Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Crusader's Sword, circa 1340 Reply to topic
This is a Spotlight Topic  
Author Message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Mon 15 Nov, 2004 10:40 pm    Post subject: Crusader's Sword, circa 1340         Reply with quote

An Italian Crusader's Sword from the Arsenal at Alexandria, circa 1340


Click for detailed version

With flat double-edged blade tapering to a blunt point, both sides cut with a central fuller running from the base of the ricasso to a point approximately two-thirds of the total length, the fullers each stamped with a series of letters at the forte, LOPC on one face and PVIG on the other, and cut with an Arabic inscription on one face below the hilt, the tang fitted with horizontal cross-guard of rectangular section swelling slightly in the middle, and robust cubic pommel cut to form a central octagonal band of rectangular facets with further faceted bands around the top and bottom.

Overall length: 33 1/2 in; Blade length: 27 1/4 in



Click for detailed versions

Following the Ottoman conquest of the Mamluk Empire in 1517, a collection of European swords with dedicatory inscriptions datable to the period 1365-1437 were removed from the Mamluk arsenal in Alexandria. Sixty-two of these are preserved in the Askeri Museum in Istanbul, one is in the Topkapi Saray collection, and at least twenty-five were dispersed to Europe. The group are of Italian and German origin and are typologically diverse. The inscriptions attesting to their Mamluk ownership frequently include the name of the donor to the arsenal and the date of the deposit. In the absence of an inscribed date all of these swords are datable by virtue of the wording and of the epigraphy used; therein lies the importance of this group to modern scholars. Although the full inscription on this sword can not be read it includes the word Alexandria written in a script very similar to that on one in the Askeri Museum, dated to about 1436-37.

Many of the Alexandria swords are connected with the invasions of Peter de Lusignan, King of Cyprus, whose crusading force sacked Alexandria in 1375. It appears likely that the initial deposit in the arsenal was made from swords captured from a small contingent of the booty-laden withdrawing force. In 1425, in response to Cypriot raids on the Syrian coast, the Mamluk Sultan Al Ashraf Sayf al-Din Barsbay invaded and conquered Cyprus. His army returned in the following year, complete with the humiliated Cypriot King Janus. The ransom included annual payments of Tribute which no doubt included further gifts of swords.


Copyright 2001 Peter Finer

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Alina Boyden





Joined: 19 Apr 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 383

PostPosted: Thu 18 Nov, 2004 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is this a Type XIII? It seems like it isn't quite two handed and has a big blunt tip, but it is hard to tell. Anybody know for sure?

Actually reading the dimensions maybe a type XI?
View user's profile
Brian M




Location: Austin, TX
Joined: 01 Oct 2003

Posts: 500

PostPosted: Thu 18 Nov, 2004 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It looks like either a XII or XIIIb to me. The proportions are misleading, as it looks like a hand-and-a-half size until one reads the measurements. If the blade length is 27", the grip would seem to be of single-hand (XII or XIIIb) length rather than the longish-gripped XIII. Perhaps the blade was originally a bit longer but had the tip broken off and reground?
It's way too short to be an XI.

Brian M
View user's profile Send private message
Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 3,793

PostPosted: Thu 18 Nov, 2004 1:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't see it in the photos, but the text mentions a ricasso. If there is one, I'd ID it as a type XIX.
View user's profile Send private message
Jeremiah Swanger




Location: Hershey, PA
Joined: 20 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 528

PostPosted: Thu 18 Nov, 2004 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian M wrote:
It looks like either a XII or XIIIb to me. The proportions are misleading, as it looks like a hand-and-a-half size until one reads the measurements. If the blade length is 27", the grip would seem to be of single-hand (XII or XIIIb) length rather than the longish-gripped XIII. Perhaps the blade was originally a bit longer but had the tip broken off and reground?
It's way too short to be an XI.

Brian M


Yeah, I'd rule out XI almost immediately...

It tapers like a XII...

has a blunt point and fuller length typical of a XIIIb...

and has a ricasso like a XIX...

... yeah, I think I'm going to stick this one under "Unclassified", as I can't think of a single Oakeshott type that it could fit neatly into.

Keep in mind that Oakeshott himself admitted that there were many originals that simply didn't fit in his typology, so this is certainly not to be unexpected by any stretch of the imagination.

I love that pommel! Overall, I think it is a very elegant sword, definitely oriented toward the cut. I could easily picture that used in conjunction with a sizeable shield on foot.

"Rhaegar fought nobly.
Rhaegar fought valiantly.
Rhaegar fought honorably.
And Rhaegar died."

