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Philip Seddon
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The text as given reads +NDXOXCHWDRGHDXORVI+ Given some uncertainties of script (the W, N/R, C/G, V/U) and (contrary to some comments) some unusual details of abbreviation, I read this as a bi-lingual (Greek and Latin) blessing, combining masculine and feminine denominators/ separators (as previously suggested) as follows: + NDX O XC H MDRC H DX ORVI + 1. There is a semi-palindromic element: i) + as 'inclusio'; ii) O four letters in each way, iii) and H seven letters in; iv) with the central most challenging letters as (in my reading) (inverted) MDRC. 2. Depending on the final reading, the text is basically Latin ("acronyms"/ mnemonics and nomina sacra) with ? masculine and feminine Greek articles to differentiate 'gender', and the surrounding signs of the Cross. 3. The quite beautifully written Greek (not Maltese, and not Latin; all arms of equal length) cross at beginning and end (with pleasing serifs), acting as an inclusio, indicates that there is a blessing on this sword. This detail supports a bi-lingual reading: a Greek opening and closing signum. - The blessing indicates the divine ownership of the sword, requiring that no one 'messes' with it improperly. No one has noted that both crosses, at beginning and end, have little 'wing' marks between the two arms of the cross (to R, in the first, and to L, in the final one). I do not know what these signify; but they are certainly deliberately balanced. 4. ND could in theory be nostri domini or noster dominus, but the usual order (contrary to previous suggestions) is DN. I therefore read NDX: noster dux (our Captain/ leader - i.e. my owner) [is] O ( = Greek def. masc. article) XC, where (as in all icons) these two letters are the first and final letters of the name of Christ in capital letters: XPICTOC - Christos. Thus: 'Our Captain is Christ'... DX is written with first and last letters because this was not a regular usage; though others could attempt some form of translation with 'Our Lord ...' All suggestions of OXO or XOX referring to the Trinity are without foundation. 5. The central section is the trickiest, as everyone recognises. I take H, next, to be the corresponding *feminine* denominator (Greek again, as the first O) to indicate the second and parallel 'owner' of the sword: Mater Dei Regina Coeli/ orum. That this is so is suggested by the further bracketing of the four central initials within a second capital Greek H (f. def. art.)- perhaps as a further protective, sanctifying device. Her protection is ? central. Thus: '[and] the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven'. The fluidity of the capitalistion , the variable script, and the real uncertainty about the place and existence of a W, both at this time, and in either Latin or Greek, therefore suggests an inverted M. Before and after each H, there are six letters. 6. DX is then repeated. So far: 'Our ( = 'my') Captain is Christ [and the] Mother of God, Queen of Heaven'. Now the inscription returns to define the nature of Christ's 'leadership/ captaincy': he is DX ORVI - Leader, Captain, Commander, Guide, General. Grammatically, the Latin *should* read ORBIS, but the sense of an imperfect command of Latin on the part of the engraver goes hand-in-hand with the fluidity of script - [Christ] is 'Commander of the [whole] world.' Problem: if we read ORVI/ ORBI (V & R being routinely variable in pronunciation - cf. Spanish) in this way, we destroy the symmetry of the two 'O's 4 letters in as separate modifiers. However, I do not see any other way of giving coherent sense to the RVI at the end. (We would ??have to guess or fantasise about a King (R), with a name not given, King [unknown] the VIth?) But that wd in turn destroy the blessing and dedication of the sword to and by Christ and the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. The language is all entirely possible and consonant with the religious thought of the 13th century. 7. In sum, this is indeed a knight's sword, as previously assumed. It is inscribed to let it be known that this person is fighting for the armies of Christ and [the Virgin] Mary; its owner, Leader and Lord/ Commander [Jesus] Christ, with Mary, Queen of Heaven, have given it their blessing. Anyone who finds this sword, or defeats the knight in battle, should know to whom - ultimately - the sword belongs, even if it is thrown away either because the knight has fled, or because he has been captured and his sword thrown away to demonstrate that he (and the Christian soldiers) have been defeated. The sword, originally dedicated to and given the blessing of - ultimately - God (as inscribed: Jesus and Mary), may now be the evidence that in one battle, this Christian army was defeated, and their power broken. Contrary again to a previous idea, this is very specifically a Christian knight's sword. Someone like Prof Helen Castor of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, would be well able to assess and advance the work so far done on this sword. While at first a bi-lingual script might seem unlikely, it is in fact not at all so, given the linguistic, religious and military arts of the 13th century, and the mixed relations between North and South, East and West Christendom.
