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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Mon 23 Aug, 2004 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think everyone has pretty much hit on a lot of the key points, so I'll not wax too prosaic, and just offer some period information. I recently was handed a translation of the Ceremony for the Knight's of Saint Stephen of Tuscany (Santo Stefano, founded in 1568 by Cosimo De Medici). Santo Stefano was founded to fight the Turkish Pirates in the Mediterranean, so it was a Naval Order, with their members being brought in as 3rd level (Lay) Benedictines (monk is too heavy of a word, but their dedication was to the Church).

The sword was very much considered their tool for doing God's work, and the tapping was the symbolism of them being deputized into a Militia.

Here is the pertinent snippet:

...when the Profitente has been dressed in the long vestments of a layman, and belted, he is conducted by the Master of Ceremony to the Knights who purpose it is to deputize, and after having received the sword, or dagger stripped of all the gilt, they return with the Master of Ceremony...

......he will stand back somewhat and be given two blows and going back to the aforesaid Master of Ceremony in attendance with the Knights, whom they will principally go to, and whom they’ll offer it to with great reverence and the Knights will take it up, and place it back within its sheath, ...

While the whole process is a very lenghty Mass, the sword is in no way treated as anything other than a sword. It receives a blessing, in order that it's purpose be true, and is kissed by the recipient upon receipt, but it is simply a tool.

If anyone is interested in the full text, I can point you to the person who transcribed the original.

Matthew
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Anders Lindkvist




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Aug, 2004 4:19 am    Post subject: Bibleverses         Reply with quote

There are plenty of verses in the Bible about the symbolics of the Sword and God...

Psalm 17:13
Rise up, O LORD , confront them, bring them down; rescue me from the wicked by your sword.

Psalm 149:6
May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands (nice one...)

Isaiah 66:16
For with fire and with his sword the LORD will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be those slain by the LORD .

Ezekiel 21:11
" 'The sword is appointed to be polished, to be grasped with the hand; it is sharpened and polished, made ready for the hand of the slayer.

Matthew 10:34
"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Ephesians 6:17
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Great symbolic verse...)


These are just samples and there are plenty of them...

My blog about history, handcrafts and reenactment.
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Joel Whitmore




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Aug, 2004 7:01 am    Post subject: Question for teh cynical people         Reply with quote

If you cynics think the knight's view of his sword was no of no more importance than his utility knife, can you explain why the sword was such and important part of the knighting ceremony itself? I don't think that many of the knights lived up to the tenants of what we today think of as chivalry. However, to say that a knight placed no more symbolic value or significance on his sword than any other weapon in his arsenal, I think is being a little simplistic and certainly too general. I realize that one has to sift through the Victorian distortions of a knight's life, but I think there was someting to a knight's sword somewhere between his spurs and what the Samurai thught of his sword. Now please keep in mind here that I am talking about symbolic significance and not it's use on the battlefield. Certainly if we keep this relegated to martial significance, then the lance would win out here. But following the thread, I think the original intent was to look at the symbolic role the sword played. Personally I think that the knight would place great symbolic significance on his sword after his knighting which would probably fade after a time. Just my 3.14 cents.


Joel
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Wed 25 Aug, 2004 10:18 am    Post subject: Re: Question for teh cynical people         Reply with quote

Joel Whitmore wrote:
If you cynics think the knight's view of his sword was no of no more importance than his utility knife, can you explain why the sword was such and important part of the knighting ceremony itself?


It's my understanding that the sword used in a knighting ceremony was the overlord's sword, not the sword of the squire who was being knighted. In this context the sword was being used as a symbol of feudal authority, similar to the monarch's mace. I interpreted the original question to involve only the significance of the knight's sword to his own conduct, status, and merit rather than its role in defining the status of others.

The status of knighthood was an important aspect of medieval life that was not essentially religious or spiritual. Church officials and church rules did not govern the status of knights. Knighthood and fealty rituals may have involved religious oaths, but feudal institutions were civil relationships that did not become religious relationships just because oaths were taken. Nobody was ever excommunicated for disloyalty to a feudal lord, or for violation of an oath taken during a knighting ceremony. Penalties for these acts were civil, not religious.
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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Wed 25 Aug, 2004 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

>It's my understanding that the sword used in a knighting ceremony was the overlord's sword, not the sword of the squire who was being knighted.

