Oakeshott Type XVIII – XVIIIa Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

This type is the very quintessence of the true, age-old cut and thrust fighting sword; its form nd function goes back to the Middle Bronze ge of c.1000 B.C. Relatively light (its average weight, for is short-hilted version of Type XVIII, is about 2lbs) with enough breadth at the point of percussion (or as someone in Denmark once put it, the Optimal Striking Point) to deliver a totally effective cut, yet below this the blade tapers sharply to a very acute point, perfectly capable of a very lethal thrust. In nearly every case, too, the section is of flattened diamond form with a sharp longitudinal mid-rib, making the blade nice and stiff.
This type of blade, in steel not necessarily bronze, goes back into pre-history or very nearly. Manyo f the fine steel blade os the La Tene culture are of the form, generally about 28″ to 30″ long and about 2″ wide at the hilt (71 cmns [sic] to 76 cms, and 5.7cms. Lying on my table as aI write this is a typical Type XVIII blade from a a Spanish grave which dates from c.200-150B.C. – a typical weapon of Hannibal’s Spanish cavalry units. In the Nationalmuseet in Copenhagen a Roman cavalry spatha, perhaps a century later, which is also so much a typical XVIII that it might well be taken to date c.1450 A.D. It probably would be, if came up for sale in one of the great sale-rooms without a reliable provenance attached to it.
It is perhaps curious that the form, obviously so popular in the Celtic and Roman Iron Age, went out of use in favour of the broad, flat slashing blades of Type X to XIV, form c.50 B.C. – A.D. 50 until the late 14th century of our era. I firmly believe that i was the forms and developments of defensive armour during those fourten centuries which determined the form of the sword’ blade. Once complete and effective plate armour came into general use, something difference was essential, hence Type XV, XVI, XVII and XVIII. Even so, there is a great deal of sound literary evidence in the chronicle, poem and prose history – or what , in the case of the incomparable Froissart, was historical novelism – that swords were virtually useless against a fully armoured man-at-arms. The axe, mace, hammer, pick and poll-axe became the favoured knightly weapon. Even so, the sword remained an essential, primary weapon of honour and prestige, and from the late 14th century until the mid-19th, blades of the his XVIII and XVIIIa form were the most commonly used. The type lasted perhaps longest in the broadswords of the Scottish HIghlanders, the basker-hilted so-called ‘Claymore’ of the 18th century.
There are 3 sub-types for XVIII (see diagram) because this was so useful and popular a form of sword. XVIIIa denatoes a larger XVIII with alonger blade, oftern with a 1/3 length fuller, and a long grip, while XVIIIb is a very long-ripped Bastard sword, while XVIIIc is a shorter gripped one.
THe word ‘Bastard’ sword (generally referred to in English contexts as
hand-and-half sword’ was applied in the 15th/16th centuries to these long-gripped weapons. This usage is well attested by a remark in a treatise o the 17th century by one Marc de Vulson in his Vray Theatre d’Honneur. Describing a duel fought in 1549 before Henry II of France he says of the weapons used ‘Deux epees batardes, pouvant servir a une main ou a deux (‘two bastard swords able to serve with one hand or with two.’)


Find-place: Near Nancy in France
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 29′ (73.7 cms)
Pommel-type: 1
Cross-style: 9
Date: c.1400-25
Condition: Excellent. Obviously preserved indoors, and cared for. The blade is of an unusual section, a very wide flat hexagon, for this type. INsilhouette, very like the Henry V sword.


Find-place: unknown
Collection: The late Mr E. A. Christensen. Formerly Spitzer. Now Nationalmuseet, Copenhage.
Blade-length: 35 3/8′ (90cms)
Pommel-type: 1
Cross-style: 11
Date: c.1400-50
Condition: Good. Not excavated. A church perhaps? The blade shows a close overall patina of largish pits, but the hilt of gilded bronze is an [sic] condition, including the shaped grip of wood bound with fine cord and covered with leather. There is a sword in the Swiss National Museum at Zurich (Inv. No. 6894) which would seem to be from the same workshop, and another similar one in Rome in the Odescalchi Collection (5.35, 196)
Publication: Hoffmeyer, Christensen and HOffmeye; Oakeshott, SAC.


