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“They say the best swords have names,” – Jaime Lannister

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By US Desk
Fri, 10, 21

Here is a brief account of some of the ancient swords that are legends...

“They say the best swords have names,” – Jaime Lannister

COVER STORY

Swords were one of the biggest signs of honour and bravery, especially during the medieval period. Often, more than people, swords took the limelight in both historical and mythological legends.

These swords from both history and mythology have exquisite stories surrounding them, often shrouded in mystery.

Here is a brief account of some of the ancient swords that are legends:

Hazrat Ali’s (R.A) Zulfiqar

Zulfiqar is the legendary sword of Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib (R.A) who was the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). He ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661. Zulfiqar is generally depicted as a scissor-like double bladed sword on Muslim flags. It is also commonly shown in the form of jewelry functioning as talismans or as a scimitar (a short sword with a curved blade) terminating in two points. Often, quotes mentioning this sword are inscribed on Islamic swords. Also, as a reference to this legendary sword, Islamic swords are sometimes made with a split tip.

Prophet Muhammad gave Zulfiqar to Hazrat Ali at the Battle of Uhud. The Prophet admired Hazrat Ali’s power and strength on the battlefield and wanted to present him with the cherished weapon. The sword is a symbol of the Islamic faith and is admired by millions of people.

The Zulfiqar is a scimitar, which refers to a West Asian or South Asian sword with a curved blade. Hazrat Ali used the sword at the Battle of the Trench, which is a famous siege attempt on the city of Medina.

Colada and Tizona

Colada and Tizona are the legendary swords of El Cid Campeador of Spain (Castilian nobleman and military leader in medieval Spain). The ruler won Tizona from its previous owner, King Yucef in Valencia, and Colada in combat from the Count of Barcelona. He presented these swords to his sons-in-law. But later, according to the heroic verses of the Cantar de Mio Cid (Castilian epic poem), when his sons-in-law beat his daughters and then abandoned them on the side of the road, El Cid asked for his gifts to be returned. Afterwards, he bestowed Colada upon Martín Antolínez, one of his knights. A sword, alleged to be Colada, is preserved in the Royal Palace of Madrid.

The Honjo Masamune

Masamune was a Japanese swordsmith, widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest metallurgists. The exact dates for Masamune’s life are unknown, but it is believed that he worked from 1288–1328. Masamune’s weapons have reached legendary status over the centuries. He created swords known as tachi and daggers. The swords of Masamune have a strong reputation for superior beauty and quality. He rarely signed his works, so it can be hard to positively identify all his weapons.

The most famous of all Masamune swords is named Honjo Masamune. The Honjo Masamune is so important because it represented the Shogunate during the Edo period of Japan. The sword was passed down from one Shogun to another for generations. In 1939 the weapon was named a national treasure in Japan, but remained in the Kii branch of the Tokugawa family. The last known owner of Honjo Masamune was Tokugawa Iemasa. Apparently, Tokugawa Iemasa gave the weapon and 14 other swords to a police station in Mejiro, Japan, in December of 1945.

Shortly thereafter, in January 1946, the Mejiro police gave the swords to Sgt. Coldy Bimore (U.S. 7th Cavalry). Since that time, the Honjo Masamune has gone missing and the whereabouts of the sword remains a mystery. Honjo Masamune is one of the most important historical artifacts to disappear at the end of World War II.

Charlemagne’s Joyeuse

Joyeuse
Joyeuse

Charlemagne was born circa 742. He is considered one of the greatest rulers in world history and became King of the Franks in 768. In 800, he was named Emperor of the Romans, a position that he held for the remainder of his life. In the Holy Roman Empire he was known as Charles I and was the first Holy Roman Emperor. During Charlemagne’s lifetime he expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire, which covered much of Western and Central Europe. Charlemagne is regarded as the founding father of both the French and German monarchies, as well as the father of Europe.

The town of Joyeuse in Ardèche is apparently named after this sword. Also, according to legends, Joyeuse was lost in a battle and found by one of Charlemagne’s knights, and to thank him, Charlemagne granted him an appanage named Joyeuse. It is also said that the blade was smithed from the same materials as Curtana.

Durandal

Durandal
Durandal

Durandal is the sword of Charlemagne’s paladin (equivalent of Arthur’s knights) Roland. Roland was the most courageous of the 12 paladins who served the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, in the 8th century. The medieval legends surrounding Roland involve also his famous sword – the gleaming white and stainless Durandal. According to the Song of Roland, the sword was given to Charlemagne by an angel, and then he gave it to Roland. It is said to contain within its golden hilt, 1 tooth of Saint Peter, blood of Saint Basil, hair of Saint Denis, and a piece of the raiment of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also considered to be the sharpest of all swords.

Legbiter

Legbiter belonged to the Viking King Magnus III. This sword had a hilt made of a tooth (ivory) and the hand grip wound about with gold thread. When the king was killed in a battle by men of Ulster, this sword was said to be lost, and later retrieved and sent home.

