Product Spotlight: The Black Prince Sword - Part 1

Knightly Ideal

Edward, The Black Prince, son of King Edward III, was arguably the most famous knight of the 14th century.  The Prince was famed for his martial vigor and his strict adherence to chivalric code.  As a war leader the Prince was unparalleled.  At Crecy and again at Poitiers he led vastly outnumbered forces to victory against the French, eventually conquering Aquitaine, defeating a pretender to the throne in Spain, and developing an international reputation as the embodiment of the knightly ideal.  

painting of the battle of Crecy

The Battle of Crecy, 1346

From the time of his funeral in 1376 until the mid-17th century the Prince's sword hung with the rest of his heraldic achievements above his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral.  However, sometime during the Commonwealth (1649-60) the sword disappeared (some say it was stolen by Cromwell himself).  For three hundred years the sword was lost.  

the tomb of the Black Prince

The tomb of the Black Prince, Canterbury Cathedral

The Sword

Then, in the aftermath of World War 2, Ewart Oakeshott discovered a sword in a house sale wrapped up with a bundle of walking sticks.  It was in rough condition with a section rusted off, and the original grip falling apart.   He had a new blade forged and attached, based on the rusted fragment of the original.  He also had the sword regripped at the Royal Armouries workshop.  

While considering his find, Oakeshott became intrigued at the similarities in shape , style, and corrosion between the sword he had found and the heraldic artifacts at the tomb of the Black Prince.  He discovered upon the blade the royal badge of the Plantagenets and Tudors, which indicated that the sword was royal.  The sword also perfectly fit the scabbard at the tomb, and the corrosion on the pommel and blade was identical to that of the other pieces of the Prince's armor.  

As Oakeshott writes in Records of the Medieval Sword (pg. 144) "There can be little doubt that this sword is the one lost from the Cathedral... but since it cannot be proved positively to be so, it has not been possible to restore it to its proper place."  The sword is the epitome of a type XVa longsword with its sharply tapered point, downturned quillions, and strong central spine optimized for knightly combat in armor.

Up close photography of the pommel of the Arms and Armor Black Prince Sword

 In the late 1980's, while visiting Ewart and Sybil Oakeshott at their Salisbury home, Christopher Poor and Craig Johnson of Arms and Armor, had the opportunity to handle, measure, and take notes on the characteristics of the original sword.  When Ewart was in failing health he worked with Christopher to found The Oakeshott Institute in the United States, to which he bequeathed his personal collection of swords.  The sword of the Black Prince was excepted because of its historical value to England.  Instead of making its way across the Atlantic to Minneapolis the sword was donated to the Worshipful Company of Cutlers for display in London, a decision we think right and proper.

Our replica of the sword is as beautiful as it is deadly.  Light and lively in the hand, the point tracks perfectly as you move through the guards.  Although the point of the sword is clearly intended for efficiency in piercing the weak points in French armor, the sword also cuts powerfully as long as your edge alignment is good, as seen in this video posted by a customer, Phillip Martin.




Black Prince Spotlight- Part 2

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