Bernhard von Prittwitz (Polish: Bernard Pretwicz) was a Silesian nobleman serving under the Polish king Sigismund I. He protected the southern border of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the Tatar raiders. Known as "Terror Tartarorum", he often launched sorties deep into enemy territory. In 1530, on one of those sorties, he claimed to have hunted down a unicorn and sent its horn to the king. In the royal treasure inventory from 1532 the horn is described as being very thick.

In 1540 the king gifted the horn to the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. The Emperor ordered a handle for the horn, enabling him to use it as a scepter. On the handle, there was engraved a poem, in which the unicorn praised the virtues of its horn. After the Emperor Ferdinand's death, his successor, Maximilian II, declared in a special document that although the horn was private property of the ruler, on account of its enormous value and unique properties, it would be excluded from the Emperor's estate and placed in the treasury of the House of Habsburg. The horn is now stored in Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.[1]


  1. Rafał Jaworski. Polskie Tropy Jednorożca.

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