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 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.’)

XVIII. 2

Type: XVIII
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.

XVIII. 10

Type: XVIII
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.

XVIIIa.1

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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+Caring for Scabbards & Organic Components of Swords – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

Aside

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+Caring for Scabbards

Leather scabbards present a potential risk to blades becuase they tend to be acidic. There is an easy and cheap way to fix this however. Mineral oil. Pour a healthy amount into your scabbard. Cover the mouth of the scabbard and invert scabbard. Repeat until you are sure the entire scabbard lining is coated. This will neutralise acidity and make it safe to store your sword in a leather scabbard indefinitely. Don’t believe that leather scabbards are historically inaccurate, leather scabbards have been in use as long as swords have.

This same technique works really well at preserving the timber in wooden scabbards.

+Leather

When it comes to leather on grips and scabbards, mineral oil is also the premier preservative. It will not attract microbes like organic preservatives do.

It is a good idea to wet the leather with a mister spray (using clean water only) when applying mineral oil as this will ensure the leather, which is dried out during the tanning process, is at a moisture level which is suitable. Obviously it is a good idea to keep the sword away from the water while doing this.

Neatsfoot (cow shin bone) oil, Dubbin, lanolin and Leather fat are all good products BUT ONLY when used with ALOT of mineral oil. The reason why is that neatsfoot, dubbin, lanolin and leather fat are all organically derived products which mould and bacteria love. Even if you can’t see the bacteria, they will be there eating at the connective fibres that give your leather strength, and then eventually causing visible mould, tears and holes.

The same applies to linseed and tung oil for wood parts. Linseed is great because it polymerizes, making wood tougher, and similarly with tung oil BUT it must be used with mineral oil to ensure longevity of a product.

Mineral oil and baby oil are the same product. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) is virtually identical too, but is thicker. For the love of all that is holy please DO NOT USE MOTOR OIL. Motor releases vapours which are harmful.

Mineral oil does not spoil and is cheap. Apply to all organic components of a sword twice a year and you’ll be assured of long term durability and forestall the degenerative effects of time.

Image

An Alae Swords Falchion whose grip has been liberally treated with mineral oil.

Bill Blake – Alae Swords

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Alae Swords Heavy Infantry Spathion – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Hi All!

So I just finished off another Spathion, this one with a fuller and a characteristically Byzantine down turned cross guard.

A touch over 30 inches long, 1.3kg (2.8lbs), blade width of 8cm (3.14 inches). Peened, countersunk pommel, pommel also rammed on and cold fitted as was the guard.

Handles like a dream, a real ‘hewer’. Makes beautiful sweeping cuts and is excellently balanced for thrusting. Really happy with this one!

Excited to watch the verdigris develop on the guard and pommel!

I did a hand polish on this sword, which I’ve grown really fond of. It’s has a more dynamic appearance, the grain is more alive.

I used Tasman Oak on the grip held in place with two tonne per square inch strength epoxy. The grip was then wrapped in hemp and vegetable tanned goat leather.

All Australian materials and workmanship as always!

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Bill Blake – Alae Swords

http://www.alaeswords.com

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