Chronology of bladed weapons

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Weapons of the age of Bronze, Romania

The different types of bladed weapons (swords, dress-swords, sabers, rapiers, foils, machetes, daggers, knives, arrowheads, etc..) have been of great importance throughout history. In addition to its use for fighting, or in wars, the bladed weapons have been the object of special considerations forming part of funerary rituals, mythology and other ancestral traditions.

The manufacture of a bladed weapon of a certain quality (either of bronze or iron alloy) requires a certain degree of mastery in metallurgy: obtaining metals and alloys from the minerals of the mines, mastery on forging, casting or forming techniques and heat treatments; without forgetting the artistic aspects or the crafts related to the complements (pods, belts, shawls, knobs, decoration, etc...).

History[edit]

The present chronology it's a compilation that includes diverse and relatively uneven documents about different families of bladed weapons: swords, dress-swords, sabers, rapiers, foils, machetes, daggers, knives, arrowheads, etc..., with the sword references being the most numerous but not the unique included among the other listed references of the rest of bladed weapons. The reason to group them into a single list responds to a goal for simplification, instead of making a different chronology article for each type of bladed weapon.

Bronze Swords[edit]

Swords found next to Nebra sky disk

The first bronze swords with a length equal to or greater than 60 cm date from the 17th century BC in regions of the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. They emerged as an evolution of shorter weapons of the type of the daggers or daggers. To make a sword useful in combat, you must have a correct alloy, give it the right shape and apply the necessary thermal (and finishing) treatments. The longer a sword, the stresses (bending and buckling) are more important. What is needed is a weapon that is hard enough (to cut), fairly flexible (without being fragile) and quite tenacious enough to withstand the blows in the fights.

The manufacturing process is summarized as follows: The bronze swords were cast into moulds, heated to a certain temperature and allowed to cool slowly. Finally they cold hammered (hitting them with a hammer on a type of anvil) to increase its hardness.

  • c.1275 BC. Assyrian sword, with inscriptions.[1]
  • c.650 BC. According to Pausanias, Theodore of Samos invented the casting of bronze objects.[2]

5th century BC-5th century AD[edit]

Falcata from the 4th century BC
  • c.450 BC. Herodotus. He mentioned iron swords (as a representation of the god Ares/Mars) in Scythian people's.tombs
  • c.401 BC. He described the Indian steel (Wootz steel) and two swords made with that material.[3]
  • 326 BC. Battle of the Hidaspes River. Alexander defeated King Porus, who gave him about 10 kg of "Indian steel" (Wootz steel).[4]
  • c.230 BC.Philo of Byzantium In his treatise Belopoeica (artillery), he describes the flexibility of the swords of the Celts and Iberians in Hispania.[5] An elastic behavior, such as a spring, would imply some tempered steel content in the mentioned swords.[6][7][8][9]
  • 216 BC. Battle of Cannae Polybius described the swords of the Iberians (good for cutting and thrusting) and those of the Gauls (good for cutting).[10]
  • 197 BC. The Greeks were defeated by the Romans, led by Gaius Cornelius Cetegus near the River Clusius (perhaps the current Brembo River). In spite of the numerical superiority of the Gauls, their swords were bent at the first blow and had to be straightened. The Romans took advantage of this weakness to win the battle.[11]
  • c.20 BC. Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian of Sicily that lived in Century I BC contemporary of Julius Caesar and Augustus. His comments on the celtiberian swords indicate the cut quality and an aspect of their manufacture.[12]
  • c.5 BC. Gratio Falisco, in his poem Cynegeticon, mentions the knives of Toledo: "... Ima toledano praecingunt ilia cultro ..."[13][14]

Middle Ages[edit]

Sword of San Galgano nailed to the rock. Year 1181.
  • c.500. Ship wrecked near Nydam (Denmark) with a cargo of swords of the type "pattern-welded".
  • c.700. According to a Japanese legend from the province of Yamato, the sword maker Amakuni was concerned that many swords were broken in battle. And after days of work and prayer, he modified the forging and tempering process by getting swords that were curved and did not break in combat.[22]
  • 796. The emperor Charlemagne rendered the king Offa of Mercia with a sword made by Huns, obtained like war loot.[23]
  • 802. Harun al-Rashid possessed a sword of great quality, called Samsam or Samsamah. Supposedly it was a sword that had belonged to a king of Yemen. Nikephoros I, the Byzantine Emperor, sent him a few swords of Byzantine manufacture, indicating that he no longer wanted to pay the tribute. Harun broke them all with his Samsam sword, and he did not blunder the least.[24][25]
  • c.850. Abu Yusuf well Ishaq al-Kindi describes the swords of Damascus.[26]
  • c.900. First documentaries of the katana. Master Yasu-tsuna (from Hoki)[27]
  • 966. Embassy of Borrell II to To the-Hàkam II. giving a present of 100 "frank swords", very famous and feared.[28]
  • 1146. Earliest clear references to naginata.[29]
  • 1233. Jaume I mentions the sword called "Tiso" (forged in Monzón in the siege of Burriana.[30][31]
  • 1248. Sword Lobera of the king Fernando III de Castilla.[32]
  • 1274. Sword of the knight Soler de Vilardell (Sword of Vilardell). A sword considered magical, "of virtue". Its cut quality indicates a very successful manufacturing process.[33]
  • 1370. Last will of Pere el Cerimoniós with the sword of Sant Martí and the sword of Vilardell.
  • 1392. Ibn Hud Ibn Hudhayl, in his work " Gala de caballeros y blasón de paladines ", mentions two types of quality swords: those of Indian steel and those of the francs (Catalan) . The latter with exceptional qualities and supposedly forged by genius.[34]
  • 1425. The sword makers of Valencia asked for confirmation of their ordinations, copied from those of the sword makers of Barcelona.

