Artibus et Historiae no. 63 (XXXII)

2011, ISSN 0391-9064

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ZDZISŁAW ŻYGULSKI JR. - The Szczerbiec. The Polish Coronation Sword

The Szczerbiec (literally the “Jagged Sword” or “Notched Sword”) is the coronation sword that was used in crowning ceremonies of most kings of Poland from 1320 to 1764, and the only preserved piece of Polish Crown Jewels, kept at the treasure vault of Wawel Royal Castle in Cracow.

The enormous literature on the Szczerbiec, that has come into existence since the 1870s, can roughly be divided into two camps: the works of authors who have accepted the authenticity of the Szczerbiec kept at Wawel Royal Castle and the publications of those who have doubts or are decidedly in favour of its inauthenticity.

Building on the connection between the symbols on the Szczerbiec and the emblems used by the Knights Templar and the Rosicrucians, proved by R. T. Prinke, the present paper suggests that the sword could have originated with the Knights Templar, thus returning to the opinion of Jean Tastou, the archaeologist working in the service of Anatole Demidov, one of the nineteenth-century owners of the Szczerbiec. In the thirteenth century, besides the Teutonic Knights, the Knights Templar also had their holdings of land in Poland, and it was they who defended their new country against attack by the Mongols in 1241. They had close relations to the Piast dukes and it is highly probable that, after being put down in dramatic fashion, as a result of interference on the part of King Philip the Fair, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, they handed over their ceremonial sword to one of the Piast dukes.

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