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LOT 0468

GBP (£) 2,000 - 3,000
EUR (€) 2,330 - 3,500
USD ($) 2,580 - 3,870

Bid History: 2   |   Current bid: £1,900
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Medieval Type XIIIA Two-Handed Long Sword

1270-1330 AD

An iron longsword of Oakeshott's Type XIIIA.10 (Oakeshott, 1991, p.105), cross style 10, pommel style K, comprising a slender triangular blade with deep fuller and acute point, with inlaid copper design to each face of a circle with cross and rings within the quadrants, starbursts above and below; narrow lower guard with flared ends, each quillon showing three round holes near the outer edge; long grip with slight taper, disc pommel with chamfered edges; a nice example of a well employed sword, with the point of the balance down towards the point, ideal for a weapon designed to deal slow, powerful slashing blows. 1.3 kg, 1.12m (44"). Fine condition. A nice example of a well used sword.

From an important English collection; acquired in the 1990s; accompanied by an academic report by specialist Dr Raffaele D'Amato.

See J Oakeshott, R.E., The Archaeology of the weapons, London, 1960 (Woodbridge, 1999); Oakeshott, E. Records of the Medieval Sword, Woodbridge, 1991; Oakeshott, E., Sword in hand, London, 2001.

This sword belongs to the category which in the Middle Ages, was referred as 'La Grant Espée d’Allemagne', or 'Great sword of Germany', or 'Espée de guerre', 'Grete war sword' and so on (Oakeshott, 2001, p.90). Other names were applied in different countries but, as said by Oakeshott, it was German in origin, of great size and fashionable in use. It was especially popular between 1250-1360 AD. This circumstance is well attested by the appearance of such swords in contemporary works of art, MS illustrations, sculptures, tomb effigies, especially in Germany and Spain (Oakeshott, 1960 (1999), figs.88-94; 1991, figs.80,82). Oakeshott classified them like swords of type XIII: these swords are of a very striking and individual shape; some of them are very large - and this is the reason they were called 'swords of war' in the time of their highest popularity, between about 1280 and 1340. These Epées de Guerre were 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' (Oakeshott, 1960 (1999), p.207). The war sword had a blade some 36" to 40" long with a very long hilt, from 6" to 8" between cross and pommel, but it could be wielded in one hand, though provisions were made for using it with both. Most Type XIII swords were large like the current example, but there are several of more ordinary dimensions, though they have hilts.

This sword of type XIIIA, destined to the war, is characterised by parallel-edged blade, longer grip (quillons) and rounded point (Oakeshott, 1991, p.96), but the specimens of type 14 show a more pointed tip. The specimens of this type are heavier and very near to the two hand proportions, like the current example. The latter has a nearly perfect parallel with a specimen of unknown provenance, today in the Burrell collection in Glasgow, the blade 92.1cm in length.

Most probably this specimen is from a battlefield or, most probably, a river find. The hilt was originally covered with leather, like the specimen of type XIIIa.9, published by Oakeshott and found from Danube (1991, p.104). The tang is very long, like the untouched specimen belonging to Ottokar of Bohemia (Oakeshott, 1991, p.114), which suggests that it is likely that most of the blades came to the cutler in such way, so that the hilt could be made to a length to suit the customer. It points to swords produced in workshops of the Holy Roman Empire. It is however, very difficult to say where a sword was produced. A place of great blade making and steel workshops was Solingen, a city which has been always been associated with the making of blades, and where now there is a splendid Klingenmuseum, devoted to all the arts of the swords. But in 13th century, there were many other centres of production, although less documented. In the famous chronicle of Froissart, written in the 14th century, there is a constant mention of Bordeaux (doubts arose from Oakeshott, 1991, p.9, if Bordeaux in Gascony or Bordeau in Haute-Savoie) as the place in which the most important and worthy blades (not only swords, but also spears, axes and arrows) were done. Probably most of the European cities, which became worthy for the production of the swords, were producing them as early as the 12th century. (Passau on the Danube, Koln, Milano, Brescia, and perhaps Toledo (but the real evidence for Toledo is only at the end of the 15th century.)) It is interesting to mention the piece of documented evidence already underlined by Oakeshott about the making of the swords in Milan already at the end of the 13th century. In the so-called Chronicon Extravagans de Antiquitatibus Mediolani, a certain Galvano Fiamma, wrote (XVIII,5,6) about Milano that '…Inter alia sunt armature militares: inueniuntur enim in nostro terretorio armorum fabricatores in mirabili copia, qui cottidie fabricant cuiuscumque generis armaturas, scilicet loricas, thoraces, lamerias, galeas, galerias, ceruelleras, collarias, cyrothecas, tybialia, femoralia, genualia, lanceas, pilla, henses, pugiones, clauas. Et sunt omnia ex ferro terso et polito, speculorum claritatem excedentes…' ('Among the other things the military armours: in our territory immense number of workmen are to be found who make every manner of armour, i.e. hauberks, breastplates, plates, helms, helmets, steel skull-caps, gorgets, gauntlets, greaves, cuishes, knee pieces, spears, javelins, swords, daggers, clubs. And they are all of polite and cleaned iron, shining more of the mirrors for his brightness…').

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Bid History: 2   |   Current bid: £1,900

Lot No. 0468

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