The Cinquedea: Art or Civilian Weaponry?

2 minute read

What do you get when an art display piece becomes a highly sought-after civilian weapon? Meet: The Cinquedea.

Both 15th Century Art and Weaponry:
Cinquedea On a Wooden Floor Background

Art? Or, Civilian Weaponry With a Twist?

Pronounced 'chin-kwe-day-ya', these short swords were originally designed as pieces of art, featuring intricate carvings and decorations on the blade and handle. As the blade is very wide, to balance out the weight, they often featured fullers (a groove or slot) along the length of the blade to make them lighter.

Cinquedea were also beloved by artists, as the very wide blade made for a large canvas on which to carve and create intricate designs.

Cinquedea often featured extremely intricate designs and carvings, and were loved by artists -- as the very wide blade provided a fantastic canvas for artwork.

Popularity and Use: 15th & 16th Centuries as "Fashionable Weaponry"

A medium-sized blade, it was often carried in place of a knife or larger sword, and was revered for its convenience and balance between a knife -- which may be too small for full combat -- and a sword -- which suits full combat but may be too large to carry around in a convenient fashion.

During the height of its popularity in the 15th and 16th centuries, many considered it a 'fashionable weapon' -- perhaps not suitable for full military-grade armament, but a formidable weapon with which to defend yourself if needed, while still remaining 'fashionable' at the time, considering the artwork and beautiful carvings etched into the wide blades. 

The blade was traditionally rounded to a point. This meant that, when used in combat, the main use was slicing using the side of the blade, rather than stabbing with the tip. 

Cinquedea came with many and varied designs, carvings and engravings... but are all defined by the wide ('5-finger-width') blade | Image credit: MetMuseum

Why "Five Fingers"?

The name "Five Fingers"("Cinque Dita" in Italian) refers to the width of the blade next to the guard -- of approximately 5 finger widths in length -- much wider than many other types of sword.

Eventual Demise: From Popular Piece To Historical Artefact

Despite its popularity in the 15th and 16th centuries as both an art form (with its wide canvas blade) and a weapon, it was fashionable only for a few decades before being replaced with other forms of weapons.

Even so, it's still popular today with collectors due to its beauty and uniqueness, and has even been featured on shows like Forged In Fire which has helped it gain more notoriety and intrigue in the modern age.  Many collectors believe the Cinquedea to be a unique form of combining beauty with practicality, so it still enjoys popularity today, many centuries on.

Want your own sword engraved?

If you're itching to have your own personal piece of history, consider our engraving service, where we can etch your name, symbols and other characters into your very own, one-of-a-kind, personalised blade.