Top 10 Famous & Deadly Swords & Their History


The first sword appeared during the Bronze Age.  It was made of copper and was uncovered at the Harappan sites in present-day Pakistan.  By the Middle Ages iron and steel swords were being mass produced and used in battle.  Soldiers were trained in swordsmanship and prepared for combat.  It was before the era of guns and high powered artillery and face to face fighting was the norm.  During this time in history, all of the royal generals, kings, and emperors owned personal swords.  These weapons were manufactured by the greatest sword makers of the time.  Many historical manuscripts document events surrounding significant swords.  This article will be examining ten world famous swords that still survive today.  Mythological and legendary swords will not be listed.

10.  Tomoyuki Yamashita’s Sword

Tomoyuki Yamashita was a general of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.  He became known during the war after conquering the British colonies of Malaya and Singapore, ultimately earning the nickname “The Tiger of Malaya.”  After the end of World War II, Yamashita was tried for war crimes relating to the Manila Massacre and many other atrocities in the Philippines and Singapore.  It was a controversial trial that ended with a death sentence for Tomoyuki Yamashita.  The case changed the United States rules in regards to command responsibility for war crimes, creating a law known as the Yamashita Standard.

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The Sword

During his military career, Tomoyuki Yamashita owned a personal sword that contained a blade manufactured by famous sword maker Fujiwara Kanenaga sometime between 1640 and 1680.  The weapon had its handle remade in the early 1900s.  The Samurai sword was surrendered by General Yamashita, along with his army, on September 2, 1945.  It was taken by General MacArthur and given to the West Point Military Museum where it remains today.  The sword is one piece in a great collection of military arms housed at the West Point Museum.

9.  Curved Saber of San Martin

José de San Martín was a famous Argentine general that lived from 1778-1850.  He was the primary leader of the southern part of South America’s struggle for independence from Spain.  San Martín is a South American hero and the 1st Protector of Perú.  Under the lead of San Martín, Peruvian independence was officially declared on July 28, 1821.  In the state of Argentina, the Order of the Liberator General San Martin is the highest decoration given out.

Réplica del Sable Corvo

The Sword

One of the most cherished possessions of José de San Martín was a curved sword that he purchased in London.  San Martín admired the saber’s curved blade and felt that the weapon was maneuverable and ideal for battle.  For this reason, he armed his cavalries of granaderos with similar weapons, which he deemed important for charge attacks.  The curved sword stayed with San Martín until his death and was then passed down to the General de la Republica Argentina, Don Juan Manuel de Rosas.

In his will San Martín referred to the sword as “The saber that has accompanied me throughout the War of Independence of South America.”  In 1896 the weapon was sent to the National Historical Museum in Buenos Aires where it remains today.  In the 1960s the sword was stolen on two separate occasions and this caused museum operators to build a screened gazebo to protect the artifact.

8.  Seven-Branched Sword

The Baekje Dynasty was an ancient kingdom located in southwest Korea.  At its peak in the 4th century, Baekje controlled colonies in China and most of the western Korean Peninsula.  They were one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla.  In 372, King Geunchogo of Baekje paid tribute to Eastern Jin and it is believed that a Seven-Branched Sword was created and given to the king as a sign of praise.

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The Sword

The weapon is a 74.9 cm long iron sword with six branch-like protrusions along the central blade, which is 65.5 cm.  The sword was developed for ceremonial purposes and was not built for battle.  In 1870 a Shinto priest named Masatomo Kan discovered two inscriptions on the Seven-Branched Sword.  One of them states “At noon on the sixteenth day of the eleventh month, fourth year of Taiwa era, the sword was made of 100 time’s hardened steel.  Using the sword repels 100 enemy soldiers.  Appropriate for the polite duke king.”

The Seven-Branched Sword contains many statements, but the most controversial involves the phrase “enfeoffed lord,” used when describing the King of Wa as a possible subservient to the Baekje ruler.  The sword is an important historical link and shows that a relationship did exist between the East Asian countries of this era.  The original Seven-Branched Sword is currently housed in the Isonokami Shrine in Nara Prefecture of Japan.  It is not on display to the public.

