Royal Armouries

Two-hand Bearing Sword, probably an English royal processional sword

Images

monochrome photo of two very large broadswords

Two handed bearing swords. (IX.1024-1025)

  • monochrome photo of two very large broadswords

    Two handed bearing swords. (IX.1024-1025)

  • monochrome photo of an armoured figure holding a large sword

    Two-handed sword in the New Horse Armoury, 1870s © Private collection 2013

  • monochrome line drawing of a giant size man's armour and 2 large swords

    Two handed bearing swords from 'A Treatise on antient armour and weapons' by F. Grose, London, 1786, pl.22

Object number: IX.1025

Statistics

Object Provenance: Hilt prob. English; blade German, Passau, early 15th century
Object Number: IX.1025
Overall length: 2270 mm (89.25 in)
Blade length: 2267 mm (65.5 in)
Weight: 6.4 kg (14 lb. 3 oz)

Two-hand Bearing Sword, probably an English royal processional sword

Description

Of great size for processional use.
Steel hilt consisting of an octagonal discoid pommel with a shallow circular recess in each face, and long straight cross-guard with square section quillons expanding slightly at the centre to take the thick tang.

Massive tapering blade of flattened diamond section with a shallow fuller extending for almost half its length. There are engraved symbols on each face with remains of copper or brass inlay. From hilt to the point: there are three pairs of parallel intersected lines; a stylized wolf with stick paws running longitudinally in the fuller; the letter M in black letter script; and a fleur-de-lis. On one face there is in addition a 6-pointed asterisk.

Original wooden grip with leather covering swells with raised moulding at either end.

Returned from the Royal Ordnance Depot, Weedon, Northamptonshire,1958; latterly (1928 list) no. 473 (part of no. 226 in 1927
list). (Latterly Loan [CL]90).

This or IX.1024 was earlier in in the Tower since at least the late 18th century (Grose, 1786). It is probable that these are the ‘Two large Swords of State, with plain cross-guards. Blade, 5 ft 4 in.’ listed by Hewitt in his 1859 catalogue, under IX.25 and 26.

In MS I.11, which gives the Dillon re-numbering, the relevant entries are marked ‘Returned to Store’ and no inventory numbers are given. If they were in store without inventory numbers, this might explain their dispatch to Weedon.

Publications

IX.1025 is very similar. ‘This [i.e. IX.1025 but by implication the others like it] was presumably one of the processional swords of the early Lancastrian Kings, either Henry IV (1399-1413) or Henry V (1413-22)’ (Norman and Wilson 1982). Another similar sword in Westminster Abbey is traditionally the sword of King Edward III (Laking, Record of European Armour and Arms, II, fig. 707).

Grosse’s plate (22) showing one of the swords in question was partly used by Thomas Rowlandson in his watercolour ‘The Horse Armoury at the Tower’.

King’s 1827 Guidebook p.27 describes ‘A couple of ancient BROADSWORDS, each about five feet long, are displayed over the stained glass window, at the east end of the building’ which may refer to these swords.

Statistics

Object Provenance: Hilt prob. English; blade German, Passau, early 15th century
Object Number: IX.1025
Overall length: 2270 mm (89.25 in)
Blade length: 2267 mm (65.5 in)
Weight: 6.4 kg (14 lb. 3 oz)

Related Objects

Two-hand Bearing Sword, probably an English royal processional sword Click on the title link above to find out more.

Object number: IX.1024

Two-hand Sword Click on the title link above to find out more.

Object number: IX.3

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