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.


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 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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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 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 XII – 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 XII

This is one of the most difficult sword-types to identify, because so many swords which might seem (perhaps by the forms of their hilts) to be of the type are in fact Xs, or even XVIs. In isolating the type, I laid down two totally arbitrary criteria: (1) that the blade should have noticeable taper, and an acute point, and the grip should be quite short, never of hand-and-a-half length, and (2) that the fuller should not extend beyond two-thirds of the length of the blade. This is all very well where these features are obvious; identification is easy enough as the illustrations below will show, but there are so many examples where the fuller is nearly(or quite) three-quarter length, making it nearly an X, or where there is no, as in No. XII. 16 below, or where the hilt is of a clearly early form, as in XII. 2 below, or where the taper is very slight and the point rounded, or when the grip is longer than the ‘standard’ 4″ to 4&1/2″ single-hand length. So many swords have one or other, or even all, of these difficult characteristics that one has difficulty in pinning them down to any of the types.
I mentioned the ‘early form’ of the hilt of XII.2. I must reiterate my firm belief that you cannot date a sword by its type, for most of the types – not all, as you will see – can span the whole of the medieval period. Nor can you use the forms of cross and pommel to date a sword – hardly ever. There are a few, mostly in use in the 15th century, which are dateable to a few decades, and can be identified with a region; but most of the pommel-types and cross-styles span the whole period; besides, within those types and styles there must be an infinity of variation – personal, regional and in some cases plain careless on the part of the cutler who made them. A sword’s cross is a most difficult object to make by forging, and distortion is difficult to avoid.

XII. 2
2. Type: XII
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Schweizerrishes National Museum, Zurich, LM15672
Blade-length: 30″ (76.1cms)
Pommel-type: B.1
Cross-style: Unclassified, Viking. (Petersen’s Type X)
Date: c.950-1000
Condition: Excavated, but good except for a very pitted surface.

XII. 8
Type: XII
Find-place: River Great Ouse, Stretham, NR Ely
Collection: Museum of Archaelogy and Ethnology, Downing COllege, Cambridge
Blade-Length: 36′ (91.4cms)
Pommel-Type F
Cross-style: 2
Date: c. 1150-1250
Condition: River-found, very good. Considerable pitting, especially the last 15″ or so towards the point.
Puublication: Oakeshott, SAC
Considering this sword’s find-place, in the Great Ouse about four miles away to the south of Ely, it could be tempting to think of it as a relic of the fighting around Ely in 1070 when the Conqueror finally took teh Isle by crossing the Marsh over causeway from Stuntney, one-and-a-half miles to the east of the city; but as far as is known it is unlikely that any knight of that army would have been four miles off across the swampy fen to lose his sword at the point, where it was found. It is much more probably one of the (so far, in 1988) seven swords from this river, in a twelve or so mile stretch between Southery to the north of Ely and Upware to the south which )vary in date from c.950-1400) were thrown in deliberately as ‘sacrifices’.
It is very difficult ot date this rather important sword; its blade is almost, if not quite of Xa form, yet I have categorised it as a XII because of it [sic] rather long grip. Taking only the form of blade and cross, one would date it, via Leppaaho’s finds, at c.1100, yet the form of the pommel is generally between c.1260 and 1320. Therefore it can only be suggested that it could be dated, because we don’t yet know of a reliably dated example of the pommel form as early as 1100, to a period of usage somewhere between 1250 and 1350.

XII. 16
Type: XII
Find-place: A town in N. Italy
Collection: Private, USA
Blade-length: 29&1/2″ (75cms)
Pommel-type: J
Cross-style: 5 – or a variant of it
Date: c. 1250 -1300
Condition: good. This was found with two other swords in a a house being demolished in an Italian town. The swords were hidden between two walls, so had been preserved in dry conditions. The gilt-bronze pommel and cross have been severely cleaned, but are in very good condition, the iron under the gilding not having corroded at all. The blade and tang are covered in a rather thick brown patina – though to call it a patina when it is more in the nature of the thick brown deposit is perhaps too polite to it. Beneath this crust, however, the blade seems to be perfectly preserved.
Publications: None
It is difficult to to categories this sword with certainty, for there is no clearly defined fuller in the blade, and its grip is is rather long for a Type XII, thw whole thing being in the proportions of a Type XIII. Compare it, for instance with the No. XIII. 1 in this sequence. However the taper of the blade and the acuteness of the point is more in the nature of a XII, so I have put it under that type. It is a good example of one of the many cases where it seems quite impossible to put certain swords into a typological straight-jacket. The cross is unusual, too, rather heavy, made (like the pommel) of bronze gilded. It has been bent, and though it shows a strong transverse ridge along the middle of both arms on the ‘outside’, on the reverse it is quite plain and flat. This feautre of half-decorated cross is very common, particularly in 15th century hilts.

