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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.
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
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.
Find-place: Schloss Ambras, Austria
Collection: Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
Cross-style: A sort of Style 1
Blade-length: 36″ (91.5cms)
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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