EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
I had read this with great interest, and have been researching for days, and often included GOOGLE in my efforts, so I can well relate to the eye strain.
As Fernando has noted in his research, the individual claimed to have had this sword is to the Friesen rebel leader Grutte Pier Donia (1480-1520) which translates loosely (according to Wikipedia) a person of great strength and very large.
As noted, this example is incredibly large, and as described in other sources (published) such as 'Wallace Collection' (1962) with references to various 'zweihanders' of over 4 ft. length, these were more for ceremonial use. It is interesting that this one lacks the familiar protrusions (lugs) on the sides of the blade known as 'parierhaken' (parrying hooks), which seem to be an invariable feature on these huge swords of 15th-16th c.
I think first it is important to note the 'legendary' status of this person, and the tales which are mindful of other monumental historic figures which have been embellished into much larger than life figures. In the spirit of iconic items which commemoratively represent them, it seems understandable that a sword of this heft might have been made to represent him in a public venue such as a museum.
Presuming that this is a sword produced later, the markings stamped in the blade are in the manner of numerous makers, which are difficult to trace often as there are so many, but these seem authentically placed so were of course probably correct. The style of these geometric devices are much like countless variations used in Switzerland, Germany, and N. Europe, in many ways mindful of the 'fylfot cross' (or gammodion/swastika). The periods of these do seem to be in around 16th c. but without reasonable match it is hard to say.
The 'engraved' device which seems paired to the 'INRI' (as supposed) is very much like similar devices seen on blades from Passau in latter 15th c. and in the 16thc. These often have a heart (in place of the orientation of the 'INRI') and have lozenges placed in the same spacing on the line from the heart/INRI or whatever is there presumably (see Kinman, p.130).
It seems possible that this device was applied in imitation of the Passau type devices. These typically had religiously oriented talismanic value, as did most of these 'latten' (brass or copper) filled devices used in Passau.
That this does not have this filling suggests it is likely copied as typically this survives more durably than the rest of the blade.
I would suggest this is probably a commemorative and votive item produced in memory of this heroic figure, and probably much later, perhaps 17th ?
There were considerable antiquarian movements around this time and placement of such an item would be most understandable.
I do hope others out there might see this and have more reliable or useful information.
Thank you Bramiam for posting this fascinating sword with us.