The Swords

The gem encrusted hilt and scabbard of the Jewelled Sword. This is the most elaborate and beautiful of the five swords of state.

The gem encrusted hilt and scabbard of the Jewelled Sword. This is the most elaborate and beautiful of the five swords of state.

The significance in the coronation ritual of the five Swords of State is described later in “The Coronation Ceremony“.

The most important, the magnifi­cent Jewelled State Sword, was made for the coronation of George IV. The hilt and scabbard are of dull gold set with jewels, the scabbard being richly encrusted with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds form­ing the national emblems of the rose, the thistle and the shamrock. The blade is of Damascus steel, finely engraved and of the finest temper.

The imposing Sword of State is a large broadsword made for Charles II in 1689. The hilt is fashioned to represent the lion and unicorn, while on the crimson velvet scabbard are added the royal arms as borne by William III and Mary II. It is carried not only at a coronation but on other State occasions, usually by a field- marshal or other high-ranking person­age.

The Sword of Justice to the Spirituality and the Sword of Justice, to the Temporality are straight two-edged swords which appear to be of 18th century date.

The fifth sword is Curtana, or Sword of Mercy. It has a blade broken about six inches from the point, leaving a flat blunt end, the ancient symbol representing mercy.

From top to bottom; the Sword of State; the Sword of Justice to the Spirituality; Sword of Justice to the Temporality, and Curtana or Sword of Mercy.

From top to bottom: the Sword of State; the Sword of Justice to the Spirituality; Sword of Justice to the Temporality, and Curtana or Sword of Mercy.

The name Curtana is derived from “Courtain”, the sword of Ogier the Dane, an 8th-century warrior and hero of romance. He was supposed to have drawn Courtain against the Emperor Charlemagne’s son in revenge for the murder of his own son, but drew back when a voice from Heaven called upon him to show mercy instead of exacting retribution.

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