The text as given reads +NDXOXCHWDRGHDXORVI+ Given some uncertainties of script (the W, N/R, C/G, V/U) and (contrary to some comments) some unusual details of abbreviation, I read this as a bi-lingual (Greek and Latin) blessing, combining masculine and feminine denominators/ separators (as previously suggested) as follows: + NDX O XC H MDRC H DX ORVI + 1. There is a semi-palindromic element: i) + as 'inclusio'; ii) O four letters in each way, iii) and H seven letters in; iv) with the central most challenging letters as (in my reading) (inverted) MDRC. 2. Depending on the final reading, the text is basically Latin ("acronyms"/ mnemonics and nomina sacra) with ? masculine and feminine Greek articles to differentiate 'gender', and the surrounding signs of the Cross. 3. The quite beautifully written Greek (not Maltese, and not Latin; all arms of equal length) cross at beginning and end (with pleasing serifs), acting as an inclusio, indicates that there is a blessing on this sword. This detail supports a bi-lingual reading: a Greek opening and closing signum. - The blessing indicates the divine ownership of the sword, requiring that no one 'messes' with it improperly. No one has noted that both crosses, at beginning and end, have little 'wing' marks between the two arms of the cross (to R, in the first, and to L, in the final one). I do not know what these signify; but they are certainly deliberately balanced. 4. ND could in theory be nostri domini or noster dominus, but the usual order (contrary to previous suggestions) is DN. I therefore read NDX: noster dux (our Captain/ leader - i.e. my owner) [is] O ( = Greek def. masc. article) XC, where (as in all icons) these two letters are the first and final letters of the name of Christ in capital letters: XPICTOC - Christos. Thus: 'Our Captain is Christ'... DX is written with first and last letters because this was not a regular usage; though others could attempt some form of translation with 'Our Lord ...' All suggestions of OXO or XOX referring to the Trinity are without foundation. 5. The central section is the trickiest, as everyone recognises. I take H, next, to be the corresponding *feminine* denominator (Greek again, as the first O) to indicate the second and parallel 'owner' of the sword: Mater Dei Regina Coeli/ orum. That this is so is suggested by the further bracketing of the four central initials within a second capital Greek H (f. def. art.)- perhaps as a further protective, sanctifying device. Her protection is ? central. Thus: '[and] the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven'. The fluidity of the capitalistion , the variable script, and the real uncertainty about the place and existence of a W, both at this time, and in either Latin or Greek, therefore suggests an inverted M. Before and after each H, there are six letters. 6. DX is then repeated. So far: 'Our ( = 'my') Captain is Christ [and the] Mother of God, Queen of Heaven'. Now the inscription returns to define the nature of Christ's 'leadership/ captaincy': he is DX ORVI - Leader, Captain, Commander, Guide, General. Grammatically, the Latin *should* read ORBIS, but the sense of an imperfect command of Latin on the part of the engraver goes hand-in-hand with the fluidity of script - [Christ] is 'Commander of the [whole] world.' Problem: if we read ORVI/ ORBI (V & R being routinely variable in pronunciation - cf. Spanish) in this way, we destroy the symmetry of the two 'O's 4 letters in as separate modifiers. However, I do not see any other way of giving coherent sense to the RVI at the end. (We would ??have to guess or fantasise about a King (R), with a name not given, King [unknown] the VIth?) But that wd in turn destroy the blessing and dedication of the sword to and by Christ and the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. The language is all entirely possible and consonant with the religious thought of the 13th century. 7. In sum, this is indeed a knight's sword, as previously assumed. It is inscribed to let it be known that this person is fighting for the armies of Christ and [the Virgin] Mary; its owner, Leader and Lord/ Commander [Jesus] Christ, with Mary, Queen of Heaven, have given it their blessing. Anyone who finds this sword, or defeats the knight in battle, should know to whom - ultimately - the sword belongs, even if it is thrown away either because the knight has fled, or because he has been captured and his sword thrown away to demonstrate that he (and the Christian soldiers) have been defeated. The sword, originally dedicated to and given the blessing of - ultimately - God (as inscribed: Jesus and Mary), may now be the evidence that in one battle, this Christian army was defeated, and their power broken. Contrary again to a previous idea, this is very specifically a Christian knight's sword. Someone like Prof Helen Castor of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, would be well able to assess and advance the work so far done on this sword. While at first a bi-lingual script might seem unlikely, it is in fact not at all so, given the linguistic, religious and military arts of the 13th century, and the mixed relations between North and South, East and West Christendom.
