Swords in Art & History
During history depicting the battles and heroic actions of the leaders or “heroes” was a normal and largely used form of art. It could help the artist’s status and help the winning party get the attention it deserved. Let’s just look at it as a “superstar” magazine cover of our days.
Clearly in a battle scene the weapons will always be present giving an insight look of what people used in battles, what style and what influenced the forging of weapons during those wars.
Today I present you a mid 13th century painting from the Maciejowski Bible - work commissioned by the French King Louis IX (Saint Louis). The book was created somewhere or along 1244 AD and 1254 AD. The bible took its name from its owner in mid 1500’s, the Polish Cardinal Bernard Maciejowski.
There are several interesting things in this illumination, but what will probably caught your attention is the center rider that seem to wield a unique weapon. It is a large, two-handed, hilt-less, straight-backed, falchion-like blade to shear through the mail armor and waist of another rider, spilling his… insides. The blade has a long “ricasso” (the unsharpened length of blade just above the guard) and deep fuller (a rounded or beveled groove or slot in the flat side of a blade).
While axes are known to be capable of doing this kind of damage to 13th century helms and mail, the reliability of the wounds shown with the swords blows is debatable. This kind of destructive power was atributed to cutting edge weapons like the Dacian Falx or Egyptian Khopesh, the weapon itself looking similar to the two mentioned.
Sure, we must always keep in mind that as this illustration (or any other images as such) depicting “heroic” Biblical events, the wounds may be questionable. Yet, on the other hand, the rest of the image shows the equipment and figures realistically and in considerable detail.