Type: XVIIa
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Formerly in the Wilczec Collection: now ?
Blade-length: About 35″ (88.8cms)
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 2
Date: C. 1400-40
Condition: Perfect. Obviously preserved in a house or armoury. The original grip of wood, bound with fine cord and covered with leather, survives intact. There is shield of arms in the pommel, engraved – a lion rampant. ON the blade there are two Passau ‘Running Wolf’ marks, and close up under the cross, a firmly impressed stamp of a daisy or marigold-like mark.
Note; This photograph was taken over half a century ago – more like a century – when it was still in Count Wilczec’s collection. It doesn’t seem to have been seen, or noted anywhere in publication since then. But is is an absolutely perfect example of the sub-type, and a very beautiful sword into the bargain. It has been suggested that it had belonged to the empereor Albrecht II in 1438/9.
Publication: Wilczec, Count, Die Erinnerungen eines Waffen-ammlers, 1903.

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Oakeshott Type XVII – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Ewart Oakeshott’s Records of the Medieval Sword


With the coming of this sword-type, we have reached the era of complete plate armour. Thought, of course, complete and homogeneous armour would not have been worn in its entirety, or even at all, by all men-at-arms, knights or otherwise. Mail, and occasional reinforcements of plate, or plain leather was often the only defense of the European man-at-arms. All the same, a type of sword had been devised to have some sort of capacity to deal with, at least to dent and hopefully to bore holes in, complete plate armour. These sword which I have classified as Type XVII had always a long hand-and-a-half grip, and a very stout blade of hexagonal section, occasionally with a shallow fuller, and often very heavy and always very rigid and stiff.
The first wo swords I show in this section are very familiar to me, and though their blades at least look extremely alike, there is a great difference in weight and balance. The first, XVII.1 is in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, where I frequently handle it, and the second, XVII.2, now in the Nationalmuseet in Copenhage, once hung upon my own wall. The Cambridge one is surprisingly light and responsive in the and, weighing only just over 2lbs; but the one I had is heavy, even clumsy – a sort of bar of iron, point-heavy and needing a lot of strength to use.
There are many survivors of this type, nearly all of them alike and most not all that handsome. I have shown a few representative examples of a very large class of survivors, those which for some reason seem more interesting (such as those which have long ‘ricassos’ than the general run of what is on whole rather a boring type.


Type: XVII
Find-place: The River Great Ouse at Ely in Cambridgeshire
Collection: The Fitxwilliam Musem, Cambridge
Blade-length: 36″ (82cms)
Pommel-type: T.2
Cross-style: 1, curved
Date: c.1370-1400
Condition: River-found. Almost perfect beneath the smooth, richly dark patina of Goethite. There is no significant pitting in any part. On the tang is stamped a large lombardic letter B and on the blade, in the shallow fuller, is a little dagger-mar inlaid in latten (or possibly, gold?
Publication: Redfern, W.B. ‘Some Choice Sword-Hilts’, Connoisseur, 1923, Laking, vol. I; Oakeshott, AOW; Oakeshott, SAC; Oakeshott ‘Arms and Armour in the Fitzwilliam Museum’, Appolo 1987.
This is a superb sword, in perfect condition, and is the leading example of what has come to be called the ‘Sempach’ family of swords, after two which were found in 1898 in the graces of two of the Austrian knights, Friedrich von Tarant and Friedrich von Griddenstein, who fell in the battle fought near Sempach (near Zurich) in 1386. Similar dagger-marks are to be seen (a) on superb XIIa sword (No. XIIa.2 above) in an English private collection and (b) on the great -two-hand sword of Edward III in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor. This dates c.1350, and the former from perhaps as early as 1300. Similar, though no identical, dagger-marks appear on the Sempach swords from the abbey of Konigsfield, and on a TYpe XVIII sword (XVIII.5 below) in an English private collection, and on another sword of the same ‘family’ found in the lake of Neuchatel. (XVII.7)
This sword in Cambridge, as familiar to me now in 1989 as if it was in my own collection is quite surprisingly light, and is beautifully balanced and ‘ready’ in the hand.
There is a legend, written in horrible white paint, and the side of the blade not shown outward, to the effect that it was found ‘in 1845 in the River Cam at Ely’. This is a geographical impossibility. The river at Ely is the Great Ouse; the Came joins it about 4 miles above Ely, so if it was found in the CAm, it wasn’t at Ely; if it was found at Ely, it wasn’t int he Cam; but it doesn’t matter. The mud of both rivers has the same excellent preservative properties, and a difference of a few miles makes no difference to the sword’s excellence. The only difference perhaps is that a Ely the river could, even in the late 14th century, be approached in order to throw a sword in; but where the Cam joins it, in those days it was all marsh and impenetrable scrub land.
It was in a great private collection, owned by an industrialist named Redfern, until it was bought by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museuam in 1947, and has always before been published as the Redfern Sword. A pity, it should be the Ely Sword, but I supose [sic] it is now too well established under its ephemeral collector’s name to be altered.


