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Old 2nd October 2010, 05:47 PM   #4
Jim McDougall
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This really is a beautiful schiavona, and I agree entirely with Dmitry on the 18th century assessment in the hilt style. The CVI is indeed puzzling as it certainly might apply to Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor (1685-1740).

The double headed eagle, as noted can well be considered to represent the Habsburgs Holy Roman Empire, and the 'schiavona', which was characteristically associated with the mercenary forces within the Doges Guard, was a type sword which did become used somewhat outside that distinction as a favored heavy cavalry sword. Actually the use of the schiavona did continue as a form into the 19th century, and I have seen examples with inscriptions to Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies (ruled 1830-59). This was of course well after the cessation of the Doge and Venetian Republic in 1797.

This is why showing the marking or inscription in context with the actual weapon is so important in discussion on what the origins might be. In looking at the design and characteristic of the eagle here, it would be tempting to consider that it was a Byzantine eagle, very similar to that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The note suggesting that the CVI represented Domenico Contarini (1585-1675) would suggest possibly that this eagle could signify allegiance to this ecclestiastical body during the Cretan War between the Turks and Venice over Crete 1645-1669.

It is interesting, and almost ironic in a sense, that the double headed eagle was symbolic to this Orthodox organization in Constantinople (the heads representing that city and Rome)....while the double headed eagle was also used by the Seljuk Turks.

Naturally in seeing this schiavona, the period of the sword itself is well set, and the CVI along with the Habsburg eagle compellingly indicate the nature of the simplisticly rendered two headed eagle along with the monarchs cypher. The Contarini course becomes a red herring, and we can see that this 18th century sword has a Habsburg emblem, so now the correct course being set, we can follow to discover which of the junior branches of the House of Habsburg might have used Slovenian mercenaries during the reign of Charles VI (ended 1740).
This is historical detection, and exactly what the study of these weapons is all about, whether of a single weapon, or development of a type or style.

Nicely done Dmitry, thank you so much for the very astute assessment, and Valjhun for posting this fascinating sword!

Attached Byzantine eagle of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

A latter 18th century hilt schiavona

All best regards,
Jim
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