This arquebus, which came to Chillon™ Castle in July 1913, is part of a set of thirty items bequeathed by Doctor Eugène Aunant of Lausanne. The batch was probably distributed between two institutions by local archaeologist Albert Naef: the castle and the Vieux-Lausanne Association. Most of these weapons and armour are now kept in the Cantonal Museum of Archaeology and History, with the exception of this arquebus and a 15th-century coat of mail, exhibited at Chillon.
On its octagonal barrel, the arquebus bears the hallmark of the town of Lucerne and that of the Lucerne-based gunsmith, Hans Horwer; the latter is mentioned in sources from 1605 to 1602. Consequently, this gun can be dated back to 1600-1620.
It was probably used in shooting ranges and for hunting deer. Furthermore, the rifled barrel enabled extremely accurate shots. It is testament to a type of firearm that emerged at the beginning of the 15th century, which was difficult to handle, heavy and had to be supported by a forked rest.
Arquebuses quickly became a pretext for rich decoration and true regalia. This item is a clear example of this, with its luxuriously decorated grip and barrel, encrusted with engraved gold and mother-of-pearl. The barrel is adorned with floral, rinceau, and feather motifs, along with animals, genre art and landscapes.
The grip, on the other hand, depicts a famous story from Greek mythology: The Judgement of Paris. At the far end, the goddesses Aphrodite, Hera and Athena have been brought together by the god Hermes, who features in the centre with his emblem, the caduceus. At the top of the handle, Paris, dressed in 15th-century clothing, is sat on a throne flanked by his horse and dogs. He is preparing to offer Aphrodite, the goddess of love, the prized apple for the most beautiful goddess.
This arquebus is one of the most stunning testaments to this style of 15th-century weapon in all of Switzerland.