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Old 19th May 2005, 09:38 PM   #1
Fromhold K.
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Default European medieval sword inscriptions

Hello,
I write my bachelor's project on topic "The Meaning and Symbolism of the Sword in Medieval Society" and I would appreciate some help from you.

If anybody knows some other writings from sword (or where I could find some), please post it here or send me an email (ikelder@ut.ee). And if possible, with references, the period of the sword, the type of the sword etc. I am particularly interested in swords from approximately 1150-1500.

Here is what I already have.

Lots of letters and letter combinations (NED, INED (Nomine Domini, In Nomine Domini) etc.). Lots of different signs, drawings, symbols.

Also some texts, but only from most famous swords: Sword of Comté de Dreux, Sword of St. Maurice, executioner's swords (FIAT JUSTICIA; VIM VI PEPELLEPE LICET etc.), and the usual texts (like Gicelien me fecit, Gladius Rotgieri).

I have collected all the texts I found from www.myarmoury.com, www.netsword.com, http://forums.swordforum.com and www.vikingsword.com articles and from Oakeshott's Archaeology of Weapons.

Also, I have some texts from Estonian archeological artifacts, but that is pretty much it. And it's definitely not enough .

Thanks in advance.
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Old 20th May 2005, 05:34 AM   #2
wolviex
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Hello and welcome!

you've touched so wide historical problem, that it can make brains storm here soon. Just to start, while I'm during morning hurry:

about executioner's swords: there is a book about them, quite good I think, unfortunately in Polish. If my time will let me, I will find it for you and I will quote some passages.

Nomine Domini, In Nomine Domini : maybe it is a luck, but I was just reading article by Mr. Ada Bruhn Hoffmeyer "From Medieval Sword to Renaissance Rapier" (Gladius, Tome II, Granada 1963). There he has mentioned this inscription. I think you'll find there some other references too.

It's only for start, while as I mentioned it, it is very very wide historical aspect of armee blanche in general. If you started to dig in it, you won't get out of this soon .

Sorry for casual references, but I'm just awake, in hurry and intrigued by your thread, and I just couldn't ignore it

regards!
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Old 20th May 2005, 04:37 PM   #3
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Exclamation Bibliography

I decided to dig in some of the magazines on my bookshelf and I found some interesting articles that should be important for you. Of course there are also some basic books, which I hope you know very well like "Hieb- und Stich Waffen" by Miller or, of the same title, by E. Wagner; Herbert Seitz, Blankwaffen, Bibliothek für Kunst- und Antiquitätenfreunde, Band IV, 1965, etc.
Of course I bring only those which seems to be most interesting. Closer look to this magazines and more researches will bring you more for sure:


Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde

- 1926, Band 2, heft 2, s. 39-40: E. A. Gessler, Ein Schwert mit Invocationsinschrift aus dem Anfgang des 13. Jahrhunderts (inscriptions NNOMINEDOMI, INIOMIINDII, and other)

- 1926, Band 2, heft 9, s.220-221: Ein Inschriftenschwert des 13. Jahrhunderts aus den Stedinger Kämpfen(the meaning of inscription: +NEDRC NEDRU SDRC NEDRU I+)

- 1935/1936 s. 145-148: Holger Arman, Zwei Ingelri-Schwerter Aus Schweden (+INGELRIIMEFECIT+)

- 1966, Heft2, s. 111-125: A. Anteins, Im Ostbaltikum gefunde Schwerter mit damaszierten Klingen(inscriptions on early medieval swords: VLFBERHT, +EEEBRHT+, SINIXIXINIS, +X+, GICELNI ME FECIT, INNOMINEDOMINO+, O+O, +O+, +|||||||||||||O||||||||||||+, +LEU RIT, +NINI ININ+, +ED:NINI NI+, +DCSCRVOM EIAUSO, + S +, +NIISOSF ISOSF, AOBR+, +NIC’’DIOAGSDICNIEROHDI, NNNNN, and other)

- 1970, heft2, s. 89-126, Ulrich Kühm, Das Richtsxhwert in Bayern (catalogue with many many inscriptions on knights’ and executioners’ swords with description, most of them are German and very long and complex like: ALLES WAS DV DVEST…., DIE OBRIGKEIT STUERET UNHEIL…, DOMINVS BENEDICTICAT ME ET IVFAT…, FIRCH GOT VND LIEB…., IVNCKHFRAV LIEB VND LERCHENGESANG…, and many others. There you can find also meaning of symbols like: wheel, skull, Justitia, Crucifix, Mary and the Child etc...)

