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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

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PostPosted: Wed 05 Sep, 2007 9:19 pm    Post subject: Excaliber in Sicily?         Reply with quote

I tried to ask this on Swordforum, but the thread got hijacked.


Here's my question.

According to the wiki article on King Richard the Lionhearted, when he was in Sicily he and King Tancred of Sicily exchanged gifts. He gave Tancred recognition, and Tancred gave him support in the Crusades. Along with the deal Richard gave him "a sword which he claimed was Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur."

Does anyone have any information on what became of this sword? I don't want to debate it actually being Excaliber, and someone who did hijacked my thread on swordforum. It got ugly, then it got locked, so I'm hoping it will stay on track at myArmoury.com. Besides, there's an excellent knowledge base here, so it's a good place for the question either way.

I want to know if this sword happens to survive in a museum or a sketch. A Sword nice enough to be beleived to be Excaliber must be something pretty special.


Oh, here's the article.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_I_of_England

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Wed 05 Sep, 2007 10:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wish I could help you out George, the tale you reference is pretty obscure though. Many very important swords Charlamagnes, John Talbots, heck even the Black Princes sword have been lost to history some for long periods of time, some permanently. If anyone knows about it folks around here will though. I noted your thread's demise over at SFI, a pretty sorry performance if I might say so (not on your part!). However, I suspect that the moderating team around here will take a rather jaundiced view if the culprit attempts to repeat the incident so hopefully you will have better luck.
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
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PostPosted: Wed 05 Sep, 2007 11:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Wish I could help you out George, the tale you reference is pretty obscure though. Many very important swords Charlamagnes, John Talbots, heck even the Black Princes sword have been lost to history some for long periods of time, some permanently. If anyone knows about it folks around here will though. I noted your thread's demise over at SFI, a pretty sorry performance if I might say so (not on your part!). However, I suspect that the moderating team around here will take a rather jaundiced view if the culprit attempts to repeat the incident so hopefully you will have better luck.


Thank you Russ. I certainly hope so. And if records survive of Richard giving this particular sword to Tancred, I'd think there might be records on what Tancred did with it.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2007 12:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bizarrely enough, I actually have run across some information on this subject. I suppose it wouldn't have registered if not for this thread. However, I was recently reading a book: Ancient Mysteries by Peter James, Nick Thorpe



and there was a bit about the grave of King Arthur supposedly discovered at Glastonbury Abbey by monks during the reign of Henry II. Supposedly the grave was exhumed and along with a metal grave marker and the skeletons of Arthur and Guinevere there was a sword recovered which according to legend was given to Richard I who in turn gave it to Tancred.

Of course that's where the problems come in.

1) There is of course the whole Arthur legend. While hardly evidence it suggests that Excalibur was tossed into a lake after Arthur's mortal wounding which would mean that the sword in the grave could not be that of Arthur.

2) Henry II was a 12th century king and supposedly Arthur was a King of the 5th century. Assuming that a sword was buried with him (in and of itself getting pretty unusual by that time amongst Christians) after 700 years in a grave its usability would be highly questionable. It's not impossible but...

3) It turns out that the King Arthur grave was a fake, the whyfores and howithalls are covered in the book. So while it's possible that Richard gave Tancred a sword it wasn't a 5th century sword from Arthur's grave.

Oh, and I'd recommend the book, it's a very entertaining read...

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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2007 2:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Bizarrely enough, I actually have run across some information on this subject. ...


Most interisting. Thank you. I wonder if anything will turn up on the sword after Tancred had it. Where it went and whatnot.

Still, that does rather give us an idea of where Richard got it.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2007 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
Still, that does rather give us an idea of where Richard got it.


Possibly and if so, the sword would not have had to be in any way useable as it was supposed to have been buried for centuries.
So, assuming Tancred was given a excavated sword it becomes doubtfull it survived long. Once iron gets buried and starts detoriorating, re-exposing it to the air will result in accelerated further detoriation if not conserved.
Considering what I am told about this by archeologist friends that is nothing simple.

Whatever it´s source, an excavated old sword given to Tancred is likely to have quite litteraly dissolved into thin air.

hc
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Possibly and if so, the sword would not have had to be in any way useable as it was supposed to have been buried for centuries.
So, assuming Tancred was given a excavated sword it becomes doubtfull it survived long. Once iron gets buried and starts detoriorating, re-exposing it to the air will result in accelerated further detoriation if not conserved.
Considering what I am told about this by archeologist friends that is nothing simple.

Whatever it´s source, an excavated old sword given to Tancred is likely to have quite litteraly dissolved into thin air.

hc


Peter,
Not every grave find means the items were buried directly in dirt. It was not uncommon to inter swords in tombs that were sealed. The tombs could have been buried (or not) and no dirt would have contacted the contents. Several princely swords have survived in this way and look quite capable of being used today.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2007 8:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suspect that if in fact Richard did give Tancred a sword that said piece would more then likely have not been a buried nor excavated sword at all. According to this book anyway they made up the whole story of finding Arthur's grave whole cloth (possibly with the collusion of Henry II) and so any swords recovered would have been of contemporary rather then ancient origin. Assuming of course that they even bothered to bury a sword. If one is manufacturing a hoax with the collusion of the King one doesn't have to worry to much about the nitty gritty details, especially in the 12th century...
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2007 8:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
I suspect that if in fact Richard did give Tancred a sword that said piece would more then likely have not been a buried nor excavated sword at all. According to this book anyway they made up the whole story of finding Arthur's grave whole cloth (possibly with the collusion of Henry II) and so any swords recovered would have been of contemporary rather then ancient origin. Assuming of course that they even bothered to bury a sword. If one is manufacturing a hoax with the collusion of the King one doesn't have to worry to much about the nitty gritty details, especially in the 12th century...

I was thinking along the same lines, with an additional thought. Another reason I think it more likely that they would pass off a contemporary sword is that rusty excavated sword is hardly fitting given the mystical properties ascribed to Excalibur. To the modern mind, we want to see the patina as proof of provenance, but to the medieval mind the lack of corrosion would be proof that in fact it was Excalibur. So the fact that it was contemporary blade would work in their favor.
Anyway, Tancred being the sharp Norman he was Wink, probably didn't believe a word of it. But he needed the legitimacy that being recognized by the English entailed. And in the end if there is any truth to the account, thats all it was, a sign of being accepted as a legitimate King.
In fact I would not be surprised at all if it was quite similar to the St. Maurice of Turin. A working mans Xa or XI dressed up in a fancy hilt. Of course ALL OF THIS is purely speculation on my part...

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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Oct, 2007 12:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Whatever, excavated or contemporary, it was a political presentation piece and served a purpose as such.

It may have been a good sword in it´s own right and it would be interesting if it could be traced.

Now, the history of Sicily being what it is I doubt it. It is not like Spain where families with roots from before the days of El Cid still own the estates conquered from the moors by their ancestors.

Nevertheless the life stories of some noteable swords are stuff to write boy´s adventure stories about and the Tancred-sword coúld be one, again because of Sicily´s history.

peter
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