EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Excellent Gonzalo! Beautiful dissertation, and exactly what I had hoped for, a direct rebuttal that does exactly what you noted, sticking to the facts. The material I presented was a compilation of excerpts from a wide range of resources, many of which clearly carry the 'spin' syndrome.
Considering the very nature of both of these swords, being represented as artifacts reverently associated with a virtual national treasure and heroic figure of this stature, the chances of 'clear title' and unbroken ownership is unlikely at best.
I think this is a subject encountered with most, if not virtually all, weapons of such monumental importance, in all cultures and in some cases, religions. We know that in the most classic case, there has been considerable and most troublesome issue concerning like analysis of the Swords of the Prophet Mohammed, which reside, again reverently, in a museum.
It would seem that they, like the swords of the Cid, were probably remounted in later times, much as many swords in use were, into styles more in fashion of newer times and done with great respect.
In many other instances, there are cases where the weapons once held by profound historical figures are sought after, or if in place, constantly scrutinized by historical revisionists. In cases where national pride or that of any elite institutions integrity is challenged or in any way threatened, of course there are sensitive issues.
The swords Tizona and Colada clearly fall into such category, and in the turbulence of history, of course changed hands numerous times. The reason I brought up the rather nebulous reference from the letters of an apparantly prominent figure of the 19th century, suggesting theft and switching of the sword, and the rather shameful 'deaccession' of the museums holdings after the fire was to emphasize such possibilities.
I think Gonzalo has presented some much more secure references documenting likely changes in the holding of these weapons, and reviewing these references will likely present more thorough likelihood of the validity of claims to authenticity. Actually, this is exactly what the museums should be doing, if they have not already done so.
I especially like the reference to the literal meaning of 'colada' and my efforts in discovering the translated meaning gave me 'strained' and of course enough silly references to the drink to give me call for a more stiff one!
I think it is great to see that in both cases, the exotic sounding names for these swords were directly inspired metallurgically, something else which seems to have escaped the copy writers discussing the legends of El Cid.
With Colada, the term 'cast', and I earlier noted, the acero colada process of producing pure alloyed steel, noted in the 17th century reference. It seems that Gonzalo has very nicely linked this supporting information and the fact that Barcelona, known for such metallurgical processes may have been the place where Colada was made. With the swords alleged provenance coming from a Barcelona noble, this does present good historical data, regardless of whether it applies directly to the actual sword representing Colada or not.
Returning to Tizona, the references to the literal meaning of the word; coal, burnt, burnt stick and firebrand, also present intriguing metallurgical reference suggesting the carburizing of steel. The 'damascus' term often seen applied in historical references is typically not to be taken literally, as it is often much too broadly used for serious reference. The term in this parlance can often mean anything from a well forged blade, to actual watered steel to even more remotely, a sword actually made in Damascus (unlikely as this had been more a trade center than manufacturing center since Tamerlane's time).
The interesting results of the scientific tests of the incumbent Tizona seem to be represented quite differently depending on who is recounting them. While one reference states the blade is in fact from 11th century, specifically Cordoba ; the other claims 14th to 15th century with no other specifics .
I wonder if the actual documentation of the tests are obtainable ?
In all, completely fascinating, and I hope worthy of more discussion from anyone who has serious interest in not only Spanish history, but in important historical weapons held in museums.
Thank you so much Gonzalo.
All the best,