Type: XVII
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Formerly Mr. E.A Christensen; now Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
Blade-length: 36&1/2″ (92.7 cms)
Pommel-type: H.2
Cross-style: 2
Date: C. 1380-1420
Condition: Excellent. Indoor (armoury) preservation. There is an Arabic inscription in Nashki script on the blade giving a date of A.D. 1436-7. There is a cross poten inlaid in copper in the pommel. Perhaps the sword of a Templar – though by the probably date of its making, say 1380, the Templars had been destroyed for over 60 years. The grip is a modern replacement.
Publication: Christensen & Hoffmeyer, p.82, no.57; HOffmeyer, pl. XXe, p.17, no.27; Oakeshott, SAC pl.30b.

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Oakeshott Type XVI – XVIa – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

Type XVI – XVIa

It is possible, indeed, it seems inevitable, to suggest that this blade-form developed as a direct offensive answer to the newly-developed as a direct offensive answer to the newly-developed reinforced mail armour of the period 1300-1350. It is broad enough, and flat enough in section to provide an efficient cutting edge, but the lower part part below the end of the fuller is nearly always of a stiff flattened-diamond section with a strong median ridge, making it suitable for thrusting. Not all have this ridged lower blade, which makes it very difficult if not sometimes impossible to distinguish whether such a blade is XVI, or in fact a XIV; No. XVIa. 1 in this group is a case in point, its lower blade tapers strongly, though it is flat, but it has a very stout diamond-section reinforced point.
They are quite often shown in art. Sometimes, as in the two shown here at (iii) and (iv), from Italian early 14th century paintings at San Gimignano, they can be matched exactly by survivors – except that they are shown scabbarded. All we have to go on is the long, rather slender, tapering blades and long grips. Compare these two for instance, with the photograph of the hilt of No. XVI.2 belwo. A sculptured St. Peter at (v), from a roof-boss at Exeter Cathedral which can be dated to 1328 shows a perfect example of the type, closely matched by NO. XVI.3 below.

XVI. 1

Type: XVI
Find-place: London River, off Westemister opposter the HOuses of Parliament
Collection: Formerly the old London Museum, now the Royal Armouries IX.13
Blade-length: 27″ (68.6cms)
Pommel-type: 1
Cross-style: A long 7
Date: c.1300-25
Condition: River-found. Excellent some pitting and erosion of the edges near the point and below the cross. Compare this sword with the drawing of St Peter fromt he Exeter roof-boss, which was carved before 1328.
Publication: Dufty; Oakeshott, Catalogue of the Second Park Lane Arms Fair, Londong, 1983.

XVI. 2

Type: XVI
Find-place: unknown
Collection: Royal Armouries, IX. 1083 formerly D’Acre Edwards
Blade-length: 32″ (81.2cms) approximately
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 2
Date: c.1300-25
Condition: Excavated, almost certainly river-found. Very good though there is a lot of corrosion at the point-end of the blade. The cross is very slightly bent, up one arm and down the other. The metal of the cross is very stout, of square section, and it has always seemed to me when handling this sword that very shallow reverse curvature couldn’t have been made by accident; it must, I think, have been forged that way – though one cannot assume that, in the forging, the bend was deliberate. It is too shallow to have a ‘guarding’ effect like 16th century vertically recurved quillons; bu the process of forging a carefully sharped bar of of iron, with a slot in the middle is tricky business and an inadvertent bend could very easily occur. There is some distortion in the tang, too.
Publication: Dufty.


