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Old 15th January 2022, 06:17 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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Originally Posted by Lee View Post
First, to hit the hornet's nest, personally I have considered old Mexican short swords with the D-guard and belt hook to be an espada ancha when mounted with a double-edged "sword" type blade and a machete when mounted with a heavier single-edged blade.

But, of course, nothing is that neat and at the same time along Mexico's west coast in the early 1970s that I collected the early machetes pictured in my old essay I also (cheaply!) acquired this fragmentary remain of hilt and blade forte that I present for your comment.

One of the the outside faces of an iron plate that is part of the iron plates, horn and tang riveted "sandwich" has applied white metal - I suspect it is silver but have not tested it. The guard and any sort of cap at the end of the tang is long gone, but clearly one was once there. The straight, for so much of it as we have, blade is single-edged and about a quarter of an inch thick, so breaking it bust have taken some doing. There is engraved decoration at the base of the blade.

Lee, thank you so much for entering this topic at hand, and especially for the salient notes regarding this very esoteric field of study.

I think your observation on terming the D guard swords we recognize as [B]espada ancha by that term IF they are mounted with the 18th century dragoon blades is entirely correct.

What I have found is that the term espada ancha seems to have originally been meant to describe the long blade broadswords used by the Spanish military in the 18th century that Victorian collectors termed the 'bilbo'.
The late Sidney Brinckerhoff ("Spanish Military Weapons in Colonial America 1700-1821", 1972 with Pierce Chamberlain) apparently conceded that he had inadvertantly begun to use the term collectively to describe all of the D guard swords including those with heavy blacksmith blades which were locally termed 'machetes'.

In one reference I found that soldiers in the colonies began to cut down the blades on their military swords for better handling on horseback, and they apparently began adding the simpler D guard hilts similarly. Most of the 'espada ancha' with the dragoon blades are cut down as noted.

The main issues in studying these weapons from New Spain, and particularly in Alta California, is that there is little narrative or record from these northern regions of the colonies. The colonization only began in 1769 (San Diego) and from there was sparsely populated and only nominally controlled though technically under Spanish rule.

This apparently excavated example is absolutely excellent as it reflects the construction of these early espada anchas and in this case with likely a blacksmith blade. These heavy SE blades often had a single fuller, and the kind of design seen at the forte resembles similar devices engraved in these blades often with varying forms of decorative motif. Technically, as discussed, this one would be machete.........but of course, for semantic expediency, espada ancha.
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