Today the Scottish highlanders do not cut with broadswords, they dance with them!
... and I fenced not badly, especially with the Scottish broadsword.
George Byron. From scattered thoughts. 1821
George Byron. From scattered thoughts. 1821
Weapon from museums. Probably, someone has already noticed that many "experts" who decorate the pages of "VO" with their presence are not very sympathetic to the drawings of various weapons of past eras, since the drawings are not very accurate, in their opinion. Well, the Russian Cossacks did not have sabers with crosshairs in 1799, they had Turkish fangs of the 1812th century, and there is nothing to say about sabers with a guard - only a crosshair! The broadswords in the drawings are swords, in a word, everything is not right. What about that? "That" is most likely a photo. And, of course, not homemade, but from a museum, and with museum attribution, because specialists are working on it there. Well, since the buyer is always right, this material will contain only photographs, including those on which the drawings for the article about the XNUMX weapon were made. And not so much from Western museums (after all, they always want to deceive us there and there are still many gays there), but from the collection of the Hermitage, our oldest and very respectable museum, which has world fame and world authority. But there is not everything in it, and therefore we also use photos from the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Royal Arsenal in Leeds. Well, today we will talk about the broadsword - the main weapon of the cuirassiers, because the cuirassier could still manage without a pike, pistols and a rifle. But without a broadsword - nothing!
Turkish broadsword. Hilt and guard, late 102,5th century; blade - XVII century. Moreover, the handle and guard are Turkish work, but the blade is European. The straight European blade suggests that this broadsword was worn in addition to the more conventional curved saber. Weapon sets with straight and curved blades were common in Eastern Europe in the 101th century. Material: steel, silver, gold, copper-silver alloy (niello), lapis lazuli, wood, leather. Dimensions: length with scabbard 88,3 cm; without scabbard 827 cm; blade - 453 cm.Weight XNUMX g. Scabbard weight XNUMX g. Metropolitan Museum, New York
So what is a broadsword and where did it come from? The origin of the word is bilingual: on the one hand, the Turkish “pala” is a sword, on the other, the Hungarian word meaning the same. It differed from sabers with a straight blade, and a long one, up to a meter, which had first two-sided and then one-sided sharpening, and a complex hilt that reliably covers the entire hand, which, by the way, could well be used as a weapon.
Where were the oldest specimens of broadswords found on the Eurasian continent? In China, Japan and in the proto-Bulgarian necropolises of the beginning of the XNUMXth century here, on the territory of the Northern Black Sea region. Moreover, the golden broadsword of Khan Kubrat, the ruler of Great Bulgaria, is especially famous. They were also used by the early Avars, Khazars, Alans and the same Volga Bulgars.
The handle of the later broadswords is straight, in the early ones it is often curved, which was traditional for the weapons of East and Central Asia; in particular, in the XIII-XIV centuries broadswords were widespread among ... the Tatar-Mongols. And why this is, in general, understandable: a single-edged blade in equestrian combat has an advantage over a sword with a double-edged blade due to its lower weight, moreover, they are cheaper and easier to manufacture. The early swords of the Japanese samurai can also be attributed to broadswords: they were also straight and had a one-sided blade sharpening.
In the Middle Ages, broadswords became widespread in the Caucasus and the Middle East. These broadswords did not have a developed guard. The most famous, Khevsurian broadswords (franguli), were decorated with metal in the traditional Caucasian style and, it happened, had ordinary dagger handles. Georgian broadswords, dating from the XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries, had saber handles.
The handle of a broadsword from the island of Sumatra. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
In the north-east of India, broadswords called "kunda" were also used, with blades about 80 cm long, forged from damask steel, although not always. An interesting feature of them, which was not found anywhere else, was the extension to the tip. The metal handle is very strange in shape: barrel-shaped in the center and tapering at the edges with two guards connected by a wide bow. From the inside, these were covered with cloth. Some broadswords had an elongated handle so that they could be used with both hands. Such broadswords were called "firangs". The scabbards of such broadswords were wider than European ones and were made of wood and had a fabric covering. Seleba swords were also used by Kazakh nomads.
