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Living by the SwordWeapons and Material Culture in France and Britain, 600-1600$
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Kristen B. Neuschel

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501753336

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501753336.001.0001

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(p.160) Conclusion
Living by the Sword

Kristen B. Neuschel

Cornell University Press

This concluding chapter explains that if swords remained firmly and richly expressive of warrior identity, it was in part because they had already served as a vehicle for change and adaptation through time. Throughout, the material characteristics of the sword were always central to its significance. Thus, the construction of a sword meant it could convey immediate, personalized messages and yet have a longevity celebrated and recognized across generations. Swords did not mean just one thing, ever, but they were always good for thinking with, good for representing the timelessness of warrior identity and the security of one warrior's stature, and good for appealing to some imagined past for purposes of any present. But it is important to realize that swords became a focal point for warrior identity only gradually, over time. As it developed its power in elite culture, “memory” of earlier times when swords were larger than life grew also.

Keywords:   swords, warrior identity, material characteristics, warrior stature, imagined past, elite culture, sword construction

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