Type : XVI
Find-place: Unknown, but in Denmark
Collection: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
Blade-length: 30&1/8″ (76.5cms)
Pommel-type: T.1
Cross-style: 6
Date: c.1300-50
Condition: River-found? Excellent. The erosion on the edges of the blade is the result of wear and honing, not corrosion. The fuller bears a a near four-letter inscription inlaid in latten. This inscription is similar to that upon the blade of the big XIIIa in the Burrel Collection in Glasgow, shown here above at XIIIa.10.
There is a sword extremely similar to this – its hilt is identical though its blade is about 6″ long, in the Museum at Bern (inv. No.840). That one, however, has no inscription.
Publication: Hoffmeyer; Pl.XXXIId.2 p.34 no.1 Oakeshott, SAC pl.20b


Type: XVIa
Find-place: ? Germany
Collection: The Royal Armouries. IX. 1084. Formerly D’ACre Edwards
Blade-length: 33″ (83.9 cms)
Pommel-type: K
Cross-style: 6
Date: c.1300-25
Condition: Excavated. ? River found. Good, but considerable erosion of the edges and some deep putting on the blade. The grip, of white wood, is modern, The shape of this sword should be compared with that of No.XVI.1 in this series. The fuller here is very narrow, but there is a distinct rib in the lower half of the blade.
Publication: Dufty, [sic]

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Oakeshott Type XV – XVa – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Ewart Oakeshott’s Records of the Medieval Sword

Type XV – XVa

The general outline, or silhouette, of this type is very much like that of Type XIV, but the section of the blade is totally different, as is the prime function of the sword. The XIV’s were made and used when the most defensive armour was still mail, with or without metal or leather of quilted reinforcement. The function of a XIV, like all it [sic] predecessors, was to be a slashing and hewing weapon. A XV was meant to be able to deliver a lethal thrust, even though armour was largely of plate. It seems to have developed along with the development of plate armour. Here, however, I must add a ride. Many of the swords in the period of the CEltic Iron Age, particularly in the La Tene III, are of the same stiff, flattened diamond section with a prime function of thrusting. The long Roman Spatha, used by the ancillary cavalry, is of a form which, if found or seen out of context, could well be taken to be the lade of a sword of Type XV or XVIII of the 14th or 15th century A.D., instead of between 200 B.C. and 400 A.D.
The illustrations and notes which follow will demonstrate the form and general appearance of teh type and its long gripped, hand a half subtype, which by the 15th century would be called and espee batarede, or Bastard Sword. With this type, unlike some of its predecessors, dating becomes impossible without some kind of firm evidence, preferably external or contextual, for the type was popular from the late 13th century to the late 15th – indeed, the blade-form continued in use into the 19th century. Considering we find it first int he 3rd century BC contexts, it must be the most long-lived blade form in the Western world.

XV. 4

Type: XV
Find-place: unknown
Collection: Private. Ex. author, ex Douglas Ash
Blade-length: 27″ (68cms)
Pommel-type: G.1
Cross-style: 10
Date: C.1470-1500
Condition: Excellent. Must have been preserved in an armoury or in a house, and cared for. The hilt retains most of its original blue colour, as well as its grip of ? lime wood covered with red velvet and bound with silver wire. This grip shows interesting marks of wear, the velvet covering being worn away where the heel of a hand has rubbed it and there is a good deal of hand-grease where it was gripped. There is a mark of a small cross inlaid in copper on the blade, which is of extremely thick section. Rather a a heavy sword, well balanced for thrusting.
Publication: Oakeshott, AOW pl.19; Oakeshott, SAC pl.27b

XV. 9

Typec: XV
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Blade-length: 29″ (73.7cms)
Pommel-type: K
Cross-style 8, curved
Date: c.1400-50
Condition: Not excavated, but preserved indoors. The blade shows a lot of quite deep overall surface pitting as if it had been allowed to get very rusty; but the hilt of gilt-bronze with a horn grip is in near perfect condition.
The very elegant grip of dark greenish-black horn is held by long vertical fillets of gilt-bronze along each edge. It is a most elegant, useful sword which has had doubts cast upon its authentic age, being held by some authorities to be a 19th century fake.
Publication: New York, Metropolitan Museum Bulletin
Oakeshott, SAC, pl. 23 and 24

XVa. 1

3. Type: XVa
Find-place: Lake of Lucerne
Collection: The Royal Armouries. Ex collection Sir Edward Barry
Blade-length: 32″ (81 cms) approximately
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 8
Date: c.1350-70
Condition: Poor. There is a lot of deep pitting underneath the patina, but the old grip survives though the metal of the hilt is badly corroded, as is the lower on-third of the blade. An extremely simliar sword, in the same kind of condition though lacking the grip was found in the Thames at London, and is now in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries at Burlington House in London. The form of sword seems to have been fashionable in the 14th century, judging by the number of survivors, all as alike as peas in a pod.
Publication: Laking, Connoisseur, February, 1905. Dufty.

