Mortuary Sword: Death Mask of a Martyred King

3 minute read

Mortuary sword played a significant role in history as a symbol of power and authority. It was used in several important battles throughout history such as the English Civil War in the mid-17th century, the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745, and the American Revolution in 1775.

A King's Sword

The Mortuary Sword is a basket-hilted sword that was widely used in the 17th and 18th centuries, primarily in the British Isles. One of the most notable historical figures associated with this sword is King Charles I of England. He was said to have favored a specific mortuary sword that was given to him by his father, King James I, which he carried with him into battle during the English Civil War, a fight between his supporters and the Parliament. He was eventually captured by the army and executed for treason in the end. After his execution, basket-hilted swords were made with his death mask on the hilt and came to be known as "mortuary swords".

Design and Use

The unique design of mortuary sword made it a versatile weapon for both ceremonial and practical purposes. It was typically about 3 feet long with a straight blade making it an effective cutting weapon and a pointy tip for thrusting attacks. The basket hilt provided excellent protection for the hand, and the knuckle bow was useful for catching an opponent's blade or hooking it out of the way. The grip was usually wrapped in leather or wire for better handling, and the pommel was often decorated with an intricate design.

Popular Culture

Today, mortuary swords are still appreciated by collectors and enthusiasts of historical weaponry. It was even featured in the popular TV show, Forged in Fire, where contestants were tasked with forging their very own Mortuary Sword. Many antique mortuary swords can be found in museums and private collections around the world. They are a fascinating piece of history that played an important role in battles and ceremonies. The unique design and versatility of mortuary sword makes it a standout among other swords of its time, and its legacy continues to be recognized today.

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