The powerful bow, made from a composite of horn layers and animal tendon, is tied to the stock with a hemp binding. It dates from about the same period as the stock but is probably a later replacement. The original bow was most likely as elaborately decorated as the stock.
Until the late Middle Ages, crossbows had a distinctly slender and elongated outline. With the introduction of stronger bows, crossbows remained elegant but their stock became sturdier to withstand the increased strain on the wood and to accommodate more complex lock mechanisms.
A right-handed person would have held the crossbow with the rear of the stock resting against his or her right cheek. Because of the enormous torque of the bow, a large trigger was needed to provide enough leverage for operating the simple release mechanism.
The ivory inlay and dense engraving on this richly decorated crossbow are a reflection of the count's prestige and wealth. However, only a privileged few could take a close look at the piece's intricate details and inscriptions.
Crossbow of Ulrich V of Württemberg, dated 1460
Attributed to Heinrich Heid von Winterthur (German/Swiss)
Wood, iron, copper alloy, ivory, horn, tendon, birch bark, traces of polychromy
Rogers Fund, 1904 (04.3.36)