SWORD

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SWORD. This weapon, probably because it is more constantly carried about the person than other weapons, such as the arrow, spear, &c, has acquired a peculiar connexion with the circumstances of the wearer. To this day, the surrender of the sword denotes submission, and the breaking of it degradation. In many countries, it has become the emblem of power. In Germany, the sword was one of the imperial insignia. In Turkey, the sultan is girded with the sword of Osman on ascending the throne. In England, the sword of state is one of the regalia, and the " offering of the sword" one of the ceremonies of coronation. In France, the sword is also one of the royal insignia. In the middle ages, knights gave namesto their swords ; thus Charlemagne's sword was called Joyeuse, and Orlando's Durindana. The efficacy of no other weapon depends so much upon the courage and skill of the individual. It is the poetical representative of all arms; and, in the middle ages,theword degen (sword) was used in German to denote a worthy man; later, a servant, but a servant of a dignified character, and a free man. In this sense, Otfried, in his translation of the Gospels, calls John the Baptist Christi Thegan. In a German poem of the fourteenth century, the apostle Peter is called Gotes 'Degen, and the forste and senat of all apostles. Thane, which is derived from the same word, is also an AngloSaxon title of honor familiar to the readers of Shakspeare. Under the emperors of Rome, no one was allowed to wear a sword except soldiers; hence the custom of presenting the sword on investing with a military dignity. Trajan, when he made Sura Licinius commander of his guards, put a naked sword into his hands, with the words, ¦" Take this, and use it for me if I rule well, against me if I rule ill." The secular infeoffment of crown vassals, in the middle ages, was performed by presenting the vassal a naked sword. To this day, decapitation with the sword is considered more honorable than hanging, in those countries where both modes of execution are in use, as in many on the continent of Europe. In England, the axe is used, and only in cases of high treason. As soon as the art of forging metals was invented, arms of metal were probably made; and the sword must have been one of the first, as the club, and similar weapons, would naturally lead to it. Wooden swords are found at present among many savage tribes. Some historians mention Belus, king of Assyria, as the inventor of the sword. The Greeks ascribed the invention, according to Diodorus, to the Cretans. From the Scriptures we learn that swords were used in the earliest times in Asia. Abraham drew his sword to sacrifice his son Isaac. The knife probably originated from the sword by degrees. The knife, in many countries, as in Spain, is still a formidable weapon. Swords were probably made at first, like other weapons, of copper, as men acquired the art of forging this metal sooner than any other. The heroes of antiquity never appear without the sword. Whether the Greeks wore it on the Jett 01 right side is not determined; but the Romans, as long as they used short swords, wore them high on the right side, as ap pears from the bassreliefs of the columns of Trajan and Antoninus at Rome ; and Polybius explicitly states this fact in his history (vi, 21). The kinds of swords are too numerous to be given here. The straight, long sword was used by the Christians of the West in the middle ages, while the Poles, and all the tribes of Sclavonic origin, employed, and still prefer, the crooked sword. The Saracens also had the crooked sword at that time ; and it is still the common one in Asia. At present, light cavalry in Europe, as hussars, lancers, &c, wear the crooked sword, while the straight, long sword is the weapon of the heavy cavalry. The latter is, generally speaking, a better and more trustworthy weapon. In the middle ages, doublehanded swords also were worn; and in books on the art of fencing, this branch is treated, as is also the art of fighting with the dagger. It was an unwieldy weapon, and probably originated from the wearing of plate armor. The sword of the executioners is, to this day, a doublehanded one ; but, as it requires considerable skill and coolness, it has been exchanged, in most countries, for the heavy axe. The Highland claymore, a broadsword with a basket hilt, has been introduced into the Highland regiments in the British service. The blade of a sword is divided into the upper, middle and lower part, or the forte, middle and foible. Fencing with the small sword and the broad sword are quite different arts. The former is of a much nobler character. (See Gymnastics.) Some places, as Toledo, Saragossa, Damascus, are particularly celebrated for fine sword blades.