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Thread: Toledo Broadsword (Dragoon Pallasch?)

  1. #1

    Toledo Broadsword (Dragoon Pallasch?)

    I acquired this pallasch from the son of late collector. His information was that it had been a sidearm of the Norwegian Army (militia) 16th-17th Century.

    The pallasch’ dimensions are:
    - Total length: 99,7 cm
    - Grip 12,5 cm
    - Blade length 86,5 cm
    - Blade width: 3,4 cm at the quillon, 3 cm just above the blade point
    - Fuller 45 cm (starts 23 cm from the blade point)
    - Quillon 12,5 cm
    - Knuckle guard 10 cm

    The grip has a thumb protection ring on the quart side. The weapon has a distinctive makers mark on the blade, 10 cm down from the quillon on the quart side and 12,5 cm down on the terts side. According to Kinman the mark belongs to Juan Martinez of Toledo from the middle of the 17th Century. The weapon Kinman has used to register/identify this mark has a blade with a copper-inlaid wolfmark and half-moon marks. From the old records of the Swedish Royal Armoury it further reads of this weapon that it was carried by the late King [Karl X Gustaf] in the Polish and the Danish war .

    Karl X Gustaf, b. 8th November 1622, d. 13th February 1660. King 1654-1660 and his reign was basiclly spent on campaign; Polish War 1655-1660, Russian War 1656-1661 (continued after his death), First Danish War 1657-58, Second Danish War 1658-1660. In both of the “Danish Wars” (1657-1660), Norwegian troops fought in (then) Danish and Swedish territories from today’s border at Halden (Norway) down to Skaane (Sweden). These wars are in Norway called “The Kagge Feud” and “The Bjelke Feud” after the Norwegian commanders. Before and during these wars, the Norwegian Cavalry was strengthened and organized with Cuirassiers (regulars only) and dragoons (also a few militia, but mostly regulars). The officers of the regular cavalry was exclusively recruited abroad, NCOs and troopers were a mix of local and foreign troops from the continent. Foreign troops were mostly German. I mention this as the pallasch seems too long for being an infantryman’s weapon; however, I may be wrong.

    Other wars of relevance to the era “Middle of the 17th Century” are the wars of 1644-45 “The Hannibal Feud” and 1675-1679 “The Gyldenloeve Feud/The War of Skaane”. The wars were fought over the same areas as the Danish Wars mentioned above, and the broadsword/pallasch may be associated with any of these also.

    The Norwegian Army of that time was composed of both militia and regular (gevorbne) troops. In the several sources I have, there are almost no examples of edged weapons from the period 1650-1700, but mostly examples from the periods 1600-1650 and 1700 and on. The examples of the early period are exclusively from Passau and Solingen, basically also for the so-called “Tessaks” of Böhmischer provenance. There are no references to any Toledo-made weapons. Could my pallasch be war booty from the Swedish or mayby a weapon brought by troops from the continent?

    I have some questions to the honorable members of this forum:

    - Does anyone know of references elaborating on the sword maker Juan Martinez of Toledo?
    - Has anyone other references or examples of this makers mark?
    - Has anyone references to weapons with this makers mark with affiliation to collections/museums in Northern Europe?

    Kind regards,
    Trygve
    Attached Images Attached Images       
    Last edited by Trygve S; 10-14-2017 at 05:07 PM.

  2. #2
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    The images seem a bit elongated, but the hilt looks East European in origin. I would guess second half of the 17thC Polish. It might have been brought over by a mercenary harquebusier?

    I found this article which might be of interest: http://rcin.org.pl/Content/54821/WA3...uan-Mart_I.pdf

  3. #3
    Thank you Magnus for the article, very interesting.

    As the article mentions t may seem that there is a chance that the crescent moon on my blade can have been copied by several other makers than Juan Martinez. Do you have any suggested references on Polish edged weapons of the 17th Century which shows similar weapons?

    Cheers,

  4. #4
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    Trygve, it did cross my mind too that the mark could have been copied given the clear differences in quality between the swords. On the other hand the article makes it clear there was a substantial trade in blades with the hilts attached separately in other locations.

    Eastern European arms and armour can be quite difficult to differentiate between because it was often made in Central Europe (e.g. Styria) and then customized at home for local tastes and requirements. There was also a lot of cross fertilization in the region with intermingling of nationalities exacerbated by inflows of refugees from the Ottoman expansion. So it’s just an educated guess that it’s a Polish broadsword, or at least in the style of (it could also be Russian or Hungarian). There are lots of books on Polish swords which tend to be in Polish and I don’t have any. But you will see swords with similar grips in Eduard Wagner’s Cut and Thrust Weapons (1969) on p.212 and p.400. In the book these have curved blades for hussars, but there were also pallasches and broadswords with straight blades. The perpendicular extension on the quillon would later in the 18thC connect with the pommel to form the now more familiar horse stirrup shaped guard.

  5. #5
    Thanks again Magnus,

    I have google'd around and the hilt look very much like in the Polish style. The pallasch/sword is in itself also rather Polish style, although it is the sabre that is more dominant among available examples. I have to acquire some books and read up a little, there are also some avilable in English, although naturally the majority is in Polish.
    The mark on my blade is more like Juan Martinez the younger, than the elder, which the article is much about. I would assume that Toledo would also provide blades for equipping the rank and file in Northern Europe, as well as making weapons for the nobility. Actually, so far I have found no books about Toledo swords and armour in English.

  6. #6
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    The hilt looks basic, although I can’t judge the quality of the blade from the pictures. It’s possible that the blade was recycled and attached to a homemade hilt modeled on a Polish original for local militia use? There were also irregular troops in Eastern Europe called hajduks who may have used less fancy arms and may have served in Northern Europe as mercenaries.

    It astonishes and frustrates me that we today seem to know so little about the artisans who made old arms and armour. They must have been celebrated for their skills in the past but they disappeared in obscurity. Part of the reason might be that they guarded the secrets of their trade so jealously.

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