Scimitar of King Henri II of France
- Maker: Daniele da Serravalle of Milan
- Dated: circa 1550-60
- Culture: Italian
- Medium: steel, gold
- Named “Treasure of the Month” of the Wallace Collection in March 2014
The maker’s marks are stamped on the curved blade of this royal sword, the initials “DS” and a stamp comprised of an “M” below a crown, indicate that it was made by Daniele da Serravalle, a great Milanese master, probably between 1550 and 1560. Such exotic arms seem to have been one of Daniele’s specialities; "9 scimitarre" are listed in a 1567 inventor of his workshop.
The hilt has been pierced, chiselled, and inlaid with gold, forming a decorative scheme involving a very complicated arrangement of horsemen, crowns, and pseudo-Classical figures, while the strapwork on the pommel has been carefully arranged to form King Henri’s personal “H” monogram.
The curved blade is decorated over its whole length on each side with false-damascening in gold forming delicate scrolling vines framed within a dashed and dotted border. Such blade decoration was unusual in the extreme, emphasising the exotic nature of the piece.
Although a perfectly practical fighting tool, King Henri probably only wore the sword as a costume accessory, perhaps for some important parade or political event, if indeed it was finished and presented to him before his unexpected death. In 1559 he was accidentally killed in a joust at Paris, held to celebrate the end of his war with the German Empire.
Source: Copyright © 2014 The Wallace Collection