- 1977, Heft2, s. 117-128: Marian Glosek, Leszek Kajzer, Zu den mittelalterlichen Schwerten der Benedictus-Gruppe (inscriptions like: BENEDICTUS DEUS MEUS, IFDNSDSN, SGS…SQUIDO, +SESBENEDIG+ AS, +INOMEDOMINI+, BENEDICTUS DOMINUS, SCSTPETRVNS, +BENEDICATINIUSDICI RA ICNIUIOMUENIE+, +NIUSUSDICNIUSDIC RADIXNIEITRAION NE, …)

[B]Gladius[/B]
- 1963, tome II, s. 5-66: Ada Bruhn Hoffmeyer, From Medieval Sword to Renaissance Rapier (overall view with mention of some inscriptions and St. Maurice sword as well)

- 1968, tomo VII: Anatolij Kirpicnikow, Die Russischen Waffen des 9.-13. Jahrhundertw und Orientalische und Westeuropäische einflüsse auf ihre Entwicklung (ULFGERHT inscriptions of many kinds and other like GEROLT, ULEN, INGELRII)

Uff...


Regards
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Old 20th May 2005, 09:32 PM   #4
Fromhold K.
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Thanks, wolviex!!

Much, much help! At least half of them unknown to me and Ulrich Kühm's catalogues seems to be exactly what I need. It's just that I am not sure if it is in our libraries available...
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Old 20th May 2005, 09:38 PM   #5
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It would help to know where you are located so that potential resources in your area may be found .
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Old 21st May 2005, 09:29 AM   #6
Fromhold K.
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I live in Estonia - small country under Finland.
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Old 21st May 2005, 10:25 AM   #7
Radu Transylvanicus
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Rather than try to get all the inscriptions possible in your reach (mission impossible!) maybe you should probably start classifications with relevant examples like these:

Maker's mark: ex: Tho. Kapustran Transylvania fecit

Mottos: In nomine dei / Firch Got und lieb

Owners mark: Carolus, emperor Franciae /

Timeline mark: 1784, MDCCLXXXIV

Poetic marks: ...

And so on ... And most important remember: the Medieval sword inscriptions have not only been part of European continent. Asia has some of the most amazing armorial scryptures from the Mughal Quran versets, to the Arabian prayers, to Ottoman tughras to Japanese swordsmiths marks and the list is open.
I think you have chosed a great project subject and I have the certitude you will end up having a lot of joy doing it !

Wolviex, my dear brother, I hate you for all the acces to knowledge you have !
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Old 21st May 2005, 02:23 PM   #8
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Fromhold: so we are almost neighbours . If this resources will be unavailable for you, contact me via email: wolviex@poczta.onet.pl, maybe we will find a way to help you.
Regards

Last edited by wolviex : 22nd May 2005 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 21st May 2005, 03:12 PM   #9
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Hello Fromhold,
although I am way off my usual area of interest (Indonesia, that is) here, I might add a few comments on some of the German inscriptions quoted by wolviex above. Looking up the meanings of some of these inscriptions might be rather hard for a non-native speaker of German due to the old-fashioned spellings and maybe also to a few misreadings of some letters. And I suppose you will also need the meanings of these inscriptions for your project, not just their pure letters.

ALLES WAS DV DVEST…. = "ALLES WAS DU DUEST..."
modernized German: Alles was Du tust...
meaning: Everything you do...

DIE OBRIGKEIT STUERET UNHEIL… = I can´t really make out what "STUERET" is, the other words are basically ok. But sorry, I can´t really translate that one without the missing verb here.

FIRCH GOT VND LIEB…. = "FIRCH(T) GOT(T) UND LIEB..."
mG: Fürchte Gott und lieb...
meaning: Fear God and love...

IVNCKHFRAV LIEB VND LERCHENGESANG… = "IUNCKHFRAU LIEB UND LERCHENGESANG..."
mG: Jungfrau lieb und Lerchengesang...
meaning: Maiden/virgin dear and lark´s song...

Don´t take these as formal transcriptions or translations, just as my two-cents-worth here. If you have any questions regarding other German inscriptions, feel free to ask.
Jan

Oh, btw: The most important word in the Kühm title above "Das Richtsxhwert in Bayern" should probably be "RICHTSCHWERT".
I know, I know, German is a strange language - but not THAT strange (= "..sxh.." is not a usual combination)
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Old 21st May 2005, 03:34 PM   #10
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And already back again.
Checking up on the Ulrich "Kühm" title mentioned above, I found this library entry here in the online catalogue of the University of Hamburg:
"Inschriften und Verzierungen auf Richtschwertern; ihre Deutung aus der Person des Scharfrichters" by Ulrich Kühn, 1969.

https://hhas21.rrz.uni-hamburg.de/D...richtschwertern

a.) The last name of the author is KÜHN, not Kühm.
b.) Apparently he wrote his doctoral thesis (158 pages) about this topic before publishing the catalogue mentioned above - might be easier to locate for you.

