Skip to main content

Hand-and-a-half sword: HEN.M.188-1933

An image of Hand-and-a-half sword

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Alternative views

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)


Production: Unknown (Probably)




Hand-and-a-half sword or bastard sword. ('Great sword', or 'War Sword', or 'Great Espee d'Allegmagne'). Type XIIIA. Very deep wheel-shaped pommel with very small central boss, with a cross (once inlaid with latten or copper) or incised on one face. Long tang, with restored 19th century grip. Straight cross of rectangular section widening toward the tips from broadened midpoint. Long, heavy blade, tapering very slightly with a wide shallow fuller running two-thirds of its length.


History note: Sold at the Helbing Gallery at Munich 1908

Measurements and weight

Length: 115 cm
Weight: 1.4 kg

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1933-03-16) by Henderson, James Stewart


13th Century-14th Century#
Circa 1250 CE - 1350 CE


Big hand-and-a-half swords of this kind were very popular, according to many literary reference and much pictorial and monumental evidence, during the century 1250-1350, though it is now known that they were in use at least a century earlier. The fact that contemporary writers referred to them as 'Grans Espees d'Allemagne' (Great swords of Germany), and that German monumental sculpture shows very many of them, does suggest a German tendency. However, they are also shown upon very many Spanish effigies of the same period. There are also many 13th and early 14th century references to 'Espees de Guerre', 'Swords of War', 'Schlachtschwerte' and so on to distinguish them from the smaller kind of sword ('Arming Sword' in 15th century English) and to set them apart for their prime use as battle-swords. They are not to be confused with two-handed swords. A sword of the same dimensions with a similar hilt, including the cross in the central boss of the pommel, is on the tomb-effigy at Bopfingen in Wurttemburg, dated 1359, and there are others in Germany, Spain and England, all dating between c.1320-1360, too numerous to mention individually.

This sword has a long, slightly tapering blade, common right across Europe from the late 12th to the 14th centuries. The grip, which is a restoration, is long enough to use an extra hand when greater force was needed. The pommel is shaped like a wheel.

Components of the work

Inlay composed of copper ( or latten)
Bound Tang composed of wire leather
Pommel Depth 15 cm Diameter 6 cm
Blade Length 89.5 cm
Grip Width 28.5 cm
Cross Width 30.5 cm
Blade At Hilt Width 4.9 cm

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Casting (process) : Sword, cast, with either inlaid copper or latten decoration, or incised cross decoration

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.188-1933
Primary reference Number: 18827
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 19 April 2021 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Hand-and-a-half sword" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-19 14:23:09

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=Hand-and-a-half sword |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-19 14:23:09|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

To use this as a simple code embed, copy this string:

<div class="text-center">
    <figure class="figure">
        <img src=""
        alt="Hand-and-a-half sword"
        class="img-fluid" />
        <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">Hand-and-a-half sword</figcaption>

More objects and works of art you might like

Hand-and-a-half sword

Accession Number: HEN.M.189-1933

Hand-and-a-half sword

Accession Number: HEN.M.187-1933

Hand-and-a-half sword

Accession Number: M.2-1934


Accession Number: HEN.M.223-1933

Suggested products from Curating Cambridge

You might be interested in this...

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...