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so tired…

Genuine U1fb3rht Sw0rds! Really Cheap!

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maciejowski_bibleRoughly a millenium ago a sword from the Frankish manufacturies of Ulfbhert gave the warrior wielding it a similar status as a car from Porsche, or maybe a clock from Glashaus, might give a person nowadays. It was a brand, and one well-known for it’s quality as well. The steel used for these swords was imported from Afghanistan and Iran into Scandinavia. It was a high-quality easy-to-use masterpiece of weaponery.It was bleeding edge (so to say) weapon technology. Authorities even tried to ban the export of these swords, as they could be used by others (i.e. Vikings) against the Franks themself.

Now, what happens nowadays when we have a brand well-known everywehere for it’s quality?

It gets copied of course! Copied by people who want to make some easy money with cheap fakes of good quality products. Buyers nowadays are often people who think that it mostly is the brand that matters and not the functionality. People who think they might be able to deal with the shoddiness of the fake Vittorio handbag they bought if they get to impress a few people with it before it falls apart.

One can assume it wasn’t that much different a thousand years ago. Wielding a Ulfbhert sword into battle (or maybe more likely into the local pub) would have given the warrior a great amount of respect by his peers. And with the restrictions on the export of these swords it mostl likely got harder and harder to actually get those. Why not substitute the real sword by a good-looking replica then? Razor-sharp metal blades with a “Ulfberht” inscription. Easy! Nobody would ever notice!

Well, not until the warrior would happen to end up in a real fight, that is. Then the low quality of the sword (often manufactured from local irons in Northern Europe instead of Arabian steel) would show rather quickly with rather lethal effects.

The price for style could be a bit higher back then than it is nowadays.

British archeometallurgists now have compared many of the Ulfberht swords left and found out that many of them indeed were nothing but fakes. Interestingly they also found out that most of the fakes were from places where it was more important to look good (burials), while most of the genuine ones were found in places where they most likely would have been dropped by accident (rivers). Compare getting your Porsche buried with you to you driving it into the next lake.

Sources: Guardian.co.uk, Sword Buyers Guide, MyArmoury on Type Xa swords

Written by G. Neuner

1. January 2009 at 5:55 pm

Posted in History

Tagged with , , , ,

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