- G.R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire


Last edited by Jeremiah Swanger on Thu 18 Nov, 2004 3:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Thu 18 Nov, 2004 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And what about the curvature at the bottom of the blade nearing the hilt? is that only from honing or was that part of the sword's design? Also, isn't the fuller unusual, almost modern-looking in a machined sort of way?
.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Jeremiah Swanger




Location: Hershey, PA
Joined: 20 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 528

PostPosted: Thu 18 Nov, 2004 4:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
And what about the curvature at the bottom of the blade nearing the hilt? is that only from honing or was that part of the sword's design? Also, isn't the fuller unusual, almost modern-looking in a machined sort of way?


Hi Nathan,

From what I can see in the photo, it looks like the top edge tapers just a tad more gradually from the guard to the first 1/3 of the blade than the bottom one. Initially, I chocked that up to corrosion and the like, since most examples I've seen with that sudden taper near the hilt were almost totally even. I would think that a good smith of the day would have caught that, so I wouldn't be surprised if that curve were the result of frequent honing over a period of years...

And you make an EXCELLENT point about that fuller! It doesn't look like it "aged" like the rest of the blade... like it was a later addition...

"Rhaegar fought nobly.
Rhaegar fought valiantly.
Rhaegar fought honorably.
And Rhaegar died."

- G.R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 945

PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
I can't see it in the photos, but the text mentions a ricasso. If there is one, I'd ID it as a type XIX.

You can see the ricasso in the larger photo if you look carefully, by the way the light is reflected from the metal - the gleam on sharp edges is perceivably different from that on blunt ones. If it's any help, I've marked my impression of the approximate extent of the blunt portion in the pic attached to this post.



 Attachment: 31.91 KB
crus1340a_s2.jpg


The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
View user's profile Send private message
Alexi Goranov
myArmoury Alumni


myArmoury Alumni

Location: San Francisco, CA
Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Reading list: 72 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,191

PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 7:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Roger Hooper wrote:
I can't see it in the photos, but the text mentions a ricasso. If there is one, I'd ID it as a type XIX.

You can see the ricasso in the larger photo if you look carefully, by the way the light is reflected from the metal - the gleam on sharp edges is perceivably different from that on blunt ones. If it's any help, I've marked my impression of the approximate extent of the blunt portion in the pic attached to this post.


According to the text the fuller runs form the base of the ricasso!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!? to a point 2/3 down the blade. I think they completely misused the term ricasso, as the fuller reaches at least to the hilt.

My recollection is that racassos are relatively late addition to sword design, and I would suspect that this one does NOT have one. The wider portion on the strong of the blade is not uncommon. Just look the Tritonia sword on Albion's website (type XIIIb). There does seem to be some blade geometry difference in that "ricasso" section but it might be the picture, or it might be that even if there is blade geometry difference, the section is still relatively sharp, or at least slanting towards blunter edge. This difference is not apparent on the lower picture so I'd think is the light playing tricks.

In my unexperienced opinion this is type XIII, but I might be wrong.

Alexi


P.S. Maybe I should have been more careful. Which base of the "ricasso" were they referring to?? I assumed in my argument above that referred to the hilt-distal part of the "ricasso", but likely they meant the hilt-proximal part. In the latter case they may not have misused the term "ricasso".



 Attachment: 20.73 KB
tritonia04.jpg
Albion/PJ Museum Line Tritonia
View user's profile Send private message
Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 945

PostPosted: Sat 20 Nov, 2004 2:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexi Goranov wrote:
According to the text the fuller runs form the base of the ricasso!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!? to a point 2/3 down the blade. I think they completely misused the term ricasso, as the fuller reaches at least to the hilt.

Perhaps by "base of the ricasso" they meant the part where it meets the cross? I've seen the phrase used like that before...

Quote:
My recollection is that racassos are relatively late addition to sword design, and I would suspect that this one does NOT have one. The wider portion on the strong of the blade is not uncommon. Just look the Tritonia sword on Albion's website (type XIIIb). There does seem to be some blade geometry difference in that "ricasso" section but it might be the picture, or it might be that even if there is blade geometry difference, the section is still relatively sharp, or at least slanting towards blunter edge. This difference is not apparent on the lower picture so I'd think is the light playing tricks.

In my unexperienced opinion this is type XIII, but I might be wrong.

I might have to agree, on further thought. It certainly doesn't look like the typical XIX, profile-wise...

