The Treasury at the Munich Residenz has an exemplary collection of jewels and pieces of master craftsmanship in gold, precious stones, enamel, and much more. It is the result of centuries of collecting undertaken by members of the ruling family of Bavaria, the Wittelsbachs. Duke Albrecht V stipulated in his will of 1565 that the collection could not be sold. Other members of the Wittelsbach family who contributed to the collection include his son, Duke Wilhelm V, and his grandson Elector Maximilian I. Electors Maximilian Emanuel, Karl Abrecht, and Maximilian Joseph IV maintained the treasure. Elector Karl Theodore enlarged the collection in the 18th century by transferring the treasure of the Palatine Wittelsbachs to Munich.
Here is my favourite item from the Treasury:
This beautiful, exquisite crown is the oldest surviving crown of England, dated at around 1370-1380. It is made of gold, sapphires, rubies, pearls, and diamonds. It probably belonged to Edward III or Anne of Bohemia, the first wife of Richard II. Richard II was deposed by Henry IV. William Shakespeare dramatized this sequence of events in his plays Richard II, Henry IV part 1 and part II. So this crown has some serious historical and literary cred. Henry IV’s daughter, Princess Blanche, married Palatine Elector Ludwig III (a member of the Wittelsbach family) and the crown was part of her dowry, and so that is how it became a part of the Munich Treasury.
It is incredible. Worth the trip to the Treasury all on its own!
This crown belonged to Saint Cunigunde of Luxembourg, who was Empress of the Holy Roman Empire and Queen of Germany through her marriage to Emperor Henry II of Bavaria, King of Germany (972-1024). They were married in 999, crowned Emperor and Empress in 1014 and reigned until his death in 1024. She is a Roman Catholic saint and the Patroness of Luxembourg and Lithuania. The crown was made around the early 10th century. It contains sapphires, amethysts, pearls, carnelians, topazes, and peridots.
This is a crown that came from the reliquary of Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor (972-1024), at Bamberg Cathedral. There are six plates on the crown, each of them featuring a fleur-de-lis, joined together by hinges fixed with pins. Praying angels stand on acanthus leaves. The crown was made in 1270-1280. Why was it added to Henry II’s reliquary when it was made after his lifetime? That’s a mystery.
The information sign for this crown only says that it is the “medieval crown of a royal lady.” I NEED MORE DETAILS.
Some signet rings.
This statuette of St. George fighting a dragon was made to house a relic of St. George’s. It was sent to Duke Wilhelm V of Bavaria by his brother, Archbishop Ernst of Cologne, in 1586. The statuette contains gold, silver, emeralds, opals, agate, diamonds, rubies, pearls, rock crystal, chalcedony, agate, and other precious stones.
A slightly closer look at the knight and the dragon.
This is the crown and royal insignia of the Kings of Bavaria. The pieces were commissioned when Elector Maximilian Joseph IV of Bavaria was proclaimed King on January 1, 1806. A crown for the King, a crown for the Queen (Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt), sceptre, sword and belt, imperial orb and container were crafted in Paris, during Napoleon’s reign.
The King’s crown is on the cushion, the smaller crown in front is the Queen’s crown. Sceptre on the left, sword and belt on the right.
Orb on the left, orb container in front of the King’s crown and pillow, sceptre in the front, Queen’s crown on the right.
A close-up of the King’s crown. The crown contains gold, silver, diamonds, an imitation blue diamond, rubies, and emeralds.
Belt and sword.
A closer look at the sword handle (for a better view of the bling).
A closer look at the Queen’s crown. (I’m also a little obsessed with the pillow that holds the King’s crown).
“Magnificent chain, 1575.” You can say that again.
These are the “ruby jewels of Queen Therese of Bavaria, 1830. I mean, if she’s not using them anymore, I would gladly take them! (She was the wife of Ludwig I, grandmother of Ludwig III).
Bavarian pearl tiara and jewelry set.
These are different orders that would be granted by the royal house.
Let’s get a closer look at some of them.
I wouldn’t mind this one.
Or this one.
This one’s pretty cool, too.
I like a golden lion with ruby eyes.
Beautiful sword hilt.
All right, now we’ll move onto some of the other collections in the Treasury beyond the Crown Jewels. The Treasury has several collections of masterworks created by various German craftspeople. (With a focus on the Munich area). I’ve included photos of some of my favourites.
St. Michael forever battling that dragon.
Ornamental jugs with mother-of-pearl spiral shells, created by Wenzel Jamnitzer (508-1585).
There is something special about the specific tone of this red glass, but I can’t quite remember what it is. It might have something to do with colloidal gold and the guy who was looking for the Philosopher’s Stone (Nicolas Flamel). If I discover what it is, I’ll update this section.
A beautiful jewelry box.
The Cross of Queen Gisela was commissioned by Queen Gisela of Hungary for the tomb of her mother, Gisela of Burgundy, Duchess of Bavaria, who died in 1006.
This is a silver-gilt-and-marble replica of Trajan’s column. The column (original and replica) depict the wars between the Romans and the Dacians in 101-102 and 105-106.
Chessboard made of precious stones.
This traveling set was a gift from Napoleon to his second wife, Marie Louise of Austria. It was made by Biennais who, in 1812, was the most famous goldsmith of his day.
There are all sorts of secret compartments, and every piece was custom made for the travel set.
There are more than 120 items made from silver-gilt, gold, mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, ivory, and ebony.
Included in the travel set is a dinner service for two, toiletry set, writing and sewing implements, a measuring rod, a screwdriver, and even dental instruments.
It was hard to get a good picture of the whole thing with all the reflections on the glass case it was in.
Hardest of all to get it facing straight-on.
I hope you enjoyed this collection of pictures. If you have a choice between going to the Munich Residenz or the Treasury, I would suggest prioritizing the Treasury. There are so many beautiful things worth checking out! If you have time for both, you can get a combination ticket.