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Oakeshott Type XI – XIa – 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 XI-XIa

This type is distinguished by having a sledner blade, generally long in proportion to the hilt, with a very narrow fuller running to within a few inches of the point. In classic examples there is a very little taper to the edges, though in well-preserved examples the point is quit acute. However, since so many river-found and earth-found swords have much heavy corrosion at the point, in such survivors the point appears to be spatulate and rounded. In my Sword in the Age of Chivalry I mistakenly added a Type XIb, thinking erroneously that such corroded blade constituted a sub-type. There is, however, a positive sub-type in XIa, where the blade is broad, but the fuller remains very narrow. Examples of these are rare, one of the best being shown here at XIa.1.
As with all of the other types, the form of pommel and styles of cross varies a good deal within the limits of custom and availability during the period of usage – which in the case of Type XI seems to be between c.1100-1175. This statement however, needs to be accepted only with caution. We don’t know what hiterto unknown survivor may rise from earth or river or tomb with a reliable dating context to confound my typology. Or from somebody’s collection, for that matter. So far as I know at present, XI’s have inscription either in iron (as in XI.1 here) or in silver or latten or gold where the ‘handwriting’ matches Leppaaho’s 11th and early 12thc century Viking blades.
The beautiful Xa, in the Wallace Collection (No Xa. 1 in this series, above) is a perfect example where, having only the form of the sword (not its perfect preservation) to go by, it cannot be pin-pointed at all to any certain period between 1050 and 1350. All that can be said is that it is a classic Xa, whose hilt is matched exactly by (a) some of Leppaaho’s Viking hilts and (b) hilts shown in monumental art between c.1250 and 1350. So it may be with Type XI, though at present (October 1990) I would not date any XI beyond c.1125.

XI. 1-2
1. Type: XI
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Private. Formerly R.T. Gwynn, Morgan Williams
Blade-length: 34′ (86.4cms)
Pommel-type: B
Cross-style: 1. Long and thin
Date: 1050-1125
Condition: Excavated (near perfect, fine blue-black patina.[sic]
Iron inlaid inscription NISMOMEFECIT on one side and a garbled version, not very clear, of INNOMINEDOMINI on the other.

2. Type XI (Borderline XA, but put in here to compare with 1)
Find-place : Tyrvaa, Finland
Collection: Helsinki University
Blade-length: 32 1/1 (82.5cms)
Pommel-type: B
Date: c.110
Condition: Excavated, near perfect
Publications: XI. 1. An article in the The Ancestor in 1903; VIctoria and ALbert Museum, THe Art of the Armourer, 1953; XI.2 Leppaaho, pl.5.

This beautiful sword has been published and illustrated several times; the first I know of was in a very select and aristocratic magazine, The Ancestor, in 1903. Laking featured it in his Record of the European Armour and Arms…in 1921, and it appeared again in the catalogue of the sale at Christies in 1921 aof the Morgan Williams collection from St Donat’s Castle. Iwas exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum in ‘Art of the Armourer’ exhibition; however, for some reason in none of the these publication was any mention made of the nature of the inscription.
There are two other swors inscribed NISOMECECIT, one in the Museum at Stade, the other in Helsinki – illustrated in Leppaaho, Fig. 5.2.
This is a aperfect example of the type, with its long blade and narrow fuller.

XI. 7
Type: XI
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Glasgow Museum Reserve Collection
Blade-length: 32′ (81.4cms)
Pommel-type: I
Cross-style: 2
Date: c.1100
Condition: Excavated. Poor. A great deal of corrosion and deep pitting on the blade, and the hilt as well. The cross has one arm nearly taken off by a avery deep piece of corrosion.

Type: XI.a
Find-place: Unknown
Collection: Ex. D’Acre Edward coll. Royal Armouries.
Blade-length: 29″ (73cms)
Pommel-type: E
Cross-style: 1
Date: c.1100-25
Condition: Excavated. Quite good. Surfaces of balde good except for the last 10″ (25cms) or so near the point, where it is very heavily corroded. The pommel and cross are well preserved. The grip is modern. There is a tiny inscription in the balde on one side, the letters SOS. It has been suggested that this unlikely-looking combination of letters is in fact the initial letters of the words SANCTA\, O SANCTA.
Publication: Dufty. Plate 2c

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POMPEII GLADIUS OF A TRECENARIUS (CHIEF CENTURION) OF LEGION Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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Text and photos by David Xavier Kenney

Material: Iron, Silver/Lead Alloy, Bronze, and Ivory
Era: 213 AD
Culture: Roman Provincial
Style: Roman
Origin: From an Antiquities Dealer in California

Although not shown with these pictures, the inscriptions on the top of the pommel’s stud show that this sword had belonged to a Trecenarius of Legion II Traiana Fortis. Although it is well established that the Praetorian Trecenarius had been the top Centurion, the position of the Legionary Trecenarius has not been established. There is one theory that the rank was second to the Praefectus Castrorum. Part of the inscription reads “TRECEN” and the other part reads “II TR GER”, this suggests that this sword had been commissioned when Legion II Traiana had been awarded the title Germanica, most likely in 213 with the defeat of the Alamanni (although the fighting actually ended with a treaty, the Romans considered it a victory) or shortly thereafter. The inside of the stud has inscriptions and symbols of the defeated Germanic tribes. The idea of the defeated being thrown into a hole can be seen with various artifacts on this website. The iconography on the pommel highly suggests that the sword has meteorite metal. Under the green patina, the guard is black with work done in white overlay. The blade has engravings and decorations, most notably is a sword with a dragon grip and lighting (that is in fact chromium) coming from the sword’s tip. The blade appears to have been treated with a tinted black chromium or with an alloy with chromium, hence the Class I to II condition that deems it as the finest example of a gladius known.

