The Info List - Mameluke Sword

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A Mameluke sword
Mameluke sword
/ˈmæməluːk/ is a cross-hilted, curved, scimitar-like sword historically derived from sabres used by Mamluk warriors of Mamluk
Egypt from whom the sword derives its name. It is related to the swords of the Seljuq empire. The curved scimitar blades were Central Asian Turkic in origin [1] from where the style migrated to India, Egypt and North Africa[2] and the Turkish kilij. It was adopted in the 19th century by several Western militaries, including the French Army, British Army
British Army
and the United States Marine Corps. Although some genuine Ottoman sabres were used by Westerners, most "mameluke sabres" were manufactured in Europe or America; their hilts were very similar in form to the Ottoman prototype, but their blades tended to be longer, narrower and less curved than those of the true kilij, while being wider and also less curved than the Persian shamshir. In short, the hilt retained its original shape and the blade tended to resemble the blade-form typical of contemporary Western military sabres. The Mameluke sword
Mameluke sword
remains the ceremonial side arm for some units to this day.


1 United States Marine Corps 2 British Army 3 See also 4 References 5 External links

United States Marine Corps[edit]

Today's U.S. Marine Corps officers' Mameluke sword
Mameluke sword
closely resembles those first worn in 1826.

Marine Corps history states that a sword of this type was presented to Marine First Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon
Presley O'Bannon
by the Ottoman Empire viceroy, Prince Hamet, on December 8, 1805, during the First Barbary War, in Libya, as a gesture of respect and praise for the Marines' actions at the Battle of Derna (1805).[3] Upon his return to the United States, the state of Virginia
presented him with a silver-hilted sword featuring an eaglehead hilt and a curved blade modeled after the original Mameluke sword
Mameluke sword
given to him by Hamet. Its blade is inscribed with his name and a commemoration of the Battle of Tripoli Harbor.[4] Perhaps due to the Marines' distinguished record during this campaign, including the capture of the Tripolitan city of Derna after a long and dangerous desert march, Marine Corps Commandant Archibald Henderson adopted the Mameluke sword
Mameluke sword
in 1825 for wear by Marine officers. After initial distribution in 1826, Mameluke swords have been worn except for the years 1859-75 (when Marine officers were required to wear the U.S. Model 1850 Army foot officers' sword), and a brief period when swords were suspended during World War II. Since that time, Mameluke swords have been worn by Marine officers in a continuing tradition to the present day.[5] British Army[edit]

Field Marshal Sir Henry Evelyn Wood, circa 1900

Charles Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, a British Hussar
general, with a scabbarded kilij (related to Mameluke sword) of Turkish manufacture (1812).

Mameluke swords were carried as dress or levée swords by officers of most light cavalry and hussar, and some heavy cavalry regiments in the British Army
British Army
at various points during the 19th century, starting in the period after Waterloo. The current regulation sword for generals, the 1831 Pattern, is a Mameluke-style sword, as were various Army Band swords. There are a number of factors which influenced the fashion for Mameluke swords in the British Army.

Napoleon raised a number of Mameluke units during his Egyptian campaigns in the French Revolutionary Wars, leading to the adoption of this style of sword by many French officers.[6] In the post-Napoleonic period French military fashion was widely adopted in Britain.[7] The Duke of Wellington carried a Mameluke sword
Mameluke sword
from his days serving in India and throughout his career. After he defeated Napoleon his status was a national hero, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, and then prime minister; as such, his tastes had considerable weight. The United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
sword, discussed above, has been suggested[7] as also being influential. The 1831 Pattern General Officers' Sword
is, indeed, very similar to the USMC Mameluke that pre-dated it.

See also[edit]

United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps

U.S. Marine Corps swords U.S. regulation swords Kilij: The original Turkish "scimitar".



^ James E. Lindsay (2005), Daily life in the medieval Islamic world, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 64, ISBN 0-313-32270-8  ^ Castagno, Joseph P. Encyclopedia Americana. Scholastic Library Publishing, 2006, Volume 30 ^ Roffe, Michael (1972). United States Marine Corps. Osprey Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 0-85045-115-9.  ^ "First Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon". United States Marine Corps History Division. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 2009-01-09.  ^ "The Sword". United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2009-01-09.  ^ Holmes, Richard; Strachan, Hew; Bellamy, Chris (2001). The Oxford companion to military history (Revised ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866209-2.  ^ a b Robson, Brian (1996). Swords of the British Army, The Regulation Patterns 1788 to 1914 (Revised ed.). National Army Museum. ISBN 0-901721-33-6. 


LTC (Ret.) Cureton, Charles H., USMC: “Early Marine Corps Swords,” The Bulletin of the American Society of Arms Collectors, No. 93, 2006, pp. 121–132. Crouch, Howard R.: Historic American Swords. Fairfax, VA: SCS Publications, 1999, pp. 99–103. Mowbray, E. Andrew.: The American Eagle Pommel Sword, the Early Years 1793-1830. Lincoln, RI: Man at Arms Publications, 1988, pp. 218–219. Peterson, Harold L.: The American Sword
1775-1945. Philadelphia: Ray Riling Arms Books Co., 1970, pp. 192–193. Robson, Brian: Swords of the British Army, The Regulation Patterns 1788 to 1914, Revised Edition 1996, National Army Museum ISBN 0-901721-33-6

External links[edit]

Anne S. K. Brown Military
Collection, Brown University Library 105 British military swords, dating from the 17th century to the early 20th century (including several mameluke swords) from the Cyril Mazansky Collection, on permanent display at the Annmary Brown Memorial.

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Swordsmanship Thrusting swords (Edgeless) Curved swords (Single-edge) Straight swords (Double-edge)



Bronze Age sword

Ancient period

Iron Age sword Harpe Gladius Xiphos Kopis/Falcata Makhaira Spatha Sica Rhomphaia Falx

Post-classical period

Viking sword Arming sword Longsword Claymore Falchion Shashka

Early modern period

Zweihänder Spada da lato Katzbalger Cinquedea Estoc Side-sword Espada
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Late modern period

Rapier Sabre Cutlass Basket-hilted sword Small sword Dueling sword Hunting sword Pistol sword Spadroon Sword



Jian Dao


Dadao Hook sword Zhanmadao

Ming – Qing

Liuyedao Wodao Changdao Yanmaodao




Bronze Age – Gojoseon

Liaoning bronze dagger culture

Iron Age – Three Kingdom Era

Hwandudaedo Seven-Branched Sword

Goryeo and Joseon era

Jedok geom Bonguk geom Hwando Wungeom Four Tiger Sword


Yayoi – Nara periods

Chokutō Tsurugi

Heian – Kamakura periods

Tachi Ōdachi Tantō

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Wakizashi Uchigatana Katana

Meiji period and beyond

Guntō Iaitō Ninjatō Shikomizue

South Asia


Khanda Urumi

Medieval and modern

Firangi Kastane Talwar Kayamkulam vaal Pata

Western and Central Asia


Kilij Shamshir Saif Kaskara Flyssa Yatagan Mameluke sword


Early period

Mandau Niabor Parang Balato Gari Surik

Late period

Klewang Sundang Langgai Tinggang Parang Nabur Sikin Panjang


Classical Epoch

Kampilan Kalis Barong Panabas Gulok Parang

Spanish colonization

Bolo Balisword Espada
y Daga Dahong palay Pinuti

Mainland Southeast Asia

Classic stage


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Pre-Columbian era

Macuahuitl Macana


Ancient Egypt

Khopesh Acinaces


Ida Kaskara Nimcha Shotel B