Perhaps the top portion of the blade is simply left unsharpened, ignored while honing the rest of the blade, like on so many other historical specimens? This might explain the (erroneous) reference to a ricasso on a blade that doesn't seem like it should have one, and of course would also go some way in explaining the relatively uneven and asymmetrical variations in the blade's profile.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
View user's profile Send private message
Joel Whitmore




Location: Simmesport, LA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003

Posts: 342

PostPosted: Sun 21 Nov, 2004 7:54 pm    Post subject: Interesting sword         Reply with quote

I also think the term "riccasso" is wrongly used. However, I think it depends on if that small section near the cross has ever showed any signs of sharpening. However, it was not unusual for sword NOT to be sharpened that high up the blade. To me, it looks as if this sword's edge has either been resharpened or rweorked a lot. If that is so, then I find this specimen really exciting. This would indicate some kind of prior edge damage, probably from actual battlefield use during the disasterous invasion of Egypt ! Image some knight weilding this sword on a crusade! Amazing.


Joel Whitmore
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Yahoo Messenger
Jeremiah Swanger




Location: Hershey, PA
Joined: 20 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 528

PostPosted: Sun 21 Nov, 2004 8:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Interesting sword         Reply with quote

I think several of you are completely missing what Mikko was trying to say...

If you look at the second photo in Nathan's original post, you can see that the first 2 inches or so reflects the light brightly, then darkens immediately after those first two inches. This tells me that the angle of deflection is different, hence it would not be an uneducated guess to say that the first two inches are flat, then begins a distal taper. That the change in reflection is so dramatic only reinforces this possibility. This initial flat surface is, at least in my perception, an effective ricasso. In fact, I've adjusted my color settings multiple times while looking at this pair of photos, and I can swear I see a point about 2 to 2.5 inches from the cross where the ricasso forms a cusp-like curve toward the spine as it transitions from ricasso to edge.

Someone said a few posts above that blades this short don't have ricassos. Maybe not usually, but we have to first ask why someone would put a ricasso on such a short blade...

As Angus Trim put it to me, one of the structural benefits of a ricasso is that it effectively shortens the length of the blade. The shorter the blade, the greater the relative degree of stiffness (yes, Gus, I realize I've really, really oversimplified it). A stiffer blade can help yield more blade presence, perhaps to the taste of the sword's wielder?

P.S.- Check out the pics of Albion's Viceroy-- the first time I saw the production pics, I almost missed the ricasso completely. Now imagine how hard it would be to see a ricasso in a photo of the sword after it had been aging and corroding for hundreds of years...

P.P.S.- As I said before, there is no point in trying to pigeonhole this sword into an Oakeshott type... if it turns out to have a ricasso, all bets are off. Assuming I'm wrong about the ricasso, the closest Oakeshott type this sword can be stuck in would be XIIIb (don't forget that the non-suffix XIII has a long grip, 5.5 to 6 inches), and even then it isn't a very tidy fit.

"Rhaegar fought nobly.
Rhaegar fought valiantly.
Rhaegar fought honorably.
And Rhaegar died."

- G.R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Alexi Goranov
myArmoury Alumni


myArmoury Alumni

Location: San Francisco, CA
Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Reading list: 72 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 1,191

PostPosted: Sun 21 Nov, 2004 9:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Interesting sword         Reply with quote

Jeremiah Swanger wrote:
I think several of you are completely missing what Mikko was trying to say...


Maybe not. Laughing Out Loud

I got the point about apparent light difference that causes the perception of a ricasso. This could be due to the difference in the blade geometry (either a true ricasso or just less sharpened or worked on strong of the blade), or unintended lighting tricks during the photography.

We cannot figure it out for certain until we see a side shot of the blade. The grip is about 5in so I guess it is a bit short for XIII id we follow the numbers you cite. I have no problem calling it XIIIb.

Alexi
View user's profile Send private message
Mark Lewis





Joined: 19 Apr 2014

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 354

PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2016 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This sword has resurfaced and will be offered at auction by Bonhams next month. The inscription is described as indistinct, "appearing" to contain the name Alexandria, and the estimated price is a small fraction of what some other Alexandrian swords have sold for... I wonder if there are some doubts as to the provenance of this one?

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23564/lot/109/
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=305499#305499
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 945

PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2016 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Lewis wrote:
This sword has resurfaced and will be offered at auction by Bonhams next month. The inscription is described as indistinct, "appearing" to contain the name Alexandria, and the estimated price is a small fraction of what some other Alexandrian swords have sold for... I wonder if there are some doubts as to the provenance of this one?

http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23564/lot/109/
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=305499#305499

Such lovely, huge photos they have!

There's something really odd about the patina to my eye. Might be just an unfortunate attempt at polishing a badly pitted item by some former owner, but still...

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
Joined: 21 Dec 2013

Posts: 107

PostPosted: Fri 15 Apr, 2016 1:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

what springs to mind for me is finally a single handed sword with long enough grip for big guys. Maybe oakshott typology XXL (glove size Wink )
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Crusader's Sword, circa 1340
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum