Germany, late 17th Century / Executioner's Sword / Late 17th centuryGermany, late 17th Century
Executioner's Sword
Late 17th century

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Creator Nationality: European; Northern European; German
Creator Dates/Places: Germany
Creator Active Place: Germany
Creator Name-CRT: Germany, late 17th Century
Title: Executioner's Sword
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1666
Creation End Date: 1699
Creation Date: Late 17th century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Armor
Classification Term: Arms
Materials and Techniques: steel, wood, brass and copper wire
Dimensions: Overall: , Blade: , Quillions: 22.5cm, Grip: 0cm
Inscriptions: inscribed on blade: Wan ich Das Schwerdt thu auff heben so / Wunch ich Dem armen sunder das Ewege Leben
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1916.1620
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Severance
Context: In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, execution by decapitation was generally reserved for the nobility. While the axe was favored in England, swords were widely used throughout Central Europe for beheadings. The blades of executioner's swords were often etched with designs representing Justice (like this example), the gallows, the rack, the Crucifixion, or moralistic inscriptions. This blade is etched with the following inscription in Old German: When I raise this sword, so I wish that this poor sinner will receive eternal life. The use of swords for executions ceased entirely in Europe by the early 18th century, after which time they sometimes continued to be used in ceremonies and processions as symbols of power. This sword was probably ceremonial.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1916.1620
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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