hilt: c. 1640–50; blade: 1700s
Steel, chiseled; inlaid gilt- silver foil; wood and wire grip
Overall: 101.6 cm (40 in.); Blade: 85.2 cm (33 9/16 in.); Hilt: 13 cm (5 1/8 in.)
Weight: 1.12 kg (2.47 lbs.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Severance 1916.696
The ornate basket hilt which protects the hand, is chiseled with leafy decorative scrollwork and grotesque masks.
The decoration on this sword's hilt includes an image of King Charles I of England (beheaded in 1649). Because the image resembles the king's death mask, this sword is known as a "mortuary sword." It may have belonged to Sir Thomas Fairfax, a general of the Parliamentary cavalry during the English Civil War (1642-51). Large, double-edged broadswords, designed for heavy cavalry use, were common from the 1600s through the 1800s.
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