Jolly Roger, hell-for-leather edition
From the collection of the Musée de l’Armée is this French M1816 light cavalry saber, for your entertainment.
The 19th century experienced a certain craze for the occultism whose followers, rejecting materialism and bourgeois morality, seek to reveal the secrets of nature and man through the practice of the occult arts (magic, divination, alchemy). This vogue sees the production of literary, graphic and artistic works related to these practices. Private gunsmiths then put on the market decorative weapons, mainly daggers, which we call today “romantic”. The blades are often of recovery and are provided with a handle molded with the motives of devils or allegorical figures.
Perhaps inspired by Masonic rituals that require the use of a sword, this sword was made from a light cavalry saber blade model 1816. The guard represents a skeleton, whose skull serves as a pommel and the body grows on guard, fighting against a snake. As for the meaning of this decoration, only the initiates will appreciate it …
This sword also dates from the time that the French were fresh off the disastrous massed cavalry charge at Waterloo, led by Ney, that crashed on the squares of British infantry without carrying the day.
Nonetheless, they continued to maintain significant horse-mounted units for more than 130 years after.