There are examples of both situations. In the Santo Stefano ceremony, it is described as being the potentiate's sword being used, and in the Papal Knighthood, it is the Grand Master's sword that is used. Additionally, there are two different blessings used, one that the Grand Master's sword gets, that essentially describes using it wisely to discern Valor and Honor among men, and having the strength to lead. For the potentiate, it's a blessing that reminds them to strike true, but with Justice and Mercy.


>can you explain why the sword was such and important part of the knighting ceremony itself?

Well, it *is* an important part of the ceremony, but no more important than the spurs (they get blessed, too), the chain or collar (again, another blessing), the habit or mantle (yup, blessing here, too), and the crosses of the Order (yup, yet another blessing).

In all honesty, more is spoken of the Chain, Cross and Mantle than the sword. *These* symbols were his reminder that he was bound and yoked, and served God's purpose by serving his Master's purpose. The sword was girded on with only a little more than a "Congratulations, son. You're in the Army now..." kind of sentiment.

I'm not saying that the sword isn't a key reminder of the Knight's pride, honor, or duty, but I think this thread was initially focused on whether the Knights viewed their Swords as an Icon, Crucifix, Cross or Altar, of which there is no evidence they did. It is a sword, the sword being a mighty symbol in it's own right (and as someone illustrated with the biblical references), the sword is a symbol of power, vengeance, mercy, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

If you were to ask the question, what symbols most strongly remind a Knight of his job, it would definitely be the sword, the chain, the spurs, the horse, and the lance, and the sword probably *will* top the list, but I think to imply a deferential *awe* upon the sword as being some holy relic that summons Angels whenever it is drawn is naive and romantic.

As far as a comparison of West vs. East, I don't beleive there are *ANY* similarities in the Eastern blade rituals and anything the West did. While us roundeyes certainly had/have our own rituals and rites in our culture, we've *never* had anything to compare with the rigid discipline and formality developed in the East regarding personal ceremony. We've got collective, or perhaps better described as "Social" ritual in spades (Mass, Communion, Carnival, Bringing in the May, Sin eating, etc.), but nothing insofar as the "Personal" ritual in comparison.
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Don Stanko




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Aug, 2004 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not think that I am qualified to take one side over another on this issue. I may not believe that strong symbolism was placed on the sword in medieval times but I cannot deny that swords of the Viking period were seen as supernatural and even given names. And symbolism has been used on other weapons. The Ballock Dagger is probably the best known example, being seen as a phallic symbol. I will just stop by saying that the sword was probably cherished and even loved. Just think how you feel about your own swords.

Don
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S. Bjelke




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Aug, 2004 4:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is of course differences from knight to knight. I believe most of them had a "relationship" to their swords, much like the proffesional (rifle shooters???) of today. Many of them spend lots of time care taking for their rifle, and often insist in doing so by them self. Like a time of contemplation and meditation. And concidering the strong belief some of the knights had, I would not be surprised if praying often was connected with the sword. OR to say it in a diffrent way, connected to the meditation. (wich I praying is much about). So a direct connection with the sword might only acour in some "fanatic" cases, but I believe that most knights had a personal relationship to their swords.
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Kirk Lee Spencer




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Sep, 2004 12:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As I was reading this thread awhile back I remembered that I had seen descriptions of taking oaths upon the cross of the sword in Malory c. 1470... However I was not sure so I did not post. However, I am now involved in creating an anthology from Thomas Malory's Le Mort D'Arthur for a class that I am teaching... I ran across one such instance at the end of Book 9.

Here is the quote:

"And then Sir Kay lashed at Sir Andred, and therewithal King Mark yielded him unto Sir Gaheris. And then he kneeled adown, and made his oath upon the cross of the sword, that never while he lived he would be against errant-knights. And also he sware to be good friend unto Sir Tristram if ever he came into Cornwall."

“Le Mort d'Arthur” Thomas Malory c. 1470
Book 9
CHAPTER 39

ks

Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Bob Uhl




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Apr, 2005 9:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don Stanko wrote:
I will just stop by saying that the sword was probably cherished and even loved. Just think how you feel about your own swords.

Don


Not meaning to be rude, but I'm not certain that our feelings are really relevant: we are for the most part collectors firs and users second. Also, sword-use is not a normal thing in our era: the mere fact that we're interested in them indicates that we have unusual feelings for 'em. Gun collectors often love and cherish their weapons, but do gunmen?

