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* A Medieval Crusader Knightly Sword, ca. 950-1100 AD

XW1901

A classic sword from the Age of Chivalry, oft mentioned in poems, monuments, and chronicle as “Swerdes of Were”, “Grans Espees d Allemagne”, and “Schlacht Schwerte”, that always indicated a large size and specific purpose. Capable of being wielded in either one hand or two, this rare and exciting weapon was constructed from early steel and reserved for the field of battle. Hand-forged, this superb fighting weapon has a flat, broad blade with a shallow fuller down both sides terminating above the point.  Fullers make the blade stronger and lighter for the knight to carry and were an effective weapon against mail armor. A strong blow from this sword would easily cut chainmail, while the sharp point was effective for stabbing.  The slightly longer blade with narrower fuller classifies this blade as a sub-type Xa (Oakeshott) that evolved from earlier Viking models, which in turn were influenced by the Roman-era Celtic swords. They were popularly depicted in illuminated manuscripts, especially during the Frankish Ottonian Period (919–1024).

The hilt has a rectangular crossguard (Oakeshott, style 1) the straight bar tapering slightly toward the ends.  Quillons of similar form are found on swords in Viking graves of the 10th century and were referred to by the Vikings as 'Gaddhjalt' (spike-hilt). The short grip is flat and quite broad, decreasing at the upper half toward a "brazil-nut" shaped pommel (Oakeshott, Type A & Geibig Type 19) -- most widely used from 950 - 1250 -- that again evolved from Viking predecessors. 

There is a popular misconception that swords from Crusader times were heavy and clumsy, "crude chopping instruments" that were almost impossible to handle. In truth, the average weight of the "Knightly sword" was less than three pounds and balanced in such a way that it was easy to handle.  This example weighs around 2 ½ pounds, (1.13 kg) so the balance of the light, flexible blade allows it to handle exceptionally well. 

From the Age of Chivalry, this noble “Grete War Sword” fulfilled a vital and practical purpose. With the austere perfection of line and proportion, this remarkable weapon is sure to be the highlight of any collection.

Notes:  For similar swords formerly in the Harold Peterson, R.T. Gwynn and Morgan Williams collections, see Ewart Oakeshott, Records Of The Medieval Sword, 1991, p. 41, XA. 6 and p. 54, XI. 1-2.

Bibliography:

Geibig, Alfred. Beiträge Zur Morphologischen Entwicklung Des Schwertes Im Mittelalter: Eine Analyse Des Fundmaterials Vom Ausgehenden 8. Bis Zum 12. Jahrhundert Aus Sammlungen Der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Neumünster: Wachholtz, 1991. Print.

Hart, Harold. Weapons and Armour: A Pictorial Archive of Woodcuts and Engravings. New York: Dover, 1982. Print.

Oakeshott, R. Ewart. The Sword in the Age of Chivalry. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2006. Print. pp. 93 and 113

Oakeshott, R. Ewart. A Knight and His Weapons. Chester Springs, PA: Dufour Editions, 1997. Print.

Oakeshott, R. Ewart. The Archaeology of Weapons: Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry. Mineola: Dover, 1996. Print.

Petersen, Jan. De Norske Vikingsverd: En Typologisk-kronologistik Studie over Vikingetidens Vaaben. Kristiania: n.p., 1920. Print.

Wheeler, R.E.M. London and the Vikings. London: Lancaster House, 1927. Print.

Dimensions: length: 89 cm (35 inches), guard width: 19.5 cm (7.7 inches)

Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall, professionally cleaned and stabilized. 

Provenance:  Private US collection, and previously in a private German collection.


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