EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Thank you Fernando for the additional views into some this Spanish terminology , particularly the fondness of using metaphoric terms describing sword hilts.
Ibrahiim, thank you for that great link, which well describes the term Bilbo/bilboes and the uses of the term.
It does seem the term Bilbo for swords was in use for some time before Shakespeare's writing of course, but how widespread the use was is hard to say. We know the Toledo smiths were most enamored of the Basque iron, just as well aware of the Toledo blades, so these kinds of colloquial terms were well used in Shakespeare's work.
It is the same with Shakespeares reference to the 'fox', which of course denotes the 'wolf of Passau' then used in Solingen, so a colloquial for fine bladed sword.
It is interesting to see these terms in context of period literature and how they were used in real time conversational situations.
Regarding the connection between 'shackles' and the 'bilbo' swords, obviously it is a strained connection, but it must be remembered that blade makers and blacksmiths were not all that far apart. Often blade smiths doubled in producing other metalwork of far more domestic nature with knives of course, or farm implements in these earlier times. I have often thought that there must have been occasions when these workers might have used images of such items as their trademark.