The third from a series of monographs published by Heritage Malta, it focuses on the practical and symbolic uses of swords during the Order of St John’s tenure in Malta.
Franco Davies’ historical research, as well as being an avid fencer himself, articulately merges the evolution of the edged weapons with the various types and uses, and their symbolism. This is very well complemented with an interesting insight on swordfights, the agility and discipline necessary, and highly illustrated throughout with a blend of images taken from period drawings, books, manuscripts and artefacts, together with modern-day shots of various sword fighting moves, giving this publication a unique appeal.
The 16th Century was a time of military revolution, and the Great Siege happened right bang in the middle of it. Cannons and muskets were being used in conjunction with edged weapons. Sharpshooters were able to be more accurate. The technology of warfare was evolving. “Edged weapons including spears and daggers as well as swords, were at their peak and firearms in their youth.” Initially, author Franco Davies set out to discover if the Knights had developed a military or martial style exclusive to the Hospitallers. However, he found that as each langue had its own national or regional fencing style, these were employed to the Order’s advantage rather than inventing a new one.‘Swords of the Religion’ focuses on the practical and symbolic uses of swords during the Order of St John’s tenure in Malta. The extensively researched monograph is an extension and elaboration of his Masters’ thesis, one his tutor Dr Emanuel Buttigieg and external examiners urged him to publish.
“Swords are objects which need to be used in order to be understood; the feeling you get from handling them makes you grasp so much more about the person who used them.” This hands-on approach to history is the main inspiration behind Franco Davies’ book.
Being a specialist in the study of human movement and the way muscles work enables Franco to assert professionally that “a 19-year old Knight just out of the novitiate would have been no match for a De Valette or Fra Romegas, men in their prime with years of skill and experience behind them.”
This beautifully illustrated tome, designed and photographed by Daniel Cilia, is dedicated to the iconography and symbolism of swords, with a blend of full-colour images taken from period drawings, books, manuscripts and artefacts.