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On the Way to Electoral Power

The new permanent exhibition in the Renaissance Wing

Residenzschloss Dresden, 1st floor

In 2017, the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a further section of the Renaissance wing will be opened: the east and north wing of the first floor will, for the first time, become home to the world’s largest collection of ceremonial weapons and costumes from the Reformation and early Baroque periods. These embodied the claim to power of the electors of Saxony and the doctrinal principles of the Reformation, and they are among the oldest objects in the Rüstkammer.Ornate weapons, horse trappings, textiles and portraits of princes will illustrate the development of the House of Wettin from the acquisition of the Saxon electoral privilege by Friedrich the Pugnacious in 1423 up to the winning of the electorship for the Albertine line of the House of Wettin by Duke Moritz of Saxony in 1547, and through the reign of his brother August.

The exhibition will use precious and unique objects to focus attention on the princely and intellectual protagonists of the Reformation period in Saxony. The tour will begin with the “Trabantensaal” in the former guardroom of the Palace. Prestigious weapons of the electoral bodyguards and horsemen from the period 1550 – 1620 will be on show there. Other sections will chronologically describe the rise of the House of Wettin to the position of electors in the Holy Roman Empire and explain the religious struggles and tensions between Pope, Emperor and Empire as well as showing how Moritz of Saxony won the electorship. Ornately decorated weapons, elaborate mitres and portraits of princes from the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance will provide a vivid picture of the early Renaissance and Reformation periods in Germany.

  • Heinrich der Fromme, Herzog von Sachsen und Markgraf von Meißen (1473–1541), Lucas Cranach d. Ä., Werkstatt, 1526 (?), Öl auf Lindenholz, 125 x 82 cm, Rüstkammer, © SKD, Foto: Hans-Peter Klut
 - Bild öffnet sich in einer Vergrößerungsansicht.
  • Helmbarte, deutsch, 1588, Rüstkammer, © SKD, Foto: Jürgen Karpinski
 - Bild öffnet sich in einer Vergrößerungsansicht.

The corner room will contain a display of ceremonial weapons owned by Elector August which were produced after Italian models: rapiers and daggers, brigandines, helmets and shields, crossbows and firearms. August‘s personal weapons decorated with images from the Bible and from classical antiquity demonstrate the Protestant principles behind state and government policy under this elector and testify to the flourishing economic and artistic development of his capital city, Dresden.