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Oakeshott Type XIV – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

This is a very distinctive sword-type which by its incidence in works of art can be given a more than usually precise life-span between c.1275-1340. Its characteristics are a short grip and comparatively short blade which is broad at the hilt and tapers strongly to a sometimes very acute point with a generally flat section fullered in its upper half. Cross tend to be generally quite long and slightly arched, while the pommel-type most commonly found allied to the to these other elements is of Type K, broad and flat with small raised bosses.

Naturally, like all swords, their sizes vary; and we do not have very much hard archaeological evidence to go on, for, in spite of the type’s obvious popularity in the period of its usage, very few examples are so far available for study. Not so their appearance in works of art – sculpture, tomb-effigies, MS miniatures and early Italian paintings. When they are depicted in their scabbards, it is not possible to be certain that they are not of Type XV (q.v below) nut enough are shown naked to make dating secure. They appear only once or twice along with the more usual Type XII’s in the Maciejowski Bible (c.1260) as well as in the Oxford Romance of Alexander, an earlier English MS dated c.1333, where XIV’s are shown along with XIIIa’s, XII’s and XV’s.


Type: XIV
Find-place: Somewhere in Denmark
Collection: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen
Blade-length: 28″ (71.1cms)
Pommel-type: R
Cross-style: 1, curved
Date: c.1300+ or -20
Condition: Excavated, probably from a bog. Poor, very corroded. Interesting double fuller.

XIV. 6

Type: XIV
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen. Ex collection E. A. Christensen
Blade-length: 33″ (83.9cms)
Pommel-type: K, factted
Cross-style: A curved, sophisticated and elegant form of 1
Date: c.1300
Condition: Perfect. Must have been preserved in a house or an armour or well-cared for. The grip is probably an original.
Publication: Christensen & Hoffmeyer

This is one of those perfectly preserved, sharp and shining medieval swords which are too easily condemned as being ‘too good to be true’. Considering that it was acquired about thirty years ago by a collector and connoisseur as astute and experienced as Mr. Christensen, there can’t be much validity in any doubts about its authenticity. It’s a big sword, as you can see from the dimensions upon the elaborate series of drawing [sic] Mr. Christensen sent me just after he had acquired the sword.
In the catalogue of his collection made before it went on his death to the Danish nation, he dates it at c.1475. (‘Gammelt Jern’, No.66, p.88), but I believe this is nearly two centuries too late. [sic] its whole form – pommel, cross and blade – are so strongly fitted into the classic XIV shape tha I am sure it has to be dated between c.1275-1325. It is an absolutely outstanding sword, and I think the sketches he sent me give a very clear idea of its size, and the rather unusual form of its long, beautifully made double fullers. Unfortunately, the only photographs I have are not very good.

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Oakeshott Type XIII – XIIIb – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart Oakeshott

Characteristic of this type (whose sub-type contains the majority fo suriving examples) is a blade whose edges run very nearly parallel to a rounded point, and whose tang is noticeably longer than the usual 3″-4″ (8.2cms or 11.1cms) of single-hand sword of the preceding types. The sub-type, XIIIa, is the ‘Grete War Sword’ par excellence with its very large blade 32″-40″ (81.cms or 11.cms)average length and long grip, of between 6″ and 10″ (15cms and 25.5cms). Pommel forms on survivors vary, though the ‘wheel’ shape of pommel-types I to K predominate. Crosses both on surviving examples and shown in art are nearly always straight, generally of Style 2.

The are often mentioned in inventory, poem and chronicle as ‘Swerdes of Werre’, ‘Grans Espees d’Allemagne’, ‘Schlachtschwerte’, ‘Grete Swords’, Espees de Guerre’. ‘Grete War Swords’ and son on, always indicating large size and specific purpose. German tomb effigies of the 14th century; they are found nearly as often upon Spanish effigies of the same period, and occasionally on English ones. There are so few French knight tomb effigies left since the destructive efforts of the Revolutionaries of 1789 that it is not possible to quote a single French example. The very fact, I believe, that the French in the 13th and 14th centuries always referred to them as ‘big German swords’ is proof enough that Germany was their area of origin and greatest use.

