EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Thank you very much for your kind words on my article on the mameluke sabres. Although I was not a marine, I have good friends who were, one who was a wing commander in a Marine fighter squadron. In a discussion where he was proudly showing the sabre he was given, he asked to know more about the history. I put together some research which evolved into an article, which I was very proud of when it was accepted by "The Marine Corps Gazette" for publication. While they used my text unedited, they used their own photos, and I would have liked to add illustrations of the swords discussed. I am extremely proud of our Marines and all of our armed forces. My son and son in law both serve in the Army presently and I am naturally most proud of them.
On the Schiavona: I dug further into files and find that you are most correct in the Eastern European attribution for these distinctive swords. I found this;
"...if, as seems probable, swords of this type were intoduced into Italy from Hungary, perhaps through Dalmatia, they are clearly very likely to have been called 'Slavonic swords'. We may be reasonably certain therefore of the original meaning of the term 'spada schiavona'".
"A Schiavona Rapier"
Journal of the Arms & Armour
Vol.V, #12, Dec. 1967
More interesting is discussion by David Nicolle (Military Illustrated #134, July,1999, p.36, "Last Roman Elite") where he notes this particular term was first seen used in a Dalmatian will of 1391, and it described blades of light slashing form exported to Balkans and hilted locally. The more developed hilt forms most associated with schiavona evolved latter 15th c.
It seems quite a few of the illustrations you are using come from Iaroslav Lebedynsky's "Les Armes Traditionelles de l'Europe Centrale" (Paris, 1996).
It is interesting to note that in this book, Lebedynsky illustrates a schiavona along with a discussion of sabres (p.25).
Your photo #17 appears in this book on p.55.
Re: the note on curved sabres of Alans, Avars, the line drawings you show as photo #1 appears in Lebedynsky p.18, and is captioned from top to bottom;
1.) Alan 2.) Alan , N. Caucusus 3.) Hungarian 4.) Alan-Magyar, Charlemagne's sword received by him as gift.
These would seem to support your theory on Alan swords being curved,
however there is some evidence to curved sabres for Avars as well.
A warrior from Pannonian Croatia, 9th c. is discussed in "Croatia in the Medieval Period, 9th-14th Centuries" by V.Vuksic & D. Fischer, Military Illustrated #61, June 1993, p.14:
"...a large number of the type carried by these warriors have been discovered in the Danube basin. They are about 85 cm long with a wooden handle wrapped in leather. Such a sabre, with its curved blade, was introduced into Europe by the second wave of Avar immigrants settling in the Avar-Slav state at the end of the 7th century".
On the estoc: a very good illustration of the estoc (termed 'tuck' colloquially by Western European armies) appears being carried under the right leg under the saddle in "The Polish Rider" , Rembrandts fantastic painting of 1655. It has been later discovered by Professor Zygulski that the subject of the painting was actually a Lithuanian noble (see "Polish Armies:1569-1696" , Osprey, 1987, p.5). Zygulski is also a foremost authority on the fantastic Winged Hussars of Poland who appear in numerous illustrations in this thread. I have always considered the history of these magnificent cavalrymen one of the most interesting in the study of cavalry.
The mention of Eszterhazy's hussar regiment is also fascinating and brings forward the exciting 'panache' so admired by Western European armies.
In Wagner's "Cut & Thrust Weapons" on. p.406, there is a beautiful illustration of an officers sabre of Prince Paul Eszterhazy's hussar regiment of c.1741-1775. I once had an opportunity to acquire an identical example, and still regret not getting it!!! Interesting on these is the string of pearls motif along the back of the knuckleguard.
Jens, were there any swords displayed there in the castle? I would love to see and handle one of these outstanding sabres again!!