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THE SLOVAK NATIONAL MUSEUM'S REGULAR SPECTATOR COLUMN

Červený Kameň castle's rifles

THEORIES of ballistics have come a long way since the Middle Ages. In 1522, for example, people believed that gunpowder was a devilish product and that bullets were impelled through the air by a small demon riding astride them. Weapons have come a long way as well. One look at the baroque rifle collection at Červený Kameň castle shows how much things have changed.

HUNTING rifles made in Austria centuries ago.
photo: Courtesy of SNM

THEORIES of ballistics have come a long way since the Middle Ages. In 1522, for example, people believed that gunpowder was a devilish product and that bullets were impelled through the air by a small demon riding astride them. Weapons have come a long way as well. One look at the baroque rifle collection at Červený Kameň castle shows how much things have changed.

The massive Červený Kameň castle houses a unique weapons collection featuring cold arms, mechanical weapons, firearms, defensive weapons and various military articles. It also includes many unusual technical ballistic solutions that were very progressive for the time.

The collection consists of 625 objects. Almost one third of the collection consists of hunting rifles (186 pieces) made in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. These include one match-lock rifle; 17 wheel-lock rifles; 153 flint-rock rifles; 10 percussion rifles; and four each air and breech-loading rifles. Also included are several pieces of transformed rifles - from the wheel-lock rifles into the flint-lock ones, and from the flint-lock rifles into the percussion ones.

On display are the works of many significant European producers of rifles, such as Lazaro Lazarino, Rochus Wastl, Marcus Zelner, Matheus Matl, as well as Czech Paul Poser, Hans Stifter, Georg Wisthaller, Wenzel Pacholik, Stanislau Paczelt. And of course, producers from Bratislava cannot be omitted - Lorenz Ploner, Paul Psener, Carl Czermak, Iohan Fischer, Iohan Wacholt, Franz Krohe.

Specialists assume that the major part of this collection was once owned by Rudolf Pálffy and created during his lifetime (1719-1768).

Červený Kameň castle is located in the picturesque surroundings of the Malé Karpaty, close to the town of Modra. It dates from 1230, when Queen Constance, wife of the Bohemian King Ottokar II, had it built.

The castle went through several owners since that time until Anton Fugger, a well-to-do banker and merchant from German Augsburg, bought it in 1535. He had the castle rebuilt into a fortress, employing the most advanced fortification technology of the time.

In 1583 Mária Fugger married Mikuláš Pálffy of Erdöd, who consequently gained a part of the castle and bought the rest of it from the Fugger family. The castle remained in the hands of the Pálffy family until 1945.

Today it is administered by the state and has turned into a museum with a rich art collection.

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