7.  Wallace Sword

William Wallace was a Scottish knight who lived from 1272-1305.  Wallace is known for leading a resistance against England during the Wars of Scottish Independence, which were waged during the late 13th and early 14th centuries.  During his lifetime, William Wallace was appointed the Guardian of Scotland.  He led an infantry of soldiers who engaged the enemy in hand to hand combat.  The prize possession of many of these soldiers was their sword.  In order to survive on the battlefield one had to be a talented swordsman.  In 1305, William Wallace was captured by King Edward I of England and was executed for treason.  Today William Wallace is remembered in Scotland as a patriot and national hero.  His sword is one of the most famous in the world.

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The Sword

The William Wallace sword is located at the National Monument in Stirling, Scotland.  The shaft of the sword measures 4 feet by 4 inches in length (132cm) and it weighs 6.0 lb (2.7 kg).  The sword is said to be the weapon that Wallace used at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and the Battle of Falkirk (1298).  The pommel on the sword consists of an onion-shaped piece of gilded iron and the grip is wrapped with dark brown leather.  The hilt or handle that is currently on the Wallace sword is not the original.  It is believed that the sword has been modified on separate occasions.

After the execution of William Wallace, Sir John de Menteith, governor of Dumbarton Castle, received his sword.  In 1505, King James IV of Scotland paid the sum of 26 shillings to have the sword binned with cords of silk.  It is said that the sword underwent many changes, which might have been necessary because Wallace’s original scabbard, hilt and belt were said to have been made from the dried skin of Hugh Cressingham, who was an English commander.

6.  Tizona Sword

El Cid is a man that was born circa 1040 in Vivar, which was a small town about six miles north of Burgos, the capital of Castile.  The Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval empires of the Iberian Peninsula.  During his lifetime El Cid became a successful military leader and diplomat.  He was named the chief general of the army of Alfonso VI and became a Spanish hero.  El Cid was the king’s most valuable asset in the fight against the Moors.  He was a skilled military strategist and strong swordsman.

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The Sword

El Cid owned and used many different swords in his lifetime, but the two most famous are Colada and Tizona.  Tizona is a sword that was used by El Cid to fight against the Moors.  The weapon is one of Spain’s most cherished relics and is believed to have been forged in Córdoba, Spain, although considerable amounts of Damascus steel can be found in its blade.  Damascus steel was primarily used in the Middle East.  Tizona is 103 cm/40.5 inches long and weighs 1.1 kg/2.4 pounds.  It contains two separate inscriptions, with one listing a manufactory date of 1002 and the other quoting the Catholic prayer Ave Maria.  Tizona is currently on display at the Museo de Burgos in Spain.

5.  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.  In the first decade of the 19th century Napoleon and the French Empire were engaged in conflict and war with every major European power.  Ultimately, a series of victories gave the French a dominant position in continental Europe, but as history would later repeat itself, in 1812 the French began their invasion of Russia.  The decision to invade Russia marked the turning point in the fortune of Napoleon.  In 1814, the Sixth Coalition invaded France and Napoleon was captured and exiled to the island of Elba.  He would escape, but ultimately died in confinement on the island of Saint Helena.  Historians regard Napoleon as a military genius and a man who made strong contributions to the operational art of war.

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The Sword

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 summer of 2007, a gold-encrusted sword that once belonged to Napoleon was auctioned off in France for more than $6.4 million dollars.  The sword was used by Napoleon in battle.  In the early 1800s, Napoleon presented the weapon to his brother as a wedding gift.  The sword was passed down from generation to generation, never leaving the Bonaparte family.  In 1978, the sword was declared a national treasure in France and the winner of the auction was not identified.

4.  Sword of Mercy

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.  He ruled from 1042 to 1066 and his reign has been characterized by the crumbling disorganization of royal power in England.  Shortly after Edward the Confessor’s death, the Normans began to expand into England, led by the infamous William the Conqueror.

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The Sword

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 honor.

3. Zulfiqar Scimitar

Zulfiqar is the ancient sword of the Islamic leader Ali.  Ali was the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad.  He ruled over the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661.  By some historical accounts, Muhammad gave Zulfiqar to Ali at the Battle of Uhud.  Muhammad admired 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.

Zulfiqar is a scimitar, which refers to a West Asian or South Asian sword with a curved blade.  It is said that Ali used the sword at the Battle of the Trench, which is a famous siege attempt on the city of Medina.  During the battle, Muhammad, Ali, and other Muslim defenders built trenches to protect Medina against the much larger confederate cavalry.

