Executioner's Sword

Executioner's Sword

late 1600s

Steel, wood, brass and copper wire

Overall: 108.9 cm (42 7/8 in.); Blade: 85.7 cm (33 3/4 in.); Quillions: 22.5 cm (8 7/8 in.); Grip: 15 cm (5 7/8 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Severance 1916.1620

Description

Although the axe was favored in England, for centuries swords were used throughout Central Europe for beheadings. The blades were often etched with moralizing inscriptions and designs representing Justice (as here), the gallows, the rack, or the Crucifixion. By the early 1700s swords were no longer used in Europe for executions, but they still functioned as symbols of power. This sword was probably ceremonial.

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