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LOT 0466

GBP (£) 2,500 - 3,500
EUR (€) 2,910 - 4,070
USD ($) 3,210 - 4,490

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£2,500 (EUR 2,905; USD 3,205) (+bp*) Add to Watch list

Medieval Double-Handed Type XIIIA Sword

Early 14th century AD

An iron longsword of Oakeshott's Type XIIIA (Oakeshott, 1991, pp.105-106), cross style 1, pommel type K; a two-handed sword with longer blade, edges running nearly parallel to a spatulate tip; just below the hilt, before the edges begin their virtually straight running to the point, the blade is swelling slightly in width, double-edged, with pattern-welding, showing a marked groove extended for two thirds of its length, creating a tip area that is wide and flat and it is optimised for shearing blows; the cross-section is lenticular, like a flattened ovoid shape; the guard is simple and straight; the grip is longer than usual for a type XIII sword, allowing for the off-hand to be used for extra leverage and power; a cone-shaped roundel is visible between the pommel and the flattened end of the tang; there is some evidence of fighting, although both sides are well preserved in their complex. 1.1 kg, 1.03m (40 3/4"). Fine condition. Rare.

From an important private family collection of arms and armour; acquired on the European art market in the 1980s, and thence by descent; believed originally from the Harz Mountains, Germany; accompanied by an academic report by military specialist Dr Raffaele D'Amato.

See Oakeshott, E., The archaeology of the weapons, arms and armours from Prehistory to the age of Chivalry, Woodbridge 1960 (1999); Oakeshott, E. The sword in the Age of the Chivalry, Woodbridge, 1964 (1994); Oakeshott, E. Records of the Medieval Sword, Woodbridge, 1991.

This sword is a type of 'war sword' and finds a good parallel with the sword from the London Museum, dating from 1300-1350 and found in the Thames River, an example is in good condition with a shiny brown patina gathered in large patches (Oakeshott, 1991, p.99). Being nearly of two-handed proportions, this is the largest example preserved and is rather heavy. The blade measures 39.5" long and is inlaid with a mark of a small dagger within its fuller. Another interesting sword of such typology is the one from Glasgow museum. The long and narrow fuller of this latter 35" blade is much like an Oakeshott Type XI, but because of the sword's proportions, it is placed into the Type XIIIa group. Oakeshott dates this example early for the type at circa 1200-50, or perhaps even as early as 1100. These Epées de Guerre are massive weapons, but are not to be confused with two-handed swords. There were a few such as early as 1350, but they were considerably bigger and were always referred to as Epées a deux Mains or even 'Twanandswerds'. These swords were devastatingly effective in slashing attacks from horseback or two-handed use when dismounted. An earlier example of the use of a two-hander is found in a Romance of Alexander of c. 1180:54 "Il trait le bone espée a II espieus molus"(Oakeshott, 1964 (1994) p.43). These great swords are found as early as the 12th century and remained popular through the 14th, with examples appearing in the 15th century as well.

Most probably our specimen is from a battlefield or, most probably, a river find. Swords of Type XIII are of a very striking and individual shape (Oakeshott, 1960 (1999), pp.207 ff.); some of them are very large 'swords of war' and had their peak of popularity between about 1280 and 1340, especially in Germany. It is in fact a type which seems to have been characteristically German, though many are to be seen in English manuscript paintings of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, and was, according to the iconography, used in all the western European countries. Research has shown, though, that many Spanish effigies of the same period show these swords; a few English effigies show them as well. The War Sword had a blade generally comprised between 36 in. to 40 in. long, with a very long hilt, from 6 in. to 8 in. between cross and pommel, but it can be wielded in one hand, though provision is made for using it with both, like in our specimen. It is important to note that some great swords classified in Oakeshott's early publications as Type XIIIa actually belong to Type XIIa. Type XIIa was not included in Oakeshott's original typology, but can be found in his Records of the Medieval Sword (1991, pp.89ff.). Type XIIa swords will be of similar proportion to those of Type XIIIa, but the blades of the Type XIIa swords taper to a more acute point. A second subtype was created by Oakeshott, and is called Type XIIIb. This is true single-handed type, though the blade is similar in proportions to Type XIII blades (with the exception of fuller that is sometimes more narrow than typical Type XIII examples).

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Auction Venue:
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Viewing from noon Monday 25th November 2019
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