Elegant Beast

Several years ago Peter and Owen and I went to the Wallace Collection In Central London to trace and measure swords. Here are a few pictures of one of the swords that has really stuck with me. It’s a huge two-handed sword which weighs almost seven pounds, heavy for a sword, and is five feet long. It was probably made around 1450 CE. Everything about this sword is spare and elegant. Every line shows the confidence of the swordsmith who made it, and every line of this sword speaks to its absolute brutality, like an elegant beast with a single purpose.   stormbringer6 stormbringer3 Here is Owen holding it to give you an idea of the immense size of this sword. stormbringer7 stormbringer4 stormbringer2 stormbringer1

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Jake Powning

Jake is a professional swordsmith, artist, and writer who explores the strange place where traditional culture and the land meet.

14 Comments:

  1. I’ve seen images of this sword before, but never held by a living man. Jake, please tell me you’ll be working on a piece inspired by this thing 🙂

  2. Could this possibly have been a ceremonial sword? It seems too large for a battlefield weapon.

    • Hi James, I asked Toby Capwell the curator of Arms and Armour at the Wallace collection the same question and he was clear that this was an actual weapon. It’s well balanced also, It feels surprisingly light when you hold it by the grip.

  3. Stunning. Do you have any information as to its country of origin?

  4. Hi Jake
    With the generally short stature of men of that bygone era, it would be great to know exactly how these great swords were used on a battlefield. However well balanced, it would seem ungainly, especially if you missed, or you were blocked. A man with a shorter blade would get inside and out would pour your very life.
    It makes me think that maybe they fought in some type of specialized formation, whereby they could cover one another. Men would have to be highly disciplined to make a formation of that kind work in the heat and tides of battle. Or perhaps they were employed primarily for single combats than some have said were common before the pitched battles.

  5. A&A has made a version of this: http://www.armor.com/sword156.html

    The original looks to be an amazing piece, and I’ve had my eye on the A&A recreation for some years now.

    I’d love to see how you’d dress it up, Jake. Farbauti has always been one of my favorite pieces of yours, and I’m betting a beastie like this would turn out amazing.

  6. I think it’s for de-horsing cavalrymen, since in the 1400’s infantrymen had a time going up against them, especially in mountainous country, like the Scottish Highlands, but that’s just an educated guess.

  7. This sword would have probably been used by elite soldiers— it’s a specialized weapon that would require training to use efficiently. Most likely used against horses and pikes, and people who didn’t pay their taxes, that’s what I’m thinking. 😉
    The level of craftsmanship makes me wonder if it could have belonged to a knight. It has a cross-section that would be formidable even against armour, I can imagine this sword being used in armoured hand to hand combat in a tournament setting. This is just my impression however, I’ve no evidence.

  8. Kris Cutlery used to make a Teutonic sword that appears to have been based on this one. Their version was much smaller, though.

    http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=KRSTSN

  9. One could probably make this sword into any size they want.It would seem to be a nice design for German long sword, with a 36″/37″ blade and, a corresponding hilt length.

  10. I’ve also held that sword at a handling session some years back, and the actual weight seems belied by the way it handles; a practical and as you say brutal weapon. I’d love to see (and own!) a good reproduction..

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