Apr 9, 2020
Apr 25, 2007
Apr 25, 2007
Apr 25, 2007

Basket-Hilt Broadsword ("Mortuary Sword")

Basket-Hilt Broadsword ("Mortuary Sword")

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

Did you know?

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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