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the Commonwealth, but, by order of the Corporation, dated the 9th May 1660, the King's arms were substituted.


Drake (Eboracum, p. 222) has the following reference to the city swords: "There are likewise belonging to the Lord Mayor, during his office, four swords.

"The first of the swords, and the largest, was the gift of the Emperor Sigismund, father-in-law to King Richard II. It is seldom borne but on Christmas Day and St. Maurice. Another, given by King Richard II from his own side, whence the title of lord accrued to our chief magistrate. This is the least sword amongst them, but the greatest in value, for the reason given above. A third is that of Sir Martin Bowes, Lord Mayor of London, which is the most beautiful, and is borne every Sunday and other principal days before the Lord Mayor. The fourth was usually made use of on every occasion when the Lord Mayor went abroad or stirred from home."

The first and third of the swords referred to by Drake are now in possession of the Corporation. The other two have disappeared.

The first of the swords used by a lord mayor was that given by King Richard II. Drake (Eboracum, p. 181) gives 1389 as the date of the presentation, but Davies has ventured to correct the old historian, and shown cause for fixing the date in the latter half of the year 1388. A sword-bearer ("Servientem ad portandum gladium coram Majore") was appointed by the Corporation on the 3rd February 1389.

In 1396 King Richard II granted the city a charter in which reference is made to the sword given by him to the citizens. The same charter constituted the city a county of itself, and authorised the appointment of two sheriffs. This sword, so the charter provided, or any other sword the Lord Mayor pleased, was to be borne before the Lord Mayor with the point erected, except in the presence of the sovereign and his heirs, within the limits of the city in perpetuum.


The presentation of this sword to the Corporation, on the 5th of May 1439, is recorded in the archives of the Corporation. The following extracts are taken from Davies's translation of the contemporary record:

"In the year of Our Lord 1421, and in the eighth year of the reign of King Henry the Fifth, it happened that the most Christian Prince Sigismund, by Divine permission Emperor of Germany and King of the Romans, came into England, and was forthwith constituted a Knight and Brother of the military Order founded in the Royal Chapel of St. George at Windsor, where all the Knights of the same Order, upon their reception, offer their swords to be there suspended during the life of the offerer; upon whose decease such swords are at the disposal of the Deans of the same Chapel for the time being, according to the custom of the Chapel hitherto observed and the aforesaid Emperor being now dead, the sword by him offered in the said Chapel, the Dean of the same Chapel presented to that discreet person, Master Henry Hanslap, Canon of the same Chapel, and Prebendary of the Prebend of Skipwith, in the Collegiate Church of Howden, and Rector of the Church of Middleton, near Pickering, and not far from the city of York, whence he sprang, as it pleased him to say.

"Therefore the aforesaid Master Henry, preferring in his mind, as a man of much gratitude, to distinguish his own country by such a gift, on the 5th day of May in the year of Our Lord 1439, and in the 17th year of the reign of King Henry the Sixth, came to the city of York, as the chief place of all the North, and the same sword, formerly of the aforesaid Emperor, covered with ruby coloured velvet upon the scabbard thereof, together with red scorpions worked in silk, therefrom, he delivered to that honourable man, Thomas Ridley, then Mayor of the same city, and gladly presented the same to be borne for ever before every Mayor of the same city, for the time being, at their pleasure. So that every Mayor in his time should rejoice in a variety of so many principal swords, and thence praise and honour should increase and multiply to all, and the people in passing might exclaim with joy and commendation. Behold the two swords of the city of York; the first, namely, of King Richard; the other, indeed, of the Emperor.' A third sword remains for daily use; not obtained by the gift of a king, but, truly, provided at the cost of the citizens. And thus the city of York is adorned with as many as three swords, each having two edges.'

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It is two-handed, the blade is double-edged, the hilt has a plain cross-guard, and a pear-shaped pommel,

the grip is wrapped with silver wire. The scabbard is covered with ruby-coloured velvet, and decorated with ornaments of silver (or some other metal) gilt, representing dragons or scorpions.

In 1478, preparatory to a visit paid to the city by King Edward IV, the Corporation had the velvet covering of the scabbard renewed, and the metal coverings regilt. The blade now bears an inscription, which was engraved upon it in the year 1586, during the mayoralty of Henry May, when the sword was newly decorated, preparatory to the reception of the Earl of Huntingdon, Lord President, in his official character of Lord Lieutenant of the city and county. The inscription, in Roman capitals, is the same on both sides. It runs thus: "Sigismundi imperat. dat. M. C. Eb. 14391 ornat. Henri May Maior


A shield of the royal arms, England and France quarterly, surmount the inscription on one side and a shield of the armorial bearings of the city on the other.