....Item. Senyor los dits privilegis, capítols e ordinacions vees(?) plaurets a Déu a justícia (e) egualtat car axí son stats obtenguts per la spaseria de ciutat vostra de Barchinonae per vos atorgats (a) aquella segons han pres los prohomens de la spaseria de la dita vostra ciutat de Valencia...1425...Alfonsi Dei gratia Regis Aragonum, Sicilie, Valencie, Majoricam, Sardinie et ...[35]

  • Examination of applicants for master of sword making:

They had to present:“4 fulles d’espases e recapte per a guarniment de aquelles. Ço és la una fulla de dues mans la qual haie a guarnir vermella. E l’altra fulla sia de una mà la qual haie a esser guarnida mitadada de dues colors. E l’altra de una mà que sia buydada e guarnida tota negra. E la quarta ço és un estoch d’armes tot blanch los quals guarniments se vien(?) e haien a fer per lo volent usa(n)t de la dita spaseria dins la casa e habitació de un dels dits diputats...”

  • 1433. Barcelona. In the "Book of the councils" of the guild of sword makers, the way of tempering the leaves of the swords is indicated.[36]
    • In folio f_099r and others of the "Guild book of the sword makers" appears the expression "confrare ho confraressa" . Apparently a woman could belong to the guilt of sword makers. Maybe only as the wife or widow of a sword maker.[37]

1450-1700[edit]

sword of Francis I of France exposed in the "Musée de l'Armée" in Paris. Forged in Valencia by Antonivs.[38]

1700-1950[edit]

Miyamoto Mushashi.
  • 1742. "Dictionnaire Universel De Commerce", Jacques Savary des Bruslons, Philémon-Louis Savary. French name of the composite leaves with iron core and steel exterior ("lame de ettofe").[56]
  • 1750. News about the "varnished iron" or "iron" mines of Mondragón.[57]
  • 1760. Carlos III of Spain orders to Luis de Urbina, infantry colonel, a report on the bladed weapons factories of Toledo, Valencia, Zaragoza and Barcelona (in precarious state) to establish a new factory in Toledo
  • 1761. " Bladed weapons Factory of Toledo" (Fábrica de armas blancas de Toledo), created by decree of Carlos III of Spain. It was organized and directed by the Valencian sword's master Lluis Calisto, contracted expressly.[58]
  • 1766. Esquilache Riots
  • 1772. Henry Nock was the founder of a gun-making company. He bequeathed to his manager James Wilkinson, maker of the famous swords and sabers.[59]
  • 1772. Rules for Californian presidios. Soldado de cuera. Cutting arms. Broad sword and lance characteristics.[60][61]
  • 1781-1782. For the armament of the Presidio of Santa Barbara (California) the swords of Toledo are rejected and they are asked for German, Valencian or Barcelona swords, more suitable for military tasks. According to Felipe de Nieve report English by Richard S. Whitehead): "... Uniforms are in deplorable shape due to the fact that supply ships have not arrived. Much of the equipment is defective. Safeties on the pistols are inoperative and The swords of Toledo are so tempered that they can be broken to pieces if they are used carelessly. ".[62][63]
  • 1782. William Bowles, "Introduction to Natural History and the Physical Geography of Spain." With information on the making of swords in Spain.[64]
  • 1793-1795. War of the Pyrenees. The weapon workshops in Catalonia, are opened again.[65]
  • 1798. History of the political economy of Aragon. Ignacio Jordán de Assó. talks about the sword makers of Zaragoza .[66]
  • 1804. James Wilkinson.[67]
  • 1844. Henry Wilkinson[68]
  • 1849. "Barcelona General Guide"; Manuel Saurí, José Matas. Describes the sword of the guild of sword makers of Barcelona (60 inches long, 24 inches to the crosshead), which required a strong man to carry it in parades.[69]
  • 1851. Sword of Toledo (of Manuel de Ysasi) presented to the Great Exhibition of London. It could be unsheathed and sheathed in a nearly circular sheath.[70]
  • 1856. Details of the manufacture of swords (according to the Toledo Factory).[71]
  • 1865. Henry George O'Shea. "A guide to Spain". List of swords of the armoury of the Royal Palace of Madrid (at the time of the publication of the work).[72]
  • 1943. Sword of Stalingrad

References[edit]

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External links[edit]