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The Noble Art of the Sword

The Noble Art of the Sword


Since the early Bronze Age the sword has been a sign of wealth, status and the power of divine right. Yet, before the sixteenth century the sword was almost never carried on the person in everyday life. It was a rare, noble weapon, carried into battle by the aristocratic warrior class but set aside in time of peace. However, the increasing prominence of the Renaissance middle classes brought a fundamental change to the sword's place in society. Now large numbers of non-noble but often wealthy and upwardly mobile people could also afford rich things like fine clothes, jewelry and weapons.


Accompanying a major international exhibition at the Wallace Collection, London (17 May – 16 September 2012), this catalogue celebrates this artistic and cultural importance of the sword, as a symbol of power and prestige, as a flamboyant fashion statement and as an icon in the Age of Discovery. It will feature weapons and related works of art from the Wallace Collection as well as other great collections of arms and armour; never-before-seen works on fencing drawn from the library of the 8th Lord Howard de Walden; and portraits, prints and drawings that will help place the Renaissance civilian sword in its social and artistic context.

  • Tobias Capwell et al.

    May 2012

    264 pages, paperback

    300 x 245 mm, 150 colour illus.
    ISBN: 978 0 900785 43 6


    Dr Tobias Capwell, Curator of Arms and Armour in the Wallace Collection, is an internationally-acknowledged expert on medieval and Renaissance arms and armour. Founding member of the Royal Armouries jousting team, Tobias became Queen's Champion by winning the Royal Armouries Queen's Golden Jubilee joust in 2006. He is the author of a numerous publications, including the recently published Masterpieces of European Arms and Armour in the Wallace Collection (2011), The Worldwide Encyclopedia of Knives, Daggers and Bayonets (2009) and The Wallace Collection: A Celebration of Arms and Armour at Hertford House (2008).

  • Exhibition

    Wallace Collection (London)

    17 May – 16 September 2012

  • In the press

    "Compulsively readable catalogue ... packed with new and mostly unpublished material." –The Telegraph


    "The various chapters are both informative and decorative with a plentiful use of illustrative material culled from early litterature on the art of fencing." –Birmingham Post


    "Words cannot adequately describe the skill and artistry employed by the jewelers, damasceners, enamelers, gilders and burnishers who produced the splendid swords shown in the pages of this book. I recommend The Noble Art of the Sword for this reason alone." –Toy Soldier & Model Figure

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