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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Sun 21 Sep, 2008 5:18 pm    Post subject: Original "Brescia Spadona"         Reply with quote

Does anyone know where I can get aditional information about the sword on which Albion's Brescia Spadona is based? Any information at all would be helpful. Source materials prefered, but second hand information is acceptable too.
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Sun 21 Sep, 2008 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know a lot, but I can offer this picture which I believe is the sword they copied for their piece.


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Type XVI Sword.jpg


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PostPosted: Sun 21 Sep, 2008 6:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hugh Knight wrote:
I don't know a lot, but I can offer this picture which I believe is the sword they copied for their piece.


Yeah. That's an image that I put together. You got it from the myArmoury.com Spotlight Article about Oakeshott Type XVI swords. The caption of the photo, as shown in the article, is "Inspiration for Albion's Brescia Spadona".

Michael Edelson wrote:
Does anyone know where I can get aditional information about the sword on which Albion's Brescia Spadona is based? Any information at all would be helpful. Source materials prefered, but second hand information is acceptable too.


I was going to type out what I knew, but realized that our hands-on review covers all the information that I know. I unfortunately don't know any more than is covered there.

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PostPosted: Sun 21 Sep, 2008 7:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are pics and text from Francesco Rossi's Mediaeval Arms and Armour.


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Brescia 1.jpg


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Brescia 2.jpg


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Brescia text.jpg


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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, guys, I appreciate it. If anyone has any more information, I'd still love to hear it.

Also, why is this hilt style assumed to be Italian? I've seen this cross (either very similar or nearly identical) on swords found in France, England, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.

Is it just because the curator said so on his card? I ask this because curators can often be, how shall we say...less than experts. A "hybrid weapon". Sheesh. Happy

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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The pieces is here, it is considered a German blade with a Brescian (or northern italian) hilt. It carries the famous wolf of Passau logo on the blade..

Must have a pic or two in my computer ... I spent some time pretty close to the vitrine.

It is rather well preserved. The pommel cap appears not pitted, unlike the rest of the sword, so it was possibly remounted, but this is strictly a personal conjecture.
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 8:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
Thanks, guys, I appreciate it. If anyone has any more information, I'd still love to hear it.

Also, why is this hilt style assumed to be Italian? I've seen this cross (either very similar or nearly identical) on swords found in France, England, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.

Is it just because the curator said so on his card? I ask this because curators can often be, how shall we say...less than experts. A "hybrid weapon". Sheesh. Happy


Until recently, there was no interest in armor and arms per se: archeologists would treat them as they do with any other object, by trying to insert them in an historical context, but with no particular study finalized at knowing more on their genesis and actual use .
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 8:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
Thanks, guys, I appreciate it. If anyone has any more information, I'd still love to hear it.

Also, why is this hilt style assumed to be Italian? I've seen this cross (either very similar or nearly identical) on swords found in France, England, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.

Is it just because the curator said so on his card? I ask this because curators can often be, how shall we say...less than experts. A "hybrid weapon". Sheesh. Happy


You're correct about the guard. It's very similar to that on the Black Prince's sword and other swords of that family found throughout Europe, usually with a wheel pommel of some sort. Perhaps something about the pommel tips it to an Italian origin?

Also, please keep in mind that the book text I posted is from a book whose text generally suffers from being poorly translated to English or written by someone for whom English is not their native tongue.

Happy

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What about the hilt makes it Brescian? The description on the card suggests he is talking about the cross..."while the shape, with downward points to the hilt, is certainly Italian".

If he's talking about the cross, that is not an Italian cross...swords have been found in many parts of Europe with that style of cross. Here are some examples from Oakeshott's books:

RMS XV.5 - similar cross, found in Dordogne River in Southern France, near Castillon. Because of Battle of Castillon in 1453, this could have been an English or French sword. As the maker’s mark suggests it is a 15th century sword (indicated by Oakeshott). XV.8 is another Castillon find with a similar, but not quite similar enough, cross.