Those shown in art are generally dateable between say c.1250 and 1370; the German and Spanish effigies between 1320-1370. There is, however, archaeological evidence to suggest very strongly that these big, hand-and-a-half gripped swords were not uncommon as early as the 12th century. (See Appendix B).
The XIIIa’s vary greatly in size, some being true two-hand swords. A prime example of such an outsize one is the sword of Edward III in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, which has been there since the Order of the Garter – or at least, St George’s Chapel – was founded in the mid-14th century. This sword is overall more than six feet long, yet its proportions are such that it must be classified as an XIIIa. By contrast, a more modest one is shown here at XIIIa.2 though it is still a very big sword.

I know of a few good examples of Type XIII, all shown here, One of the best (XIII.1) used to be in the Harold Peterson Collection in Virginia; a second is in the Royal Armouries (shown here in Multiple Miscellaneous 1 below) a third in the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh, and a fourth, a very big sword with an enormously broad blade, which I saw, and drew at Sotheby’s in the days of my youth, in 1935. There is a fifth in a private collection in Italy. These are shown below.

Sub-type XIIIb has been isolated, though its variation from Type XIII itself is so slight that much isolation seems to be splitting hairs; but I have made it so, therefore I am committed to allowing it to stand. The only real different from Type XIII is that the grip is shorter; the form of the blade remains the same.

Type: XIII
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Ex Harold Peterson, ex D’Acre Edwards, now private
Blade-length: 31″ (78.7cms)
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 2
Date: ?1200-1300
Condition: Excavated (?river-found?). Excellent. Very little pitting. When I saw it at the D’Acre Edwards sale in 1960, it had a curiously greenish patination. Since it was sold at Harold Peterson’s sale at Christies on July 5th, 1978, I have lost track of it.
This is an absolutely classic example of a Type XIII sword with its parallel-edged blade blade, rounded point and long grip. The three fullers in blade are rather uncommon. but by no means unusual in swords dating from the fourth century to the 18th. There is a mark on the blade which I noted in 1960, but unfortunately cannot now find to include here! The word handles well, but as may be expected of a slashing-sword, the point of balance is well down toward the point. Its weight is just over 3lbs.

XIII. 2- 4
2. Type: XIII
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh
Blade-length: 31&1/2 (80cms)
Pommel-type: E
Cross-style: 2
Date: c.1250 + or – 20
Condition: Excavated. River? Good. Some pitting.
Publication: J.G. Scott. European Arms & Armour at Kelvin-grove. (Glasgow, 1980.)

3. Type: XIII
Find-Place: Unknown
Collection: Unkown
Blade-length: 32 (81.2cms)
Pommel-type: G
Cross-style: 1
Date: c.1200-50 (the hilt form suggest a century earlier)
Condition: Excavated. River. Good. Some pitting, quite deep.

4. Type: XIII
Fin-place: Unknown
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 33″ (83.8cms)
Pommel-type: B.1
Date: c.1150-1200
Condition: Excavated. River. Good

These three Type XIII swords are shown together, to a constant scale, to show the great size of No.4. This I saw, handled, and drew at Sotheby’s in 1935. It isn’t as heavy as it looks, but it is quite remarkable in the breadth of its blade, and the diameter of its flat, thin pommel to match. I did not noted any marks.
No.2 in Edinburg is a less handsome sword; if it wasn’t for the nearly parallel edges of this blade, it would have to be categorised as Type XII, not a XIII, especially as the grip is short. There is a tiny inlaid three-letter inscription – O S O – in silver, There is no parallel for this among Leppaaho’s grave-finds though it is a common enough inscription, sometimes written SOS on XIIth century blades. The pommel is very massive, being very broad in profile. Rather a clumsy sword.
No.3 is a classic XIII, interestingly for its purely VIking form of pommel and its very thin, stalk like tang. Tangs like this are not very common, though by no means rare. They look, seen fac-one, as if they were thin and weak in contrast to the very broad flat tangs more often seen. However, the section of these stalk-like tangs is square; there is a as much solid metal as in the broad, flat ones.

XIIIa. 1
Type: XIIIa
ind-place: Unkown to me
Collection: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Wien A8W
Blade-length: 40″ approximately (101.2cms)
Pommel-type: J in an extremely deep form
Cross-style: 2
Date: c. 1300-50
Condition: Can only be called ‘mint’. The blade bears no rust-pits and looks as if it had never been used. Pommel and cros are unstained – not, I think, overcleaned – but the small escutcheon of ?silver or enamel in the central bossof the pommel is missing. THe grip, (with its circular tassles top and bottom of cut leather is an early 16rh century refurbishment.
Publication: Gamber, p.22. no. 17.

