Hungarian shields, 16th Century

Hungarian shield with two bladed sword

Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Hungarian-style Shield
Date: ca. 1500–1550
Medium: Wood, leather, gesso, polychromy
Dimensions: H. 82.55 cm; W. 54.91 cm
Accession Number: 49.57.1

This wing-shaped shield and others like it in the Metropolitan Museum's collection (42.50.29, .30), with the distinctive upward-sweeping back edge, were the characteristic light-cavalry shields of Hungary. During the sixteenth century, the style was adopted across much of eastern Europe by both Christian and Islamic horsemen. The shield's elongated upper edge was designed to defend the back of the head and neck against cuts from a sabre, the preferred cavalry weapon in that region. This shield is painted on its exterior with the double-bladed sword of the prophet Muhammad and on its interior with the Crucifix and instruments of the Passion. This unusual mix of Islamic and Christian symbols suggests that the shield was used in a tournament by a Christian warrior dressed in Muslim fashion. In these "Hungarian style" tournaments, the participants wore Hungarian and Turkish costumes and used sabres to strike off feathers attached to their opponents' helmets and to the apex of their painted shields. Even at a time when Turkish armies were a constant threat to eastern Europe, their costumes and tactics were imitated by their foes.
A similar Ottoman shield appears in A soldier with lance and shield from the Morea, by Melchior Lorck, 1581

Hungarian shield with winged talon

Hofjagd-und Rüstkammer, Wien
Late 16th Century
Photo by Daniel Staberg
A shield with a winged talon also appears in A Spahi, by Melchior Lorck
A Bulgarian kite shield with winged talon in Skylitzes Chronicle

Hungarian style shields in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Click for a larger image.

Hungarian shield, 1550-1600
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1977-167-756,
Bequest of Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, 1977
Source: Deli and Hussar: confusion, ambiguity, and hybrid identities by Robyn Dora Radway
Click for a larger image.

Shield in the Hungarian style for use on horseback
Austria, 1550-1600.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Source: flikr

Hungarian shield with Crescent

Image number : 04-002282
Inventory Number : Cl.2385
Collection : Objets d'art
Title : Targe hongroise ŕ décor de croissant
Photo Credit : © RMN / Franck Raux
Period : 16th century
Technique/Material : leather (material), wood (material)
Production site : Europe (centre)
Location : Paris, Musée National du Moyen Âge - Thermes de Cluny
Source: tforum

See also Hungarian shields, 15th Century
Illustrations of Hungarian Costume & Soldiers
16th century illustrations of Costume & Soldiers