"The sword from under the bridge." Royal Arsenal, Leeds
As for Europe, broadswords existed there already in 1540. One such broadsword was found on the banks of the Thames under the Southwark Bridge in 1979. It is noteworthy that the remains of a sword with a very similar handle-basket were found among the wreckage of Henry VIII's warship "Mary Rose", which sank in 1545, which helped to date it. A similar hilt is depicted in a mid-1545th century portrait attributed to Gerlach Flicka to William Palmer, depicting one of the retired gentlemen who were the bodyguards of King Henry VIII. Members of Henry's retinue in the painting "The Landing of Henry VIII at Dover", written about 1550-XNUMX, are also armed with similar broadswords with a handle in the form of a basket. That is, at this time, such a weapon was already in use.
The true heyday of the broadsword as a rider's weapon came, however, later, at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, and then during the English Revolution and the execution of King Charles I. The fact is that, having lost their knightly helmets, the English cavalry in those years acquired metal hats with brim. they replaced them and made ineffective blows with the Walloon sword on the head.
Horse Helmet British Cavalry, c. 1630-1650 Material: steel, gold, textile. Weight 1550 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Something heavier was required for both the felling and the prick, since, again, the riders' torso was covered by a cuirass, but the rest of the body was covered with durable leggings and pricks made of suede.
Broadsword with basket guard, between 1590 and 1600. Material: steel. Dimensions: length 116.8 cm; blade length 97,7 cm. Weight 1701 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Cuirassier or Reitar's broadsword, produced between 1600 and 1625. Material: steel, silver, gold, leather. Dimensions: length with scabbard 100 cm; blade length 83,8 cm.Weight 1729 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
And this is his handle ... Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
As for the blades, they were about the same size and weight, although, as always, there were some very original designs among them. Well, for example, the one shown in the next photo ...
A broadsword with an English handle, but with a Germanic blade from 1662. Material: steel, silver, wood. Dimensions: length 101.3 cm; blade length 87 cm. Weight 1077 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
It is interesting that the English Revolution gave birth to such an original variety of broadsword as the "dead sword" (a sword in English is also called a fallen, distinctions are made in relation to the handle, for example, a "basket sword" is a broadsword with a handle with a developed basket guard!) This was the name of a heavy sword or the same broadsword called "haudegen", some specimens of which differed from others in that they had an image of ... a human head on their guard. And so the English collectors of the 1635th century for some reason decided that this head belonged to Charles I and that the royalists kept their memory in such a strange way. Although this is not the case, since the head on the Haudegen guard appeared from 14, if not earlier, while the king was executed only XNUMX years later. But the name "mortuary sword" stuck and is still used today.
Schiavona. Length 971 mm. Blade length 840 mm. Weight 960 g. Royal Treasury in Stockholm
By the way, Italy also had its own broadsword, called Schiavona, and from 1570 it spread to the German imperial army. The Schiavona also had a straight, but only a double-edged blade (which is why it is very often called a sword), which was about four centimeters wide, whose length was about 90 centimeters. It was widely used in the cavalry, and under Ferdinand II it became the official weapon of cuirassiers.
Highlander with broadsword and shield. Illustration from Clans of the Scottish Highlands by James Logan, published in 1845, with illustration by R. R. McIan
The Scots also had their own national broadsword, and at the end of the 75th century. He had a fairly wide blade 90-0,9 cm long with one-sided or double-sided sharpening and weighing from 2,5 to XNUMX kg. The handle had a developed guard with the original name "basket with many branches", the inner surface of which was sometimes trimmed with leather or even red velvet! It is believed that the highlanders borrowed it from the Italians, while the Scottish broadsword, like the Schiavona, was used in battle along with a small round shield.
Scottish broadsword 1720-1740 View of the "basket" of the handle. Material: steel, gold, silver, leather, textiles, shark skin. Overall length: 98,4 cm; blade length 82,9 cm.Weight 1361 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The same broadsword. Internal view of the "basket" of the handle. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Also in the second half of the XNUMXth century, a weapon with a straight blade attached to the saddle began to be used by the Hungarian hussars, who used this blade as an addition to the saber in cases where they had to fight with men at arms. True, the handle of these broadswords looked more like a saber and was somewhat bent.
