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Old 26th May 2020, 03:41 PM   #1
fernando
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Default My "new" cup hilt sword for your kind comments

Why have i acquired this one, despite current austerity days ?
Besides the patriotic inscription on the blade VIVA PORTUGAL, a Royal crest which, despite its faded condition, would implicitly be that of a Portuguese monarch.
The also (faded) patriarcal cross in the tang would have once shown a crucified Jesus, a symbol used by a few smiths, probably inspired by Toledan master Pedro Hernandez.
And last but not least, this blade width, which is really impressive; one that i have never seen and certainly neither many of you guys, i guess; over 5 cms. (2 inches).
The guard is easily dismountable; the pommel turns off rather smootly.

The grip; turned horn.
Cup bowl diameter: 15 cms. (also impressive).
Quillons span: 31 cms.
Blade length: 76 cms. (infantry).
Total length: 95 cms.
Weigth: 1187 grams.

Comments will be welcome.

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Old 26th May 2020, 03:54 PM   #2
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Congratulations Fernando !
it is not just another cup hilt of this genre , it is exceptionally huge and there are the fine engravings , yes I would have bought it to if I had the chance.
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Old 26th May 2020, 03:58 PM   #3
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Thak you for the kind words, Dirk .
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Old 26th May 2020, 04:31 PM   #4
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Stunning piece!
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Old 26th May 2020, 05:24 PM   #5
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A fine sword, an absolute beast. Great inscriptions and marks, which are always half the pleasure in researching and understanding the sword.
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Old 26th May 2020, 06:45 PM   #6
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Fernando, you KNOW my weakness!!! cup hilts!
And with Dirk, I agree, this is a wonderful and most unusual example.

In the 18th century, Spain stubbornly held to its cup hilt traditions and Portugal of course also maintained their affinity for these fascinating hilts. Without more detailed research, I would think this is likely a colonial 'arming' version of the continued colonial versions of cup hilts from probably Brazilian context.

I have seen these heavy blades on various Spanish colonial swords of the 18th century it seems, and they are of course infantry officers weapons as I have understood. I am not sure of the Portuguese involvement in the Seven Years War in the Americas but it certainly seems possible this may have some connection there.

Thank you for the great pics, detailed description, and sharing a MOST unusual example of the cup hilt spectrum!
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Old 26th May 2020, 09:11 PM   #7
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Thank you for your enthusiastic words, Jim .
Indeed this is an unusual example in all its details. But soon as i posted it here, some acquaintance i have, dedicated to these matters, reminded me of a similar, almost equal, example in exhibition in the Portuguese army museum of Lisbon. In fact all details match, since the key clue VIVA PORTUGAL on the blade, a motto profusely used whilst the restoration of independence from the Spanish Filipes took place (1640-1668). The crown is no doubt that of Dom Joćo IV, who was then acclaimed King of Portugal.
Amazing that the length and profile of both swords is practically the same.

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Old 26th May 2020, 09:29 PM   #8
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Wow! Fernando, you've outdone yourself! That is a beast of a sword!! (And I say that in a marvelous way!). I admit that I also thought as Jim did that it could have been perhaps colonial only in that the grip being horn and unwrapped and it's splendid but unmatched proportions led me to believe it not of standard regulation. I am imagining the man that wielded it to be of equal stature! As I am far from an expert on these, do you believe the proportions of yours were for a special military unit or troop? Was the one you mentioned in the local museum attributed to a particular regiment or smith? You are a lucky dog, my friend!
Mark
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Old 26th May 2020, 11:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Thank you for your enthusiastic words, Jim .
Indeed this is an unusual example in all its details. But soon as i posted it here, some acquaintance i have, dedicated to these matters, reminded me of a similar, almost equal, example in exhibition in the Portuguese army museum of Lisbon. In fact all details match, since the key clue VIVA PORTUGAL on the blade, a motto profusely used whilst the restoration of independence from the Spanish Filipes took place (1640-1668). The crown is no doubt that of Dom Joćo IV, who was then acclaimed King of Portugal.
Amazing that the length and profile of both swords is practically the same.

.



Even more exciting Fernando! and certainly this sword would easily place to that period as well. I am glad you were able to add this most vital data which more securely places the period, such as the royal crown which is key evidence.
The heavy and shorter than usual character of the blade was of course well suited for foot forces where the melee and close quarters would find such a sword favorable.
Uh, Mark, it is tempting to even consider maritime possibilities!!
I am not sure that swords of this heft would be confined to a certain unit, however, it is interesting that 'dragoons' were essentially mounted infantry, and dismounted for combat in those times. So perhaps a dragoon unit?

