Swords and Sabres for Spanish Cavalry Troopers (1)
Swords and Sabres for Spanish Cavalry Troopers

Part One (1728 - 1814)

by Juan José Pérez


In this article series we are going to briefly consider the different Spanish Cavalry Troopers patterns that were issued between 1728 and 1907 (before 1728 that concept did not exist, and in 1907 the last troopers pattern approved in Spain was issued). We have left deliberately apart from this study Dragoons sabres and swords, because they presented during 18th century a great variability, lacking of specific weaponry since 1815. All the referred patterns were produced at the Toledo Factory. In this first article we cover the period from the first known standard pattern to the end of the wars against Napoleon.
 
 

Spanish Cavalry Trooper circa 1.760

In 1.728 a regulation sword patttern for cavalry troopers appears for the first time in Spain, anticipating itself this way to many other countries of its surroundings. This pattern, defined by Royal Ordenance of  July 12th of that year, presents a double-edged straight blade (as all Spanish cavalry swords of 18th cent.), having a double-shell iron hilt with knuckle-bow and curved quillons, as a period engraving shows along with the scabbard, made in leather-covered wood. Length of blade 940 mm, width 36 mm,
thickness 6 mm.

Cavalry sword, 1728 pattern




This pattern, a strong and resistant sword, got a great success, being replaced by 1796 and 1799 patterns only after seeing many service years.
 


 
 

In 1.796 (although there is a controversy around the date) a new model for cavalry troopers was adopted.This new one, showing very classic lines and a very similar construction to the previous one, presents an almost full cup-hilt in a rapier style, curved quillons and knuckle-bow. The blade was very similar to that of  1728 pattern, having these dimensions: length 935 mm, width 35, thickness 6 mm.

By the end of the century (1795) was created in Spain a new type of more maneuverable cavalry, which was equipped with sabres presenting curved blade and simple D-hilt, being organized in regiments of Húsares (Hussars) and Cazadores (Scouts). This new Cavalry was named as Light, as opposed to the heavy one or Line Cavalry, that remained being armed with straight-bladed swords. Around 1.803 a regulation order fixed the sword patterns in use by both cavalries, although in fact it formalized the use of models appeared before that date.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Cavalry sword, 1796 pattern The first issued pattern for Line Cavalry was the 1803 sword (1799 according to other authors), although it could be in use long before that date, taking advantage of a very particular hilt that was used by Dragoons units since at least 1768. This straight-bladed sword presents two variants: one has a double-edged blade in all its length (see image below), while the other shows a single edge in first two thirds, being double-edged in the last third, close to the point. The iron basket-hilt presents knuckle-bow, two curved quillons, one short additional quillon and a safety catch. Blade length, 975 mm, width 34 mm. The scabbard is made in leather-covered wood, with iron mountings.
 
 

Line Cavalry Sword, 1803 ( or 1799) pattern

A new sabre pattern was issued officially in 1803 to light cavalry, although  it was already in use since 1795. This sabre saw little production because of several circumstances. It presents a highly curved blade, single-edgcd until the point, where it becomes double-edged, with light fullers, and grooves close to the butt in both sides. The hilt is of a rather plain D-type, with backstrap, knuckle-bow and cross of almost straight quillons, all in brass. Blade length, 855 mm, width 35 mm, thickness 6 mm. The scabbard is made in leather almost covered with brass mountings, except for the big iron chape and drag.

Light Cavalry Sabre, 1803 pattern

All the previous patterns, excepting perhaps the one of 1728, took part in the Wars against Napoleon's troops, along with lots of arms obtained from older blades and newer hilts, some of them of non-official French types. In addition, due to the conjunctural aid of the English troops, the robust heavy cavalry straight swords and light cavalry sabres of the English 1796 patterns were used widely, and thus after the war there were abundant items in service.

Ended the fight, in 1815 a new regulation approved the use of new patterns for Line and Light Cavalry,  that introduced in Spain the French style in their hilts. We will cover them in the next article.
 

ã Juan José Pérez, 2000
References


Swords and Sabres for Spanish Cavalry Troopers (2)

Swords and Sabres for Spanish Cavalry Troopers (3)

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