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Old 8th November 2023, 12:36 PM   #1
Yvain
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Default Last traditional European sword

Hi all,



I've discussed the Mexican machete / so called "espada ancha" a bit in the last few days, and it got me thinking : what was the last traditional (non military / regulation / issued) sword used by Europeans or Europeans descent in colonial states?



The Spanish colonial short swords mentioned above might be a good contender, but I'm curious if there is others I don't know about.



Thanks in advance for your opinion! 🙂
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Old 8th November 2023, 04:24 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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Intriguing topic! but not sure of exactly what you are looking into.

By colonies...do you mean Spanish? therefore Spaniards? Mexico was Spain until 1821. However in the colonial context, as with most such situations, was nominally administrated by the government in Spain, which had loosely standing regulations on weapons. While 'regulation patterns' were used of course by soldiers of the military, these were hardly definitive , for example the regulation military sword on 1721, was still use when regulations revised (?) in 1769-1772.

America was of course a British colony until 1783, but had no standing army until the Revolution and Great Britain had no regulation swords until 1796.
British regulations however described certain weapons earlier, such as the infantry hangers of mid 18th c. which were actually copies of German forms and known from depictions of uniforms which set the dates of them.


If we are going for Spanish/colonial/Mexico, here is an example of a 'military' cutlass of c. 1860s of Republic of Mexico. While the hilt is of US M1840 cavalry saber form (taken from earlier French hilts) , the blade is broad and heavy recalling the espada ancha rather than the long curved saber blades typical of these cavalry sabers.
Traditional? of course, recalling the notably traditional espada ancha
Military/ probably, used likely by government forces
Regulation? I have yet to see any sort of regulated schedule of military pattern swords for Mexico.

The espada ancha, nor any of its remarkable scope of variants, was ever 'regulation', though it may be regarded as traditional, as its form remained loosely in use, and still is to degree in Mexican machetes etc. Interestingly, in the case of this Mexican 'cutlass' (a term often interchanged with machete in vernacular contexts).

The last photo is what is typically regarded as the Spanish M1721 dragoon sword, sometimes deemed the 1769 in references as these remained in use by Spanish troops for so long. It is now thought these were likely in use at least decades prior to the 1721 year, and they remained in use through the 18th century, somewhat into the 19th.
They were prevalent throughout all the Spanish colonies, and often were the blade donors for many of the varying types of edged weapons created including espada anchas.
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Old 8th November 2023, 06:09 PM   #3
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My apologies, I guess my question was not properly worded.


I was wondering what was the last sword used by Europeans / Europeans descent that was NOT a military weapon (ie : regulated / issued).


I know that swords were used in European armies up to WW1 and are still part of some dress uniforms, but I'm actually curious about the civilian side of sword ownership.


From our previous discussion, it seemed to me that the espada ancha / machete could be considered as one of the last non-military sword used by Europeans or Europeans descent, but I'm wondering if there is others, perhaps used more recently.
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Old 8th November 2023, 07:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yvain View Post
My apologies, I guess my question was not properly worded.


I was wondering what was the last sword used by Europeans / Europeans descent that was NOT a military weapon (ie : regulated / issued).


I know that swords were used in European armies up to WW1 and are still part of some dress uniforms, but I'm actually curious about the civilian side of sword ownership.


From our previous discussion, it seemed to me that the espada ancha / machete could be considered as one of the last non-military sword used by Europeans or Europeans descent, but I'm wondering if there is others, perhaps used more recently.
Dear Yvain, in some distant corners of Europe civilian swords are still in use. Curiously when you do a PhD at the University of Helsinki your doctor’s title entitles you to wear the doctor hat and sword. This is still the practice today.
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Old 8th November 2023, 07:14 PM   #5
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Indeed Victrix, I heard that before, interesting tradition! Though I don't think those students are expected to actually use those swords!
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Old 26th December 2023, 05:51 PM   #6
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Indeed Victrix, I heard that before, interesting tradition! Though I don't think those students are expected to actually use those swords!
Here in Germany, you still have the tradition of the "Mensur". It is mandatory in so called "pflichtschlagende Verbindungen" (Burschenschaften, Corps, Turnerschaften and others). These are academic fraternities, but they are not comparable with the fraternities in the United States.
The Mensur is a kind of fencing with sharp blades but also clear regulations to prevent very serious injuries.
Two kinds of swords can be used for the Mensur: The "Glockenschläger" (some images shown here: https://markomannia-burschenschaft.de/mensur/) or the "Korbschläger", which is more common and which has a basket-hilt showing the colours of the Verbindung (see attachment).
Of course the construction of these swords follows strict regulations made by the fraternities, but they are totally civilian and in use until today, not only for the Mensur, but also for representative purposes.
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Old 8th November 2023, 09:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yvain View Post
My apologies, I guess my question was not properly worded.

I was wondering what was the last sword used by Europeans / Europeans descent that was NOT a military weapon (ie : regulated / issued).

I know that swords were used in European armies up to WW1 and are still part of some dress uniforms, but I'm actually curious about the civilian side of sword ownership.

From our previous discussion, it seemed to me that the espada ancha / machete could be considered as one of the last non-military sword used by Europeans or Europeans descent, but I'm wondering if there is others, perhaps used more recently.
If you are referring to a sword carried for the purpose of self-defence (honour or person) where the wielder likely has some ability with the weapon, then you're probably looking at smallswords of the late 18th and early 19th Century. After that, firearms became more prevalent as they were easier to carry, effective and simpler to use.

The other consideration is sword canes, which I believe were carried into the 20th Century.

Similarly, many Eastern European cultures have their own cultural knives / short swords that were likely openly carried well into the early 20th Century, but I am less familiar with those.
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Old 8th November 2023, 09:51 PM   #8
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Thanks Radboud, that's what I'm referring to indeed. The Eastern European lead is interesting, I'll have to look into it deeper!
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Old 13th November 2023, 09:11 AM   #9
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More ethnic eastern than European: You may want to search the ethnic forum, as this one is for European 19c and earlier weapons.



The khevsurli (Who consider themselves European) from the mountains of Georgia still use these swords (and bucklers below) for friendly 1st blood duelling sport.


There is a tale of the Khevsurli finally getting word in 1915 that the Tsar was at war, so they all dressed up in their finest mail armour, swords, buckler shields, and flintlocks, and proceeded north to join the Tsar's forces. Sadly, for them, the mountain passes were snowed in and impassible, so they went home again to wait for the passes to clear, only to find for Russia, the war was over.


The last Crusade <-link
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