Oakeshott Type XX – XXa 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 XX – XXa

This type seems to have been more characteristic of the late 15th century than the early 14th, for certainly more surviving examples seem to suggest the later date, but a sword which may be called the archetype can be dated – at lest, its characteristically formed blade can – firmly to the early 14th century by the inscription and markings engraved upon it.

As in most cases, the type is determined by the form of the blade, and particularly by the arrangement of its fullering. Here it is charaterised by a central fuller running over half-way down the blade, flanked by two shorter ones, generally of the same width as the central one, in the upper quarter of the blade’s length.
Most survivors of the type are large hand-and-a-half swords, but the archetypal one in question is an enormous bearing sword, shown here at XX.1(i)and XX.1(ii), shows the marks upon it which date it. Another rather later one – at least, the date on it is later, 1427 in Arabic Nashki script – si from the Hall of Victories in the Arsenal at Alexandria. This sword has a hilt quite consistent with a mid-14th century blade, a squared ‘wheel’ pommel of Type K and a straight square-section cross, but the others, as the illustrations which follow demonstrate, have varieties of the ‘scent-stopper’ pommel and have a distinctly 15th century look about them – i.e. their hilts resemble hilts shown in all form of art from the 1370s to the end of the 15th century. These will of course be deal with individually. In previous publication where I present my typology of medieval swords, I included two other blade-forms in with Type XX, but further study (after all, the typology was originated in 1958!) has made it plain that I have put these other forms into types of their own, XXI and XXII. This will appear in due course.

Type XXa: I felt that it was necessary to differentiate this form of blade from the broader, less acute blades of Type XX; the fuller in this sub-type is the same, but the edges run very sharply to an acute point.


XX.1

Type: XX
Find-place: Unkown
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 50″ (127 cms)
POmmel-type: T
Cross-style: 1
Date: c.1320-40
Condition: Very good. It has obviously been well-cared for. There are a few patches, where there has been very light rusting, scattered over the surfaces of the blade. The grip, wood, with a cord biding covered with leather, seems to be original. The enormous, massive pommel of bright iron has, like the blade, one or two very slight black patches on it.
The very enigmatic marks (see (ii) here) give a very positive date to the early 14th century. The style of the achievements of arms (crested helm and shiled) on either side are typical fo the period =c.1275-1325, as is the style of the letters and the other marks.
Publication: Oakeshott, SAX, Plate 40, p.76; Blair, C. EAA, No.64.


XXa.2

Type: XXa
Find-place: The River Dordogne, near Castillon
Collection: ? Private
Blade-length: 36 /14 (92″[siccms)
POmmel-type: Unclassified
Cross-style: 11, straight
Date: c.1425-50
Condition: Considerable corrosion, and some very wide and deep nicks on one edge, but none on the other. There are some remains of the wood of the grip in the lower opening of the pommel and on each face of the tang. There is also some of this wood of the grip inside the top face of the opening of the cross – i.e., the wood of the crip was shaped to fit top and bottom into the holes in the pommel and cross. Like other type XX and XXa clear traces of a complex pattern in gilt and on the upper part of the blade. THese marks (which include a totally indecipherable sequence of letters on each side) are not engraved and inlaid, but appear to be lightly etched and gilded. The pommel which is shaped like a more usual Type T.3, pear-shaped, is mounted with the thin end upwards, instead of downwards to join the top of the grip. There is another complete sword, the twin of this with asimilar? etched decoration on the blade, and a fragmentary one, from the same find.
Publication: Oakeshott, in Stuber & Wetler, No. 15a (p.19) and 15 (p.22).

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Oakeshott Type XIX – 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

There are a great number of surviving swords of this type, nearly all of them having blade as alike as peas in a pod, and all seeming to have come from the same workshop,. Nearly every surviving specimen bears upon it an Arabic inscription in Nashki script, stating that it was deposited in the Hall of Victories in the Arsenal at Alexandria. Most of these were removed to Constantinople by the Turks, at some time between 1517 and 1935! Now most are in the Askeri Museum in Istanbul, but a few escaped and are in European and N. American collections.
The blades of these Type XIX’s are of a form which until comparatively recently would have been considered not possibly to date earlier that c. 1550, because of their strong, short ricassos and their clean, flat hexagonal section. The ricassos are defined by neatly engraved grooves on each side, coming to a sort of cusp at the lower end against the deep, narrow fuller.
One of these swords which, in addition to a 16th century-looking blade has a single finger-ring below the cross of (style 5), has been published very often, but I have included it here in company with two which as far as I know have never been published. It reside in the Royal Armouries at the Tower of London, and its Arabic inscription gives a date (for its deposition in the Arsenal, not its making) of 1432. There is an almost identical one in Istanbul, with a style 8 cross, and a finger-ring. There are also four others in the Askeri Museum with finger-rings, one with curious flat oval pommel with a small circular recess int he middle. One which i have not shown here, in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, is particularly interesting because it bears a date of 1368. This, too, is not the date of its making, which (as an example of a type) can be put back to c. 1350, this giving a very useful early terminus post quem for a very distinctive sword-type.

XIX. 1

Type: XIX
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Private
Blade-length: 36′ (91.4cms)
Pommel-type: J, recessed
Cross-style: 8
Date: 1380-1400
Condition: Very nearly perfect. When I saw it in 1986 it had still a smooth brown ‘indoor’ patina on it, not having had the oils and dust of the Alexandria Arsenal scrubbed off it. A most elegant, hand, sword, well-balanced though the point of balance is toward the point. The shape of these blades, with their gentle taper, is more akin to the old XIIIa blades of the 13th century. This sword is perhaps the supreme, for elegance, condition and quality, of this type.

XIX. 6

Type: XIX
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Madrid, Insituto de Valencia de Don Juan
Blade-length: 32″ (81.2cms)
Cross-style: Late, unclassified, complex
Pommel-type: A
Date: c.1460-80
Condition: Very nearly pristine. The original grip, wood covered with brown leather, survives. There is little very mild pitting scattered over the otherwise undamaged surfaces of the blade. There is a only a little wear on the gold damascened decoration (Hispano-Moresque style) on the pommel and cross. The plain gilding on the arms of the hilt and the two short ‘prongs’ sticking out in front is worn through in one or two place. [sic] there is a lettered inscription on the blade which CATHALDO. (ii). This type of hilt -very well developed for its period – shown very often in art, particularly in the paintings by Nuno Goncalves of grandees at the court of Alfonso V of Portugal in the period c.1450-65.
Publication: Laing, op.cit. vol.I: vol.I; Puricelli-Guerra, Arturo, Armi in Occidente, Milano, 1966, No.25. (This shows a beautiful colour photograph of the hilt and upper part of the blade.) Blair, C. EAA, No.51.

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