The Sword

A few conflicting images of the famous scimitar sword exist.  Some of them describe the weapon as having two parallel blades, emphasizing its mystical abilities and speed, while others portray Zulfiqar as a more traditionally-shaped scimitar.  Some historical drawings depict the sword with a split, V-shaped blade.  According to the Twelver Shia, the weapon survives today and is kept in the possession of Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi.  The weapon is part of the famous collection called al-Jafr.

Al-Jafr is a mystical Shia holy book.  It is composed of two skin boxes that contain the most important artifacts from the time of Muhammad and Ali.  The collection has been passed down over the generations, with each new Imam receiving it from his dying predecessor.  The contents of Al-Jafr are quite impressive, but they are not made available for public viewing.  One section of the book describes the Islamic rules, directives and matters surrounding wars, including a bag that contains the armor and weapons of Muhammad.  Zulfiqar is said to sit among the priceless artifacts.

2.  Honjo Masamune

Masamune was a Japanese swordsmith that is 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 called tant?.  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.

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The Sword

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.

1.  Joyeuse

Charlemagne is a man that was born circa 742.  He is 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.

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The Sword

Joyeuse is the name of Charlemagne’s personal sword.  Today, there are two swords attributed to Joyeuse.  One is a saber that is kept in the Weltliche Schatzkammer in Vienna, while the other is housed at the Louvre in France.  The blade on display at the Louvre claims to be partially built from Charlemagne’s original sword.  The sword is made of parts from different centuries, so it can be hard to positively identify the weapon as Joyeuse.  The hilt of the sword indicates a manufactory date around the time of Charlemagne.  The heavily sculpted gold pommel is made in two halves and the long gold grip was once decorated with diamonds.

Charlemagne’s sword appears in many legends and historical documents.  Bulfinch’s Mythology described Charlemagne using Joyeuse to behead the Saracen commander Corsuble as well as to knight his friend Ogier the Dane.  After the death of Charlemagne, the sword was said to have been contrarily held by the Saint Denis Basilica and it was later taken to the Louvre after being carried at a Coronation processional for French kings.

Swords are cool, unless you are in a gun fight.
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  1. A note for Masamune, The type of dagger he worked on are known as Tant?, they were of a length of 1 Shaku (Around 30 centimeters or 12 inches).

    I have a passion for both Blades in general and Japanese culture so I felt like I should help out on this.

    • Ah, whatever program is used to display text just doesn’t like letters with accents, without one it would be Tanto although that does mess with pronunciation.

  2. I know of a sword that beats all and is still in the hands of a KING of ALL KINGS and that is GOD as it is HE and HE ALONE that HOLDS… THE SWORD OF TRUTH, and it lies in wait yet to be used, not to Quench it’s self upon any innocent blood but rather any and all that bare false witness to to it’s POWER of SUPREME TRUTH and IT’S WIELDER, the TRUE KING, CREATOR AND LIVING GOD! The Sword of the SEVEN BLADES or ANY SWORD HERE COULD NOT COMPARE NO DEFEAT NOR HAVE MORE HONOR NOR EVEN MENTION THAN THE HOLY AND HONORABLE AND NOBLE… SWORD OF TRUTH!!!

  3. the oldest and still exist sharp in good condition is the sword of goujian, google it.. after 2700 years!

  4. If this thread is still alive, there is also the sword of kusanagi. It has a very interesting background. It’s in the realm between real and not real.

  5. Maharana Pratap’s sword weighed 25 kgs and he did cut Behlol Khan and his horse during the war of Haldighati vertically,in just one blow.

  6. You’ve got an awful lot of swords on here that are more famous than deadly. As a general rule (HA!), generals, kings, etc. don’t actually do that much killing directly. Most of the swords on this list are more “famous and ceremonial.”

  7. OMG Awesome Collection Of Sword But Sultan Salhudin Ayubi Sword Was Missing in Top Sword List ,ANy Ways Nice Work

  8. Lavesh rajpurohit on

    yo rishabh, i agree u, maharana pratap’s sword weighs upto 50 kg & should be at the top………… And do u watch maharana pratap on sony tv

  9. Rishabh Singh Ghalot on

    its incomplete without the indian king Maharana Pratap Singh’s sword cos that was over 50 kg & could cut a soilder along with his horse into two

  10. Sword of Chattrapati Shivaji, it weighted 80 kgs, it should be the heaviest sword in the world.

  11. There is also Zande sword used by Zande warrior ( an Ethiopian tribe) . They had a popular quote that goes: “We Zandes kill. We don’t have time to take you back to camp. That’s not our purpose when we go into battle. Our purpose is to take you out.”

