Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Salus Publica

Bronze, 51.1 mm Ø, 43.3 g
By Leone Leoni, c. 1547.
Obverse:  Bust of Charles V facing right, bearded, wearing shirt, coat, and cap. Around, IMP · CAES · CAROLO · V · CHRIST · REIP · INSTAVRAT · AVG (Emperor Caesar Charles V, Restorer of the Christian Republic, Augustus).
Reverse:  Draped female figure of Salus Publica standing facing left, holding a spear in her left hand and a patera in her right hand extended towards a snake rising from an altar. The altar is between two columns and is decorated with two masks. In the left background is a statue in a niche. Around, SALVS ✿ PVBLICA (Public Well-Being).

Charles V (1500-1558) ruled as Lord of the Netherlands (1506-1555), King of Spain (1516-1556), Archduke of Austria (1519-1521) and Holy Roman Emperor (1519-1556). Facing mounting pressures and struggling to hold his empire together, Charles abdicated his rule of the Netherlands and Spain to his son Philip II, and the title of emperor to his brother Ferdinand I.

Examples of this medal are known both unsigned (as here) and with the artist's signature on the truncation of the bust. The obverse inscription is possibly a reference to Charles's victory in the Schmalkaldic War over the German Protestants in 1547. The two columns on the reverse allude to the Pillars of Hercules, which was his impresa as Charles I of Spain. Salus was the Roman goddess of safety and well-being.


Fritz Rudolf Künker 335, 18-19 March 2020, lot 4611.

J. Schulman, 17 June 1929, lot 48.

A. Riechmann XXXII, 5 February 1925, lot 18 (Arthur Löbbecke collection).

Dr. Eugen Merzbacher Nachf., 10 January 1914, lot 17.


Börner 1997, no. 740

Toderi and Vannel 2000, no. 38

Attwood 2003, no. 21

Scher 2019, no. 169