Sebastian Audley has spent years setting every city in Europe by the ears and keeping the scandal-sheets in profit. Word that he is finally returning to London becomes the hottest topic of the Season and casts numerous young ladies – many of whom have never seen him – into a fever of anticipation.
Cassandra Delahaye is not one of them. In her opinion, love affairs and duels, coupled with a reputation for never refusing even the most death-defying wager, suggest that Mr Audley is short of a brain cell or two. And while their first, very unorthodox meeting shows that perhaps he isn’t entirely stupid, it creates other reservations entirely.
Sebastian finds dodging admiring females and living down his reputation for reckless dare-devilry a full-time occupation. He had known that putting the past behind him in a society with an insatiable appetite for…
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Genre: Romantic Historical Fiction (English Civil War, 1644-1646) Cover Blurb: Justin Ambrose, dashing cavalier and close companion to Prince Rupert, was bored with life in the Royalist garrison in…
Basic cut-and-thrust broadswords favoured by cavalry officers and used throughout the Civil Wars were made in England between 1625 and 1670. They had a wooden or corded grip, a metal basket-hilt to protect the hand and usually a two-edged blade between thirty-three and thirty-four inches long. In 1645, two hundred of them were made for the New Model Army at a cost of five shillings each – hard to believe these days.
The main point of interest in these swords lies in the basket-hilt. These were frequently decorated in some form or other; a coat-of-arms, a man in armour, intricate patterns of leaves – presumably whatever the purchaser wanted and was willing to pay extra for. (It is reasonable to assume that the five-shilling ones, being mass-produced, were plain.)
But following the execution of Charles l in January 1649, a new trend was born. Basket-hilts started to be engraved with small portraits of long-haired men with pointed beards; faces bearing a striking resemblance to the late King. And these blades – which were only made in England – soon became known as mortuary swords.
It’s impossible to know how many were made but authentic 17th century examples are now very rare. However, a few days ago I was lucky enough to acquire one – to be honest, something I’ve wanted for years but never expected to own – so hence my excitement and this post.
When you hold a significant piece of history in your hand, it’s hard not to speculate about its own particular story. I know that my sword would have been made around 1650 and that it almost certainly belonged to a cavalry officer. I can guess that its first owner was probably a Cavalier because it seems unlikely that the Roundheads wanted Charles l memorabilia. And because my sword has seen some action – though not a great deal – I can wonder if it was at Dunbar in 1650 or Worcester in 1651.
Its edge is still extremely sharp, its point thoroughly wicked … and it is still capable of doing a great deal of damage. And the weight of it gives me a healthy respect for the strength and stamina of the men who wielded weapons like this whilst on horseback.