The second quarter of the 17th century was a period of civil war and cultural unrest in Europe. At the social level, allegiances and political or religious conviction could lead to physical confrontations, which among the upper class took the form of duels. The evolution of fencing techniques in Italy influenced swordsmanship throughout Europe and duels were a format for applying those skills. Specialized dueling swords, of which this is one, suited for fighting to the death or first blood developed. Other examples are #A676 of the Wallace Collection, M2-1950, Victoria and Albert Museum, and #30, Valentine, from the Ansel Leo Collection. The last 4 3/4" of the blade is expanded to leaf shape for delivery of the slashing cut stramazzone, which, if executed to the cheek of the opponent, could end the duel depending on the rules under which it was fought. As grabbing the opponents blade was allowable, it also served to dislodge the sword in that circumstance. It was equally suitable for fighting to the death. The double guards are filled with lattice panels which were sacrificial-intended to be penetrated by and briefly engage an opponents blade. They are brazed in and would be replaced if damaged before another duel. In this instance, both plates bear distinct sword intrusions and it is likely that the owner chose to preserve the sword in this state as a trophy of this last duel. 38 3/4" length blade. 

Item ID: fns10095

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