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The Art of Monarchy

A collaboration with BBC Radio 4 to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

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This giant two handed sword is most likely to be a bearing sword used as a symbol of Edward III's power and authority, as well as a reminder to all of his defence of the Church. It would be carried before the King or his representative as a sword of state, being held in processions point upwards towards heaven.

Edward III founded the Order of the Garter in 1348 to unite the most powerful 25 knights in the country and create a strong alliance based on Arthurian ideals of chivalry. This sword is one expression of those ideals and helped Edward III project his might.

The sword may have hung with the King's helm above his garter stall in St George’s Chapel, and, after his death, would have been offered to the altar and hung above his tomb. This is probably why this sword has survived to the present day; incredibly its history at St George’s Chapel can be traced back through documents to 1384.

This sword with its connections to St George’s Chapel and the Order of the Garter is a powerful reminder to us, as well as to Edward III’s allies and enemies, of his might, rule, devotion to God and Church and to chivalric ideals.