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Old 14th February 2010, 04:56 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Castel Sant' Angelo

I have been working on some research concerning the Castel Sant' Angelo, which is the Mausoleum of Hadrian which evolved into a fortified structure that is part of the network of the complex in the Vatican. I understand that this has become a museum, which has among its holdings a number of weapons associated with the conflicts during the unification of Italy in the 19th century.

I am hoping that someone out there may have information about this museum or perhaps had visited there, and more importantly, the names of someone among the curatorial staff that I might contact with questions.

Thanks very much everyone,
Jim
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Old 14th February 2010, 11:14 PM   #2
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Hi Jim!

I was there 2 years ago and as far as I can remember, there are not much weapons (if any at all) at the Castel Sant'Angelo. The collection of weapons you are interested (Risorgimento Italiano, Garibaldi, Cavour ecc.) are located in the Vittoriano structure (or Altare della patria) near the Forum Romanum. Among others I remember the sword belonged to Garibaldi. Sorry hope that helps, but I can't help you with contacts.

Best regards,

Matej
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Old 14th February 2010, 11:24 PM   #3
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Hi Matej,
Thank you for answering! It must have been great to see...my interest in it was rekindled when I saw the movie "Angels & Demons". The weapons and period you mention are exactly the area I am interested in , but Italy is very much inaccessible without language or individual contacts.


All best regards,
Jim
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Old 13th October 2019, 03:27 PM   #4
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I recently spent a few days in Rome, the Eternal city. One day I went to Castel SantíAngelo which had a tumultuous but fascinating history which you can read about here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castel_Sant%27Angelo.

The place is well worth visiting and although the museum claims to have 6000 items of arms, disappointingly only a couple of dozen are displayed.

pic 3: reconstruction of 16thC gunsmith workshop in Bastion of San Giovanni
pic 4: reconstruction of 16thC guardroom. There is a trap door for enemies who had made it inside with two gun openings in a door opposite.
pic 9: breast plate for Knight of Malta
pic 10: landsknecht sword
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Old 13th October 2019, 03:51 PM   #5
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Some more pics.

pic 1: statue of St Michael the Archangel on top of the castle roof. You can read about him here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint...Catholic_Church

pic 2: ceiling relief of St Michael inside the popeís living quarters in the castle
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Old 13th October 2019, 05:02 PM   #6
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Superb pictures, Victrix .
I was there in 2010; it was either my (then) limited camera or (possible ?) prohibition to take pictures, which produced an extremely poor work.


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Old 13th October 2019, 05:05 PM   #7
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Another lot.


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Old 13th October 2019, 05:16 PM   #8
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Yes, I was surprised the landsknecht sword was that big. I wonder where they keep the rest of their collection? Thereís also a Medieval Museum which I sadly had no time to visit as itís a bit out of the city centre. They allegedly have Gothic items there which I would love to see.
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Old 13th October 2019, 06:08 PM   #9
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Victrix thank you so much for reviving this thread from 2010 on the armories of the Castel sant Angelo, and for sharing these amazing photos. It must have been an amazing experience!
Fernando, thank you for sharing your photos as well.

What prompted me to post this in 2010 was continued research on a well worn British M1796 light cavalry saber (by Thomas Bate, Birmingham) which I got in about 1977. It had the unusual markings CsA 4 43 on the langet, there was no scabbard, and the blade had a clearly deliberate notching at the tip.

As I was writing at article on this which was published in Stockholm (2008), I had included the many theories on these curious markings which had been entertained over the years. Initially of course, it was thought these might be Confederate regimental marks, however extensive research revealed that units did not mark their weapons (with few exceptions such as Virginia cavalry).

I also thought perhaps that this sword might have entered the Spanish colonial sphere, as it is well known that the Mexican army was largely supplied with British arms. However the style of these markings in no way matched, even tenuously, with Carlos IV weapons.

As these possibilities were extinguished, an idea was suggested by Richard Dellar ("British Cavalry Swords 1798-1912: Some New Perspectives", 2013).
In the 19th c. campaigns for the unification of Italy, the autonomy of the Vatican was threatened, and Catholic volunteers from many countries came to join forces for the Pope. There were of course some cavalry, and it is well known that these British M1796 sabers had been widely distributed as surplus when the pattern discontinued in 1822.

