Monday, 8 August 2016

The Sword

The sword has always been a symbol of power and rank and that continued into the ancien regime. It accounted for an elementary part of a gentleman's court clothing. In fact it was so essential that a saying ran "A gentleman is never fully dressed without a sword".
As it happens it was required to wear one if a visitor wanted to watch the royal family dine - if the visitor did not have a sword themselves they could rent on at the entrance to the palace. Without one a man would not be permitted to join the presence of the King.

Wearing a sword remained a symbol of rank. As such on the Ducs and peers could wear their swords at the Parlement and during the King's lit-de-justice. The King himself wore a sword which was fastened to his side by his grand master of the wardrobe.

French court sword

The court sword consisted of a thin blade and an often elaborately decorated hilt with a sheath. Using a sword was a basic part of a boy's education primarily since they were expected to spend some time with the army. On some occasions they were used for duelling but this was considered a hush-hush affair in the late 18th century although it still occurred.
Since the court sword was not intended to be used it decreased in size and became slimmer until it gained the "needle"-look. This turned out to be ideal for duelling.

More French hilts

The swords rarely exceeded 85 cm in length. The hilt could be decorated to immense proportions with engravings, gemstones or etchings.

Louis XIV paid for presentation swords for a great deal of his European co-monarchs at high costs. For example the Sun King paid 40.000 livres for the Duke of Buckingham, 36.000 livres for the Duke of Mantua and an astonishing 76.000 livres for the son of Augustus the Strong!

As seen in portraits

Frederik V of Denmark-Norway
Barely visible but it's there

No comments:

Post a comment