16/17th C Bohemian Judge’s Staff “Richterstab”


Out of stock


Medieval justice was generally carried out by the nobility, who had responsibility for the
people within their domain. The Richterstab was the Germanic symbol of authority for the
judge. It represented the “hand of justice” and was the forerunner of the modern judge’s
gavel. There was a tremendous amount of symbolism in the courts, as the proceedings
were viewed as an extension of God’s rule and everything had religious meaning. This
hand carved walnut example has a turned handle with line decoration and spiral checkered
shaft. The end is carved as a hand grasping a spike, with incised decoration and detailed
fingernails. It is often thought the spike represents the nails used to fix Christ to the Cross.
There is a nail inserted in the grip end and that end shows a split and dents. Showing signs
of period use and scattered inactive worming. When sentence was passed, the Richterstab
was struck on the table or bench like today’s judge’s gavel. Such symbols of justice are
extremely rare. Overall length 15 1/8″. A similar example is in the Kriminalmuseum,
Rothenberg ob der Tauber and is pictured in “Criminal Justice Through the Ages”, page
356. A must-have item for any medieval justice or torture collection. Only the second
example we have had since 1999.