Sigismund, King of Hungary, brother of Winceslaus, King of Bohemia (at one time German Emperor), was elected German Emperor in 1411. The affairs of the Holy See were in a very unsettled state at this time. There were no less than three claimants to the Papacy : (1) Gregory XII, acknowledged in Italy; (2) Benedict XIII, acknowledged in France; and (3) John XXIII (successor of Alexander V), who had been elected by the Cardinals at Pisa, who sought to depose the other two.

Sigismund, desirous to heal the wounds of the Church, convoked a general council at Constance with the concurrence of Pope John (1414). Ultimately both John and Gregory renounced the pontificate, while Benedict was deposed by the Council, who elected Martin V (1417), and the schism was thus concluded.

Another disorder in the Church had been created by the preaching of John Huss, Professor of Divinity in the

1 Of course he did nothing of the kind as he died the year before. Davies quotes a record that Sigismund came to England in 1421 (8 Henry VI), and then goes on to say that he landed 30th April 1416, etc.

University of Prague, who had embraced the opinions of Wicliffe, and been excommunicated by the Pope.

Huss converted to his own way of thinking a large number of people of all ranks, and he attended before Sigismund's Council of Constance in order to justify the doctrine he professed. That venerable body, however, seemed inclined to condemn him unheard, when the Emperor desired them to listen to what Huss had to say in his own defence. He was accordingly questioned in presence of Sigismund, and accused of heresy in thirtynine articles. Part of these he denied, and part he offered to defend. But his voice was drowned by the noise purposely made by the cardinals, and, on his refusing to abjure all the thirty-nine articles, he was immediately declared a sower of sedition, a hardened heretic, a disciple and defender of Wicliffe. Thereupon he was degraded by four bishops, stripped of his sacerdotal habit, and clothed in a lay dress. His hair was cut in the form of a cross, upon his head was put a paper mitre, painted with the representation of three devils, and he was handed over to the secular judge, who condemned him and his writings to the flames, and fixed the day of his execution. He died with great constancy.

But religious disputes did not end with the death of Huss. The Hussites in Prague being prohibited from the cup in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, rose in tumult, and murdered the magistrate who had issued the order of prohibition. Shortly afterwards Sigismund succeeded his brother Winceslaus as King of Bohemia (1419), and waged war with the Hussite leaders, until a general amnesty was arranged in 1436.

Though unsuccessful in the concluding battle, the Hussites gained many victories under Ziska and Procopius, and obtained with the amnesty a concession which to them was a kind of triumph, namely, the confirmation of their privileges, and the right of using the cup in the communion. In the course of the war they are said to have avenged the death of their apostle by the most terrible outrages.

After the conclusion of peace, Sigismund led the Hussite veterans against the Turks, who had made an irruption into Hungary. The Turks were defeated with great slaughter.

The Emperor again attempted to tyrannise over the consciences of the Bohemians, and death only saved him from a second revolt (1438).

It is strange that one who was so instrumental in settling the question of the succession to the Papacy, and so anxious to subdue the heresy of the Hussites, a "narrow-minded bigot", as he has been described, should have had for consort one who denied a future state, and was a most licentious woman. But it was not a love match. Before his election as Emperor, and while he was King of Hungary, he had been taken prisoner by the nobles of his kingdom. He was guarded by two nobles of the House of Gara, the head of which he had put to death, who were near relatives of the Comte de Cillei. To obtain his liberty he promised to marry Barbara, daughter of this Count, and he kept his word.

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One day he asked Theodoric, Archbishop of Cologne, By what means can a man secure happiness?" "We cannot expect it in this world," replied the prelate.

But," continued the Emperor, "how should we proceed in order to arrive at celestial happiness?"

"Go straight" (Il faut marcher droit), replied Theodoric.

"What do you mean by going straight?" inquired Sigismund.

"Live always as you promise to do when you are troubled with gout, or gravel, or any other severe illness," replied the Archbishop. An interesting paraphrase of the well-known lines:

"The Devil fell sick, the Devil a saint would be ;
The Devil got well, the Devil a saint was he."

One day 40,000 golden ducats were brought to him, which he had placed in the room in which he proposed to sleep. Abed, he pondered with so much inquietude over the question of what he would do with the money that gentle sleep would not his eyelids close. Whereupon he determined to order the attendance of his ministers of state and his generals at midnight. They came,

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