English broadsword 1671-1699 Royal Arsenal, Leeds
English broadsword 1771-1799 Sample 1788 Royal Arsenal, Leeds
In the XNUMXth century, the process of unification of broadswords, used in the cavalry of all European armies, began. At first, uniform samples of weapons were adopted even for each regiment separately, then for each type of cavalry. Well, it all ended with the fact that they began to arm cuirassiers, dragoons, and ... sailors with broadswords, who received them in case of boarding and as an addition to the dress uniform.
Cuirassier broadsword of the lower ranks, sample 1798 Material: steel, copper alloy, wood; technique: forging, casting, carving, chasing. Length 104,5 cm; blade length 87,9 cm. Manufacturer: Imperial Tula Arms Plant. Photo: State Hermitage, St. Petersburg
In Russia broadswords appeared at the end of the XNUMXth century, when they began to hire foreign officers for the Russian service, and they came to the country with their national weapons. For example, the same Scotsman could well have arrived with his usual broadsword. Well, then our craftsmen began to make broadswords according to the model of what they saw.
The early Russian broadswords had inclined handles, the most convenient for a rider to cut from a horse, and they had a crosspiece either straight or with ends curved to the point.
Broadsword with scabbard 1750s Germany. Material: steel, copper alloy, wood, leather; technique: forging, casting, chasing. Length 110 cm; blade length 95,5 cm.Photo: State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
One of these broadswords was the broadsword of Prince M.V. Skopin-Shuisky, which has been kept in the Solovetsky Monastery since 1647, and is now in the State Historical Museum in Moscow. His blade is straight, and double-edged. The handle is made inclined, with a cross, the ends of which are lowered to the point. The frame of the handle is made of silver, decorated with gold embossing, large turquoise, and a dark garnet at the top. The decoration of the scabbard is very rich: the mouth of the point and four chased clips, made of silver and decorated with turquoise, like the handle itself. The scabbard is covered with scarlet velvet. That is, the style is clearly oriental, or it is a masterful local imitation of it. The total length of the broadsword is 99 cm, the blade is 86 cm long, its width at the handle is 4,3 cm.
Broadsword of the Life Guards Cavalry Regiment mod. 1741-1761 Material: steel, copper alloy, wood, stingray leather; technique: forging, casting, chasing, carving, gilding. Length 112,5 cm; blade length 97,5 cm. Manufacturer: Imperial Tula Arms Plant. Photo: State Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Soldier's broadsword cuirassier with scabbard, 1763 Material: steel, brass, wood, leather; technique: forging, engraving, casting. Length 107 cm; blade length 89,3 cm. Manufacturer: Imperial Tula Arms Plant. Photo: State Hermitage, St. Petersburg
As for Russia, here, as we can see, broadswords appeared a long time ago, but, most likely, they were not massively produced. Although who knows? We in Penza have an interesting document on the dating of the city's founding, where the tsar's order of Alexei Mikhailovich dated July 3, 1663 is written: “... send over the Lomovsk line to the Penza river with Yury Kotransky (a native of the Vilna voivodeship, who switched to Russian service in 1655. - Author's note), where he was ordered to build a city ... a hundred swords. In the order of the Grand Palace, Kiryushko Bishov took a hundred swords from the scabbard to send clerks to Yury Kotransky. But he arrived at the scene with a hundred Cossacks. This is known. And ... to the Cossacks - swords? Rather, broadswords, but today, of course, we will not know for sure.
