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Old 1st April 2012, 04:48 PM   #1
Swordfish
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Default Early European arms captured by the Ottomans

Although the Ottomans were already present on the European Continent during the second half of the 14th century, they increased their expansion efforts in Europe and the Mediterranean area after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, which was possible with the help of 69 large cannons, cast by an European gunfounder. The largest of them had a length of 8 m and a bore of 75 cm, shooting stone balls with a weight of 550-600 kg.

During the many battles and the following conquest of large territories, the Ottomans captured a huge amount of European arms and armour, mainly of Italian, Hungarian and German origin. Most of the booty was brought to the Arsenal in Constantinople, housed in the former christian church Hagia Eirene. Some of the weapons were stamped with the Arsenal-mark, the Tamga. Whether this was done only to weapons which were examined if serviceable, and adjudged to be good, or only to mark them as property of the Arsenal, is uncertain. But obviously not all captured weapons were marked with the tamga.

During the centuries, where little value was attached to old and out of use arms, many were sold as scrap metal or as dead weight for ships, and on this way reached italian ports. Even after the Arsenal was transformed to a museum in the 18th century, many weapons were sold and found their way into European and American collections. After the reorganisation of the museum during the first half of the 19th century, the museum opened in 1846 as the first public Museum in Turkey. Later the reigning Sultan Abdülhamid II commissioned the best photographers, the Abdullah Freres, to photograph the Museum and its content. These photos, most of them now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and in other Museums, are today an important source for arms and armour historians. But even in the first half of the 20th century arms and armour from the Museum were sold.

Occasionally some of these weapons appear on the European antique market.

Fig. 1a,b,c

A Venetian `Spada schiavonesca´, last quarter of the 15th century. The blade bears a stamped Venetian workshop-mark on one side, the other is stamped with the Tamga of the St. Irene Arsenal in Constantinople. Hundreds similar swords of this type are still preserved at the Doges Palace in Venice, of course without the Tamga.

Fig. 2

A painting in an Austrian collection, dating c. 1480-1490, with a similar sword.

Fig. 3

A fresco by Luca Signorelli, dating c.1500, in the Cathedral at Orvieto, with a similar sword.

Fig. 4

This photograph, taken in 1889 by Abdullah Freres, shows a panoply of Otoman arms and captured European arms in the St. Irene Museum at Constantinople. The Venetian sword on the left side is near identical with the sword fig.1, it bears also the Arsenal-mark. The original grip is replaced by the typical Arsenal sandwich-grip in the 19th century. The two oversized Bohemian arrow heads left and right are now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Fig. 5a,b,c

An Italian(Venetian?) hand-and a half sword, dating c. 1400. The long cross is slightly arched towards the blade, the disc pommel has a chamfered edge and a raised central hemispherical boss. The grip is the typical Arsenal sandwich-grip, which was added to many swords in the Arsenal in the 19th century, fixed with hollow rivets. The blade bears on one side a Gold inlaid Cross Fourchee in a circle, the stamped Tamga on the other. The central hemispherical boss on the pommel is similar to the boss on the square pommel of the Schiavona fig.1, threfore it is possibly also of Venetian origin.
The blade section is very interesting, because the cutting edges are hollowed out concave. This feature is common on many thrusting blades of diamond section, but is very rarely seen on flat cutting blades.
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Last edited by Swordfish; 1st April 2012 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 1st April 2012, 05:24 PM   #2
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Thank you for the images Swordfish, in particular for the series of the hand and a half with Cross Fourchee. I am always interested to see swords marked in this manner, since I own a takouba blade marked in the same way rehilted of course.

It is always then fascinating for me to learn about the stockpiling of European arms of this period among the Ottomans.

Thanks again for a good read!
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Old 2nd April 2012, 09:29 AM   #3
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Interesting, thank you!

after the conquest of Egypt in 1517 the ottomans included many Alexandria swords and took them to Constantinople.
If the swords were Already marked or inscribed, and therefor were already under Islam sacred objects, they were not desecrated by an additional mark, a Tamga.
This explains why the combination on one and the same sword of a Tamga and arsenal inscription "not...... well hardly" appears.

sword 5 has indeed a very interesting blade geometry. wherein the concave ensures that a strong and very sharp cutting edge arrises.
The light protective clothing, probably forced by nature, by the heat in these areas, explained the popularity of several types of European cutting swords there in the 14th and 15 century.
This sword could be a precursor of the highly cq. most efficient 2 hand-cutting sword, with a blade very wide at the cross, strong tapering and with a light centered mid rib,...........The oakeshott Type XVIIIC.

If this theory is true, the sword may be dated in the third quarter of the 14th century.
for an example of XVIIIC please see your light mail thread.

best,

Last edited by cornelistromp; 2nd April 2012 at 12:28 PM.
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Old 2nd April 2012, 11:39 AM   #4
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Very interesting.
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Old 2nd April 2012, 06:25 PM   #5
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Hi,

I know the Alexandria group of swords, but these are not really captured from the Europeans. These swords are often treated in other publications, therefore I have not mentioned them here. It is surely right, that the majority of swords with Alexandria inscription do not bear the Tamga, but some do exist. A friend of mine has such a one in his collection. The sword can be dated stylistically c. 1430, the cross has already a simple finger-ring. Unfortunately I don`t know if the inscription is dated.

