Of even greater interest than the foregoing weapon is the great two-handed and two-edged estoque or ceremonial sword of Ferdinand and Isabella, which measures forty-two inches in length. The fittings are of iron, gilded and engraved. The crossbars, terminating in small half-moons, with the concave side directed outward, are inscribed with the well-known motto of the Catholic sovereigns, tanto monta, and with a supplication to the Virgin, memento mei o mater dei mei. The pommel is a fiat disc, suggestive in its outline of a Gothic cross, and bears upon one side the figure of Saint John together with the yoke, emblem of Ferdinand the Catholic, and upon the other the sheaf of arrows, emblem of his consort Isabella. The hilt is covered with red velvet bound with wire.
The sheath of this most interesting sword - affirmed by the Count of Valencia de Don Juan to have been used by Ferdinand and Isabella, and subsequently by Charles the Fifth, in the ceremony of conferring knighthood, and also, during the Hapsburg monarchy, to have been carried by the master of the horse before the king upon his formal visit to a city of his realm - is made of wood covered with crimson silk, bearing in "superposed" embroidery the arms of Spain posterior to the conquest of Granada, together with a repetition of the emblems of the Catholic sovereigns (Plate liv., No. 2).
In the same collection are two other swords which probably belonged to Ferdinand the Catholic. One of them (Pl. lvii., No. 1), has a discoid pommel and a gilded iron handle. The flat crossbars grow wider and bend down towards the blade, and on the hilt we read the words paz
Comigo Nvnca Veo, Y Siempre Gvera Deseo ("Never does peace attend me, and always do I yearn for war").
This sword has been attributed to Isabella. The evidence for this belief is slight, although the Count of Valencia de Don Juan discovered that in the year 1500 Isabella was undoubtedly the possessor of certain weapons and armour which she sometimes actually wore. Among these objects were several Milanese breastplates, a small dagger with a gold enamelled hilt in the shape of her emblem of the sheaf of arrows, and two swords, one fitted with silver and enamel, and the other with iron.
The other sword, which probably belonged to Ferdinand the Catholic, is of the kind known as "of a hand and a half" (de mano y media; see p. 248, note), and also of the class denominated estoques de arzon, or "saddle-bow swords," being commonly slung from the forepart of the saddle upon the left side of the rider. Ferdinand, however, had reason to be chary of this usage, for Lucio Marineo Siculo affirms that at the siege of Velez-Malaga the sword which he was wearing thus suspended, jammed at a critical moment of the fray, and very nearly caused his death. Siculo adds that after this experience Ferdinand invariably wore his sword girt round his person, just as he wears it in the carving on the choir-stalls of Toledo.
Adarga (Royal Armoury, Madrid)
The Royal Armoury contains another sword improperly attributed both to Ferdinand the Third and Ferdinand the Catholic. It dates from the fifteenth century, and has a blade of unusual strength intended to resist plate armour. This blade, which has a central ridge continued to the very point, is very broad towards the handle, tapers rapidly, and measures thirty-two inches. At the broader end, and on a gilded ground embellished with concentric circles, are graven such legends as: -
"The Lord is my aid. I will not fear what man may do to me, and will despise my enemies. Superior to them, I will destroy them utterly."
"Make me worthy to praise thee, O sweet and blessed Virgin Mary."
The handle is of iron, with traces of gilded decoration, and corded with black silk. The Count of Valencia de Don Juan says that no reliable information can be found concerning this fine arm. Its length and general design would allow of its being used with one hand or with both, and either slung from the saddle-bow or round the middle of a warrior on foot.
Another handsome sword, wrongly attributed by the ignorant to Alfonso the Sixth, is kept at Toledo, in the sacristy of the cathedral. The scabbard is adorned with fourteenth-century enamel in the champleve style. Baron de las Cuatro Torres considers that this sword belonged to the archbishop Don Pedro Tenorio (see p. 269), and adduces his proofs in the Boletin de la Sociedad Espanola de Excursiones for March 1897. The prelate in question, appointed to command an army sent against Granada, was, like so many of the Spanish mediaeval clerics, of a warlike temper, and "exchanged with great alacrity his rochet for his harness, and his mitre for his helm."
One of the most ridiculous and barefaced forgeries in the Royal Armoury is a sixteenth-century sword which has inscribed upon its blade the name of the redoubtable Bernardo del Carpio. The Count of Valencia de Don Juan says he remembers to have met with other blades of later mediaeval make, engraved with such legends as "belonging to Count Fernan-Gonzalez," or even "Recaredus Rex Gothorum," while others in this armoury are ascribed, without the least authority of fact or common sense, to Garcia de Paredes, Alvaro de Sande, and Hernando de Alarcon. Others, again, with less extravagance, though not on solid proof, are said to have belonged to Hernan Cortes, the Count of Lemos, and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza.
Some, upon the other hand, belonged undoubtedly to celebrated Spanish warriors of the olden time. Such are the swords of the Count of Coruna, of Gonzalo de Cordova, and of the conqueror of Peru, Francisco Pizarro. The first of these weapons (Pl. lvii,, No. 4) has a superb hilt carved in the style of the Spanish Renaissance, with crossbars curving down, a pas d'ane, and a Toledo blade of six mesas ("tables") or surfaces, grooved on both sides, and ending in a blunt point. The armourer's mark, which seems to represent a fleur-de-lis four times repeated, is that of the swordsmith Juan Martinez, whose name we read upon the blade, together with the words in te Domine Speravi, and on the other side, in Spanish, para don bkknardino xvarez De Mendoza, Conde De Corvna.