From swords for samurai and kings, to swords that can cut through stone here are the histories of some of the most incredible swords ever unearthed.
8) The Wallace Sword: At a massive 5 feet 4 inches long from razor-sharp blade to hilt , the Wallace sword is an intimidating piece of metalwork. Believed to be wielded by William Wallace himself during the Wars of Scottish Independence, the Wallace Sword is surrounded in mystery and much debate. Allegedly, the sword was sent to John de Menteith, the Governor of Dumbarton Castle, after Wallace’s execution in 1305. From there, the sword’s location is unknown until 1505 when King James IV of Scotland paid for the sword’s hilt, pommel, scabbard, and belt to be replaced. According to legend, the King ordered this due to Wallace’s original components being comprised of the dried skin of English commander Hugh Cressingham after his defeat at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. After this, the sword once again goes missing, with no written mention of it until three centuries later, when a letter was received from the War Office in 1875. The letter states that in 1825, the sword was sent to the Tower of London to be repaired. The sword was then sent to Dr. Samuel Meyrick to be analyzed. Dr. Meyrick concluded that the sword’s components could not have belonged to Wallace, citing them as being made no earlier than the 16th century. A heated debate has developed around the authenticity of the Wallace sword, as many find Dr.Meyrick’s evaluation to be invalid due to him not examining the actual blade of the sword, only the parts that were likely replaced by King James. Recent studies have revealed that there are pieces of a 13th century blade in the sword but during repairs, metals from other time periods have been mixed in, making it incredibly difficult to precisely date the sword and nearly impossible to cite an owner.
7) Tizona: Tizona, and its sister sword, Colada, was wielded by Rodrigo Diaz, better known as El Cid. With a name literally meaning, “firebrand”, this sword struck fear into the hearts of countless men during its time at El Cid’s side. El Cid was an incredibly strong military strategist and warrior, fighting for the Castille. He fought with Tizona against the Moors as a chief general of Alfonso VI’s army. It is alleged that El Cid won Tizona from its previous owner, King Yusef of Valencia. Stories of his military prowess rapidly spread, sparking poems and folktales that have survived even into modern times, several surrounding El Cid being chosen by God and Tizona’s supposed magical powers. Tizona’s powers are believed to be related to the bravery and strength of its wielder, growing most powerful when in the hands of El Cid. It is said that men faced with Tizona in a fight will drop to their knees and beg forgiveness or flee if the sword is owned by the right man. One popular story features El Cid after his death in 1099: in it, El Cid was seated, in full armor, in a church with Tizona at his side. A Jewish man plucked a hair from the deceased El Cid’s beard and the sword struck him down, nearly killing him. After being attended to, the man repents and allows himself to be baptized, the power of the sword converting him. Whether any of these tales hold any truth is up to interpretation but the power of Tizona in the hands of El Cid can historically never be denied.
6) Durendal: Durendal is arguably one of the most interesting swords of all time. Given to legendary paladin Roland by King Charlemagne, Durendal is said to contain a tooth from Saint Peter, a piece of Jesus Christ’s mother, Mary’s clothing, blood from Basil of Caesarea, and hair from Saint Denis all within its gold hilt. The wild claims do not end there, though, as Durendal is said to be the strongest sword of all time, fully capable of slicing large boulders in half with just one swing. It is cited in local lore as the cause of an area in the Pyrenees known as “Roland’s Breech” due to Roland swinging it into the rocks, leaving behind a large gash. The sword is also entirely indestructible by any known human means. The location of Durendal is not currently known, though several fake swords have appeared. Some claim it was stolen away by Henry Curtmantel in 1183 after being placed in the chapel of Mary while others claim it was simply lost or destroyed. The most popular story among locals is that Roland threw the sword into the cliffs of Rocamadour, where it stuck due to the sharpness of the blade, though the tourist offices claim it to be a replica.
4) The Sword of Goujian
3) The Seven-Branched Sword
1)Curved saber of San Martín