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Henry Hardinge’s Sword

SMI 11: GOLD-HILTED SWORD (GLAIVE) 
Date: Before 1800
Origin: France-Napolean Bonaparte

Presented by the Duke of Wellington to Lt. Col. Sir Henry Hardinge, later Field Marshal 1st Viscount Hardinge of Lahore, in 1817. Worn by him at the Battle of Ferozeshah in 1845. It was said to have belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), the French statesman and military leader 

Slender blade decorated on each side towards the hilt with a gold faux-damascened panel with counterfeit text in the Franco-Egyptian style, also etched on each side with a panel respectively stating ‘This SWORD was worn by / The DUKE of WELLINGTON / from his entering into PARIS / July 1815 to 1817’ and ‘FROM The DUKE of WELLINGTON / TO SIR HENRY HARDINGE / AT THE REVIEW of The PRUSSIAN ARMY / NEAR SEDAN in FRANCE / 1817’, elegant gold hilt with plain surfaces with raised segmented mouldings, the outer faces slightly convex, and straight quillons each with a fine lion-mask finial, in original leather scabbard with gold mounts en suite with the hilt, the locket signed by the maker within the recess for the outer langet, and with two gold rings for suspension.

Battle of Ferozeshah

The Battle of Ferozeshah was fought on 21 December and 22 December 1845 between the British and the Sikhs, at the village of Ferozeshah in Punjab. This was part of the First Anglo Sikh War (1845-1846) which pitched the Sikh Empire against the East India Company. The British were led by Sir Hugh Gough and Governor-General Sir Henry Hardinge, while the Sikhs were led by Raja Lal Singh.

The first day of the battle put the British in a precarious position. Diary of Sir Robert Cust, who was present in the battle states, ‘December 22nd. News came from the Governor-General that our attack of yesterday had failed, that affairs were desperate, that all State papers were to be destroyed, and that if the morning attack failed, all would be over; this was kept secret by Mr. Currie and we were concerting measures to make an unconditional surrender to save the wounded, the part of the news that grieved me the most.’ General Sir Hope Grant who was also present stated ‘Sir Henry Hardinge thought it was all up and gave his sword, a present from the Duke of Wellington and which once belonged to Napoleon-and his Star of the Bath to his son, with directions to proceed to Ferozepur remarking that if the day were lost, he must fall.

On the second day of fighting, the Sikhs had the advantage of having full rations of food and with ample ammunition. However, frustration was building up with Raja Lal Singh who had deliberately failed to attack the British lines which left his Ghorchurras (Sikh Cavalry) ineffective in the battle. Read more at www.Anglosikhwars.com

Additional information

This 3d model was first exhibited at the exhibition: Anglo Sikh Wars: Battles, Treaties and Relics in 2017. We have now recreated it so it can be shared widely online.

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish soldier and Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain, serving twice as Prime Minister. He also fought against the Mahrattas in Delhi.

The sword bears the Maker’s mark of Martin-Guillaume Biennais (1764-1843), goldsmith to Emperor Napoléon I.

It is said to have been taken by the Duke of Wellington after the end of the Napoleanic Wars.

Christie’s Website with further details of the sword sold in auction in 2015.

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