Join Date: Mar 2009
a group of landsknecht swords with star-shaped pommels
when I got into my hands a more developed Katzbalger with star-shaped pommel and baskethilt, ten years ago, I thought it was a strange looking weapon.
Now it appears that there are similar made of this type and that this development with the same style characteristics; star pommel, mythical creatures, and curling iron scrolls are also found on two hand swords from this period.
The brief period when these types were made is between 1550-1570, more on this later.
the Katzbalger shows that the hilt bars have evolved into a basket hilt to protect the whole hand. The 8-shaped rod parry has no ore ball shaped end nodes but an end tail with two scrolls that serve as hilt plate to protect the hand against stabbing . A stylish almost identical Katzbalger was found in the depot of the Rijksmuseum.
This star-shaped pommel is probably the forerunner of the mushroom-shaped pommel which frequently occurs around 1575 at dussages, rapiers and two hand swords. The mythical animals carved into the guard are typically seen on katzbalger hilts in the first half of the 16th century, the form of these heads becomes in time more abstract. the iron scrolls do come in, in the third quarter of the 16th century.
The two-hand sword with star-shaped pommel.
it looks like if this sword is created after a fixed definition, they are in fact practically all the same.
hilt: cruciform with arched quillons terminating in rounded scrolls, mythical animals spitting out these scrolls, star shaped pommel, long two handed grip.
Blade: straight double edged of flat diamond shape section, long rectangular ricasso with down curved ( in the direction of the grip) parrying lugs.
This type of twohander I encountered sporadically, one in my collection, one of the Rijksmuseum ex. Visser collection, one in the museum in Brussels, one auctioned at czernys, one in the musée Larmee in Paris.
it was a great revelation when I saw a large group of this type in the depot of the armory in Emden. (thanks to Carl). it is unfortunate that this rare type is not shown to the visitors.
The sword in the Rijksmuseum is of importance because it gives a foothold to date this type.
painted on the blade of the rijksmuseum piece; DIT ZWAARD HEEFT GEVOERT JONKHEER JACUS CABELLAU GOUVERNEUR DER STADT ALCMAAR IN T JAAR 1573.
THIS SWORD WAS CARRIED BY JONKHEER JACUS CABELLAU GOVERNOR OF THE TOWN OF ALKMAAR IN THE YEAR 1573.
Cabellau (cabeljau) was the leader of the city soldiers, and repulsed successfully the siege of the city by the Spaniards. which eventually made the Spaniards to withdraw.
The pommel has a decoration in relief of two codfishes, the translation of (Dutch) Cabellau is codfish.
In the third quarter of the 16th Century two hand swords increasingly became symbolic rather than retaining their former status as fighting weapons of certain elite soldier, They developed into symbols of dignity and authority, for instance within the town elite. In the Dutch civic guards they were carried by the kapiteins dármes, non-commissioned officers in charge of the arms and military equipment kept in the town armoury.
(cf JP Puype)
This dividing line is very thin, many of these weapons show signs of battle at the edge of the blade.
The origin of this type, though I have no hard evidence for this is probably the Netherlands, given the large number in the depot of Emden and some provenance( old Dutch collections) of the other examples.
enjoy the pictures©