Rare French Basket Hilted Cutlass of the Ecole Royale Militaire, ca. 1775

Rare French Basket Hilted Cutlass of the Ecole Royale Militaire, ca. 1775

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Rare French Basket Hilted Cutlass of the Ecole Royale Militaire, ca. 1775
Rare French Basket Hilted Cutlass of the Ecole Royale Militaire, ca. 1775
Rare French Basket Hilted Cutlass of the Ecole Royale Militaire, ca. 1775
Rare French Basket Hilted Cutlass of the Ecole Royale Militaire, ca. 1775
Rare French Basket Hilted Cutlass of the Ecole Royale Militaire, ca. 1775
Rare French Basket Hilted Cutlass of the Ecole Royale Militaire, ca. 1775
Rare French Basket Hilted Cutlass of the Ecole Royale Militaire, ca. 1775
Rare French Basket Hilted Cutlass of the Ecole Royale Militaire, ca. 1775

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Iron three quarter basket hilt, in Scottish style, of flat bars securely fastened with a ring around the base of the spherical pommel. Original leather bound grip with two strands of twisted brass wire. Broad flat 19" slightly curved single-edged cutlass blade drawing to a long sharp point; engraved on each side with a gold-filled (losses) design of an oil lamp in an escutcheon surmounted by a fleur de lis and surrounded by a laurel wreath. The blade spine clearly engraved in script "Devaux Fourbisseur De L’ Ecole Royale Militaire Place Des Trois Maris au Dieu Mars a Paris". Devaux is recorded as having worked from 1770 to 1810. He worked in Paris at 37 carrefour des Trois Maries, près le Pont-Neuf, au Dieu Mars, using variations of this address on his blades.

The Ecole Royale Militaire, or Royal Military College, was founded in 1751 and closed in 1787, having changed its name to Ecole des Cadets-gentilhommes around 1776/77. This would appear to date the blade between 1770 and 1777, though it is possible the old name of the college was continued in common use for some time after the official name change. Napoleon Bonaparte attended the college in 1784, leaving in October, 1785 as a second class lieutenant of artillery. Napoleon returned in 1795 to establish his command headquarters in the building.

A very similar hilt is found on a sword in Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland (see Cyril Mazansky, British Basket-Hilted Swords, p. 167). While the guard may be of Scottish style, the grip is old and unmistakably French with its slight curvature. The link between the Scottish style hilt and the unquestionably French blade of this cutlass is not known, but at the time Scotland and France were closely allied, with England as their common enemy. Most of the Scottish Jacobite leaders who survived the rebellions in Britain escaped to France and many thrived there. Their desire to reestablish the Stuart line on the British throne did not die out with the defeat at Culloden and the exile of Bonnie Prince Charlie. While it cannot be ascertained with certainty that this sword was in this form for its entire existence, it surely has been this way since its period of use around the time of the French Revolution. The blade has likely always been a cutlass blade due to its extreme width (2 1/8") and lack of fuller, since a blade of much greater length would have been too heavy and unwieldy. It was undoubtedly assembled in France and would have been the perfect close quarters weapon to use in "The Terror" of Paris during the Revolution. It is a very rare sword, undoubtedly with some unknown connection to the famous military college and possibly in its possession when Napoleon attended. The symbol of the oil lamp was often used to represent schools, as it represented the studies conducted by the light of an oil lamp. Overall length 25 1/4". A very well made weapon of excellent weight and balance in extremely good condition for its age.

 

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Item Details:

  • Reference #
  • HRC7
  • Quantity
  • 1
  • Category
  • Militaria & Weapons
  • Department
  • Antiques
  • Year
  • ca. 1775
  • Country of Origin
  • France
  • Dimensions
  • Width: 0 inch
  • Height: 0 inch
  • Depth: 0 inch
  • Weight: 0 pound
  • Condition
  • VG+

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