A sword for Saint George

Realization of
Giovanni Sartori, Roberto Saporiti, Marco di Sarò e Tomas Lippi

It is always a hard task to find a prize for TORNEOINARMATURA, as expectations get higher year by year and it is easy to fall into the trap of offering something banal or fantastical. This is the reason why the prize has to match the stylistic canons of the time, both as regards its making and appearance. Moreover, it has to be a one-of-a-kind, exclusive work of art, which combines the craft of various Italian artisans, while relating to the iconographic subject of the tournament, which this year will be Saint George and the Dragon.

Since the very first edition of the tournament, we had always ruled out the possibility to give a sword as the prize, because it seemed clichéd. For this reason, the previous prizes were something totally different. However, we knew that - sooner or later - we would have to deal with this kind of prize, the sword being the weapon which, above all others, evokes the image of the man-at-arms.

As for the type of sword, we have opted for an ESTOC, a weapon which, in the fifteenth century, was very widespread among men-at-arms in Italy as well as abroad. In the fifteenth century, this peculiar type of sword also had a symbolic meaning, as it was given to a Warlord to seal the contract which made him General Captain of his troops.

After studying the various models which have come down to us, many of which are ceremony-related, we decided not to make a replica, but to create a new prize, based on a number of authentic estocs, and on the style and working techniques of the time.

For this project, we chose four Italian artisans, each of whom has given his contribution to the making of this sword: Giovanni Sartori, Roberto Saporiti, Marco di Sarò and Tomas Lippi. Giovanni Sartori is a veteran of prize making for TORNEOINARMATURA: he contributed towards the crafting of two out of the three prizes that have been awarded so far. Given his experience in this sector, we commissioned him to make the blade of the sword.

The blade was forged in the Bienno Forge Museum, where a fifteenth-century water-powered trip hammer is still operational (the prizes awarded at the previous editions, i.e. the Hammer and the Helmet, were forged there too).
Starting from a block of unrefined material and using the trip hammer and the heat of fire, the smith crafted the main part of the sword. The blade was then handed over to Roberto Saporiti, an undoubtedly skillful artisan we put in charge of giving our prize its finishing touch.
Firstly, Roberto “refined” the blade until it reached the desired thickness and finish, by always keeping in mind the sword's fitness for use.

However symbolic it may be, it must have the right weight and balance, so that it is thoroughly in line with the real thing used as reference.
As for the guard, we took inspiration from the sword which allegedly belonged to Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III, whose shape is similar to other Italian estocs, but which also has some small designs which, with very neat lines, resemble a dragon's wings.

As regards the pommel, we opted for a circular wheel pommel so that it could contain the golden and silver medals made by Marco di Sarò.
The sword is decorated with one golden and one silver medal, depicting the tournament's theme, i.e. Saint George fighting the Dragon on one side, and the IHS monogram on the other. This representation, without the H surmounted by a cross, besides having a strong religious meaning, is an omen of good fortune and good health.
Except for the blade, the finishing touch of all the metal parts was achieved by using bluing. This was made not only to highlight the gleam of the blade and the engravings on the pommel, but also to resemble the Dragon's blow forging this object.

The scabbard that will protect the artisans' work of art was made by Tomas Lippi, using the techniques of the time.
Here again, we asked the artisan to come up with an out-of-the-box idea, that would be connected to our theme, i.e. Saint George and the Dragon. After many attempts and with a highly precise handmade finishing touch, he crafted a scabbard with decorations which recall a dragon's skin.

This year's prize for the Winner of the TORNEOINARMATURA2019 is, therefore, a one-of-a-kind object, made for an Italian project, which is renowned and appreciated all over Europe and brings together the work of many Italian artisans.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the artisans involved in the project, not only for their work, but also for their invaluable help in shaping the idea for this prize. And now... WHO WILL SLAY THE DRAGON?

A very special Thank to CENTRO LINGUISTICO CESENA for the translation of this article from Italian to English.


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