Late 17th century – German. Original found in the Medieval Crime Museum (Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum), in Germany.
The Executioner sword was a symbolic and ‘facilitator’ of judicial law. Many courtrooms displayed executioner swords on their walls. Their presence however was not solely symbolic, since it had a concrete purpose in the decapitation of the condemned. The blades of Executioner swords were typically engraved with vivid imagery of torture and punishment.
These swords generally featured broad, flat blades that end not in a point, but as a distinctive flat edge. The blade is heavily decorated as many executioner swords would be; and while in some cases the sword would be inscribed with the executioner’s name, in this case the inscription translates as “I spare no one” – a brutal message for criminals facing the executioner sword’s edge.
Beginning in or around the 1400’s, the practice of using swords for executions for capital offenses across Europe began to become more commonplace. It was only in the mid 16th century that specific swords would be used for this purpose as opposed to weapons of war. It is possible that the distinctive design of the Executioner’s Swords was created to distinguish them from combat weapons – this was a weapon of justice, not of war. The last execution using an Executioner’s Sword took place in Switzerland in 1868, after which mankind moved on to more “humane” methods of execution
Stylistically, Executioner’s Swords resembled broad, flat bars of metal more than actual weapons. This was due to the broad, flat blades that end not in a point, but as a distinctive flat edge – pointed tips being unnecessary as the Executioner’s Sword would never be thrust. They could vary in length and would usually have long handles suitable for a two-handed grip and maximum force being applied to the blow. By necessity, the swords were kept sharp – far sharper than would be practical for battlefield weapons as they would generally only need to do simple, carefully aimed blows to the back of an unarmored neck.
Faithfully crafted after a later historical model that survives in the Medieval Crime Museum (Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum), the ‘German Executioner sword’ is an imposing and powerful piece. Hefty, yet carefully balanced for its intended purpose, the 2.5 wide blade delivers powerful cutting blows. The blade is individually hand crafted from 5160 High Carbon steel and acid etched with stunning complexity, as the original compelling design.
The Executioner sword is an impressive, elegant yet macabre piece. imbued with powerful symbolic meanings, the Executioner sword is a beefy, vibrant and assertive piece which will sure be the focal point of any collection !
Photograph of the German Executioner Sword:
Medieval Crime Museum (Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum), in Germany.
Blade: 5160 High Carbon Steel. Dual Tempered HRc 60
48-50 at the core
Total length: 44.5″
Blade length: 35″
Blade width at base: 2 1/4″
Weight: 4 lbs