Oakeshott’s Medieval Sword Typology Chart Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Oakeshott Sword Type X : www.sword-site.com/thread/118/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type Xa : www.sword-site.com/thread/123/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XI – XIa : www.sword-site.com/thread/126/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XII : www.sword-site.com/thread/127/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XIIa: www.sword-site.com/thread/128/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XIII – XIIIb : www.sword-site.com/thread/152/oakeshott-xiiib-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XIV : www.sword-site.com/thread/159/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XV – XVa : www.sword-site.com/thread/166/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XVI – XVIa: www.sword-site.com/thread/167/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XVII : www.sword-site.com/thread/175/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XVIII – XVIIIa : www.sword-site.com/thread/183/oakeshott-xviii-xviiia-records-medieval

Oakeshott Sword Type XIX : www.sword-site.com/thread/187/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XX – XXa : www.sword-site.com/thread/200/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

Oakeshott Sword Type XXI – XXII : www.sword-site.com/thread/204/oakeshott-type-records-medieval-sword

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Oakeshott Type XXI – XXII 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

With these types we come to a point (in the High Renaissance, in cultural terms) when so many varied shapes and sizes of blades, and complexities of hilts, became common that a typology such as this, based upon the outline shape of blades and their section can go no further. Besides, these two types seem only to have come upon the scene at the very end of the medieval period, and both lasted well into the 16th century.

Type XXI is basically formed upon the type of blade developed in Italy and best know as the Cinquedea – Five Fingers. Not all, however had the breath of five fingers at the hilt, nor were they all short like the true Cinquedea. A few were long swords, mounted with the ‘typical’ and characteristic Cinquedea hilt ( like No. XXI.2 here) but most had more conventional sword-hilts, all of which , however, seem to have conformed to a standard pattern – one or other of the variants of the disc pommel (type H to K) and all with rather short crosses, strongly arched over the blade and with curled-under tips. The exquisite sword made for Cesare Borgia in 1493 is the standard-bearer of this particular ‘family’ within the type; there are a few others which survive (and, one hopes, more may eventually come to light) but none can match the Borgia one. It is a very worth adjunct to one of the most exciting and colourful characters of the High Renaissance in Italy. A motto which he adopted ‘Fais ce que doit, adveigne qui peut’ (Do what you ought, come what may) is a fine sentiment, which by doing always what he ought no, has bought him lasting, probably undeserved infamy.

Type XXII is not really so handsome a blade-form, but surviving examples are among some fot he most lavish parade of swords of the 15th century. Characteristic is aboard, flat blade, the edges tapering in elegant curves to an acute point, and a pair of short, deep and very narrow fullers below the hilt.

XXI. 2

Type: XXI
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Formerly de COsson, Douglas Ash, and myself, Now private
Blade-length: 32″ (81.3cms)
Pommel-type: There is no true pommel, for it has apure ‘Cinquedea’ hilt
Date: c.1480-1500
Condition: Very nearly perfect. The blade is unblemished, but the little filigree rondels in the walrus-ivory grip are modern replacements. There is avery simliar sword, in even better condition, in Naples, and the very tatty remains of another, excavated, one in the Firzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Both of these have the same kind of bone or ivory hilt as this one.
The Naple on’s grip is of ivory, but the cross – the same acutely down-turend form as this, is of plain steel. So is the cross of the one in Cambride. Here the grip was of ivory or bone, but only fragments of it survive.

XXII. 1

Type: XXII
Find-place: Schloss Ambras, Austria
Collection: Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
Pommel-type: F
Cross-style: A sort of Style 1
Blade-length: 36″ (91.5cms)
Date: c.1440
Condition: Well-preserved, nearly perfect. This, being a royal parade sword, has been kept in good condition and properly cared for since it was made for Friedrich III when King of the Romans before he became Emperor. The blade is Italian, but the hilt, with its plates of horn on grip and cross and the elaborate ‘chappe’ or rain-guard is of South German work-manship. The broad, massive blade bears a maker’s stamp, a crowned A: and etched and gilded below the hilt are panels of decoration; on one side, between conventional foliage the sing-headed black eagle of the Empire on a gold ground, on the other the AUstrian ‘Bindenschild’.
Publication: Gamber; Boeheim, W. ‘Albm’, vol. I, Plate 7; Oakeshott, SAC, PLate 42.A; Laking, vol I; Blair, C., EAA, No.45.

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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

Type XVII

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.

XVII.1

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.


XVII.5

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 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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