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Monday, January 9, 2017

The most famous swords in History

Of all side arms, the sword was undoubtedly the most cherished and honored tool of death. For millennia, the phrase "To die in battle by the sword" was the preferred way of concluding the worldly reckoning for generations of warriors from all over the world because it is considered by far the most honorable and desirable death.

Throughout history, legendary characters, generals and perfect warriors, conquerors of empires and military leaders, all used swords many with their own name and a personality like the one who wielded the battlefield.

There is a whole section of history specializing in mapping and searching these noble weapons.So we know, some of the most respected, feared and not all sought during the past swords.

Look them with respect and fear, are matchless weapons that have curtailed some of them, thousands of lives, and true rivers of blood.

Let's start with the sword of General Tomoyuki Yamashita

Tomoyuki Yamashita was not a samurai as you might have expected, but one of the most feared generals of the Japanese Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War. It became really feared during this bloody world wars when he won the British colonies in Malaysia and Singapore, and thus deserving of the title "Tiger of Malaya".

Photo of Yamashita Tomoyuki, Lieutenant-General, Commander of the Japanese 25th Army photo: wikipedia
At the end of the war, General Yamashita was judged for war crimes in connection with the so-called "Massacre of Manila" and other atrocities that took place in the Philippines and Singapore. It was a highly controversial process, which culminated in the conviction of General Tomoyuki Yamashita to death. His case has fundamentally changed American law on the responsibility of military commanders on war crimes, adopting the law known as such term Yamashita Standard.

During his military career, General Yamashita had a personal sword whose blade was forged by the famous master blacksmith, specializing in producing high quality Katane,  the sword being forged between 1640-1689. The sword had changed somewhere handle the early twentieth century. 

photo: A History Of War

General and surrendered his sword, along with his troops, on September 2, 1945. The gun was taken over by US General MacArthur, and subsequently filed Museum Military Academy at West Point, where he remained until today. The sword is just one of the many similar pieces seized by Americans in Japan after the war.

Gen. Jose de San Martin

Jose de San Martin was a famous Argentinian soldier career, who lived from 1778 to 1850. For South American nations, it is today honored as a great hero because he was the most important leader of the South American continent.

One of the most precious treasures of revolutionary general, consist of a cavalry sword with curved blade which he bought in London. The general was attracted mainly by the blade  that greatly enhance the manageability and efficiency of the sword on the battlefield. For this reason, he ordered that cavalry swords to be similar, extremely important in a attack. The sword remained in the possession of General throughout his life.

In his will, General San Martin was referring to the sword as "The sword accompany me along the tumultuous War of Independence of South America". In 1896, the sword was sent to the National History Museum in Buenos Aires, where it can be admired today. In 1960, the sword was stolen twice, which is why museum officials kept in a specially constructed box.

The 7 sword blades

Paek-je dynasty once ruled a small kingdom of the same name, year somewhere southwest of South Korea today. At the height of its power, ie the 4th century AD, the kingdom Paek-je control their own colonies in western China and ruled the Korean Peninsula. Paek-je was one of the three major Korean medieval kingdoms, Koguryo and Silla together. In 372, King of Paek-je Geunchogo paid tribute to Nippon Jin Dynasty, and it is believed that they ordered the building of a 7-blade sword as a token of consideration to the Korean king. The sword has a main blade with a length of 74, 9, to which they are attached other blades. The sword was created with purely ceremonial, not at all practical in a real fight.

This replica of the Chiljido is held at the War Memorial in Seoul, South Korea. The sword is important to both the history of Korea and Japan photo: wikipedia

In 1870, a Shinto priest discovered two inscriptions on the sword blade 7.

One of inscription said: "At noon the sixteenth day of the eighth month of the era Taiwa, this sword was forged from hard steel a hundred times. The sword can kill a hundred enemy soldiers. With honor for the king.

The sword is kept today Isonokami from Japan.

William Wallace Sword

William Wallace was perhaps the most famous historical figure in Scotland. Originally it was a Scotsman noble knight  who lived from 1272 to 1305. It is famous for organizing military resistance to the English kingdom  during the war of Scottish Independence in 13-14 centuries. Throughout the period of his life, Wallace was appointed guardian and protector of Scotland . 

He led numerous bodies of infantry were employed successfully in wrestling with horsemen British troops. The most prized weapon of these warriors was obviously bigger sized sword. In 1305, the hero William Wallace was captured on the orders of King Edward I of England, charged with treason and suffered a horrible death. Today, William Wallace is the most important Scottish hero and patriot. His sword is among the most famous and popular in the world.

The Wallace Sword. photo: wikipedia

Today can be seen inside the National Monument in Stirling, Scotland. Only the sword sheath has a length of 134 centimeters and weighs about 3 kilograms. It is believed that Wallace sword was used in the battles of Stirling Bridge (1297) and Flakirk (1298). Sword handle ends in an iron counterweight form an onion.

After the execution of William Wallace, Sir John de Menteith, governor of Dumbarton Castle, was the one who received the sword. In 1505, King James IV of Scotland has paid the sum of 26 shillings for the sword to be wrapped in expensive silks. It is said that the sword has gone through many changes since the English have not reconciled at all with that sword scabbard and belt ( made of peeled skin of Hugh Cressingham )


Cid was the most important Spanish folk hero. It was a real historical figure who was apparently born in the year 1040, near Vivar, a small town near Burgos, capital of the kingdom of Castile. Throughout his life, El Cid had numerous military and diplomatic successes. He was appointed supreme leader of the army by King Alfonso IV, is undoubtedly the ace in the sleeve of the king in his military campaigns against the Moors. It was a skilled military strategist and also a feared swordsman.


