Great Captain Letter Opener

14.50

4 in stock

Description of the Product

Gonzalo Ferdinaz de Cordoba was a great military leader in the time of the Catholic monarchs of Spain, Isabella and Ferdinand, at the turn of the 15th and 16th C. He got his first victories during the reconquista of Granada from the moors, and later distinguished himself in the Italian wars, where he directed the first battle in history won by gunpowder small arms (the Battle of Cerignola). Called “El Gran Capitán” "The Great Captain", he created the first modern standing army and pioneered modern warfare, something that Spanish military power and prestige relied on during the 16th century. Not that such a thing as Spain excisted in his time, for the union of Castille and Aragon was only a union of monarchies. All of the “Spanish” colonies were in fact Castilian colonies, whereas Aragon had territories in the Mediterranean, Italy and Greece.

This sword is the Great Captains seremonial sword, given to him to defend Christianity with by Pope Alexander VI in 1503, the same year the pope died. Pope Alexander VI, born Rodrigo di Borja, is undoubtedly one of the most famous medieval popes, and the embodiment of the secularity, nepotism and corruption of the Aragonese Borgia-family. His uncle had been a pope, who had made him a cardinal in the scandalous age of 25. The scandals did not subside, and after gaining power all his actions were guided with the interest of his family’s fortunes in mind; the advancement and wealth of his children Giovanni, Cesare, Lucrezia and Jofré were paramount. This unabashed hunger for power lived on in his children, as evidenced in the Prince by Macchiavelli about Cesare di Borgia. As a pope Alexander played with many cards, and as France and Spain (Aragon) fought over the kingdom of Naples during the Italian wars, he hedged his bets by making deals and alliances with all parties. Undoubtedly gifting a luxurious sword to the famous Captain was part of a grand scheme of aquiring, if not friends, then at least influence.

The original sword has been kept in Madrid in the Real Armeria and in its predecessor the Alcázar, since at least 1621. The details on this lavishly decorated sword show scenes from classic battles. Since the 1700’s, after the wars of Spanish succession and the arrival of the Bourbon dynasty, the sword has been used in the investiture of the Prince of Asturias (the crown prince of Spain) and in knighting the members of the Order of the Golden Fleece, one of the most prestigious knightly orders in Europe.

Made by Marto of Toledo. Overall length 26 cm
Silver Finish hilt. Stainless Steel Blade.

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