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Old 4th April 2007, 12:01 AM   #1
fernando
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Default Swords a la Portuguese

It is rather dificult to define the origin of fire and white arms as being Portuguese, rather than Spanish or, in the least, Iberian, for the various reasons. One of them is that there isn't much printed material about them.
These are ( badly scanned ) pictures of some swords a la Portuguese, with the so called crab or colhonas ( testicles ) guards, a model used in the XV century discoveries period.
The first picture is of a peculiar Timorese specimen, with all parts remaining original, including the grip, which is very rare to find. The scabbard beltings are in sinew and vegetable fibres, and its shape is aledgely that of a crocodile, a Timorese symbol. It is adorned with a handwooven band, traditional of warriors and chiefs. The unsheathed blade is the first image in the second picture. Eventually its straight form was later fire bent, to fit in the slightly curved crocodile scabbard. The other two swords are crab specimens from the XVI-XVII century.
The Timorese set would be a XVI century blade and a XVIII century sheath.
These and many more specimens, halberds, swords, muskets, pistols and armour, mostly Portuguese but also other European that were vital to Portuguese armament, come in a book called AS ARMAS E OS BARÕES, by Eduardo Nobre, printed in 2004, ISBN 972-589-133-3.
... This in case there are someone interested in this area ... i think Philip was ?!.
The texts are in Portuguese, the pictures are first class. Non scholar translations can be arranged .
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Old 4th April 2007, 03:21 PM   #2
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Fantastic

There are some similar Spanish guards from around the same period, the mutual influence is almost unavoidable.

Where can one get a hold of this book? I can read Portugese well enough...
Thanks for the heads-up, Fernando
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Old 4th April 2007, 03:59 PM   #3
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Hi Mark
Plenty other weapons with mutual influence are shown in this book.
Try here:
http://www.quimera-editores.com/cat...masebaroes.html
If it doesn't work, let me know.
Salutacions
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Old 5th April 2007, 12:39 PM   #4
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Thanks, Fernando
I'll give it a try.
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Old 6th April 2007, 07:04 AM   #5
Philip
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Thanks, Fernando, for both the images and the link to a possible source for this book.

The "crab" style sword hilts (I prefer the Portuguese "colhoes" or testicles name as far more descriptive of these overseas imitations) are indeed typical of the Iberian peninsula during the period encompassing the beginning of the "Age of Discoveries". I haven't been able to verify if the style originated in Portugal or Spain; the most often published examples are those associated with Spanish notables, notably King Fernando I and "El Gran Capitan" Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, both of whom flourished at the turn of the 16th cent. See Ada Brun Hoffmeyer's article "From Medieval Sword to Renaissance Rapier" in ART, ARMS, AND ARMOUR (ed. Robert Held, Chiasso [Switz.]: Acquafresca Editrice, 1979) for photos of hilts of both weapons. Fernando's sword has rounded terminals to the principal quillons that are related to the testicles, whereas Gonzalo's hilt has flattened ends. It's interesting to note that the colonial imitations have much smaller pommels than their European predecessors, and I'm wondering if the blades on them might be thinner so that less counterbalance in the hilt is necessary.

You are right, there is so little info at present that will allow us to definitively identify Portuguese swords as separate in design from their Spanish or Italian equivalents.

In the case of firearms, it is rather easier to distinguish some distinctly Portuguese types because of mechanical and aesthetic differences that were prominent during the 16th and 17th centuries. However, as the 18th cent. progressed on into the 19th, Lusitanian gun makers began making more pieces in the prevailing Spanish and French styles and without signatures, it can be hard to tell some of the products apart. Daenhardt is a good source of info in this field.
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Old 6th April 2007, 01:14 PM   #6
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Well, the Portugese ones have these flat, circular quillion ends (hence the "colhoes" ), the Spanish ones tend to widen progressively. Cut-out designs there and in the pommels are not uncommon in both types. Also, the proportions guard - pas d'ane - grip - pommel are different between the Spanish and the Portugese models, as tends to be the typology of the blades.

There's also the exemplars so kindly made available in Antonio's page

Of course, there's a lot of variations and exemplars that stand in the blurry middle ground (that's the thing with the "mutual influences"...), but there's some ground for distinguishing them. But there's not THAT many surviving exemplars, that's why I jumped to the chance of getting this book. Now, if I could manage to get Daenhardt's in a better shape than the lousy photocopies I have now...

Here, pics of the ones Philip have mentioned plus a couple more. Up to down and left to right:
Fernando the Catholic King's (Granada), the so-called Fernando the Catholic King's in the Real Armería (Royal Armoury) in Madrid, the so-called Gran Capitan's also in the Real Armería in Madrid, and finally the so-called El Cid's Tizona, formerly in the Army Museum in Madrid.
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