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Historical Swords

 The sword is a weapon that is loaded with rich folklore, legend, history, and symbolism. Everyone, from small children to enthusiastic collectors, is enchanted by the gleaming weapon portrayed in the hands of noble knights and other warriors in films, books, cartoons, and video games. Even more captivating are the swords that were carried by real men and women during real conflicts; these are legitimate historical warriors who wielded swords both large and small weapons. You may be surprised at what a large role swords play in the carving out of history as you know it. The following real-life swords and the people who owned them ought to fuel your imagination and give you a history lesson that is actually interesting to learn about. Pull up a chair and take the time to learn about some of the most interesting historical swords (given in no particular order) that play such a large role in the history of mankind.


The Seven-Branched Blade

This blade was made during a Dynasty known as the Baekje Dynasty, a Korean kingdom flourishing in the fourth century. The King of Baekje received the seven-branched sword as a symbol of respect from inhabitants of the East. Historically, this sword acts as a documentation of sorts, indicating that there really was a relationship of some kind among the different countries throughout Eastern Asia during the fourth century. Inscriptions on the blade are difficult to decipher, but they may point toward who owned the blade in the centuries following the rule of the King of Baekje.


The most unique thing about this historical sword is its appearance. The Seven-Branched Blade looks just like you would expect it to: it is about 75 centimeters long with six spikes protruding from the main blade, resembling the branches of a tree. This fierce looking weapon’s bark is definitely louder than its bite; the Seven-Branched Blade was made to be ceremonial in nature instead of being used in combat. Now located in a Japanese Shrine, the Seven-Branch blade remains shyly tucked away from the public eye—but unwaveringly beautiful nonetheless.

The Sword of Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte is a name known by just about everyone. He is found in history books everywhere and is one of the most pronounced characters in history. However, many people may not be aware of Napoleon’s infamous historical sword. When Napoleon took over political leadership of the French in 1799, he began a long stretch of years in which conflict abounded. This military genius was a man who remapped the landscape of war; it was easy to see that, to Napoleon, war was an art form.

Imagine for a moment that you are on a French battlefield in the 1700s. Napoleon’s short stature immediately sticks out to you among the hundreds of other men on the field. He holds a pistol and sword in hand, smirking as he battles his opponents. You see him draw his sword and are amazed to see it glinting in the sunlight—it is obviously gold plated. The sword speaks volumes about the man wielding it—ruthless, luxurious, and cold.

The fact that Napoleon used a gold plated sword in battle indicates his love for luxury and admiration of well-made artillery. In fact, Napoleon spent years beefing up his own private collection of weapons. Money was no object to this mastermind, but he didn’t buy the prized gold sword himself. It was presented to Napoleon as a gift on his wedding day and quickly became Napoleon’s weapon of choice on the battlefield. Interestingly, Napoleon’s sword was faithfully passed down throughout the Bonaparte family tree for many years after Napoleon’s death. The sword’s whereabouts today are unknown because it was sold to an anonymous bidder at an auction in the year 1978.


This historical sword has ancient Islamic origins, having been owned by an Islamic leader known as Ali (related to the prophet Muhammad.) Ali was famous in his own right, ruling over a portion of Islam for about ten years in the 600s. Some evidence indicates that Muhammad presented the prized sword to Ali during a famous battle after noticing Ali’s powerful presence on the plane of battle. Interestingly, this sword is now considered very symbolic of the faith of the Islamic people—the relic continues to hold claim to a great deal of respect from many Islam.

Zulfiqar is not available for the general public to view, but most people think that the sword has a curved blade and appears to be a scimitar. Most notably, the blade is said to feature a number of inscriptions. Supposedly, the two parallel blades of this scimitar symbolize magical properties such as speed. However, some sources indicate that the sword doesn’t have two parallel blades at all. Obviously, a great deal of mystery enshrouds the Zulfiqar’s appearance, but the Twelver Shia (the most prominent branch of Shia Islam) insists that the weapon is present and accounted for, kept safeguarded in the famous Al-Jafr collection. It is safe to assume that this historically significant weapon is lying among many other priceless artifacts in the Al-Jafr collection.

The Sword of Mars

This sword was supposedly carried by Attila the Hun. Attila the Hun was a fierce man, and he could hold his giant sword in a single hand as he aggressively cut down his opposition. Historians suspect that the sword was named Mars not after one of the Roman gods, but instead as a general reference to a war god’s sword. Attila was often referred to as “the scourge of god,” indicating his desire to be viewed as a warrior of divine importance. His image came across as both divine and violent, and his sword played a large role in his image; the Sword of Mars was used as both a slaying weapon and ruling scepter.

About 500 years later, when Attila’s remains remained skeletal in the grave, a sword came to public attention when an individual claimed to have Attila’s sword in his possession. The sword is now in museum called Kunsthistorisches in Vienna.

The Sword of Tomoyuki Yamashita

During World War II, the Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita was known for claiming victory over several British colonies. Known as “The Tiger of Malaya,” the general was as ruthless as he was fearless. Yamashita was tried for many war crimes, including accusations of massacre and other horrendous atrocities. He was sentenced to death in a controversial sentencing that spurred law courts in the U.S. to create new a new law known as the “Yamashita Standard.”

The man led a colorful life, but one of his defining characteristics was the sword he carried at his side. The blade of his sword was fashioned by the world-famous maker of swords Fujiwara Kanenaga in the 1600s. The hilt of this historical sword is far more modern, having been added sometime during the 1900s. When General Yamashita surrendered to the United States, he surrendered his prized sword as well into the hands of the well-known American General MacArthur. General MacArthur promptly handed it over to a Military Museum located in West Point where it remains available for public viewings up to present day.


Tizona was the famed weapon of El Cid, a military leader and ambassador around the year 1000. He was born in a located in a tiny town near the capital. El Cid was a Spanish hero, boasting many victories in the Spanish clash with the Moors. Considered one of the best swordsmen and military minds of his time, El Cid was considered an extremely valuable player in the military movements that took place in early Spain. Like any great swordsman, El Cid was the proud owner of a great many swords; however, one of them stands out from the rest of his admirable collection: Tizona.

The blade of this historical sword is partly comprised of Damascus steel, a very valuable metal that was primarily manufactured throughout the Middle East. The sword measures a little over 100 centimeters in length and weighs about 1 kilogram. Across the side of the sword are two distinct inscriptions. One of the inscriptions lists the date of the sword’s creation: 1002. The second inscription consists of a Catholic prayer text known as Ave Maria. Today, Tizona is one of the most-prized relics in Spain and is displayed at the Museo de Burgos.

The historical swords listed above are beautiful pieces in the large puzzle of history. The lives of sword owners are often very intertwined with their sword; this creates one of the most unique bonds known to man. The thought of a man bonding with a piece of metal so closely that it becomes an integral part of his history (and the history of the world for that matter) is more than a little interesting. Take the time to research other famous historical swords to access a little more history. Anyone interested in swordsmanship will be fascinated by the many historical swords documented since the dawn of recorded history.