History is full of great weapons, but some are more famous than others. Some legendary weapons were wielded on the battlefield by famous warriors. Others were carried by some of the greatest generals in history.
While more legend than fact in some cases (especially the truly ancient weapons), there are some weapons with stories that get more attention from historical weapon aficionados. Here are some more details about some of these famous weapons in history.
This is the legendary sword of Roland, the nephew of Charlemagne, the King of the Franks who became emperor of the Holy Roman Empire starting in about 800. He brought together the people of central and western Europe, and much of that was accomplished because of Roland. While there are few references to the historical Roland, he is a key figure in many tales set during this time, including his last stand at the Battle of Roncevaux. This moment was central to the epic poem “La Chanson de Roland.”
Goujian is more than 2,000 years old and was discovered in an archeological dig in 1865 in Hubei, China. Legend has it that it had no rust and was still sharp when discovered. That’s most likely attributable to the fact that the copper and tin blade has anti-tarnish sulfur and was in an air-tight scabbard. But it’s led to the belief that the blade had magical powers, which admittedly is more fun.
Curved Saber of San Martin
Argentine Gen. José de San Martín was a key leader in the South American struggle to free themselves from control by Spain. San Martín became the 1st Protector of Perú, guiding the country to independence on July 28, 1821. His sword was made in London. In 1896, it was placed into a museum in Buenos Aires where it remains today as one of the most famous weapons in history.
This sword was used by Scotsman William Wallace, who led his country to independence in from England in the Wars of Scottish Independence. He was executed in 1305. However, his fame lives on, as does his excellence at swordsmanship, something every warrior at the time needed to survive. His blade is in the National Museum of Scotland.
The Scots know to make memorable weapons. The Mons Meg is a medieval cannon that the Scots used to end sieges over many centuries. The end came because the Mons Meg – otherwise known as “Big Margaret” – would pummel the enemy behind their walls during long sieges. It’s a tourist attraction now at Edinburgh Castle.
Surely, Napoleon Bonaparte needs no introduction. He became emperor of France and later conquered much of Europe. He is regarded as a military genius (notwithstanding his decision to invade Russia) and someone who made significant contributions to how war is waged. His gold-encrusted sword (Seen here), used by him in battle, was purchased at auction in 2007 for $6.4 million. The buyer’s identity was never revealed.
Charlemagne himself carried a sword, called Joyeuse, which translates to “joyous.” It apparently was not so joyous for Charlemagne’s enemies because he supposedly beheaded his opponents. It’s now on display at the Louvre in Paris – or, at least, many experts believe that the sword in the museum contains parts of the original sword.
These are seven of the most famous weapons in history – although, of course, not all of them. Everyone has their own favorite. But these seven certainly are worth consideration for the “most famous” list for fans of weaponry and an appreciation for their importance in world history. Now, what about future weapons?