Royal Armouries

Two-hand Sword

Images

monochrome photo of an armoured figure holding a large sword

Two-handed sword in the New Horse Armoury, 1870s © Private collection 2013

  • monochrome photo of an armoured figure holding a large sword

    Two-handed sword in the New Horse Armoury, 1870s © Private collection 2013

  • monochrome photo of two very large broadswords

    Two handed bearing swords. (IX.1024-1025)

  • monochrome line drawing of a giant size man's armour and 2 large swords

    Two handed bearing swords from 'A Treatise on antient armour and weapons' by F. Grose, London, 1786, pl.22

Object number: IX.3

Statistics – Sword

Object Provenance: German blade, 16th century
Object Number: IX.3
Length O/A: 1585 mm (62.4 in)
width (max): 496 mm (19.52 in)
depth (max): 151 mm (5.94 in)

Statistics – Blade

Length: 1160 mm (45.65 in)
Width: 45 mm tapering to 35 mm (1.75 > 1.25 in)
Weight: 3130 gm (7 lb)

Two-hand Sword

Description

Hilt with flat octagonal pommel with concave bevelled rim edged with brass and slightly arched quillons ending in flat, leaf-shaped finials. Spiral scrolling bars, one at each quarter, issue from the shoulder of each finial. Similar decorative flourishes depend from the quillons towards the blade adjacent to the central side-rings. A short double cusp or fluke extends from the inner face of the otherwise plain side-rings. The quillons have decorative transverse engraved lines.

‘Flamboyant’ (wavy-edged) blade tapering from ricasso to rounded tip. Each side of the ricasso has central fuller with flat on either side, and is decorated with single line border and central longitudinal scrolling line. As yet unidentified maker’s mark (in the form of a hand?) double stamped on both faces of the ricasso.

Two-hand swords were intended to impress by their very size alone. Popular with foot soldiers from the mid 15th to the late 16th century, as battlefield fashion changed they lapsed into more ceremonial and processional use. It was in this role that more spectacular wavy-edged blades like this one were fitted. They are sometimes referred to as flamboyant blades as their wavy edges are reminiscent of a dancing flame.

This sword does not seem to have merited an individual description in the catalogues, but formed part of a figure illustrating arms and armour at a specific stage of their development. A photograph showing it in about 1870 is captioned ‘A suit of German armour of the time of Henry VIII’.

Statistics – Sword

Object Provenance: German blade, 16th century
Object Number: IX.3
Length O/A: 1585 mm (62.4 in)
width (max): 496 mm (19.52 in)
depth (max): 151 mm (5.94 in)

Statistics – Blade

Length: 1160 mm (45.65 in)
Width: 45 mm tapering to 35 mm (1.75 > 1.25 in)
Weight: 3130 gm (7 lb)

Related Objects

Two-hand Bearing Sword, probably an English royal processional sword Click on the title link above to find out more.

Object number: IX.1024

Two-hand Bearing Sword, probably an English royal processional sword Click on the title link above to find out more.

Object number: IX.1025

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