Dragoon broadsword mod. 1810 with scabbard. Germany, Russia. Blade - con. XVIII century, device - first quarter of the XIX century. Material: steel, copper alloy, pet leather, copper wire; technique: forging, casting, chasing, carving. Length 105 cm; blade length 89,8 cm. Photo: State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Dragoon broadsword of the lower ranks of the 1798 model with a scabbard. Material: steel, copper alloy, wood, leather, copper wire; technique: forging, casting, carving, chasing. Length 109 cm; blade length 92,3 cm.Photo: State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Well, as a mass sample of weapons, produced in an industrial way, the broadsword appeared under Peter I, who armed his dragoons regiments with it in the quarter of the 1730th century. But their own broadswords were not enough, so German ones were bought from the city of Solingen. And since the 1763s, it is the broadsword that has become the main weapon of the cuirassier regiments as well. Then horse-grenadiers and carabinieri were added to the cuirassiers (from 1817), and they all received broadswords, but the dragoons armed with them until XNUMX, and even horse artillery had broadswords for some time. And it was also the weapon of the Life Guards Cavalry Regiment and the Life Company, and even part of the hussars (!), Which seems quite surprising, but no more than the swords of the Penza Cossacks!
Officer's broadsword with scabbard mod. 1826 Material: steel, copper alloy, pet leather, wire; technique: forging, casting, chasing, carving, gilding. Length 108,5 cm; blade length 92,5 cm.Photo: State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Early Russian broadswords were double-edged, but by the middle of the 1810th century they gradually became single-edged with a blunt butt. During the reign of Catherine the Great, her monogram "E II" (Catherine II) was engraved on broadswords under the imperial crown. The scabbard was made of wood and covered with leather. Only the mouth, washers with rings for a sword belt and a tip were metal. Sometimes the set covered almost the entire surface of the scabbard, and the skin was visible in the slots. Beginning in 1856, the scabbard for broadswords began to be made only of metal, and the leather scabbard remained only with the sea sword of the XNUMX model.
Cavalier broadsword model 1802 (?) With scabbard, sling and lanyard. Material: steel, copper alloy, wood, leather, copper wire; technique: forging, casting, chasing, carving. Length 102,5 cm; blade length 85,9 cm. Photo: State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
In the same XNUMXth century, broadswords in the Russian imperial army were distinguished into army and guards, officers and soldiers, as well as cuirassiers, dragoons and carabineros. At the same time, all had a wide blade, rather long and heavy, and all the differences concerned the shape of the hilt and the device of the scabbard. The handle was protected by a complex combination of curved bows, bars and shields, and the tops of the handle were round or in the form of an eagle or a lion's head. Only in the XNUMXth century, the sword hilt was simplified and unified, like the metal scabbard.
Broadsword of the master Nicolas Noel Bouté (1761-1833). France Paris. OK. 1809 Material: steel, gold, pet bone; technique: forging, casting, carving, etching, engraving, gilding, bluing, inlaid with silver and gold. Length 85 cm; blade length 72 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
At this time, the Russian Imperial Army was armed with: guard cuirassier broadswords, army cuirassier broadswords, dragoon broadswords (although dragoons in the Caucasus were armed with sabers). Broadswords were also weapons of cavalry guards and gendarmes (who wore them until 1826).
In the first third of the 1806th century, the dragoon broadsword of the 1810 model, the cuirassier broadsword of the 1826 model and the 1881 model were used. In XNUMX, the cuirassier was renamed Dragoons, and broadswords became ceremonial weapons.
The handle of the broadsword of the master Albert Ernest Carier-Bellese (1824-1887). France, Paris, 1881-1882 Material: steel, bronze, gold; technique: forging, casting, chasing, engraving, gilding. Length 16,5 cm.Weight 799,5 g. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The broadswords were used for boarding. The sharpening of the blade could be one-sided or one-and-a-half. The length of the blade is up to 80 cm, the width is about 4 cm. The scabbard is wooden, covered with leather, since sea water was contraindicated in metal.
A broadsword as a weapon in the modern Russian army is worn by assistants at the banner in the naval navy Russia during parades.
PS The administration of the site and the author of the material would like to thank the Deputy Director General of the State Hermitage, Chief Curator S. B. Adaksina and T. I. Kireeva (Publications Department) for permission to use photographic materials from the State Hermitage's website and for assistance in working with illustrative photographic materials.