Italian, 16th Century
Parade Shield with the Apotheosis of Charles V, Italy, c. 1535–1540
etched and embossed steel; gold and silver
Patrimonio Nacional, Real Armería, Madrid,

Designed by the Italian painter Giulio Romano, this richly symbolic scene celebrates Charles V's triumphs. The emperor stands at the prow of a ship, gripping a standard on which the double-headed imperial eagle perches. Fame holds a shield inscribed with his motto, "Plus Ultra" (Further beyond), while overhead, winged Victory crowns him with a wreath of laurel. The sea god, Neptune, at far left and the Pillars of Hercules refer to Charles' territories beyond the Straits of Gibraltar. Below, the river god Quadalquivir reclines next to a bound female captive, personifying Africa. Like the adjacent pillar topped by a turban, she alludes to the emperor’s victories over the Ottoman Turks.