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Old 12th December 2006, 09:37 PM   #18
Emanuel's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,242

Hi all,

Thanks for the great responses to this therad! So basically, a European headman's sword is purposely-made quite differently from a fighting sword. Weight increased towards the tip, long handle for two-handed grip, and lenticular blade profile. Why would the blade be specifically lenticular as opposed to lozenge-shaped? Would this simply be a continuation from fighting swords that happened to be lens-shaped before being used for executions, or was it a specific element desired for beheading?

I guess beheading by a sword would have been appealing to the nobility as it would still be considered "death by sword" as opposed to execution as a common criminal....perhaps it maintained some modicum of honour.

Another thought...the executioner's proficiency with the "tool of his trade" would have made him a most formidable opponent of the field no?

What I find remarkable is that this form of execution is retained in so many countries today. I take it that the sword as a symbol of authority is still very strong. Do any western countries besides the US still have capital punishment? This brings to mind a point about popular view of execution, but I better refrain from getting into it here.

Henk, did you get the chance to handle the sword at the prison? You see, it's the shape of it that is still a curiosity to me...the fact that it has that darn square tip that I've never seen on a blade...this is why I mentioned the dao, kora and also the spatula-tip's so interesting-looking in spite of its use.
Since the blades have no tip, why do they still get narrower further up? Is it just a weight-saving device or simply a leftover from the time when the blade actually needed the narrowing point for thrusting?

I will look for the accounts of the Sanson family and that of Sutton...

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