RMS XVa.1, almost identical cross, dated 1350 to 1370 found in Lucerne Lake, Switzerland. Oakeshott mentions that an extremely similar sword was found in the River Thames, but without examining that particular sword no conclusions can be drawn.

RMS XVa.6, almost identical cross, dated 1370, probably hung above tomb of the black prince of Wales, indicating possibly English origin (another link to England).

RMS XVIIIa.4, almost identical cross but with small difference in center, dated 1350 – 1400, no find place.

SAC 22B, possibly almost identical cross hidden by rain guard, dated early 1400s, XV, Italian, sword of Estore Visconti.

SAC 27C, almost identical cross, no date, XVa, found in Lake Constance, which borders Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 8:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Chad,

Yes, I found the black prince sword while looking for that style of cross. What's interesting is that this is typically a 14th century style, while the BS is believed to be a 15th century sword.

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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 8:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do we know that the Black Prince's sword is a product of England or an Italian import? Perhaps that style of cross was a regional style that was exported and perhaps copied because it was en vogue at the time.
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
Hi Chad,

Yes, I found the black prince sword while looking for that style of cross. What's interesting is that this is typically a 14th century style, while the BS is believed to be a 15th century sword.


I think the pommel makes it more 15th century than 14th. The guard certainly could be 14th as you pointed out.

The blade cross-section is somewhat unusual for either century. It's not quite a typical Type XVIa.

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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
What about the hilt makes it Brescian? The description on the card suggests he is talking about the cross..."while the shape, with downward points to the hilt, is certainly Italian".

If he's talking about the cross, that is not an Italian cross...swords have been found in many parts of Europe with that style of cross. Here are some examples from Oakeshott's books:



Yes, but keep in mind my caveat about the text. It's not well written or well-translated.

Also, the cross is basically the same as that on the sword of Estorre Visconti (minus the rainguard): http://pics.myArmoury.com/view.html?visconti_a.jpg

As Nathan Keysor suggested, we don't know for sure that this type of hilt wasn't exported and then copied.

Nothing about this hilt makes it Brescian. That word isn't used in the scanned text I posted above except to note where it is now.

We know that style of guard was used in the early 15th century in Italy. The author doesn't say it's an exclusively Italian style, though the text (see my caveat) seems to be pretty certain it's an Italian style. The sword is in Italy and has a guard that matches at least one other Italian sword of the same era.

As another thread points out, a style of Viking hilt commonly called "Anglo-Saxon" was found in great numbers outside of England and areas under Saxon influence... Happy

And the writer is Italian. Who's to say that national pride didn't factor into it being called Italian in this book? Happy

Any maybe there's some unmentioned marking or distinguishing characteristic that led the author to call it "Italian".

Happy

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 9:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Also, the cross is basically the same as that on the sword of Estorre Visconti (minus the rainguard): http://pics.myArmoury.com/view.html?visconti_a.jpg


Yes, that is one of the swords I listed above. However, it is the only Italian sword in the lot.

Quote:
As Nathan Keysor suggested, we don't know for sure that this type of hilt wasn't exported and then copied.


That is true, but that would suggest that the cross style is of Italian origin, not the cross itself.

Quote:
We know that style of guard was used in the early 15th century in Italy. The author doesn't say it's an exclusively Italian style, though the text (see my caveat) seems to be pretty certain it's an Italian style. The sword is in Italy and has a guard that matches at least one other Italian sword of the same era.


Yes, but we also know it was used in the mid to late 14th, and probably the early 15th centuries, in many other parts of Europe. In fact if that style of cross was only or predominantly used in the early 15th century in Italy, than that fact would suggest that style of cross originated elsewhere and made it to Italy much later.


Quote:
As another thread points out, a style of Viking hilt commonly called "Anglo-Saxon" was found in great numbers outside of England and areas under Saxon influence... Happy


Which means I have more work to do! Happy

Quote:
And the writer is Italian. Who's to say that national pride didn't factor into it being called Italian in this book? Happy


That is my current theory, actually. Happy

Quote:
Any maybe there's some unmentioned marking or distinguishing characteristic that led the author to call it "Italian".