His idea was that these markings could 'possibly' have represented the Castel san Angelo (CsA) and the 4 and 43 possibly unit and rack numbers. It was a not only compelling but remarkably plausible suggestion, and presented by an author whose knowledge on British cavalry swords is brilliant.

Though of course remaining unproven despite this convincing plausibility, I continue the case as 'open', and hope others out there might have comments, observations and perhaps other evidence.
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Old 13th October 2019, 07:48 PM   #10
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Jim, Rome is amazing with all its buildings. I had hoped to view more arms and armour. Your sword seems intriguing. Itís a pity I only found this thread on my return as the first two small rooms on the top floor were dedicated to the Risorgimento period I believe, and I skipped it as Iím currently more interested in pre 19thC history! I could have looked to see if I could spot any armoury marks on the equipment on display. As I could see, the Italians call it Castel SantíAngelo so the abbreviation may be CSA rather than CsA (although 150 years ago it might have been different)? It appears like the tip on your sword was purposely cut out?
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Old 14th October 2019, 12:50 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
Jim, Rome is amazing with all its buildings. I had hoped to view more arms and armour. Your sword seems intriguing. Itís a pity I only found this thread on my return as the first two small rooms on the top floor were dedicated to the Risorgimento period I believe, and I skipped it as Iím currently more interested in pre 19thC history! I could have looked to see if I could spot any armoury marks on the equipment on display. As I could see, the Italians call it Castel SantíAngelo so the abbreviation may be CSA rather than CsA (although 150 years ago it might have been different)? It appears like the tip on your sword was purposely cut out?


Indeed it would be great to reach someone in that particular Risorgimento period section regarding weapons markings, however I have never been successful in communication with Italian arms or museum persons.

The marking configuration on my sword reflects a type of abbreviation convention popular in the 19th c. using lower case letters for wording.
Thus the S for san or san't btween Castle San Angelo was lower case.
That is if indeed this was what the letters mean.
Th '4' may have been a unit (there were several cavalry units in the Vatican forces) and the 43 a rack number.
This is of course all theory, but other explanations have fallen short.

The cut out in the blade tip is baffling, and it was clearly deliberately done. Many years back, I discovered that many Austrian swords of the 18th century had a notch distinctly cut into back of blade near the tip. I first saw these in Wagner's ("Cut and Thrust Weapons", 1967) in the line drawings.
To confirm these were actual and not artistic flaws, I contacted the museums holding the swords the drawings were from, and photos confirmed the notches did exist.
Wagner suggested the notches were to worsen a thrust wound, but then why would they exist on a saber tip, when these were slashing cuts. The notion of a notch in a thrust is equally suspect as in reality, the blade would become hopelessly caught in the victim with the notch impairing withdrawal.

Years of research revealed no reasonable answer for the curious deliberate notches in these blades, and the mystery remains unexplained. It would seem the blade of this saber and its notch may fall into this anomalous case.
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Old 14th October 2019, 01:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
Itís a pity I only found this thread on my return as the first two small rooms on the top floor were dedicated to the Risorgimento period I believe...

I too though this thread was pretty recent, so as per your post. I must say that, when i entered the castle, with no recommendations, i was not arms thinking but intending to admire the building itself. Then at the entrance i saw a few objects in vitrines and realized the castle was also a museum. However, after a better look i noticed that, what should be expected in such historic place and attending to glorious Roman Empire history, what was exhibited in the hall vitrines in connection with such period, gladius and its 'peripherals', was a couple examples in a tremendously excavated condition. And that was all they show concerning such charismatic period. What a deception.
Then when visiting the floors and like you, i skipped the sections with more 'modern' material.
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Old 14th October 2019, 03:52 PM   #13
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There wasít all that much even in the first two rooms. Makes you wonder where they keep the rest of their ďimpressiveĒ collection?? The museum description states that the katzbalger is 17thC but it looks more 16thC to me.


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Last edited by fernando : 14th October 2019 at 04:05 PM. Reason: May i put them up ?
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