Source: romanofficer.com/PermcolA.html

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Bill Blake – Alae Swords


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!





Bill Blake – Alae Swords


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Assymetries on Historic & Modern Swords – Sword-Site.Com: The World’s Largest Free Online Sword Museum! http://www.sword-site.com

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*This is the article that got me kicked off SBG! Yes, I am very proud of myself! XD

Example of a beautiful historic sword clearly demonstrating assymetries: The sword has undergone a transformation from tool to art, but it is not quite sitting in art as it should, by this I mean I have never heard an art critic berrate Da Vinci or Rembrandt for visible brush strokes. There are modern examples, like Peter Lyon who I consider to be a true master. Even his work has assymetries in it, but is by no means the result of sloppy work: And that’s the product of a guy at the top of his game, with other craftsman assisting him on his swords. Then there are historical examples like the Sword of Saint Maurice, which clearly was not Roman in origin as the contemporary Germans may have insisted, and was likely commissioned by the top strata of society, therefore produced by the best available craftsmen: But I don’t believe any of this makes them less beautiful, quite the opposite and I do not think the above examples show anything but excellent skill in manufacture. I think to a certain extent we have fallen victim to photoshopped images depicting perfection, which invariably are false. For example this picture of one of Peter Lyon’s swords once the photographers, lighting technicians and photoshop tweekers have gotten hold of it: In my view a process similar to what has happened to women’s body image via photoshopped magazine images has taken place. It has left us wanting something that doesn’t exist, isn’t attainable and made us dissatisfied with everything. As an example: The one of the left is still a beautiful albeit plastic surgery enhanced face, but the one on the right more like a computer generated image than a photo. * * * * * The Importance of Assymetries & the Physical Function they Impart I believe there is a link between the asymmetrical properties of handmade swords as compared to automatically machined swords which makes them inherently better. Going through the motions with a CNC milled sword one day it struck me how lifeless the sword felt. I then repeated the same motions with a hand made sword, which had asymmetries and other humanistic attributes. The sword felt so much more alive. After much thought on the subject I think I know why. I believe the quality of a sword being alive is intrinsically linked to variations in the distribution of mass. CNC milled swords do not features these qualities, and although balance may technically be more precise, the numbers do no tell the whole story. A sword with edges that are not uniformly thick, whose pommel may be slightly thicker in one direction, whose blade features more mass on one side than another though it may seem at a disadvantage, I believe the hand made piece has an unforeseen advantage. This I believe is what makes hand crafted swords better than CNC milled swords. It’s ironic, because some people go OCD over variances and asymmetries in their swords. Although distal taper, balance, percussion, harmonics and all the rest are still critical elements, I think that a mathematically symmetrical sword will never provide the performance of a well hand crafted sword and it is the idiosyncrasies of a particular excellent sword that set it apart. The CNC milling process is a cost cutting measure, but I believe it will never replace the work of a skilled craftsman. An analogy can be seen in music – real instruments and human performers as opposed to electronica. My proposition in no way diminishes the importance of excellent workmanship. One must learn the rules to break them. I’ve been at swords for ten years, and I’ve put my work out for public scrutiny. Some people like my work, others don’t, and that’s ok with me. But I am not some critic with no work of his own for others examine, firing off shots at other people who are out there having a go. I’ve done the hard yards, filing, hand finishing, using stones, forging and grinding, and while I always feel I have room for improvement, I do feel like I have a decent handle on the basics and produce good work. My moment of revelation came as I was pondering the virtues of swords. I had always felt that there was something superior about good hand made swords, but I could never put my finger on it. It is quite distracting to see so many posts on other forums where people get OCD about minor variances on a hand made blade, and I believe this had distracted me from realizing what makes a handmade sword better earlier. In an age where technical perfection is now more achievable than ever, it is ironic that the human hand is what produces the best swords. Swords are not machine parts, treating them like they should be is a step in the wrong direction. Rather the sword is and will always be defined by the individuality of its personality, the idiosyncrasies of its design, the love imbued into its form while crafting it, and the humanistic qualities of its manufacture. Below are more examples of high end historic swords showing that the modern obsession of reviewers for things like milled guards that fit a sword to within microns are in fact just that, modern obsessions that bear no historical counterpart: The beautiful ‘Charlemagne Sword’ – can you imagine how a typical modern review might deal with the tang slot on this sword of Kings? Bill Blake – Alae Swords http://www.alaeswords.com Read more: http://sword-site.com