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Old 11th December 2006, 01:58 AM   #6
Chris Evans
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 581

Hi Jim,

As always, a very well written and highly informative post.

Just to complete the picture, this is what the good Captain Hutton had to say:

... Its object was decapitation and nothing else, and it was fashioned in such a manner as to make its work sudden and complete. It was a heavy sword with a blade some 33 inches in length and 2.5 in breadth, having both its edges very sharp, but with no point, while its hilt consisted of a simple cross guard, a handle long enough to be grasped with both hands, but not so long as that of the fighting two-hander, and a pommel sufficiently heavy to make it balance well for its work. Such was the headsman's sword. And now what of him who wielded it? Of the mode of life, both public and private, of such men we learn much from the memoirs of the Sansons, who for seven generations were the hereditary executioners of France.....

My own view on this somewhat gruesome subject is that such swords were not weapons, rather tools and essentially no different from those used by slaughtermen, save for the victim. By all this I mean that the traditional Chivalric values that we normally associate with edged weaponry were totally absent. Whilst I understand the morbid fascination that such swords can evoke, I do not think that they form part of our combative heritage, rather that they belong to another class of implements altogether.

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