Eccentric Rudolph II Held Large Quantities of Pearls Known as Rudolph II Pearls

Rudolph II Pearls bring to mind a treasure horde of someone who thought they'd live here on earth forever.



The scientific, art-loving but eccentric Rudolph II (1552-1612), Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, gathered about him at Prague a great collection of jewels and wealth of all sorts.

Coronation Crown of Rudolph II
Coronation Crown of Rudolph II

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The values of his pearls and precious stones, of the gold and silver articles, was estimated by the archaeologist, Jules Caesar Boulenger, at seventeen millions of gold florins, which was a very considerable sum at the time, as appears when we consider that one hundred gold florins annually was deemed a good salary for an official at the emperor's court.

Coronation Regalia of Rudolph II, Emperor of Austria, circa 1576
Coronation Regalia of Rudolph II, Emperor of Austria, circa 1576

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De Boot mentions a pearl belonging to Rudolph II which weighed " thirty carats and cost as many thousands of gold pieces".

Emperor Charles (Karl) V (1500-1558), in Whose Realm 'The Sun Never Set'
Emperor Charles (Karl) V (1500-1558), in Whose Realm 'The Sun Never Set'

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It is quite likely that this was the one noted by Gomara as coming from the Gulf of Panama, and which Rudolph probably inherited from his grandfather, Emperor Charles V.

Margaret of Parma (1522-86), Regent of the Netherlands, Illegitimate Daughter of Emperor Charles V
Margaret of Parma (1522-86), Regent of the Netherlands, Illegitimate Daughter of Emperor Charles V

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The pearl bought by Oviedo in Panama, prior to 1526, may be one of the principal decorations of the imperial crown of Austria.

Johannes Kepler, in the court of Rudolph II in Prague
Johannes Kepler, in the court of Rudolph II in Prague

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We read in that curious and interesting book, "The Generall Historie of the Turkes," by Richard Knolles, (London, 1631, p. 1297.) that Abbas the Great, Shah of Persia (1557-1628), after having defeated the Turks in many battles, desired to form an alliance with Emperor Rudolph II, and to induce him to break his engagements with the Turks. To this end Shah Abbas, in 1610 sent an embassy to Prague, with many valuable gifts for the emperor, among which were "three orientall perles exceeding big". It has been conjectured, and it is also claimed, that these may be three of the eight pearl-shaped pearls which are now to be seen in the crown of Rudolph II. One of the largest pearls in the Austrian crown, as we have stated, is most probably the Oviedo Pearl.

Rudolph II Pearls as told by Kunz and Stevenson in "The Book of the Pearl".

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