And if you understand German - yes, one of the two editions in our libraries here is basically available, but currently someone else has made a reservation for it... and yes, that´s me I will get it on Monday.
Maybe contact me privately via my adress in my profile.
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Old 21st May 2005, 03:58 PM   #11
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Jan: thank you for explanations and correction - of course these are my mistakes I've made being in hurry, trying to gather so many informations as it was possible during two hours of free time. Of course there are no "sxh" in German - it's just literal mistake while "C" and "X" are close neighbours on my keyboard
I hope my little mistakes didn't mislead too much our Estonian friend.

Regards
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Old 21st May 2005, 05:40 PM   #12
Fromhold K.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radu Transylvanicus
Rather than try to get all the inscriptions possible in your reach (mission impossible!) maybe you should probably start classifications


Sure, there is not much point in just collecting all the inscriptions, right? However, to make some kind of analyse, I prefer to have enough sources. I have about 30 writings. For now I have made a rather casual classification of inscriptions:
1. maker's marks
2. geometrical markings, patterns etc. (for better appearance)
3. magical signs, zodiac signs
4. letters (which actually are the first or last letters of a word, for example NED=NominE Domini)
5. sentences, which are classified:
a. moral sentences, usually including poetic (who lives in lie, destroys his soul, whose talk is false, his honour is also)
b. legitimizing sentences (in the name of law I thrust)
c. evocational sentences (in the name of God; Mary, remember me!)
d. informative sentences (Rotgier's sword, Gicelin made me)

Of course, this is very casual look on the analyse.

And yeah, I already figured these Kühm-Kühn, richtsxhwert things out, but I had hell of a time trying translating duest and firch, and figured out the ivnckhfrav . So lots of thanks for the translations!
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Old 22nd May 2005, 03:45 PM   #13
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Wow! Michal , outstanding resources! Now thats what I'm talkin' about!!
Seriously, excellent resources for the study of these markings. It does seem that the German journals carry far more subjective studies concerning the use of the markings that have been carried on trade blades for so many centuries.

Very well placed additions as well Jan!

I think it is great that you guys offer this kind of assistance as the subject matter here is only ever touched on in extremely esoteric resources, and as mentioned these are seldom available here in the west, and then there is for many of us the language barrier. It is very kind for you to offer translating help.

Fromhold,
I think it you have chosen a fascinating topic, but certainly a formidable one. I am unclear on your thesis though. Your title "The Meaning and Symbolism of the Sword in Medieval Society" ...are you focused on the sword as a symbolic and traditional weapon, or is the digression to the assorted markings and mottos etc. the actual focus? The numerous books by Ewart Oakeshott
carry probably the most interesting treatment of the sword itself and its importance in chivalry, but there are a number of other titles that describe similar perspective. His books also include the earlier periods which are key as well.

The topic of the markings, mottoes and certain blade motif is vast and seldom focused on in most resources on weapons subjectively, except in the references already presented and occasional others equally esoteric. If you are categorically collecting examples of these, it seems most are noted in either footnotes or captions in the catalogs of museums, collections, auctions etc. and of course in the reference titles we often refer to here.
As far as the development, meaning and application of these noted examples, there has always been casual speculation and discussion, but seldom conclusive material. Again, Oakeshott probably has the best perspective on these in his titles, especially "The Archaeology of Weapons".

Check our search feature for key topics, and titles. We try to use references whenever possible so that further research can be done by those so interested in a certain topic and often these titles can be obtained through interlibrary loan. As always, please feel free to contact via PM, and we can all help with specific questions. Very much looking forward to progress on your work!!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 22nd May 2005, 07:59 PM   #14
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Jim,
I knew soon after starting the project that it's formidable and has immense number of resources . So probably it turns out to be quite general work and a prologue to my MA (as I hope). The work is rather interdisciplinary, I try to find how medieval people regarded swords using medieval legends and literature, markings on swords, texts on swords and medieval habits concerning the sword as sources and using the methods of archaeology, history, psychology, folklore and semiotics.

Hence the focus is not mottoes and markings only, this is just one way of many attempts to creep into medieval mind . Of course, I do not think that my work is absolute or shows "how things actually were" and what did they "actually" thought (which is quite impossible). The deductions are just some of many possibilities.

Last edited by Fromhold K. : 22nd May 2005 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 22nd May 2005, 10:08 PM   #15
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Hi Fromhold,
Thank you for going into the dynamics of your study, which really helps know more about how we can help. Actually the very elements you have described have been pretty much the basis of the study of swords and weapons in general for most of us for the time we have pursued this history. While we focus on ethnographic examples from various regions intermittantly, most of the time we return to the earlier swords in studying the development of the many later forms. It seems almost like 'sword geneology' if I could chose an analogy, and the medieval period is especially interesting to most of us here.

The thread you have started with the actual names of swords is also very interesting and it was very prudent of you to isolate that topic so it might be addressed with more focus separately.

I think we'll all head for the bookshelves to see what curious notes and anecdotes we can find that might apply to your subject matter...as we always say..the games afoot!!!

All the best,
Jim
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