The Wallace

(type XIa)

On display in the Wallace Collection in London is a sword that for some reason has largely been overlooked by modern enthusiasts (A458). Perhaps it is because it is a bit ravaged by rust and therefore have lost some of its original crispness and integrity of form. Perhaps it is because of its unusual proportions and uniquely shaped hilt. However, because of its unique character it stands out as one of the most beautiful type Xa swords that survive to our time.

The sword has a wide blade and a fuller running almost its whole length. The guard is slim with a slight and graceful curve towards the blade. The pommel is wide and surprisingly slim. It was made to be a light weapon for swift maneuvers and biting cuts. Its proportions suggest its maker was concerned not only with the tactics of the battlefield but also with the deeper meaning of knightly duties and virtues. The Albion Museum Line version of this iconic weapon is based on hands-on documentation of the original. Its outline and original shape have been carefully reconstructed following precise tracings and measurements.

The blade is a classic example of the XIa type: a moderate length and a bit wider than type XI blades, with a distinctive, narrow fuller. The two edges follow a parabolic tapering curve toward the point rather than a straight taper. The cross section is a lean lenticular shape.
The guard is a style 11 with ends that expand slightly into a droplet shape.
The pommel is a thin version of type G with a lenticular section.

On their own, each part of the sword seems simple and uncomplicated, but taken together the effect is a sword with a serene and subtle beauty. Its light weight combined with a point of balance that is quite far from the guard makes it a quick and extremely responsive sword that will deliver biting cuts with great precision and timing.

An analysis of its proportions suggests that it was designed according to geometric principles. When artisans, architects, and engineers of this period wanted to create works imbued with sacred concepts, geometric design provided the underlying structure of proportions between the parts and the whole. Architecture, sculpture, painting, the art of the book, and even music was created according to principles of harmony similarly based on arithmetic and geometry. The geometry of A458 suggests that it was made for a sacred purpose. Perhaps it was the sword of a crusader. Perhaps its owner thought of it as a blessed or even magical sword.

Blade length 33 1/2″ (85 cm)
Overall length 39 3/8″ (100 cm)
PoB 7 3/4″ (19.6 cm)
CoP 21″ (53.3 cm)
Weight 2 lbs (.9 kg)