He used many swords during his life, but the most popular weapons were "baptized" Colada and Tizona. Tizona was Cid's sword favorite in its confrontation with the Moors. The weapon is considered to this day one of the most important historical artefacts held in the Spanish patrimony.


Tizona was forged in Cordoba, a Damascus steel with special purity. It has a length of 103 cm and weighs 1.1 kg. It is adorned with two inscriptions, one that refers to the date on which it was made somewhere in 1002 and the other Catholic prayer Ave Maria. Tizona can be admired in the Museo de Burgos, the town of the same name.

Napoleon Bonaparte sword

In 1799,  Napoleon Bonaparte grown into military and political leader "de facto" of France, following a coup. Five years later, the French Senate porclama him king. 

Such a complex and fascinating personality had his favorite sword. Napoleon Bonaparte on the battlefields always carried a pistol and a sword. He was an enthusiast of weapons, his private collection comprising great viarietare weapons, from daggers to artillery. His weapons were pieces of high quality, made from the best materials of the time.

The Sword of Mercy

This tool of Death with bizarre names, is a famous sword that belonged to Edward the Confessor, one of the last kings of Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest of 1066. King Edward the Confessor reigned between 1042-1066, immediately after his death  Normans arrived here led by William the Conqueror.

The left panel of the Wilton Diptych, where Edward (centre), with Edmund the Martyr (left) and John the Baptist, are depicted presenting Richard II to the heavenly host. photo: wikipedia

Mercy has broken sword blade, in 1236 was named Curtana weapon and was used only during ceremonies at court. In ancient times, it was a privilege for any king to come to wield. The story linked to the sword breaking episode is unknown, but according to myths, medieval sword tip was broken by an angel who wanted to prevent such a crime.

Sword of Mercy is today part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, and is one of the five swords used in coronation ceremonies of kings of British. The weapon is among the few who escaped the wrath of Oliver Cromwell, famous for his orders to melt all ancient artifacts, looking for any shred of gold and other precious metals.

Zulfiqar The Sword of Ali 

It is the oldest and most treasured sword of Islam. Historically, he belonged to Ali, cousin and bridegroom of the Prophet Muhammad. Ali led the first Islamic Caliphate, between 656-661. Based on historical evidence, Muhammad himself  handed the Zulfiqar to Ali at the end of the battle of Uhud.

Zulfiqar is a symbol of Islam, being admired today by millions of believers.
Zulfiqar (split-bladed sword), a representation of the sword of Ali, Mughal period India. photo: wikipedia

Technically, Zulfiqar is a Scimitar, a typical sword from southwest Asia, this kind of long curved sword blade was very common in the region during the Middle Ages.

It seems that Ali used the Zulfiqar on siege of Mecca. There are few images of the sword, some of them presenting it with a forked blade and two peaks, while others feature in a classical form of Scimitar. According to the 12 Shiite imams, the weapon is now in the possession of Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi. Holy sword of Islam is part of the famous collection Al-Jafr.

Honjo Masamune

Smith Masamune is considered among the best makers of swords in Japan, which immediately turns it into one of the greatest masters of this kind that have ever lived in this world It is not known precisely the historical period in which he lived, but is believed to have worked as a blacksmith imperial sometime between 1288-1328.Weapons created by Masamune have acquired a legendary status over the centuries. In particular type swords katana and wakizashi have emerged from the hands of the master Masamune unrivaled reputation based on the quality and style of these tools of Death. The master sign forged swords rare, so it is very difficult to date and identified weapons that had belonged.

Masamune Portrait photo: wikipedia

The most famous of his sword was called the Honjo Masamune, the Sword  is extremely important for Japan because this object has attained perfection (Represented the Shogunate during the Edo) The sword was handed from shogun to shogun for generations. In 1939, it was declared national treasure of Japan, but remained in the castle  Kii of Tokugawa family. The last owner of Katana Masamune was Tokugawa Hionjo Iemasa.

Hionjo handed it along with 14 other swords of great value to the Mejiro police station somewhere in December of 1945. Shortly thereafter, in January of the following year , the police from Mejiro  handed sword to Coldy Bimore (American sergeant). Honjo Masamune sword then disappeared without a trace, and the location is currently unknown. Honjo Masamune is one of the most important and most precious historical artifacts that disappeared at the end of the Second World War.


Charlemagne or Charles the Great, was probably the most important French king in history. It was born in 742, is considered one of the most admired military leaders on the Old Continent. He became king of the Franks in 782 and in 800 became king over what was left of the western Roman Empire. During the Holy Roman Empire, it was known under the name of Charles I, being in fact the founder of this empire. During his reign, he has managed unprecedented extension of Frankish kingdom, transforming it into a true empire that encompassed much of central and western Europe. Charlemagne is regarded as the founder of the French and German monarchies and father occientale Europe.

Charles the Great, King of the Franks photo: 

His personal sword called Joyeuse, is seen as a true object of worship among the majority of medieval chivalric orders. Today there are two swords who claims to be famous Joyeuse. One is kept at Weltliche Schatzkammer in Vienna and the other is the Louvre Museum. Louvre blade of the sword seems to be made part of the original blade of the sword of Charlemagne. This sword forged in separate parts assembled in different centuries. The handle of the sword indicates a production date yet coinciding with the period during which Charlemagne reigned.

Joyeuse has appeared in numerous legends and historical documents. Bulfinch Chronicle claims that the supreme monarch of the Franks would be used Joyeuse to decapitate the Saracen commander Corsuble just like his good friend, Ogier Dane.

After the death of Charlemagne, the sword would have been preserved in the Basilica of Saint Denis, then was taken to the Louvre, where it was used in the coronation ceremonies of French kings.

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