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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Looking for pictures of 17th century naval swords/cutlass Reply to topic
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Jeroen T




Location: Holland
Joined: 23 Oct 2013

Posts: 56

PostPosted: Wed 26 Mar, 2014 10:43 pm    Post subject: Looking for pictures of 17th century naval swords/cutlass         Reply with quote

As the title states i'm looking for pictures of 17th century naval swords.
Especially from the time of Michiel de Ruyter but anything from around 17th century is welcome.
I can't seem to find info and pictures, all i find is from later era's.
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
Joined: 03 Jan 2009

Posts: 226

PostPosted: Wed 26 Mar, 2014 11:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm sure I will be corrected if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that there was a specific naval sword (particularly a 'naval cutlass' as thought of nowadays) until the early 1800s. The french Coutelas was just a catch-all term for a large knife, if I'm not mistaken. I do believe, therefore, that depending on setting (who, where, when) naval swords of the 17th and 18th century would appear largely similar to the hunting swords/cuttoes/hangers of the military and civilian world at the time.

I was on a bit of an early cutlass kick recently (late 17th century, early 18th) and haven't had a great deal of luck, so I look forward to other responses. Kinda curious to see if the schiavona or basket-hilts ever made much of an impact on the high seas.
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Stephen Wheatley




Location: DORSET ENGLAND
Joined: 15 Nov 2008

Posts: 91

PostPosted: Thu 27 Mar, 2014 2:06 am    Post subject: Naval Hangers and Cutlasses         Reply with quote

Have a look for 17th century hangers or shell guard swords in the National Maritime Museum.


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Stephen Wheatley
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Jeroen T




Location: Holland
Joined: 23 Oct 2013

Posts: 56

PostPosted: Thu 27 Mar, 2014 11:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, these are nice.
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Shawn Duncanson




Location: Spokane Wa
Joined: 05 Dec 2003

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2014 5:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm curious about the saw or serrated back edge on some of these. I have seen that on some engineer or artillery swords where one might have to clear brush for a cannon placement. Is that to cut thick rope or what would be the main use on board a ship?
Not all who wander are lost.
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Gregg Sobocinski




Location: Michigan
Joined: 21 Sep 2007
Likes: 4 pages
Reading list: 12 books

Posts: 129

PostPosted: Sat 12 Mar, 2016 7:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I saw that no one responded to your inquiry, Shawn, so here's a little thread necromancy for you, in case you haven't looked up the answer in the meantime.

Although naval warfare is not my specialty, I am aware that there are many possible uses for a saw on a classic naval fighting ship. The masts and rigging were major targets in the attack, since an immobilized ship is akin to an army which can't move properly. All of the advantage goes to the ship which can best maneuver. As masts or rigging were hit by artillery, they would need to be cleared so the remaining sails could still be put to use. In addition, cannon shot would scatter all kinds of wooden objects around during battle, including cannon stands, railings, and anything else you can imagine. Perhaps those would need to be cleared to free trapped crew.

And let's not forget the ropes and grappling hooks employed for final boarding. If you can repel the boarding stage, you still have a chance to survive.

Although I do have to wonder about the actual effectiveness of a 17th C sawback blade. Anyone ever play with a replica to see how well they work?
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