Hand-and-a-Half Sword

Date: ca. 1400–1430

Culture: probably German

Medium: Steel, copper alloy

Dimensions: L. 49 1/8 in. (124.8 cm); L. of blade 38 1/2 in. (97.8 cm); Wt. 3 lb. 7 oz. (1560 g)

Classification: Swords

Credit Line: Gift of Laird and Kathleen Landmann, in memory of Edmund Roy Hofmann, 2006

Accession Number: 2006.564


This sword is an extremely well proportioned and elegant example of a type that was in use throughout Western Europe from the late fourteenth through the fifteenth century. The steeply pointed blade, indicating that it was primarily intended for thrusting (rather than cutting), coupled with the stiffness of the blade, made it sturdy enough for its primary function, to pierce armor. The sword's form is further enhanced by the slight horizontal reverse curve and dimpled decoration of the cross guard and the faceted and engraved outer face of the pommel, which bears the word "MARIA," a pious invocation to the Virgin Mary. The spherical shape of the pommel and reverse curve of the cross guard are very unusual and distinctive features for a sword of this period with this type of blade.