“They say the best swords have names,” – Jaime Lannister

Wallace’s sword

It is claimed this sword belonged to William Wallace, a Scottish knight from 13th century, who led a resistance against the English during the Wars of Scottish Independence. The sword was used at the Battle of Stirling in 1297 and the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. The significance of this double-edged sword lies in its colossal size, that leads experts to believe that Wallace must have been at least seven feet tall to have properly handled this sword.

Goujian

This legendary sword was unearthed in 1965 in China. Despite being buried for over 2,000 years, this sword was in as good a condition as new. On the blade near the handle, there are eight seal characters that translate to: “The Sword belongs to the Goujian, the King of Yue State”. Goujian was a famous emperor of China who reigned during the Spring and Autumn period. Though his state was defeated by the state of Wu, Goujian led his army to victory 10 years later, allegedly, with this very sword.

Napoleon’s Sword

In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte became the military and political leader of France after staging a coup d’état. Five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. Historians regard Napoleon as a military genius and a man who made strong contributions to the operational art of war.

On the battlefield Napoleon carried a pistol and a sword. He owned a large collection of arms and artillery. His weapons were one of a kind and included the best materials. In the early 1800s, Napoleon presented his gold-encrusted sword to his brother as a wedding gift.

The sword was passed down from generation to generation, never leaving the Bonaparte family until it was finally sold off. In 1978, the sword was declared a national treasure of France.

Then on June 10th, 2007, Napoleon’s sword was purchased at an auction by his descendants who paid a hefty price of nearly $6.4 million for it.

Curtana, the Sword of Mercy

Curtana
Curtana

The Sword of Mercy is a famous weapon that once belonged to Edward the Confessor. Edward the Confessor was one of the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England before the Norman Conquest of 1066.

The Sword of Mercy has a broken blade, which is cut off short and square. In 1236, the weapon was given the name Curtana and has since been used for royal ceremonies. In ancient times it was a privilege to bear this sword before the king. It was considered a merciful gesture. The story surrounding the breaking of the weapon is unknown, but mythological history indicates that the tip was broken off by an angel to prevent a wrongful killing.

The Sword of Mercy is part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom and is one of only five swords used during the coronation of the British monarch. The weapon is rare and is one of only a small number of swords to survive the reign of Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell is known for ordering the melting down of ancient artifacts for scrap gold and metal. During the British coronation, the Sword of Mercy is wielded as the monarch bestows knighthood upon the recipient of honour.

Fantasticswords and their stories…

Sword of Gryffindor

According to JK Rowling books in the Harry Potter series, a powerful artifact of Godric Gryffindor, one of the four founders of Hogswart, is the enchanted Sword of Gryffindor. The sword was made a thousand years ago by goblins, the magical world’s most skilled metalworkers, and is therefore enchanted. Fashioned from pure silver, it is inset with rubies, the stone that represents Gryffindor in the hour-glasses that count the house points at Hogwarts. Godric Gryffindor’s name is engraved just beneath the hilt. The sword was made to Godric Gryffindor’s specifications by Ragnuk the First, finest of the goblin silversmiths.

King Arthur’s Excalibur

According to Arthurian legends, Excalibur is the sword that Arthur drew from a stone, which in turn, made him the legendary king. This sword is said to have special powers. On his death bed, King Arthur made Sir Bedivere throw the sword into the lake and the Lady of the Lake’s hand emerged from the waters and caught the sword. Legend says that Arthur sleeps peacefully and one day he will wake up and come back with his sword again when his country would need him.

Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi

This is a legendary Japanese sword, an almost equivalent of Excalibur, and one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It was originally called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi (Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven) but was later changed to the more popular Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (“Grass Cutting Sword”). According to Kojiki, the God Susanoo encountered a grieving family, who lost 7 of their 8 daughters to the eight-headed serpent Yamata-no-Orochi, of Koshi and was coming to attack the last daughter. Susanoo made a plan to defeat it and in return, asked for the daughter’s hand in marriage. He instructed 8 vats of Sake (traditional Japanese wine) to be put on individual platforms positioned behind a fence with eight gates. The monster took the bait and put one of its heads through each gate. This is when Susanoo attacked and chopped off each head and then proceeded to the tails. He found a great sword out of the fourth tail and called it Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi.

Shamshir-e-Zomorrodnegar

This sword comes from the Persian legend Amir Arsalan. Tales claim that a hideous horned demon called Fulad-zereh was invulnerable to all weapons except this sword. Apparently, it originally belonged to King Solomon, and was carefully guarded by Fulad-zereh, not only because of its value and the fact that it could harm him, but also because wearing it was a charm against magic. A wound inflicted by this sword could only be treated by a special potion made from a number of ingredients, including Fulad-zereh’s brains!

Compiled