- Museum number
The royal arms of Jan van Leiden; orb pierced by a cross at the centre, and diagonally by two swords. 1534
Pen and brown ink, with brown wash, tinted with light green wash, partly indented with lines
- Production date
Height: 156 millimetres
Width: 159 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- North German, 1534
LITERATURE: Geisberg, Aldegrever, pp. 22-23, repr.; Münster, Wiedertäufer, pp. 173-4, repr.
These arms of the Anabaptist King of Münster, Jan van Leyden, were attached as a jewel to the chain in his regalia, as represented in Aldegrever's portrait drawing of him (1886,0609.38), and in the dependent engraving, which also shows the arms crowned, and on the royal seal (Münster, ‘Wiedertäufer’, pp. 172-3, no. 114, repr.). The arms were also used on the liveries of officials and servants.
In the sixteenth-century accounts there is no agreement as to the tinctures of the arms, one saying green and blue, others brown and green, green and ashen grey, and red and grey (according to Geisberg, the latter the record of someone colour-blind); however, from 1862,0208.51 we may be reasonably sure that one of the colours was green.
The orb and the sword were taken from the symbols of imperial power, but as one can see clearly from the inscription on this drawing, they were adapted more to a papal use, as the Anabaptist king's rule was theocratic in pretensions. Despite the vision of the two swords that Anabaptists stated they had seen hovering over the city at the beginning of the siege of Münster, the idea of the swords - one denoting spiritual, the other worldly power - has its ultimate origin in the writings of the medieval exponents of papal supremacy, expressed in its most robust form in the letters of Pope Innocent III (1160-1216). For the popes
claimed, as Vicars of Christ, that as they wielded the 'sword of the Spirit' (Ephesians vi, 17), so they had authority over the 'sword of worldly power' (Leviticus xxvi, 25), described in the inscription as 'the sword of vengeance', which the emperors exercised on their behalf (Walter Ullmann, ‘The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages’, London, 1955, pp. 430ff.).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1982/3 Oct-Jan, Stadtmuseum, Munster, 'The Anabaptists in Munster', (no cat.)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number