The text as given reads +NDXOXCHWDRGHDXORVI+ Given some uncertainties of script (the W, N/R, C/G, V/U) and (contrary to some comments) some unusual details of abbreviation, I read this as a bi-lingual (Greek and Latin) blessing, combining masculine and feminine denominators/ separators (as previously suggested) as follows: + NDX O XC H MDRC H DX ORVI + 1. There is a semi-palindromic element: i) + as 'inclusio'; ii) O four letters in each way, iii) and H seven letters in; iv) with the central most challenging letters as (in my reading) (inverted) MDRC. 2. Depending on the final reading, the text is basically Latin ("acronyms"/ mnemonics and nomina sacra) with ? masculine and feminine Greek articles to differentiate 'gender', and the surrounding signs of the Cross. 3. The quite beautifully written Greek (not Maltese, and not Latin; all arms of equal length) cross at beginning and end (with pleasing serifs), acting as an inclusio, indicates that there is a blessing on this sword. This detail supports a bi-lingual reading: a Greek opening and closing signum. - The blessing indicates the divine ownership of the sword, requiring that no one 'messes' with it improperly. No one has noted that both crosses, at beginning and end, have little 'wing' marks between the two arms of the cross (to R, in the first, and to L, in the final one). I do not know what these signify; but they are certainly deliberately balanced. 4. ND could in theory be nostri domini or noster dominus, but the usual order (contrary to previous suggestions) is DN. I therefore read NDX: noster dux (our Captain/ leader - i.e. my owner) [is] O ( = Greek def. masc. article) XC, where (as in all icons) these two letters are the first and final letters of the name of Christ in capital letters: XPICTOC - Christos. Thus: 'Our Captain is Christ'... DX is written with first and last letters because this was not a regular usage; though others could attempt some form of translation with 'Our Lord ...' All suggestions of OXO or XOX referring to the Trinity are without foundation. 5. The central section is the trickiest, as everyone recognises. I take H, next, to be the corresponding *feminine* denominator (Greek again, as the first O) to indicate the second and parallel 'owner' of the sword: Mater Dei Regina Coeli/ orum. That this is so is suggested by the further bracketing of the four central initials within a second capital Greek H (f. def. art.)- perhaps as a further protective, sanctifying device. Her protection is ? central. Thus: '[and] the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven'. The fluidity of the capitalistion , the variable script, and the real uncertainty about the place and existence of a W, both at this time, and in either Latin or Greek, therefore suggests an inverted M. Before and after each H, there are six letters. 6. DX is then repeated. So far: 'Our ( = 'my') Captain is Christ [and the] Mother of God, Queen of Heaven'. Now the inscription returns to define the nature of Christ's 'leadership/ captaincy': he is DX ORVI - Leader, Captain, Commander, Guide, General. Grammatically, the Latin *should* read ORBIS, but the sense of an imperfect command of Latin on the part of the engraver goes hand-in-hand with the fluidity of script - [Christ] is 'Commander of the [whole] world.' Problem: if we read ORVI/ ORBI (V & R being routinely variable in pronunciation - cf. Spanish) in this way, we destroy the symmetry of the two 'O's 4 letters in as separate modifiers. However, I do not see any other way of giving coherent sense to the RVI at the end. (We would ??have to guess or fantasise about a King (R), with a name not given, King [unknown] the VIth?) But that wd in turn destroy the blessing and dedication of the sword to and by Christ and the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven. The language is all entirely possible and consonant with the religious thought of the 13th century. 7. In sum, this is indeed a knight's sword, as previously assumed. It is inscribed to let it be known that this person is fighting for the armies of Christ and [the Virgin] Mary; its owner, Leader and Lord/ Commander [Jesus] Christ, with Mary, Queen of Heaven, have given it their blessing. Anyone who finds this sword, or defeats the knight in battle, should know to whom - ultimately - the sword belongs, even if it is thrown away either because the knight has fled, or because he has been captured and his sword thrown away to demonstrate that he (and the Christian soldiers) have been defeated. The sword, originally dedicated to and given the blessing of - ultimately - God (as inscribed: Jesus and Mary), may now be the evidence that in one battle, this Christian army was defeated, and their power broken. Contrary again to a previous idea, this is very specifically a Christian knight's sword. Someone like Prof Helen Castor of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, would be well able to assess and advance the work so far done on this sword. While at first a bi-lingual script might seem unlikely, it is in fact not at all so, given the linguistic, religious and military arts of the 13th century, and the mixed relations between North and South, East and West Christendom.
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Aug 7, 2015