Swords like fig.5 were surely in use during the second half of the 14th century, as well as during the first quarter of the 15th century, therefore I have dated it roughly c.1400.

Sword fig.5 has a flat and flexible cutting blade with a fuller running down nearly all the length, therefore it can not be of type XVIIIc. The swords of this type have stiff blades of diamond section, even the ones with a fuller.
If I have to categorise the blade, I would put it into type XIIa.

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Old 2nd April 2012, 07:53 PM   #6
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Hi,

yes, sword nr 5 is indeed Oakeshott Type XIIA, I described it as a precursor/forerunner of the type XVIIIC (actually not as a type XVIIIC.)
Because it has a blade with a kind of wedge towards the cutting edge, caused by the concave, this really makes it like type XVIIIC a pure cutting sword.

The mid rib of the type XVIIIC causes a similar kind of wedge towards the cutting edge. When the geometry and balance of this XIIa sword are improved during the time it can evolve into a cutting sword like type XVIIIC.

The group XIIa was created by oakeshott some time after his classification , I believe with the publication of ROMS, before these 2 hand swords with tapering blades and longer fullers were (incorrectly) placed in XIIIa.

Original swords with arsenal inscription and Tamga actually are not known, I am very curious about each example which has both.


about the type of sword # 1 is also much Published, for example by DG Alexander-European Swords in the collection of Istanbul partII.
Swords captured directly by the ottomans or recieved as Sultan gifts.
Sword #1 is placed in group XVII ,according to DG Alexander it is not possible to know when these swords fell in hands of the ottomans, only for the simple fact that during the 2nd half of the 15th century many battles have been fought.
An almost identical sword as nr 1 is in Topkapi Museum Istanbul under # A14793

best,

Last edited by cornelistromp; 3rd April 2012 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 13th April 2012, 03:43 PM   #7
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Schiavona in the Military Museum Istanbul, grip replaced.

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Old 3rd June 2012, 12:02 PM   #8
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Fig. 6

This photograph, taken in 1889 by Abdullah Freres, shows another panoply of captured arms. The two swords dating c. 1400 are of European origin, captured by the Ottomans during their conquest of Alexandria in 1517. They bear the Arsenal inscription from Alexandria.

The two halberds of the early 16th century are of German origin. The left one has distinctive features: The spike bears a small round mark, the blade has a small nick on the lower side (hardly visible on the low resolution scan), and the side straps are broken off at the fourth hole.

Fig. 7

A German halberd of exact the same shape as the one on the panoply. This halberd is not only a halberd of the same shape and workshop, it is the one depicted on the panoply! It has exactly the features as the one on the panoply: The same mark, the nick on the blade, and the later added lower parts of the side straps are welded on at the fourth hole. It was sold some times ago at auction.

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Old 3rd June 2012, 12:22 PM   #9
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yes it is indeed the same, very nice catch.

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Old 3rd June 2012, 09:35 PM   #10
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wishful thinking but I don't believe this is the same halberd, the tip is broken off and the shape of the last serration at the back is quite different... I would assume many would have the mark in the same place on the backspike?
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Old 3rd June 2012, 11:07 PM   #11
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The tip of the halberd 7 is a bit reshaped, the mark is not only at the same position, it is the same mark (only visible on the original scan of the panoply with a magnifying glass). The lower cog has a roundet tip (this was surely pointed when the halberd was new), the two cogs above have pointed tips.
What you need more?
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Old 4th June 2012, 01:06 AM   #12
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The mark would be the same if it's from the same workshop ?I meant the valley between the last serrations is different, you can't reshape that without adding metal. My apologies for doubting
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Old 4th June 2012, 08:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashoka
The mark would be the same if it's from the same workshop ?I meant the valley between the last serrations is different, you can't reshape that without adding metal. My apologies for doubting
there is no metal-metal added, it is removed and the latter curve has been re-shaped.
Even the dark discoloration effected in the metal match.
the outline corresponds, the mark and the mark postition corresponds.
the rivet holes, the fault line, the dents on the edge corresponds.
the corners of the spurs corresponds. ......and so on.......

this is not mass production each Halberd, even from the same workshop, is unique. It is very unlikely, read impossible , that there exist two identical halberds!
there are so many similarities that there is absolutely no doubt that this is one and the same halberd.

best,

Last edited by cornelistromp; 4th June 2012 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 4th June 2012, 09:38 AM   #14
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Ok I bow to greater enthusiasm, they do look very similar
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Old 4th June 2012, 10:27 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
there is no metal-metal added, it is removed and the latter curve has been re-shaped.
Even the dark discoloration effected in the metal match.
the outline corrsponds, the mark and the mark postition corresponds.
the rivet holes, the fault line, the dents on the edge corresponds.
the corners of the spurs corresponds. ......and so on.......

this is not mass production each Halberd, even from the same workshop, is unique. It is very unlikely, read impossible , that there exist two identical halberds!
there are so many similarities that there is absolutely no doubt that this is one and the same halberd.

best,
Thanks Cornelistromp,
You took the words right out of my mouth.
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