The Sword of Mercy
- Maker: Zandona Ferrara (bladesmith active circa 1600); Rundell Bridge & Rundell (jeweller)
- Dated: early 17th century
- Medium: steel, iron, copper, wood, the scabbard of leather, velvet, silver gilt
- Measurements: 96.5 x 19 cm
- Acquirer: Charles I, King of Great Britain (1600-49), when King of Great Britain (1625-49)
- Provenance: probably created for the coronation of Charles I in 1626
The sword has a gilt-iron hilt with a wooden, wire-bound grip, and a broad steel blade, truncated about 2.5 cms from the original point, with a “running wolf” mark inlaid in copper. It is presented with its velvet-covered leather scabbard with gold embroidery and silver-gilt mounts.
This sword, known as the Sword of Mercy or the Curtana, is one of three swords which are carried unsheathed, pointing upwards, in the coronation procession. This sword is accompanied by two swords of Justice (Sword of Temporal Justice and Sword of Spiritual Justice).
The practice of carrying three swords, representing kingly virtues, dates back to the coronation of Richard the Lionheart in 1189. This sword, representing Mercy, has had its tip removed so that it no longer functions as a weapon, although in origin it was constructed in the same way as a practical sword.
The three swords were made for the coronation of Charles I in 1626 and then placed with the regalia in Westminster Abbey. Together with the coronation spoon, these three works were the only pieces to survive the Civil War and Interregnum untouched.
It is not known whether they were used in the coronation procession of Charles II, but they have certainly been used since 1685. A new scabbard was made for the sword in 1821 for the coronation of George IV.
Source: Copyright © 2014 Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II