Wayne R. Lusardi
SHIPWRECKED SWORDS: AN EXAMINATION OF EDGED WEAPONRY RECOVERED FROM SPANISH COLONIAL VESSELS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES, 1492-1733.
(Under the direction of Professor Brad Rodgers) Department of History, May 1998.
The purpose of this thesis is to describe and analyze a wide variety of edged weapons used by the Spanish at sea and in the New World from 1492 to 1733. Archaeological and historical data will demonstrate that swords were personally owned during this period, and as a consequence, served not only for defense, but also to display the wealth, status, military rank. and political or religious affiliations of their owners. Technological capabilities and innovations will be revealed by examining the construction and assembly methods, material content, and decoration appearing on the blades and hilts. Archaeological provenience will also aid in the interpretation of the artifacts, as well as the dating, identification, and classification of the vessel or site on which the edged weapons were found.
Corresponding documentation, archaeological provenience, and the quality and quantity of edged weapons occurring on a site often reflect to what extent and by whom the weapons were used, as well as how efficiently the vessel was armed. Were the weapons used to outfit a company of soldiers, marines, or mercenaries on board the vessel? Were they the personal property of the officers, mariners, or civilian passengers? Did they belong to the vessel's armament, or were they being shipped as trade goods? Were the weapons already obsolete at the time of the wreck, or did they represent state-of-the-art technology? There are the types of questions that will be addressed repeatedly throughout this thesis.
In addition to the swords, daggers, and pole-arms recovered from ten shipwrecks or groups of wrecks that share certain trends in their edged weaponry assemblages, artifacts from several colonial sites will also be examined to supplement gaps in the shipwreck record. Although this project concentrates on the artifacts themselves, it will also utilize for comparative purposes contemporary arms in museum and armory collections, historical documents including first-hand accounts and illustrations, vessel cargo lists and small-arms' manifests, wills and death inventories, contemporary fencing treaties, and official contracts. It is hoped that this study will contribute to a more thorough understanding of an important, yet often neglected class of material culture.