Consider how a modern soldier feels about his rifle. Certainly, he takes care of it and maintains it. But does he 'cherish' or 'love' it? I don't think so, although since I've not had the honour of serving in that capacity I don't know for certain. I imagine that if I asked my brother if he cherishes his Seahawks he'd look at me funny and tell me to put down the beer:-)

I think part of the reverence we have is precisely because they ceased to be functional (at least mostly--one of these days I'm going to start a thread about the modern place, if any, of the sword). As they became less useful and more symbolic, and as romanticism became a bigger deal, swords became very symbolic. And of course there's always the (often over-emphasised) Freudian aspect...

To answer the original question, I don't think that a knight would see the sword as emblematic of himself any more than a rifleman considers his rifle emblematic: i.e., sure to some degree, but hardly a great thing.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Apr, 2005 10:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob Uhl wrote:
Don Stanko wrote:
I will just stop by saying that the sword was probably cherished and even loved. Just think how you feel about your own swords.

Don


Not meaning to be rude, but I'm not certain that our feelings are really relevant: we are for the most part collectors firs and users second. Also, sword-use is not a normal thing in our era: the mere fact that we're interested in them indicates that we have unusual feelings for 'em. Gun collectors often love and cherish their weapons, but do gunmen?

Consider how a modern soldier feels about his rifle. Certainly, he takes care of it and maintains it. But does he 'cherish' or 'love' it? I don't think so, although since I've not had the honour of serving in that capacity I don't know for certain. I imagine that if I asked my brother if he cherishes his Seahawks he'd look at me funny and tell me to put down the beer:-)

I think part of the reverence we have is precisely because they ceased to be functional (at least mostly--one of these days I'm going to start a thread about the modern place, if any, of the sword). As they became less useful and more symbolic, and as romanticism became a bigger deal, swords became very symbolic. And of course there's always the (often over-emphasised) Freudian aspect...

To answer the original question, I don't think that a knight would see the sword as emblematic of himself any more than a rifleman considers his rifle emblematic: i.e., sure to some degree, but hardly a great thing.


Not to be rude.......... Wink

I think both sides of the argument are vastly oversimplifying the issue (as is the habit of the modern mind).

Not every knight or ancient warrior saw his weapon as an embodiment of anything. For many of them it was simply a tool of the trade. For most military personnel, as well as most gun toters in my profession, the attitude is the same towards their firearm.

On the other hand, then as now, there were/are people who had a particular fascination with the arms of their era. I have read period commentaries that have mentioned certain nobles engaging in arms collecting, although I can't remember exactly who right off the bat. Today there are soldiers and cops who also collect the arms of their era. These were/are people who were/are actively engaged in the business of bad happenings yet they had/have an affinity for the subject.

So the fact that we're far removed from the actual real world use of the sword doesn't quantify our fascination with it, IMHO.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Apr, 2005 4:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
...Not every knight or ancient warrior saw his weapon as an embodiment of anything. For many of them it was simply a tool of the trade. For most military personnel, as well as most gun toters in my profession, the attitude is the same towards their firearm.

Patrick,
I would think that for military personnel and also for peace officers, like yourself, the thing that might elevate a sword (in the past) or a firearm (today) above "...simply a tool of the trade..." would be the fact that one's life could depend on it. Thus, it might receive a bit more care and attention than, say, a hammer for a carpenter. Yes? No?
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Fri 08 Apr, 2005 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting tidbit:

At her trial, Ste. Jehanne d'Arc was questioned as to whether she had ever had her sword blessed, laid it upon an altar, or prayed that it might be more successful. She replied that she had never done so, but that she had many times prayed for her armor to be more successful. Razz
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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Fri 08 Apr, 2005 5:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As an infantryman in the Royal Australian Regiment, I can honestly say I have never seen a soldier think of his rifle or bayonet or m72 or whatever as anything more than tools. You care that they are functional and maintained, but that's it. Perhaps the reason my swords are more personally important to me is because I own them and had to spend a lot of money on them? I don't know, maybe the sword is simply a more personal weapon.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Apr, 2005 6:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Grisetti wrote:

Patrick,
I would think that for military personnel and also for peace officers, like yourself, the thing that might elevate a sword (in the past) or a firearm (today) above "...simply a tool of the trade..." would be the fact that one's life could depend on it. Thus, it might receive a bit more care and attention than, say, a hammer for a carpenter. Yes? No?


