decoration on everyday swords (late 15th eary-mid16th cent.)
hello all, I was wondering what amount of decor would be featured on everyday swords in the late 15th through early mid 16th cent. Would most swords exhibit a fair amount of simple decoration or be extremely utilitarian in design? Think something that a mercenary or so might use. pictures of examples would be appreciated.
thanks, Nathan Quarantillo.
I don't know much about the decoration of swords in this era, but I can say that I would expect someone with the status of "mercenary" to use a few or no frills utilitarian sword. Just my two cents.
Check out zweihanders, sometimes used by landsknechts during this time. Many are not 'no frills'.
Mercenaries (Landsknecht and Reislaufer) were among the most flamboyant figures of the period in terms of their dress. But, yes, their weapons were relatively plain. Tassles (fringe) sometimes do appear to have been used under the pommel in the early 16th c. .By the first quarter of the 16th c. you see things like brightly colored cloth sashes used as sword belts (esp. for Katzbalgers). For everyday civilian carry--militia, riding swords and such--art of the period shows everything from incredibly rich decoration to nothing at all, with most falling in the low end of that continuum. Status is the key. The chappe is the focus of most decoration (judging only from the German/Austrian artwork I see, as well as surviving examples) apparently including tooling, metal pins and plates, gilding and possibly even paint. And the swords I see in that artwork almost invariably do have a chappe. It was common at that time for German/Austrian longsword scabbards to have extensive tooled decoration. The most high-status swords I see sometimes have elaborately decorated scabbards with gilt metal mounts.

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