3 The Emperor’s Exotic and New World Animals: Hans Khevenhüller and Habsburg Menageries in Vienna and Prague

in Naturalists in the Field
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Hans Khevenhüller, imperial ambassador in Spain from 1574 to 1606, assumed the role of intermediary and agent for his Habsburg patrons, the emperors Maximilian II, and Rudolf II, and the Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol. Khevenhüller played a major role in the development of Kunstkammern, menageries and gardens in Vienna, Prague, Graz, Innsbruck and Munich. His thirty-three-year residency in Iberia transformed Habsburg collecting in the late sixteenth century. A true Renaissance man with cultivated tastes and a discerning eye, Khevenhüller was responsible for the acquisition of wild and domestic animals, Andalusian horses, exotica, luxury goods, and seeds, flowers and plants from Portuguese Asia and the Americas, which he shipped under difficult circumstances from Madrid, Lisbon and Seville. Habsburg élite shoppers sourced extraordinary global commodities, luxuries and merchandise through Khevenhüller, who bridged Spain, Portugal and their overseas trade empires with Central Europe in the late Renaissance. 

Naturalists in the Field

Collecting, Recording and Preserving the Natural World from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-First Century


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