Sometimes overlooked by contemporary sword lovers, the type XIX blade was popular in the south eastern region of Europe for quite some time. It is distinguished by its hexagonal cross section and clipped point. The blade gets quite thin, exhibiting significant distal taper, but the sides of the blade are nearly parallel until just before the point. This creates a sword blade that might look heavy to the eye of someone used to swords with more profile taper, but it is lively in the hand and delivers devastating cuts. As we have pointed out in a previous post, thin blades with hexagonal sections are very efficient in the cut.
Original sword our replica is based upon.
The tightly re-curving type S guard and square pommel were common in the Adriatic region. Many of these swords are large for single-handed use but move well in the hand and can be used in two hands comfortably. This iconic regional form of sword is often referred to as a Venetian style. In the below illustration Ewart Oakeshott placed this type of sword into the broad category of Venetian and South German Schiavonas, though as a particularly early example. The Calliano sword is most similar to figure 82B, below.
Page 184 from Oakeshott's European Weapons and Armor
These long single-handed swords work well from horseback as well as being effective when fighting on foot. The steel hilt is fitted with a hardwood grip, bound with a spiral riser and covered in leather. The acutely curled guard and unique pommel are blued and the whole hilt is quite striking. This elegant blade with a hexagonal cross-section and clipped point are distinguishing features of this form of sword described in Italian as a spada schiavonescha, or a Slavic Sword.
Calliano Sword # 246 with blued finish.
We have named this sword after the Battle of Calliano in 1487 where Venetian forces led by the famous Condotierro Roberto Sanseverino d'Aragona attacked Castel Pietro, seen below, in Tyrol. The battle was a disaster for the Venetians, and Sanseverino was among the hundreds who perished when they were driven onto a floating bridge that was unable to bear the weight of the retreating Venetian forces.
Castel Pietro today, and Sanseverino's armor captured upon his death
Check out this video spotlight that provides additional details about the sword.
Finally, to learn more about the Calliano and our other swords click here.
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.