Actually, most police officers don't give their weapons any more thought than their portable radio or ball point pen. This is very apparent during range qualification. Eek!

I saw the same thing during my military service.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Apr, 2005 6:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my A.V. job I would sometimes do 35mm photography and as long as it worked as it should I didn't even notice any scratches, dings or nicks on the compagny owned camera that would have driven me crazy with my own equipment.
But I also didn't abuse it either !

Same thing I guess if I was in the military or police with the issue weapon: Respect the equipment, keep it reliable but who cares about blemishes when it's not yours.

So with a battlefield weapon the reverence for a working sword might be minimal in day to day use.
At the same time a seriously wounded or dying Knight might take advantage of a sword's crossguard in a religious context:
So depending on circumstances the same sword could be a taken for granted work tool or a religious icon.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Edward Hitchens




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PostPosted: Sat 09 Apr, 2005 8:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Earlier in this forum topic, a few of you guys mentioned inscriptions on sword blades (I just got done reading every post on this subject). Alas, let us not forget the badge of Edward III's Order of the Garter (Hony Soit Qui Mal y Pense) inscribed on the blade of that famous sword. The Order probably wasn't a religious order per se, but if I remember correctly, the idea was emulate King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. Question

Also, we know of many tombs in England, Germany, and elsewhere in which we see the knight lying down holding his sword with the blade pointing toward his feet. The first that comes to my mind is that of the Black Prince who was buried in Canturbury Cathedral (can still be seen today) after he died in 1376. He was holding his sword in such a way until 2-1/2 centuries or so later, Cromwell supposedly stole it. Mad

Oh, and one more question: If swords weren't meant to be icons of religion or spirituality, how is it that many of them were (and still are) found in churches and cathedrals (i.e. the sword of Henry V in Westminster Abbey)? -Ted

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 09 Apr, 2005 9:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Edward Hitchens wrote:
Also, we know of many tombs in England, Germany, and elsewhere in which we see the knight lying down holding his sword with the blade pointing toward his feet. The first that comes to my mind is that of the Black Prince who was buried in Canturbury Cathedral (can still be seen today) after he died in 1376. He was holding his sword in such a way until 2-1/2 centuries or so later, Cromwell supposedly stole it. Mad

Oh, and one more question: If swords weren't meant to be icons of religion or spirituality, how is it that many of them were (and still are) found in churches and cathedrals (i.e. the sword of Henry V in Westminster Abbey)? -Ted


Effigial monuments usually didn't actually hold the sword the decedent used in their lifetime. In cases I've seen, a facsimile of the sword (or a sword) would be sculpted as part of the monument. In the case of the Black Prince, a sword is sheathed at his side, part of the monument. It is very different from the one Oakeshott identified as most likely being his. That sword was hung above his tomb, from which it was stolen.

Helms, swords, saddles, etc. were left as part of funerary achievements, not just swords. With the swords, though, a common notion is that the sword, blessed as part of the knighting ceremony, was supposed to be used in service to the Church. When the knight died, his service had ended and the sword could go back with him to the Church, which he was to have defended, to rest.

Happy

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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Sat 09 Apr, 2005 9:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
...Actually, most police officers don't give their weapons any more thought than their portable radio or ball point pen. This is very apparent during range qualification. Eek!

I saw the same thing during my military service.

Very interesting. I would have expected a police officer to treat his portable radio (as well as firearm) with a little extra respect than the ball point pen, for that same 'helps to keep me alive' reason that I was imagining. I'll have to ponder that a bit.
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Gabriel Stevens




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PostPosted: Sat 09 Apr, 2005 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't remember the guy's name but I think he was a contemporary with Edward of Woodstock, anyway I believe his effigy has the same pose, hands together on his chest, sword sheathed at his side.
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Edward Hitchens




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Apr, 2005 6:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
In the case of the Black Prince, a sword is sheathed at his side, part of the monument. It is very different from the one Oakeshott identified as most likely being his. That sword was hung above his tomb, from which it was stolen.


Chad,
Good point, now that you mention it. I remember in Records, Oakeshott told how he tried to give it back to the Dean of the Chapter Question at Canterbury, who decided not to accept it. I wonder why he didn't want to take it back? Lack of evidence perhaps (i.e. did it really hang above the Black Prince's tomb? Did Cromwell actually steal it?). We may not know for sure, but all existing theories make sense. Confused -Ted

"The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest." Thomas Jefferson
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