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Old 15th October 2020, 01:52 PM   #6
Jim McDougall
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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This is indeed a fighting sword, and well exemplifies certain tendencies of this period in the gentry and the elegant small swords of the 18th century. There has been some contention, as often the case, with the actual use of the term 'spadroon' with some of the military officers swords of the 18th c.

Typically the term was used toward a straight blade 'saber' which had a hilt with a perpendicular guard shell from the crossguard, and the blade was a backsword for both cut and thrust. These were from c. 1780s into early 19th c.

The term itself comes from a type of fencing/sword play used by Italians and Germans, though of course technically referring to a lighter sword and the actual 'style' of fighting.
From Egerton Castle (1884, p.184),
"...duels were so common and so dangerous- the usual play what we would call 'spadroon', or cut and thrust fencing-that the most peaceable student was never sure of his life for a single day".

As described in Angelo's "Ecole des Armes" (1763).

On p.243, Castle notes further that the 'simpler guard' approximated the small sword and was called 'spadroon' in England alluding to the German cut and thrust rapier of the 18th century (by term) which had been called 'spadone' (It.) or spadroon (German) relating to the root 'espada' (=sword).

So these 1796 hilts (the dress hilts for officers of that pattern year as well) were essentially versions of the small swords of the 18th century, and the term 'spadroon' was an allusion to the very deadly fencing system in cut and thrust popular in Italy and Germany. This was of course well learned by status oriented gentry and officers in England, and the presence of German swords and blades had been well established in England even well before the Hanoverians.

As well noted, this is a fighting sword, which though simpler in styling than the elegant small swords of the 18th century, is called spadroon with reference to the deadly cut and thrust technique of sword play in dueling.
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