Magnificent and unusual sword!!!!
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Old 27th May 2020, 04:22 PM   #10
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Superb acquisition! This blade is really out of the ordinary. Well done !
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Old 27th May 2020, 05:26 PM   #11
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Thank you all guys. Always nice to hear from such broad participation.
The caption in the museum mentions this sword as one of 'military characteristics'; doesn't specify what branch it has equipped. Actually the entire caption covers a trio in exhibition; a lobster tail helmet, a cuirass ... and the cup hilt sword. This set is located in the museum war restoration room, as the three pieces are contemporary of such period.
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Old 27th May 2020, 06:11 PM   #12
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Very impressive piece. Particularly appealing to a Portuguese of course, but with all that history... I guess one can’t rule out naval use, where shorter and broader blades may have been favoured. The horn grip may have been popular in hot climate where metal gets hot to touch and gloves are uncomfortable to wear.
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Old 28th May 2020, 06:53 AM   #13
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very beautiful piece Fernando
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Old 28th May 2020, 07:41 AM   #14
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After years of research, I was able to conclusively show that bilbos did indeed "go to sea". This seems like a foregone conclusion based on movies, auction sites appealing to the naval collector, etc, but it was actually more complicated than that. These swords were primarily used by ground troops/soldiers. Even in the New World, sentries guarding the keeps at St. Augustine and Puerto Rico would have been so armed. I had seen famous paintings of Spanish admirals so adorned with the bildo and other cuphilts, but we all know that studios often used such props as...well, as props! It was only after learning that the Spanish and Portuguese Treasure ships coming back from the New World had contingents of soldiers aboard, both to defend the ship and also guard the treasure/discourage mutiny. In later times, the Royal Marines of the British and U.S. marines onboard early American ships followed suit. The point being, these bilbo broadswords and cup hilt rapiers were used by said soldiers and officers aboard ships.
Whew, now after all that, I'm not sure if this one fits into that realm versus a dragoon unit or some such-
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Old 28th May 2020, 10:23 AM   #15
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Hello Fernando and thank you for posting this fascinating sword.

In my novice oppinion the blade is much older than the hilt. I believe the blade may be 16th century while the hilt is early 18th century (or late 17th century at best).

So what do you think about that?

PS: The fact the hilt is easily dismountable points to the fact it is a later addition.
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Old 28th May 2020, 11:16 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M ELEY
After years of research, I was able to conclusively show that bilbos did indeed "go to sea". This seems like a foregone conclusion based on movies, auction sites appealing to the naval collector, etc, but it was actually more complicated than that. These swords were primarily used by ground troops/soldiers. Even in the New World, sentries guarding the keeps at St. Augustine and Puerto Rico would have been so armed. I had seen famous paintings of Spanish admirals so adorned with the bildo and other cuphilts, but we all know that studios often used such props as...well, as props! It was only after learning that the Spanish and Portuguese Treasure ships coming back from the New World had contingents of soldiers aboard, both to defend the ship and also guard the treasure/discourage mutiny. In later times, the Royal Marines of the British and U.S. marines onboard early American ships followed suit. The point being, these bilbo broadswords and cup hilt rapiers were used by said soldiers and officers aboard ships.
Whew, now after all that, I'm not sure if this one fits into that realm versus a dragoon unit or some such-



WOW! now thatsa some research Cap'n!!!! Thats what I'm talkin; about
It often puzzled me how they could use rapiers (typically of course with long slender blades) aboard these vessels (no matter how easy Flynn and Fairbanks made it look).
These stout blades placed with the cup hilt (or bilbo guards) were essentially 'arming' swords made for these kinds of close in combat in my opinion.

I always wonder just how much actual combat there was aboard ships. Following of course the many cases of artwork and literature which lent well to movie material, it would seem extremely difficult for pitched battle of degree in such confined space. Obviously there were some occasions, but the 'Marine' concept of these forces aboard was that they were transporting to places of battle......much as 'dragoons' rode to battle then dismounted (until later becoming 'heavy cavalry' and fighting mounted).

PS....I agree with Marius, this does seem an earlier blade than the hilt.
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Old 28th May 2020, 02:53 PM   #17
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Mark, i wouldn't hesitate to assume that these swords have gone to sea. You chose a reason; to equip the forces that complemented the ships personel (one part crew one part soldiers), other forces that were going aboard to replace those ending their commission in distant territories. There are also cargo manifests listing bundles of swords bein shipped. Surely and judging by the period, a great numbers of all such swords were cup hilted. By the way, in my modesty, i am a denialist of "bilbo" swords as a typology; but that is another story.
Marius (and Jim), i would not know how you conclude that the sword in discussion has a blade earlier than the cup bowl hilt; it takes some expertize i don't reach. But i can tell you that the other sword from where i have chosen mine, has the same type of blade (only 2" longer) and the same type of hilt; only that the engravings are even more faded than those in mine. Also the "far from modern" dismounting thread system is the same, only the other with a more unusual pommel.
Concerning the army unit, if we add to these two the example in the militar museum with similar characteristics we can infer that all three swords would have belonged to the same branch, probably a Royal detachment ?. I would not call them Dragons; don't think that army forces in these particular wars were organized with such names.


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Old 28th May 2020, 02:54 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwork
very beautiful piece Fernando

Thank you Tony .
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Old 28th May 2020, 02:56 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
Very impressive piece. Particularly appealing to a Portuguese of course, but with all that history...

You bet .
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Old 28th May 2020, 02:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lansquenet59
Superb acquisition! This blade is really out of the ordinary. Well done !

Merci, Thomas .
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Old 28th May 2020, 04:56 PM   #21
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A very impressive looking blade. We could assume some minor loss in length from sharpenings etc. though naval use is possible. If only it could speak!
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Old 28th May 2020, 05:19 PM   #22
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Thank you Will. I like to think that these words are suitable for both land and water. However in this particular case, this one must have seen land all its life time; in context, the major number of combats held during the Portuguese restoration war, were terrestrian.
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Old 28th May 2020, 08:40 PM   #23
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I dont think there are really any set guidelines for where, how or who used various types of sword, nor the blades they chose to have them fit with.
As previously noted, foot soldiers were often aboard ships not only as protection en route, but for campaign or duties at destination.

It seems clear by the motto as well as the patriarchal cross and the crown specifying Dom Joao IV that the blade was in use mid 17th to latter, so clearly a 17th c. type. The question then remains the hilt, which while a cup hilt style, its simplicity in character, quillon terminals non featured suggests later styling, as well as considering possible colonial involvement. However that assumption is not predicated on any sound evidence I could find.
In notes I did find a mention of a 17th c. cuphilt, with VERY wide blade, but no picture or other record

I am wondering if the 'Patriarchal cross' (Caravaca in Spain) might have association with military orders as it is so connected to religious and devotional motif of those times of Templars etc. I recall discussions many years back with MIN SINAL HES El SANTISSIMO CRUCIFIXIO ,
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Old 29th May 2020, 12:43 PM   #24
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Default Probably iam talking nonsense but ...

Yes ... the four arms cross, allegedly shown up in CARAVACA (Murcia), after some legendary story, is one more symbol used for mystic purposes, like MIN SENAL HES ... and others, like Christ in a crucified position but without the cross. At this contextual stage, i gather that they are no more than 'marketing' symbols to entice the believer's preference. The combination of the four arms cross with the crucified Christ in it, occurred to me due to a sword that i owned having such dual motif (pictures attached not pretending to divert from the original subject). Whether the blade in discussion, so as the other two in the same context, are connected to actual religious lobbies, is something i would humbly decline. Also to remember something that we often tend to forget is that, blades come from one maker (even country of origin) and hilts come from another ... this right counting from the sword's original production date.
Concerning the concept of Colonial, i wonder how this typology may be attributed here, as 'Colonial' for Americans is one thing and for Portuguese is another; while i presume that, when such term is (often) approached in this venue, it refers more to Spanish Americas than to Portuguese India and other Asian territories.
On the angle of judging the age of a (cuphilt) sword based on its construction simplicity, i would rather follow the reasoning that, high end Roperas for a noble man (or a street fencer) is one thing and austere Espadas for a soldier is another... whichever the period in question.


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Old 29th May 2020, 10:23 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Yes ... the four arms cross, allegedly shown up in CARAVACA (Murcia), after some legendary story, is one more symbol used for mystic purposes, like MIN SENAL HES ... and others, like Christ in a crucified position but without the cross. At this contextual stage, i gather that they are no more than 'marketing' symbols to entice the believer's preference. The combination of the four arms cross with the crucified Christ in it, occurred to me due to a sword that i owned having such dual motif (pictures attached not pretending to divert from the original subject). Whether the blade in discussion, so as the other two in the same context, are connected to actual religious lobbies, is something i would humbly decline. Also to remember something that we often tend to forget is that, blades come from one maker (even country of origin) and hilts come from another ... this right counting from the sword's original production date.
Concerning the concept of Colonial, i wonder how this typology may be attributed here, as 'Colonial' for Americans is one thing and for Portuguese is another; while i presume that, when such term is (often) approached in this venue, it refers more to Spanish Americas than to Portuguese India and other Asian territories.
On the angle of judging the age of a (cuphilt) sword based on its construction simplicity, i would rather follow the reasoning that, high end Roperas for a noble man (or a street fencer) is one thing and austere Espadas for a soldier is another... whichever the period in question.


.



Actually, I cannot imagine anyone who studies or collects swords forgetting
that blades and hilts are separate entities. I have seldom, if ever, encountered a sword whose blade and hilt were from the same source.
This is why books like "The Rapier & Small Sword" (AVB Norman, 1980) focused on the hilt designs, and Mr. Norman noted that blades were not addressed as they are from entirely separate sources and nothing to do with the study of hilts.

Naturally the use of the symbolism, devices and invocations, mottos and phrases are known to have been used by various brotherhoods, orders and fraternities, so there are cases where particular ones were favored by certain ones. This was much in the way where certain devices such as cross and orb and others were favored by certain makers though not actually their marking as registered.

The 'colonial' term is indeed a most relative term, and probably more often than not misused. For my own perspectives, pertaining mostly to Spanish colonial, these were weapons of notable simplicity, made in the fashion of the
typically higher end examples. For me, these weapons which are in fact, often munitions grade, have a genuine rustic and rugged charm which I admire.
This particular example is very much so, and regardless of where or when it was used, it is a remarkable sword.

Much as with many forms of swords, heirloom or trophy blades are often remounted into all manner of hilts, so seeing older blades in later hilts is not uncommon. I always think of Spanish colonial sabers which have the Spanish motto dragoon broadsword blades (usually c. 1820s with three bar guards). Obviously it is strange to have a broadsword blade on a saber hilt.

It is always good to see a nice sword example bring forth a good discussion on evaluating the particulars of the item
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Old 30th May 2020, 10:37 AM   #26
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So what do the letters I A H I stand for?

Where would people date threaded pommel nuts generally?

What’s the meaning of the ”double” patriarchal cross? Seems this cross originated in Byzance and spread to countries like Hungary, Russia and Lithuania. Why does it appear in Portugal (Byzantic connection)? The cross may have lost its meaning but for sure it had a meaning when it was put on the blade or the smith wouldn’t have bothered with the extra effort/expense.

The cuphilts are associated with fencing. This blade is obviously not for diligent fencing techniques. So there must be a possibility that it was married to the hilt because 1) it was the only one available at the time, or 2) it was so customized for a purpose. Must also be possible that the blade was recycled in a colonial setting (e.g. Portuguese Brazil) where European products imported from afar was more scarce and precious and therefore not wasted.
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Old 30th May 2020, 06:26 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
So what do the letters I A H I stand for?

Well, that would be the one million dollar question. Probably those of the smith; i wish someone would know !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
would people date threaded pommel nuts generally?

I would not know when in time peened pommels evoluted to the threaded system, and if that took place in the various type of swords as in the different countries at same time; i bet there are members who are more familiar with that topic. But i could clearly define the "conic" manual section in which this specific tang thread is made as certainly much prior to the classic 'cilindric' system. I have also read that tapping and threading pommel fixations can be a later operation. Minding that the pommel of the other sword that was together with this one has a pommel of rather different shape, yet unscrews in the same manner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
the meaning of the ”double” patriarchal cross? Seems this cross originated in Byzance and spread to countries like Hungary, Russia and Lithuania. Why does it appear in Portugal (Byzantic connection)? The cross may have lost its meaning but for sure it had a meaning when it was put on the blade or the smith wouldn’t have bothered with the extra effort/expense.


Patriarchal cross, Lorena cross, Bizantine cross, Caravaca cross.There are those who join them all in one, fusing their simbology; some even say that the upper shorter arm represents the board where the Romans inscribed the letters INRI in the crucification cross of Jesus. Personaly i would not favor the conviction that these symbols in these swords are a rigid allegory to exoterism, like if they were medieval or free mason swords, as in my humble perspective these are more to entice their selling, naturally calling for a "just in case" religious appeal; notwithstanding the smith applying them with the intent for profit. On the other hand i know for sure that the VIVA PORTUGAL was (in the discussed period) a contextual asset commissioned by the customer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
cuphilts are associated with fencing. This blade is obviously not for diligent fencing techniques.

I confess i am perplex with such assumption; there are cuphilts both mounted for fencing (thin bladed rapiers) and cuphilts mounted for non fencing purposes, with striking blades, some sturdy, for military combat...all in countless numbers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
there must be a possibility that it was married to the hilt because 1) it was the only one available at the time,


Reading my above posts we are aware that at least three of these swords are known, all similarly cuphilted, all with the royal coat of arms and all with the patriotic inscription... and all found in Portugal,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
or 2) it was so customized for a purpose. Must also be possible that the blade was recycled in a colonial setting (e.g. Portuguese Brazil) where European products imported from afar was more scarce and precious and therefore not wasted.

I see that the 'colonial' issue is a recurrent approach; as already noted, embellished and elaborated cuphilts (and not only) that were carried in the streets and in court by wealthy people, don't inherently condemn simple, basic, honest, defence or military examples to be colonial.
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Old 30th May 2020, 07:51 PM   #28
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Not sure how relevant this is but on patriarchal cross in Portugal from A Treatise On Ecclesiastical Heraldry by John Woodward: The title of patriarch was given to archbishops of metropolis, perhaps who had other metrolitans under them. Patriarchs have the right to use in the emblem of their dignity a cross with two bars. Roderid da Cunha, Archbishop of Braga and Primate of Portugal used such a cross. The patriarchal cross symbolises the powers of two offices in the same person: Metropolitan in own province but also having authority over other Metropolitans. The use of this symbol is very old. The patriarchate of Lisbon and the Indies was instituted by Clement XI in 1716. The archbishop of Toledo is the Primate of Spain since 1085 but the Archbishop of Braga in Portugal claims the Primacy of the whole peninsula and uses the double cross.
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Old 31st May 2020, 10:54 AM   #29
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I think the only reason that the "colonial" thought is still being tossed around is #1-the fancier types owned by private citizens, gentlemen, aristocrats, etc and #2-the confusion with the so-named colonial Spanish cup-hilt rapiers from the New World. These, as you know, are plainer than their European cousins, lack many of the design nuances such as the bowl rim, possess plainer grips (usually horn) and quillons and have specific characteristics marking them as from the New World (such as the mushroom-shaped pommels). In retrospect, yours does not have many of these features, so I agree that this is as you pointed out, a military version of it's richer cousin, but you can see why there were comparisons. Sometimes when one sees a piece that stands out and is not of the typical pattern (and your Goliath blade does that!!), one might assume it is from 'other ports'. I never stated how much I love this piece!
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Old 31st May 2020, 12:34 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
Not sure how relevant this is but on patriarchal cross in Portugal from A Treatise On Ecclesiastical Heraldry by John Woodward: The title of patriarch was given to archbishops of metropolis, perhaps who had other metrolitans under them. Patriarchs have the right to use in the emblem of their dignity a cross with two bars. Roderid da Cunha, Archbishop of Braga and Primate of Portugal used such a cross. The patriarchal cross symbolises the powers of two offices in the same person: Metropolitan in own province but also having authority over other Metropolitans. The use of this symbol is very old. The patriarchate of Lisbon and the Indies was instituted by Clement XI in 1716...

Now, that is a rather interesting approach ... and i thank you for that .
Dom Rodrigo da Cunha 1577-1643 after being Bishop of Portalegre, Bishop of Oporto, and Archbishop of Braga, ended his career as Archbishop of Lisbon, where he was assigned deputy for the inquisition. The interesting part in context is that D. Rodrigo da Cunha, one of the strong opposers to the anexation of Portugal by Spain, having even refused the Cardinalate of Madrid, during the Restauration of Independence war supported the insurgent and, together with the then Archbishop of Braga, governed the kingdom until the return of Dom Joćo IV.
So this explains the engraving of the cross on these swords tang/ricasso; as i view it, more a motivation of patriotism and authority rather than for religious purposes... or perhaps in great part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
... The archbishop of Toledo is the Primate of Spain since 1085 but the Archbishop of Braga in Portugal claims the Primacy of the whole peninsula and uses the double cross...

Yes sir, indeed.


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