warfare and by distinct forms of courtly and urban life and self-representation.  It was used by soldiers but, perhaps more crucially and from the early 16th century onwards, was also carried ostentatiously by nobles at court and in civilian life in general.  Inevitably, the Degen established itself as an integral part of male fashion, a kind of prestigious accessory, which was as much subject to the increasing luxury in fashions as contemporary dress.  Nonetheless, throughout this period the Degen -- like the medieval knightly sword -- remained primarily a noble or at least high-status weapon.  Only princes, the nobility and city-dwelling patricians were allowed to carry them individually, and in turn could either grant permission or order their servants to carry them.  Accordingly, fighting with a Degen as a duelling weapon still echoed the code of honour which had previously been expressed through the tradition of single combat, so emblematic of the cult of chivalry.  The Dresden Armouries contain different examples of Degen which can be distinguished from one another by the different terms used to describe them in teh inventories.

* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/Larocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson 1993 p58 (Anthony North, "From rapier to smallsword" p58-71)
"The armoury in Dresden has an almost unparallelled collection of swept-hilt rapiers.  These have been so carefully looked after since the day they were finished that they are preserved in virtually pristine condition.  A number of duplicates were sold off earlier this century, giving museums and collectors the opportunity to acquire rarities from this hitherto closed collection.  These included swept-hilt rapiers and accompanying daggers made for the Electoral Guard. The hilts on these weapons are very well made, but often quite plain, the decoration being limited to an engraved wave pattern, or to blueing and silvering."

* Capwell 2012 p207 (Jutta Charlotte von Bloh, "The triumph of the rapier in the armoury of the Prince Electors of Saxony" p202-227)
​"Perhaps one of the most developments in Renaissance swordsmanship came when the dagger joined the rapier as its companion weapon.  Marozzo, Agrippa and Meyer all depict a fencing position in which the rapier or Degen is held in the right hand and a parrying dagger in the left.  A small round buckler, a second or twin rapier, a sword-catching dagger (the so-called Degenbrecher) or a dagger with a spring-loaded blade could also be used for parrying.  Rapiers and daggers of princely quality were often decorated en suite as a garniture.  The oldest rapier-and-dagger garnitures in the Dresden collections date from c. 1540-1550 and were added during the reign of Prince Elector Moritz, who had travelled to Italy and, among other places, Milan, the foremost Italian centre for arms manufacture at the time.  He also recruited Italian architects and artists to work at his court."

* Capwell 2012 p210 (Jutta Charlotte von Bloh, "The triumph of the rapier in the armoury of the Prince Electors of Saxony" p202-227)
"The rapier with a full, developed 'swept' hilt (Bügelgefäß) appeared during the last quarter of the 16th century, a development again by Italian examples.  They were soon adopted in Germany, at first in southern cities such as Augsburg and Munich, but also in Dresden, where Italian decorative techniques were adopted, particularly steel carving and chiselling.  This type of high relief decoration appears to have been introduced to the Dresden arms-making community by the Messerschmied Othmar Wetter, who moved from Munich to Dresden for religious reasons. ...
    "Judging from the contents of the Dresden Armoury, the swept-hilt rapier reached its zenith between 1590 and 1610."


* Peter Finer: Provenance p 28
"The late sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century electors of Saxony, respectively Augustus (1526-86), Christian I (1560-91) and Christian II (1583-1611), were lavish in matters of ceremony and appearance.  Enormous sums of money were spent to equip not only the participants in the era's great state tournaments and hunts, but also those aristocratic members of the elite light cavalry troop of the Trabantenliebgarde, the personal guard of the prince electors.  This stylishly presented guard of loyal young Saxon aristocrats and noblewomen were uniformed in black doublets and yellow trunk hose, and had available to them richly decorated armour, weapons and accessories, including etched and gilt comb-morions, inlaid pistols, ornate powder flasks, and decorated swords and daggers."

* Capwell 2012 p90
"Opulent jewellery swords were not meant to be viewed by themselves, but rather to be integrated into equally rich costumes.  Renaissance clothing is now of exceptional rarity, and most of the modern understanding of the intended appearance of fine rapiers as worn has been derived from prints and painted portraits.  But the extravagance of fashionable dress of that time as seen in the pictorial sources is confirmed by the existence of the very few suits of high-status clothes that survive.
    "The court of the electors of Saxony at Dresden eagerly adopted all of the latest European fashions, both foreign and domestic.  Magnificent rapier garnitures were commissioned from Italian and Spanish masters and used as a source of inspiration by the court swordsmiths. ...
    "The Saxon interest in French fashion is also revealed by the costume collection of the Dresden Rüstkammer, which includes this spectacular ensemble made for Christian II."


​* Tarassuk/Blair 1979 p370
"For most of the 16th century the great mass of pistols was produced in Germany, while elsewhere, partly because of restrictive legislation, local differentiation did not become evident until the latter part of the century. In the German wheel-lock pistol, the angle between butt and barrel was greatly increased, the barrel was lengthened, and the lock was improved by the adoption, among other things, of a V-spring for the cock. In the second half of the century, the 'puffer,' characterized by a big ball on the butt, became the favorite cavalry weapon; the ball gave the horseman a solid grip as he drew the weapon out of the holster. Of interest in that period was the production, also centered in Germany, of all-metal pistols; the wooden stock was replaced by a stock of steel or brass, which made the weapon stronger, though more expensive."