Object Title

Sword

Sword

Date

1400-1499

Object Number

IX.1426

Provenance

Purchased from Ralph Parr Antiques, April 1975

Physical Description

Disc pommel, with raised bosses on each face, and with a circular recess at the centre of each boss. Prominant button of truncated pyramid form. Grip missing and the tang is plain. Down-curved quillons, with knob terminals, and with small ecusson flanked by single engraved lines. Straight two-edged blade, of diamond section, the forte etched and formerly gilt with foliage. There is what may be a mark stamped on one face, but the whole is corroded. It could perhaps be a river find.

Dimensions

Dimensions: overall length: 940 mm, length of blade: 775 mm Weight: 1.3 kg

Associations

Places England

Bibliographic References

[R.] E. Oakeshott, Records of the medieval sword, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 1991, p. 174 (illus. - full length) (Type XVIII, example 3; pommel type J.1; cross type 9) - 'c. 1425-50'.

Notes

This is very similar to the so-called sword of Henry V in Westminster Abbey. The group is studied by J.G. Mann, 'A Sword & a Helm in Westminster Abbey' 'Antiquaries Journal', Vol. XI, pp.405-9. It was found when alterations were being made to the Chapter House in 1840 (Laking, 'Record...', p. 265 (illus. p. 262, fig. 640).
Another sword of this type with a very similar pommel is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (reg. no. COMPL.), ex collection of Per Norheim Collection who bought it in Switzerland (see photographic print in inv. file and letter from A.R.E. North on file for IX.5427). It is said to have come from Standon Church, Herts.
Another was hung above the tomb of Sir Edmund Walsingham in St Nicholas Church, Chiselhurst, Kent (currently on loan to the Royal Armouries, at March 2003, AL.245 2).
Another sword with a similar cross with long, very quillons curving through a right angle and with a larger and more rounded ecusson than is usual on this type, is in the Saffron Walden Museum (see corresp. and photos of Aug. 2000 on inv. file).
Other swords with cross (quillons) of the same type: one in the Royal Armoury, Madrid (Laking, Record..., II, pp. 264, 265, fig. 641); one in a private collection, found near Nancy, France (Oakeshott, p. 174, XVIII.2, illus.).
There a number of other swords with crosses of the same general type which is discussed by [R.] Ewart Oakeshott 'The Sword in the Age of Chivalry', London, Lutterworth Press, 1964, p. 117, style 9 - 1390-1440; and Oakeshott 1991 (op. cit.), p. 13, 'Family F' - about 1440 to possibly as late as 1550: for photocopies of these pages and of illus. of individual examples see inv. file.
IX.5427 (from the Thames foreshore at Queenththe) is a small example, made for a child, and has a spherical pommel. Another example (normal size) with a spherical pommel was found on the Mary Rose wreck (sunk 1545; no. MR 82/A 1932). It is in a concretion and only visible by X-ray (ex inf. G.M. Wilson, 06/03/03). For an outline sketch, see inv. file.
Claude Blair (telephone conversation 17/08/00) has discussed this general group in Claude Blair (ed.), 'The crown jewels: the history of the coronation regalia in the Jewel House of the Tower of London', London , The Stationery Office, 1998 (copy at Tower but no copy available in Leeds). He believes they could well be or at least extend to beyond the end of the Middle Ages and may be associated with ceremonial/chivalric uses. A number have been found in English churches (illustrations in Cripps Day's 'Arms and Armour in Churches in England'?).
Oakeshott (1991), on the present sword (re condition) says: 'All the indications of preservation in a church'. He also says that the foliage decoration on the blade 'may have been added c.1470-80 to an older sword, but it is not impossible that the sword itself is of this later date'.