EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
The 'colichemarde' is a blade which evolved in the 17th c. in a transitional sense from rapiers of the time, and was in effect with a heavier extended forte blade which dramatically reduced to a narrower thrusting blade. The idea was actually for a faster blade which could parry the rapier. As noted, the weight of the sword has the weight in the hand, and the point can be maneuvered with extreme rapidity. (Aylward, 1945, p.37).
In "The Smallsword in England", Aylward, p.36, regarding the colichemarde blade of the developing smallsword appearing about 1675, the author notes,
"...one is always reluctant to cast doubt upon a picturesque legend, but it must be confessed that it has not been possible to trace the use of the word colichemarde either in the English or French literature of the time; those wishing to indicate a blade of this type resorting to such phrases as ' the blade broad from the hilt half way'. "
The lore is that the term is a French corruption of the name of John Phillip the Count von Konigsmark, a Swedish soldier of fortune in the service of Louis XIV, and a renowned duelist who is said to have created this blade. It was believed he originally had blades ground down in this manner and soon they were made in this form.
While the blades seem to have gone out of fashion rather at the same time as rapiers, in the time of George I, with civilian fashion, the colichemarde remained stubbornly with the military. Aylward claims (p.38) "...nor is it proved that the colichemarde blade disappeared with any kind of abruptness, for in a series of swords with these type of blade it will be seen that the change to even taper was made very gradually, the edges of the forte converging more and more until at last the shoulder vanishes altogether".
As blade width was reducing from about 1720s and colichemarde blades were still somewhat produced until c 1780s it is believed, perhaps this example is one of a transitional form as described above despite the shouldered form still known later in the century.