  12. Sword of Goujian – A historical artifact from the Spring and Autumn Period is an amazing sword should be mentioned in this page.

  13. There is no sword of the great indian Warrior Maharana Pratap.
    I think you also have to mention that one in this list.


  14. The most beautifull sword in the world is the Sword of Fatih Sultan Mehmed
    its shown in the Topkapi palace in Istanbul …you can find also there the sword of Mohammed the Prophet and the sword of Ali “Zulfiqar”
    Turkish swords are the best sword’s in the world ..The metal and construction is superior to al swords of kind …even much much better than Japanese Swords ….
    The western people in Europa and America did copy the Turkish Sword even today
    In fact the sword of Napoleon is even a Turkish sword of design and construction

    • There are Japanese swords that have cut through five men. Could cut through Turkish sword as well in the hands of a trained swordsman.

      • Japanese sword barely cut 2 pigs on tests so cttting through 5 naked man claims rather stupid.
        Japanese sword made by techniques bestowed by Turks, and chinese.
        Metal in japan terrible quality it’s mostly piss poor corroded iron sand while Turks were APEX of blacksmithing world that acess to finest material in the world.
        Turkis conquered more land than any other etnic group in the history of man and their curved swords insipred created many like it such as ;
        Dao (sword)
        Mameluke sword: a derivative of the Kilij
        Tachi : basis for katana
        Yatagan: another distinctive Turkish sword

        ps: Kilij cuts better than a katana it’s tried and true.

  15. I would like to add some more info about this hand-combat weapon,search about “Keris Taming Sari” the most famous Keris in Nusantara Archipelago,it is believed been made with many types of steel embedded into one mold,and also for muslims,the iron from the padlock used for Kaaba has also been added into it,throughout many folklore,it has been said that whoever hold the weapon cannot be killed or be harmed,also wielded by Hang Tuah given by the Sultanate of Malacca originally came from Majapahit,sorry for bad grammar!

  16. How about Crocea Mors? The sword of the greatest conqueror and commander ever is definitely worth a placement on this list. Should be interesting to know if it is still there in Nennius’ tomb…

    • So what ? Some of the samurai swords in Japanese museum have documentations of them cutting through five men.

  17. Why does no1 know about Indian history Maharana Prataps sword believe it or not it weights 25kg its in the udaipur museum he has cut a man in half with it. His sword should definitely be in this list. The indian sword Khanda.

  18. atok rockers on

    number 1 must be salahuddin al ayubi sword..the most sharpest sword in the world..make by the secrect skill at damascus..alluminium are heavy than this sword metal..the intelligent iq Allah give to islam warrior to beat kafir technology in metal..

  19. khanda is the sharpest scored 328 kills in the showdeadliest warrior.highest kills scored by any other sword.wootz steel contains carbon nanotubes which makes it extremely sharp

    • atok rockers on

      salahuddin al ayubi sword is the sharpes sword in the world, it is damascus sword/persia sword..proof from the germany saintis Prof Dr. Peter Paufler and many west saintis..use nano can through crusader metal or amour dress, cutting two enemies sword, slash armourdress & stone with no damage at the sword.

  20. That’s a neat list, with some swords I’ve never heard of before. Feel free to check out as well for more swords.

  21. Leon Crowley on

    I have a Chinese sword that is supposed to be more than 3,000 years old. How can I get it verified ?

  22. Miyamoto Musashi sword should be on the list as he is the most famous samurai in Japan winning over 60 duels by 30y.o. and all of those were highly skilled swordsman some supposedly unbeatable.

  23. You know I am surprised that there isn’t a single Muramasa blade in this listing. Although his blades were said to be evil and couldn’t be resheathed until they cut blood he was still known widely as a famous swordsmith equal to Masamune. So why none of his blades?

  24. Very informative article! Was a pleasure to read an article written by someone with a mastery of the subject matter. As far as the word “infamous” being used for William the Conquerer, it was used in the section of William Wallace, who definately would have considered W t C infamous. And it is recorded that William himself on his deathbed lamented many terrible deeds that he did. I think William considered himself infamous, so I dont think using the word in the section you used it was going to far.

