“Langes Messer” (infantry saber)

2036.3

Description

Single edged, curved blade, in the "forte" with two rows of niello-filled addorsed crescents. Simple cruciform hilt with straight guards and a curved, short projection on the obverse face. Tang is flat and wide, once fitted with plaques rivets to both faces.

Curator's Comments

Curved single-edged swords have been used in Europe since the age of the Vikings. By the late Middle Ages, such swords were popular with infantrymen. These slashing weapons were well suited to the crowded infantry combat of the day, and were simpler to use than a straight cut-and-thrust sword. The name lange Messer means “long knife,” and the weapon was constructed like an oversized knife rather than a sword. On a sword, the wooden grip slipped over the thin tang, and was secured in place by the round pommel attached to the end. On the Messer, the two halves of the grip were riveted to the broad plate at the base of the blade, much like a modern cooking knife. Such weapons were used on foot, particularly in the German-speaking regions, and Eastern Europe. The name means "long knife."

Bibliography

Reichsstadtmuseum Rothenburg (2010: 462) has an intact example that probably gives a good idea of the original appearance.

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