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Old 17th November 2017, 12:06 AM   #1
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Default THE ROYAL NAVY CUTLASS.

THE ROYAL NAVY CUTLASS

The peculiar word Cutlass has an interesting structure.

Quote" One difficulty in defining "cutlass" is that the combination of word and weapon is almost uniquely English. The word "cutlass" comes from French coutlas, thence from Italian coltellacio and finally from Latin cultellus, but in none of those languages does it mean the short backsword that it means in English.
The French word for the weapon we call "cutlass" is sabre d'abordage, boarding saber, and some equivalent of "boarding saber" is used in most European languages (Spanish sable de abordaje, Italian sciabbola d'abordaggio, German Entersäbel). The only language I know of besides English that uses a cognate of "cutlass" for a short backsword is the Dutch kortelas. So it can be hard to say if a weapon from a non-English European culture is a "cutlass," because they would use a completely unrelated word for it."Unquote.

Another author writes in~
http://www.armsregister.com/article...l_cutlasses.pdf

Quote"The origin of the name cutlass is obscure – The Oxford Dictionary gives “Curtleax” as the earliest form
(1579) and “Coutelace” in (1594).
Cutlass was the name applied essentially to a cheap cutting weapon supplied by the Admiralty for the use of seamen.
The Board of Ordnance used the term “Sword for Sea Service” while later the Admiralty described them as “Sword Naval”
The oldest manuscript reference in the British National Museum occurs in lists of weapons returned During 1645 – 1649."Unquote.


One strange link via the Dutch East Indies is the Dogs Head Cutlass which should really be called the Lions Head because it is clearly a design influenced by the Sri Lankan Kastane pommel~ See below for comparison;
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Last edited by fernando : 17th November 2017 at 08:59 AM. Reason: Website cotaining forbidden material, as per rules.
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Old 17th November 2017, 09:07 AM   #2
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Paraphrased from elsewhere
" Sir Alexander Popham, an English seventeenth century
military figure, was painted in his equestrian portrait wearing a kasthane."

The Royal Armouries used to have a page dedicated to reviewing the portrait with glorious close-ups of his kastane. I believe there is a pdf showing some shots of the Littlecote Armoury, with a smaller detailed b&w view of the portrait. It has been posted here in the past.

It appears that the Dutch Indies trade were influential in the development of some form of hilts. From my brief look at kastane, it seems a subject one could spend a life in discovery.

Cheers

GC

Indeed
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=14998

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Old 17th November 2017, 03:50 PM   #3
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Hi Ibrahiim,

Thanks for the link to John Carters article - I had not seen that before. It's a good summary of the British RN standard patterns with good photographs and even includes some of the less well known variants.
Regards, CC
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Old 17th November 2017, 04:00 PM   #4
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Interestingly some people are convinced that the animal represented on the pommel is a dolphin.
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Old 18th November 2017, 03:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
Interestingly some people are convinced that the animal represented on the pommel is a dolphin.


Salaams Victrix,
Yes it is ...On swords of The Confederate Navy Officers~ for which an excellent video exists at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2VY3_5P6IQ
These swords were made in England in two centres by Birmingham; Robert Mole and London Ferman and Sons..The importer was in Charleston which is stamped on the Forte. On the sword at video you will see the Wilkinson mark as a six pointed star and the Proof Slug in the centre. The second video in sequence deals with that mark. Essentially suggesting strength and Unbreakableness...
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Old 18th November 2017, 03:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CutlassCollector
Hi Ibrahiim,

Thanks for the link to John Carters article - I had not seen that before. It's a good summary of the British RN standard patterns with good photographs and even includes some of the less well known variants.
Regards, CC


Salaams Cutlass Collector ...Welcome aboard the thread ~ Staying with John Carter I note the quantity of Swords/Cutlasses on board an RN Vessel Quote"~In an establishment of stores dated 11 October 1677 a ship of the line (1st rate between 60 &100 guns) was allowed 50 Swords and 70 Hangers. (not sure which of these would be cutlasses, probably the swords) This establishment works out to about one sword/hanger for every 5 or 6 men. Swords were stowed in locked racks, being unlocked when the ship cleared for action. Some are marked with their rack number on a disc attached to the hilt. One of mine is marked “Q.D.9” on a copper disc, meaning quarterdeck No9.
Prior to 1800 the cutlass hilt was in the
form of a figure of eight or double disc, the grip was a cylinder of wrapped steel, the blade plain and straight, (mine is grooved)
and stamped with a ‘Fleur de lis’mark,probably (T Hollier 1720-1740) length varied, but around 28 to 29 inches (71-74cm)"Unquote.

The last part of the paragraph is in itself a revelation as questions related to FDL (Fleur De Lys) crop up across the European Forum since the mark is French prior to the Revolution...and also thought to be a German mark... of course these could be imported blades we are looking at ...and refinished in England.

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Old 18th November 2017, 08:19 AM   #7
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So what was 100 Gun Ship of the Line like? Here is HMS ROYAL GEORGE.

HMS "Royal George", 100-guns first rate ship of the line launch at Woolwich in 1756.

In the armouries 50 swords and 70 hangars... By swords it meant probably Naval Swords since the term Cutlass had not yet been coined by the Royal Navy.
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Old 18th November 2017, 09:19 AM   #8
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We can observe a battle involving boarding and hand to hand fighting involving Cutlasses thus to study the devastating effects of this weapon!and its use in the Royal Navy.

More casualties occurred in this single action than to HMS Victory's crew in the Battle of Trafalgar.

The case study being seen on~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capture_of_USS_Chesapeake

As a pre-amble this is the historical note ~110...The Capture of USS Chesapeake, or the Battle of Boston Harbor, was fought on 1 June 1813, between the Royal Navy's frigate HMS Shannon and American frigate USS Chesapeake, as part of the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. The Chesapeake was captured in a brief but intense action in which over 80 men were killed.
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Old 19th November 2017, 12:38 PM   #9
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The Shannon v. Chesapeake duel is also well described by Gilkerson in 'Boarders Away'.
He also includes the casualty list from the Shannon which lists the frequency and the cause of each death and wound.

This makes for interesting reading.
First place is taken by small calibre ball wounds - 33, followed by larger calibre ie: grapeshot, 22. Cutlass wounds were surprisingly few at 5 with two more attributed to pike or bayonet. The remainder were wounds caused by splinters or impact damage.
Unfortunately the much lengthier list for the American ship has not survived but there were reportedly many more cutlass and pike wounds. Presumably, at least in part, due to the boarding action where the Brits were on the offensive.

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