  25. emily_weirdnez – it’s well known in England here that King Arthur (with Excalibur by his side) and all his knights are slumbering in a cavern underground (people argue about exactly where in the UK). He is due to arise when England is in trouble, and he and his knights will come to her aid.

    The way things are going here at the moment, King Arthur must be due any time. I just hope he is also versed in economics!

      • What a shame! I believe that Douglas was about to let us know the name of the Castle near the cavern where King Arthur is sleeping, but unfortunately someone stabbed him as he was about to reveal the name – hence the “AAARG!”

  26. i thought i’m gonna see the excalibur here(hope i spelled that right). coz if it’s on this list, then king arthur is real hehe..



    • The reason it is judged as 3rd as we are using mostly Western standards. Therefore the claim that it was sent by God isn’t considered that much. Your surprise that Westerners use a different standard than yours is surprising.

  28. Hey, im doing a school assignment on the seven branched sword, i have a few questions. Do you know if the sword was found by someone or if it was just passed down? And i read somewhere that it was made for just cereminial purposes and not for actual combat, what kind of ceremonies would it have been involved in??

    Thanks, please reply ASAP

  29. A seven-branched sword is “believed to have been created” that was never meant for battle. You always have to throw in a ringer, don’t you, Bryan? There’s always one item that doesn’t belong with the rest. Are you Navajo or something? Hehehe.

    In any case, the rest of the list was great and I learned a lot. I’m glad I read it. A feature on mythological swords would be great for a future list. GO, Stormbringer!

  30. The kilij. Turkish curved sword used during the time of Vladimir the impailer.

  31. Small grammar note; In the Wallace piece you mention that he led an “infantry” of soldiers. Infantry is a descriptor, an adjective not a noun. One does not lead an “infantry”. One leads a squad, platoon, company, battalion, regiment (or brigade), division or army.

  32. Good work, but you have the wrong information on the inferior Zulfiqar Zulfigar
    Because this sword is attributed to the author whose name is engraved on the sword, the Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, was the owner of the sword husband daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam.
    I hope this information help you

  33. Neglected to mention Robert E. Lee’s “Maryland Sword” which might be about the most famous sword in American history.

    • Good Call,
      Your right that would be a great addition, I had a hard time coming up with famous American swords, but many do exist from the Civil War era. I did a search for the sword and came across The Museum of the Confederacy’s (located in Richmond’s historic Court End neighborhood). The museum has collections totaling more than 15,000 items in a wide variety of categories. Not everything can be displayed at once, but it says that you can call and make an appointment to view any artifact.

      The Museum’s collection of swords and sabers, numbering more than two hundred pieces, includes examples of U.S., foreign, and Confederate manufactured weapons. Both J.E.B Stuart and John Bell Hood carried French officer’s cavalry sabers, while Gen. Richard Taylor carried a foot officer’s sword made by Thomas, Griswold & Company of New Orleans.

      Of the presentation swords in the collection, the most famous belonged to Gen. Robert E. Lee. Worn as part of his full dress uniform for his meeting with Ulysses S. Grant, it is often referred to as the “Appomattox sword.” Given to Lee by an anonymous Marylander in 1863, the sword was made by Devisme in Paris, France, and includes the inscription: Aide toi et dieu l’aidera (“Help yourself and god will help you” or “God helps those who help themselves”). This is the sword that you mentioned and it is one of the most famous in US history. Lee surrendered the sword in April of 1865 after the Battle of Appomattox Court House.

      Gen. Lewis Armistead’s sword, carried at the battle of Gettysburg, is also part of the museum’s collection. Commanding one of the three brigades in Pickett’s division, Armistead led his troops during “Pickett’s Charge” with his hat raised high on the point of this sword. Armistead was mortally wounded in the charge and died two days later. The veterans of the unit that defended Cemetery Ridge against the charge returned the sword to the Pickett Division Association during a reunion at Gettysburg in 1906, and it was donated to the museum that same year.

  34. Well put,
    Ya you are right. I did initially misread your first comment about World War II. It has been removed as to not confuse anybody. I also agree with you that there is always a need to worry about N. Korea, but hopefully China not so much.

    • The story of Roland and his sword Durendal are also worthy of appearing on this list. The tale is based in French legendary history and fragments from the sword are said to be preserved in Rocamadour, France. In The Song of Roland, the sword is said to contain within its golden hilt one tooth of Saint Peter, blood of Saint Basil, hair of Saint Denis, and a piece of the raiment of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

  35. Según mi información la espada de Boabdil se encuentra en el Museo de Ejército.
    Este museo estuvo originalmente en Madrid (cerca del Museo del Prado), pero fue trasladado al Alcázar de Toledo.
    Tiene el número de referencia 24.902.
    Hay dudas de que esta sea la espada original.

    • Sorry I don’t speak Spanish, but I think that you are saying that the sword is located at the Museum of the Army (“Museo del Ejército”), which is located in the Alcázar of Toledo stone fortification. It was very interesting to read about the Alcázar of Toledo and I am sure that the sword you are referring
      to is great.

      • Dear Bryan,
        first of all: we have got a problem. You say you don’t speak Spanish, and I must say I don’t speak nor write English. Nevertheless, I do think we will be able to understand eachother in our own languages, each of us.
        Toledo as to its above all historical importance as well as a touristic destination, is a Spanish city about 90 km south of Madrid. It was Spain’s imperial capital where in its time Christian, Jew and Moslem cultures lived together without any serious problems, something that nowadays seems a fairy tale. The city is part of the World’s Mankind Heritage.
        The Alcázar de Toledo, in our days home to the Army Museum, has its origin in a fortress built by the Romans, having been modified and modernised by following invasions as the Visigoths and Arabs. King Alfonso VI, having conquered the city, made it his residence and so did Carlos I, and Felipe II after the rebuilding works of 1535.
        It was destroyed during the Succession War, around 1770. In 1771, Carlos III gave it over to the cardinal Lorenzana to have it transformed into a charity house. However, the building suffered a new desaster by Napoleon’s troops who set it on fire in 1810. Consequently, the fortress was completely rebuilt in 1882 which is when it became the Military Academy’s headquarters. But once again it suffered a stroke of misfortune because another fire destroyed the building seven years later. And once again it was rebuilt, with the same anterior function, till the siege during the Civil War.
        After new rebuilding works during the 1950ies and preserving the ancient structure of the building, it became the Siege Museum and now, too, holds part of the Army Museum starring among its collection arms from the famous Toledo arms factory, such as the historical swords Tizona (XI century), Boabdil’s sword (XV century), and Mebemet Al’s Alfanje (XV century).
        As to Boabdil’s magnificent sword I can tell you that it’s made of steel, gilded silver, enamel and ivory (97 cm). The scabbard is made of wood, leather, gilded silver, enamel and silver threads (77 cm). The “tahalí” is made of silk and silver.
        Let me know how I can manage to send photos.

        I’ll now continue in Spanish:

        “En la batalla de Lucena 888/1483, Muhammad XII, Boabdil, fue apresado por las tropas de Diego Fernández de Córdoba, a quien los Reyes Católicos cedieron las armas e indumentaria atribuidas al prisionero. Éstas fueron conservadas por sus descendientes, hasta que la Marquesa Viuda de Viana dividió el legado en su testamento en 1901. Una parte ingresó en el Museo de Artillería en 1906 y el resto quedó en posesión de su hijo, quien lo presentó al Rey Alfonso XIII e ingresó en la Real Armería en 1927.
        La guarnición de esta espada, relacionada con Boabdil, consta de un pomo esférico coronado por un prominente botón cónico y empuñadura tripartita con dos virolas flanqueando una pieza de marfil tallada. El arriaz curvo se caracteriza por un perfil superior ondulado, con ausencia de cabezas de animales en su curvatura máxima y decoración calada al exterior de sus brazos, no en el interior. Estos rasgos diferencian un tercer grupo de jinetas que incluye las de la colección Campotejar, del Museo Arqueológico Nacional y de la Real Armería de Madrid. La hoja es posterior.
        La vaina está formada por dos piezas de madera forradas de cuero, brocal, contera y dos abrazaderas con festones trilobulados. Dos cabos fijados en las argollas de las abrazaderas conservan parte de un tahalí de seda. Su decoración se enriquece mediante hilos de plata dorada bordados, paneles con palmetas en el reverso de los cabos y por las bandas laterales del tahalí, limitadas en color verde albergando almenas negras escalonadas sobre fondo rojo.
        La decoración del conjunto responde a un patrón geométrico que concibe la empuñadura y la vaina como un mismo plano, donde combina estrellas de ocho puntas y crucetas enmarcadas por bandas de filigrana. Las virolas, los brazos del arriaz, las estrellas y las crucetas están esmaltadas en blanco y rojo como colores centrales, mientras que el negro y el verde actúan como fondos. Dicha gama proporciona una riqueza cromática en la que destaca la utilización del verde, color de mayor presencia en las piezas del grupo. También son rasgos distintivos la ausencia de emblemas y la presencia de inscripciones en alabanza a la divinidad, realzadas en esta espada por el predominio de las estrellas como símbolo de la realidad divina.”.

        • I think you did a good job writing in English. I could understand what you were saying and the Siege Museum looks like an amazing place. Boabdil’s sword could have easily been listed among the Top 10 swords in the world.

        • Granada, as a young teenager I got to visit Toledo, including the factory where swords are still made. My father, who’s first language is Spanish, was station in Germany while in the Army. The visit was extremely fascinating and their swords were works of art. I also go to see a lot of the other parts of spain including Madrid and Barcelona. It was a great education.

        • Hello, Bob:
          I was born in Granada and am living in Madrid. My wife is German. So you see all you mention is very close to me.
          As to the Toledo swords, they have always been very famous throughout History due to their steel’s quality. They say that it’s due to having been tempered in the river Tajo’s waters which circumflows Toldedo.
          Nobody who comes to Spain can “conquer” any of the cities you mention in just one day. But for whoever comes to visit us I would recommend Granada with her Alhambra, her cathedral and many other monuments, as well as Córdoba with its ancient Mosque, Sevilla with its cathedral (all of these in Andalusia), then the ancient town center of Cáceres in Extremadura and the Roman city of Mérida. Furthermore, the equally Roman city of Segovia with its grand aqueduct and Gothic cathedral and – above all- the Alcázar with its historical arms collection. Besides, there are the city of Ávila with its famous ancient walls, as well as one of the oldest European universities in the city of Salamanca, Burgos with its famous cathedral and some other Castilian spots.
          And if the visitor wishes for landscpes and natural sceneries, there are the regions of Asturias (capital Oviedo), Cantabria (capital Santander) and Vizcaya (Capital Bilbao) and Guipúzcoa (capital San Sebastián), apart from the Pyreneesto fall in love with. Galicia (North of Portugal) with its landscapes and delicious cuisine and sea food would not disappoint anybody either.
          Madrid and Barcelona, of course, are two more destinations very worth a visit.
          And in all these cities the enthusiast of ancient swords will find fascinating ancient armory. From the Phoenician to the Carthage and Roman ones to, of course, the Arab and Castilian ones.
          Spain, as all this world’s nations, cannot be conquered in one day.

  36. Bryan, what a great article. Often great respect is paid for the swords of great men. For example, many think of the fictional sword Excalibur of King Arthur.

    I might mention that the reason for Charlemagne being viewed as the father of Europe is that he’s better known as the Frankish king who saved Europe from total Muslim domination. El Cid of course did the same for northern Spain. Those efforts continued for several centuries and were known as the Crusades. Unfortunately, many of the Crusades were poorly led and became little more than pillaging raids. But they were meant to free European lands, including what we now call Turkey and Palestine, from Islamic domination.

    By the way, the last of the Roman Empire, called the Byzantine Empire, fell around 1450 when Roman forces from Constantinople lost a battle at a small unknown village of Kosovo, not far from another obscure town named Sarajevo. It was that loss and the later reconquest of southern ports in Spain that allowed Columbus to sail for a new route to India and China and thus discover for Europe, again, the New World. Also, the last of European lands were not liberated from Islamic rule until 1924 with the fall of the Ottoman Empire Caliphate.

    The sword awarded by Congress to Commodore Stephen Decatur if it still exists would be a great addition to the comments on the line of swords that participated in keeping the West free from total Muslim domination or Dhimmitude. Remember, our first war after the Revolutionary War was against Islamic forces which we have euphemistically called the Barbary Pirates. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was meant to start a regional war to free the Balkans from Islamic domination and WW2 was an extension of WW1. WW3 might well be caused by a Muslim power with a nuclear weapon.

    • My apologies for not being clearer. I was trying to explain why certain other swords might deserve an honorable mention and to explain the greater importance of Charlemagne and the importance to this day of his actions.

