- Dated: circa 1250 — 1350
- Place of Origin: Germany
- Medium: steel, copper, leather, wire
- Technique: sword, cast, with either inlaid copper or latten decoration, or incised cross decoration
- Measurements: overall length, 115 cm; blade length, 89.5 cm; blade width at hilt, 4.9 cm; grip width, 28.5 cm; cross width, 30.5 cm; pommel diameter, 6 cm; pommel depth, 15 cm; weight, 1.40 kg
A Hand-and-a-half sword or bastard sword. (‘Great sword’, or ‘War Sword’, or ‘Great Espee d’Allegmagne’) of XIIIA Type. It has a very deep wheel-shaped pommel with very small central boss, with a cross (once inlaid with latten or copper) or incised on one face. It features a long tang, with restored 19th century grip. The straight cross of rectangular section is widening toward the tips from broadened midpoint. The long, heavy blade, tapering very slightly, comes with a wide shallow fuller running two-thirds of its length.
Big hand-and-a-half swords of this kind were very popular, according to many literary reference and much pictorial and monumental evidence, during the century 1250-1350, though it is now known that they were in use at least a century earlier. The fact that contemporary writers referred to them as ‘Grans Espees d’Allemagne’ (Great swords of Germany), and that German monumental sculpture shows very many of them, does suggest a German tendency. However, they are also shown upon very many Spanish effigies of the same period.
There are also many 13th and early 14th century references to ‘Espees de Guerre’, ‘Swords of War’, ‘Schlachtschwerte’ and so on to distinguish them from the smaller kind of sword (‘Arming Sword’ in 15th century English) and to set them apart for their prime use as battle-swords. They are not to be confused with two-handed swords. A sword of the same dimensions with a similar hilt, including the cross in the central boss of the pommel, is on the tomb-effigy at Bopfingen in Wurttemburg, dated 1359, and there are others in Germany, Spain and England, all dating between circa 1320-1360, too numerous to mention individually.
Source: Copyright 2014 © Images & Text, The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge