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Old 28th May 2021, 04:58 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default An unusual cavalry schiavona of early 19th c.

Earlier I posted a British M1796 light cavalry saber (by Bate, Birmingham) which had apparently been used by the volunteer army who had assembled to protect the Pope and Vatican during unification of Italy conflicts 1861 and prior.

While not particularly well versed in the complexities of Italian history, it appears I have another weapon in my humble armory that has unusual connections in these political intrigues.

This is of course a schiavona, which is a trellis hilt sword most famed for its used by body guards for the Doge in Venice, typically from Croatia (hence the term schiavona, loosely referring to 'Slavic'). What is seldom realized is that these most impressive swords were widely used elsewhere in Italian contexts and regions.

This example is a cavalry sword, suggested by the latter 18th c. backsword blade similiar to horsemans swords of various other countries of the period.
What is most interesting, and telling, is the inscription in the blade's fuller,
to FERDINAND IV of the kingdom of the TWO SICILIES.

What this curious title 'Two Sicilies' refers to is the city of Naples as well as the Island of Sicily, the two connected regally and politically in turbulent arrangements since the Middle Ages.

Just after the French Revolution, in the 1790s, French Republicans invaded Naples in part of their plans to conquer Italian regions.
Ferdinand IV (1751-1825). Ferdinand evacuated to Palermo as they invaded in 1799, but Cardinal Fabrizio Rufio hastily assembled an army comprised mostly of the 'lazzaroni'. These were the 'common folk' of Naples and these forces were termed the 'Sanfedismo' , and formidable enough to effectively drive the French revolutionaries out of Naples by 1800.

Ferdinand returned to Naples and maintained his rule until the invasion by Napoloeons forces in 1806, where Napoleon replaced the Bourbon king, Ferdinand by his brother Joseph and Bonapartist officials throughout.

While Ferdinand was deposed, his devout followers remained intent on replacing him to the throne. With Napoleon's defeat in 1816, Ferdinand had remained in power in Sicily.
With the Treaty of Casalanza in 1816, Ferdinand was restored to the throne, but not only to Naples, but remaining of the TWO SICILIES, the former joint kingdom...........but on this, he became FERDINAND I of the Two Sicilies.

Therefore, this schiavona can presumably be placed with likely a cavalry officer of forces FOR Ferdinand while he remained known as Ferdinand IV before the 'formal' recognition of the Two Sicilies, but unofficially while Ferdinand of Naples ruled in Sicily.

These are my interpretations of the likely classification of this remarkable schiavona with apparently an unusual background.
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