      I wasn’t claiming Muslims caused WW2 but WW2 was an extension of WW1 caused by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The reason for the assassination was to start a war between Austro-Hungary and Russia so as to expel Islamic Caliphate from the Balkans. Due to interlocking treaties, events spiraled out of control. It would be more accurate to say the unfair Treaty of Versailles was the proximate cause of WW2. To understand modern Europe and even America we have to understand the history of the breakup of the Roman Empire and the Islamic invasion of Europe and the resulting turmoil. Also we can’t ignore Hitler.

      A WW3 needn’t be nuclear but there’s no doubt some islamic countries desire to get nuclear weapons in order to attack Israel and Western interests. It’s not animosity or bigotry to say that from its beginning the US has had numerous conflicts with Islam or that much of Europe from Spain to the Caucus Mountains in Russia, northern italy to the Baltic States, N. Africa to Turkey to Palestine and to western India and China were invaded and conquered by Muslim armies. It’s simply a matter of history. If one understands the Islamic doctrines of Dar al-Harb, Bar al-Islam, and Dhimmitude one realizes modern times haven’t changed that much other than the degree of technology we have.

      However, WW3 could as easily start from missteps between the US and China or N. Korea throwing a nuke at S. Korea or japan. So I’d say that we should still be concerned about the possibility of a major war in the future and it need not start in the Mideast.

      Too bad we couldn’t have the leaders of countries wanting to fight put in an arena for an old fashioned sword fight with the survivor winning for his country. And of course the swords would go to museums.

      But you’re correct we shouldn’t hold to animosity. The whole concept of democracies is meant to encourage peace and trade between nations, even formerly bitter enemies, while preventing aggression. Thus we admire swords but hope we don’t have to use them in anger.

      • cant you enjoy the beauty of this thread and stop talking about muslim? and please stop using muslim because muslim is a human being and i guess your talking about nation right?just let us enjoy the thread with peace.

    • well i dont think that muslim as a state will ever start a war but i’m not sure about those so called jahidis… these jahadies are not muslims … i’m a muslim and i now in islam killing a innocent person is not jihad … 🙂

    • I believe you are making a reference to Muhammad XII of Granada, who was the last ruler of the Emirate of Granada, which was established from 1228–1492. Muhammad XII didn’t come up in my research on famous swords, but I’m sure he owned one. In order to make the list, the original sword, or at least parts of the original, has to be available for viewing in a museum around the world.

    • He was the leader of the Norman Conquest over the English Crown. During his reign, William brought Norman-French culture to England and had a large impact on the subsequent course of action in England during the Middle Ages. When using the term, I meant it more like “legendary,” although the word “infamous” does have some negative connotation. I wasn’t trying to put down William the Conqueror.

      • Bryan – unfortunately, “infamous” according to the Cambridge Dictionary means “famous for something bad,” which is TOTALLY bad! William wasn’t totally bad; he even tried to forgive his enemies (good going for the 11th century). So you may have to change “infamous”. Living in England, I do know who William was: a successful claimant to the English throne when St Edward the Confessor died. Harold Godwinson took the crown, and William successfully challenged him (with a little help!) Enjoyed your page of Swords, anyway, Bryan.

        • Thanks for the info. I really don’t know too much about William living in the states. When I hear the word infamous, I guess I don’t think of it as to much of an insult, but I understand what you are saying and will take that into consideration when using that word in future articles I write.

        • After 4 years the word still stands. You really should change it. It does not matter what you think when you hear the word, but what it really means.

          Regarding the article, I didn’t know some of them. But I thought they were going to be weapons that killed many people, rather than famous weapons.

          Good read though.

        • Honestly, this should really be a little more exciting. I do fencing, ( though I suck at it) and I wanted to learn a little more about swords. I did, but really dryly. Don’t take this the wrong way though, because it was very descriptive and looks like it took you a long time.

        • It looks like Hatori Hanzo was a skilled fighter and ninja. I don’t think he was known for creating swords, but rather fighting with them. His name was used in the movie Kill Bill, in which the character was a master swordsmith. For this reason, you can buy replica swords from the film online.

    • Hattori Honzo was not a sword smith, He was a Ninja of the Iga clan that served under the Tokugawa during and after the Sengoku era. He wasn’t even a swordsman, he was a Spear-master. The Reason he appears in the Kill Bill movies is because Tarantino liked an old Japanese tv series that depicted first the old ninja and then, through subsequent seasons, his descendants through out history, all bearing his name. The sword smith in the Movie was supposed to be one of these descendants as an homage.