© Swiss National Museum

Name of Object:

Battle-shield with coat of arms inspired by Oriental motifs


Zurich, Switzerland

Holding Museum:

Swiss National Museum



Type of object:


Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Alderwood; leather-coated, painted


Switzerland, Canton of Uri


Some people like to claim that everything used to be better in the old days. Indeed, the oldest extant battle-shield, too, once shone in bright colours. Analysis has shown that, 800 years ago, the greyish green used to be a vibrant blue. The lion, too, wasn’t always as lacklustre as it is now; it used to stand out in shiny silver leaf. The shield belonged to the noble von Brienz family, which used to hold feudal rights in today’s Canton of Uri, on the road to the Gotthard pass. When its owner, the knight Arnold von Brienz, died in 1225, his battle-shield was placed above his tomb in commemoration of his deeds. This is how it survived the ages. The shield’s many notches, holes and nicks remind us of the brutal reality of medieval battles.

Current Owner:

Swiss Confederation

How date and origin were established:

Style analysis. Coat of arms of the lineage von Brienz. Last owner: Knight Arnold von Brienz.

How Object was obtained:

Bought in 1897 as part of the Denier-collection

Citation of this web page:

 "Battle-shield with coat of arms inspired by Oriental motifs" in MWNF GALLERIES , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;GALLERIES;sw;Mus01;5;en&id=arms_and_armoury

MWNF Working Number: CH_GAL_005

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