This is perhaps the supreme examples of a Type XIIIa sword, its perfect preservation indicates its centuries-long sojourn, probably unused, in an armory. It is known ‘ The Sword of Dietrich von Bern’. This name has been given in Germanic legend to the Ostrogth 5th century Emperor Theodoric, Thidrek in the Volsungsaga, and in the Nibelgenlied. The sword must, I think, date in the first half of the 14th century for (a) it is so typical of those big ‘Risenschwerte’ which are to be so clearly seen on tomb effigies of this period and (b) because the very distinctively-shaped ‘wheel’ pommel of Type J in an exaggerate form doesn’t seem to have been used before c. 1300: but this can only be said with a strong reservation. I don’t know of an example, actual or pictured, which can be positively said to predate 1300. That, however, does not at all mean or even suggest, that some day we shall not find proof that such a pommel-form was in fact in use many decades earlier. I can only present what is known now.
There is a beautifully executed inscription in the fuller of the blade. This does not seem to be etched, nor is it inlaid in silver or latten; it just seems to be lightly engraved, and was added, like the grip, in the 16th cnetury. It reads Gennant Herr Dietrich vons Berns Schwere, the letters being characteristic of the time of Exmperor Maximillian 1.

XIIIb. 4
Type: XIII. b
Find-place: Alexandria, Arsenal
Collection: Philadelphia Art Museum (Kienbusch Collection)
Blade-length: 34&1/2 (87.6cms)
Pommel-type: An exaggerate Type K
Cross-style: 5
Date: c.1350-60
Condition: Very good. Indoor preservation, the grip lost. The pommel is of latten. The inscription on the blade, in Arabic Nashki script tells that it was deposited in the Hall of Victories in 1367 (A.H. 769). This suggests that it might be spoil from an abortive atack upon Cairo in 1365 by Pierre de Lusignan, titular King of Jersualem, based in Cyprus. However, like so many of these European deposited in the Mamlik arsenal at Alexandria, it may have been simply a gift. There is a whole grip of these swords, of this precise type and form; nine of them are now in Askeri Museum at Istanbul, one is in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and one came up for sale at Christie’ in March 1988.
Publication: Oakeshott, SAX, Plate 12A; Alexander, D.G. ‘European Swords in the COllection at Istanbul’ ZHWK, 1985. (This deals with nine in Istanbul); Blair, C. EAA 29.

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Oakeshott Type XIIa – Records of the Medieval Sword – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Extract from Records of the Medieval Sword by Ewart OakeshottType XIIa

The swords illustrated below I once put into Type XIIIa, but this was a mistake; they have to go into a new sub-type of XIIa, because the blades taper too strongly for a XIIIa style, and are too acutely pointed.
When I worked out my typology in 1958, I did not know of the first of these (XIIa. 1) and because I had then come across no others which would bne made into a ‘Great Sword’ subtype of XII, I forced it into Type XIIa.
Thirty years and many publications later, it may seem strange to admit a careless mistake and to correct it; but it’s never too late to improve one’s work and I believe absolutely essential to admit, and correct, one’s own errors. So here, thirty years on, I present Sub-Type XIIa.

XIIa. 1
Type: XIIa
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: The Burrel Collection, Glasgow
Blade-length: 36″ (91.4cms)
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 2
Date ? 1300-50
Condition: Excavated. Good. Some scattered deep pitting.

XIIa. 3
Type: XIIa
Find-place: Alexandria, the Arsenal
Collection: The Royal Armouries, H.M. Tower of London. IX.915
Blade-length: 35&1/2″ (90cms)
Pommel-type: A variant of Type K
Date: c.1350-1400
Condition: Almost perfect, except that the grip is lacking. There is an Arabic inscription incised in the fuller just below the hilt, which has been translated as ‘Inalienable property of the treasury of the marsh province of Alexandria, may it be protected’. There is a smith’s mark on the tang.
This was sold in 1960 in the D’Acre Edwards sale at Christies, where I tried for it myself, and ran Sir James Mann up a a good deal, but of course he beat me.
Publication: Dufty, Plate 4d
Oakeshott SAC, Plate 29, where is is erroneously classified as of Type XVIa, instead of XIIa.

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