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The St. Wenceslas Sword

The so-called St. Wenceslas Sword is also mentioned as one of the items used for coronations. The opinion about how old the sword is kept changing: while in the 19th century it was believed that it was an authentic weapon, the prevailing opinion at the beginning of the 20th century was that the sword was Gothic, i.e. not that old, and that Charles IV probably replaced the similar older sword in the treasure of the Cathedral of St. Vitus that was mentioned in the articles of inventory from 1333. However, a recent detailed technological examination of the sword brought a new surprise: the sword blade was probably made in the early Middle Ages (in the 10th century or the 11th century at the latest) and the sword thus really could have belonged to St. Wenceslas. The cross on the blade was probably made later on and the guard and pommel were added perhaps in the 13th century. The helmet and mail shirt, which most likely are Wenceslas’s original armor as well, are a part of the treasure of the Cathedral of St. Vitus. It is not clear when the sword became a part of coronations; we know that Charles IV was the first one to give the sword the ceremonial role; however, it is possible that the sword had this role already during the rule of the Premyslids.

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