The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Sword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Blade- Germany, hilt- North Italy
  • c. 1545 - c. 1550
  • Iron, steel and copper alloy, chased
  • Length: 94.5 cm, blade
    Width: 4.4 cm, blade at guard above the ricasso
    Weight: 1.18 kg
    Length: 109.9 cm
    Balance point: 11.8 cm, forward of the guard block
  • Decoration: Orb and cross Inlaid in brass
  • A537
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Sword, the hilt made up of a conical, vase-shaped pommel of hexagonal section with button; wire-bound grip; horizontally re-curved crossguard of fluted riband form; hilt arms, single side-ring, and transverse bars at the back; from the hilt arms project two curved counter-guards of fluted riband form like the crossguard; the pommel is chased with scrolls and conventional leaves in low relief, and the enlarged centre of the side-ring is chased en suite. The broad double-edged blade of flat hexagonal section triply grooved at the forte; strongly shouldered ricasso, the central fuller shallow and bearing on one side the orb and cross inlaid in copper alloy; the narrow grooves on either side are incised with a zig-zag ornament.

    Although swords of this type and date, having wide blades very like those of medieval arming swords, are often termed ‘riding swords’, there is nothing about them that specifically designates them as a type designed specifically for horsemen. Swords of this form would be perfectly at home in the hands of a North Italian follower of the Bolognese fencing master Achille Marozzo. Indeed many of the swords illustrated in Marozzo’s Opera Nova (1536) have guards of a similar form, with scrolled crosses and without knuckle-bows. The hilt, which recalls in a simplified way the designs of Filippo Orsoni, is certainly ornate enough to be worn proudly by someone of considerable status; a similar example, gilded but otherwise no more elaborate, is found on the hip of Francesco de’ Medici (1541-1587) in a portrait of the subject in civilian dress, c. 1560 (attributed to Alessandro Allori; versions in Wawel Royal Castle, Cracow and the Art Institute of Chicago, inv. no. 1965.1179).