Absolutely. I'm still looking for evidence and any other information I can find about this sword or hilt style. I find such pursuits fascinating. In my opinion, some people are a bit too casual with medieval originals, especially museum curators. I think each is a treasure trove of information and should be treated as such. If people put the same amount of effort into researching each individual sword that they do into paintings or sculputres, we'd know a lot more about the subject. I think it is telling that our foremost authority on the medieval sword was an amateur collector with no related academic credentials.

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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Rossi book is really a picture book, as a number of the books in this field are. So, the text needs to be taken with varying amounts of grains of salts. Some books you buy for the text. Others for the pics. Some for both. Happy

Mileage will vary.

Good luck on your quest. Happy

Happy

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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Also, the cross is basically the same as that on the sword of Estorre Visconti (minus the rainguard): http://pics.myArmoury.com/view.html?visconti_a.jpg


Hi Chad

Actually on this specific point I don't think so : the Visconti sword has a guard which is of a flat hexagonal section, while the Brescia/Black Prince swords (to which you can add one in tt he Msuée de l'Armée, and one in a private collection, that I studied for my MA a few years ago - both with big, deep wheel-type pommels) have this strong ecusson of sorts, a very distinctive and strong feature that gives this cross type all its character. And technically speaking, they don't ask the same things as the simpler, flatter types when it comes to te making.

Downward pointing quillons can be found all across Europe from the mid XIVth century on - and appear very, very frequently (in proportions well above 90%) in French/Burgundian period artwork. Therefore.....

I never really could agree with all these publications/books/articles which consider only two possible origins for medieval arms and armour (Italian or German). Recent research has proved it was not always the case anyway. I agree that still, Italian swords of known origin and period artwork give strong evidence of distinctive Italian features, especially for the XVth century, but such a cross-guard is definitely not one fo them.


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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 10:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael,
I personally wouldn't diminish the efforts of museum curators the way you seem to want to. Many of the current generation are very diligent and are working to expand our knowledge. The problem lies more in publications on arms and armour. Many were written a generation ago or more, when the study of arms and armour was much less advanced.

Not many arms and armour books have been published in the last decade or so despite the expansion of knowledge in the field. Many arms and armour titles are out of print and/or expensive as well.

And the market for high-quality text on arms and armour is more limited than for other books, like coffee-table style picture books. These picture books often have great pictures surrounded by info of varying degrees of sketchiness.

Folks like David Edge, Dr. Tobias Capwell, Ian Eaves, the late Walter Karcheski and so many others have done great work recently; it's just not published (yet). any may never be widely published or easy to obtain.

So while it's easy to condemn many of the older published works, I wouldn't apply the label "casual" to most of today's curators at the big museums.

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 10:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad,

I didn't mean to imply all curators, just some. I've had some interesting experiences with some of them. Not to mention the fact that you sometimes see the damdest things on the description cards.

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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with the idea that the Italian connection with this sword might be as much convention as anything else.
Unfortunately, I do not know any details of this swords history apart from what is told in catalogues and descriptions: not much.
The blade is most probably from Passau because of its markings. We do know however that marks of origin were copied by makers in other regions, to help boost sales. I see no specific reason to doubt the Passau origin in this case.

The overall style of this sword shares features with swords from other regions.
The pommel is pretty unusual, but share some features with other swords, like the hollowed out top bevels. I do not know of any otherommel with this exact design however.
I cannot say if there is any regional limitation of this type of pommel.

The guard is of a type that was popular in a wide region of Europe at the time.
To my mind the hilt could well have been made somewhere else than in northern italy.
To me there is no reason to doubt it was made in northern italy, even if the guard is not an isolated Italian type.

If the sword has been kept in an Italian armoury from the time of its making to its deposition in the Marzoli collection, there might be reason to think the hilt was made locally for an imported blade. I have no information about this.

My knowledge of this sword is limited to the specifics of shape and dimensions. It is a wonderful blade that has clear traces of use and wear. A good quality sword with a great personality, but a largely unknown history.
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2008 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter, thank you for taking time to add your thoughts to this topic. Your insight is always welcome.
Cheers.

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