Sword (Period)

Sword, or broadsword (Period)

A sword is a hand weapon with a long pointed blade, which may be single or double-edged, set in a hilt.  It was the primary hand weapon of the Middle Ages; as an heraldic charge it dates from c.1275, in the canting arms of Marmion [ANA2 550].  The default orientation is palewise, point to chief; if the sword is single-edged, the edge is to dexter by default.  When blazoned “proper”, the sword has an argent blade and Or quillons and hilt.

There are a great many variant forms of sword, depending on the shape of the blade; many strange forms are blazoned simply as a “sword”.  No difference is therefore counted between the variants.  The most common form is the “broadsword” or “arming sword”:  straight-bladed, double-edged, straight-quilloned.  Any sword whose form is unspecified may be safely drawn in this form.

Sword curtana (Period)

Sword curtana (Period)

Broken sword (Period); sword fracted (Period)

Broken sword (Period); sword fracted (Period)

The sword’s blade may be altered in some manner.  The oldest such alteration is the “curtana”, or more fully, the “sword curtana”:  a sword with its point blunted.  The curtana, though not a charge on shields, was part of the English coronation ceremony, where it is also known as the Sword of Mercy.  It was certainly in use temp. Richard III, 1483 [OED], and is described by Archbishop Cranmer as used in Edward VI’s coronation, 1547 [Pemberton, The Coronation Service, 1901, p.23].

A more severe alteration is the “broken sword”, with the blade snapped away halfway down its length [Franklyn 321]; it’s found in the crest of Ryvet or Rivett, c.1528 [Woodcock & Robinson pl.13].  This should not be confused with the “sword fracted”, which is a complete sword separated into two fragments, as seen in the arms of Kemp of Thomastoun, 1582 [Dunvegan Armorial, fo.429].

Of swords peculiar to the Society, there are the “sword of Damocles”, a broadsword hanging, point down, from a thread tied to the hilt; and the “sword of Hoflichskeit”, an obsolete Society term for a mullet of four points elongated to base, gyronny Or and sable.

The Society’s other sword variants may be classed according to blade shape:  straight-bladed or curved-bladed.  The Society permits many variants which, while found as artifacts or weapons in period, were not period heraldic charges.

The straight-bladed swords found in period heraldry (in addition to the standard broadsword) include:

The curved-bladed swords found in period heraldry include:

The straight-bladed swords found as artifacts in period include:

The curved-bladed swords found as artifacts in period include:

Swords which are disallowed in the Society include:

  • The saber (modern cavalry saber)

For related charges, see knife, zulfikar.  See also scabbard.

The Marshallate bears:  Sable, two swords in saltire Or.

Peter of Stratford bears:  Or, chapé checky argent and sable, a sword sable.

Donnabhán O Rothláin bears:  Vert, three pairs of swords in saltire Or.

El of the Two Knives bears:  Sable, two swords Curtana inverted and conjoined at the quillons within a bordure Or.

Ivan Piotrovic Pevcov bears:  Per fess indented argent and gules, a broken sword bendwise proper.

Lothar of Rothenborg bears:  Or, a sword fracted sable hilted gules, between two flaunches azure.

Roger von Allenstein bears:  Gules, on a pile sable fimbriated argent the sword of Damocles pendant Or.


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