There was a time when the first millenarianism, apocalyptic and terrifying, announced the coming of God to the world, once again, to govern and fight between the men before the doomsday.
They were dark and gloomy times, belonging to the turbulent Middle Age where plagues, famine, war and death roamed free to ravage the known world.
It is not surprising that in an environment of this kind, one of the biggest concerns were to find the most effective weapon. At that time, Damascus steel was the star: ductile, everlasting hard edged and extremely deadly.
Diverse circumstances made the Spanish Court and the capital of the Kingdom moved to Toledo, a city in which lived the three prevailing cultures (Muslims, Christians and Jews) and where the war industry settled with unusual force.
The fame of the hardness of Damascus steel had its days numbered and wasn’t exactly in the forges of the toledan town where became such a valuable contribution to the so-called art of war.
The ‘tempered’ steel, unknown until then, was discovered by toledan executioners, when in the multitudinous pillory the ‘unbelievers’ were murdered with red-hot steel swords.
The executioners noticed that this red-hot steel, sunked in the ‘enemy’ sentenced to death, acquired an unknown and extreme hardness. They soon found out that the ‘miracle’ was due to the sudden cooling of the steel swords, when it came in contact with the inmate.
That’s how the technique of tempering swords was employed during the forging process. When the blade was incandescent, it was subjected to a sudden drop of temperature by immersing the steel in cold water.
Since then Toledo steelmaking continues its journey, in addition to be a protected brand. Fortunately, in our days the sword has become a more decorative object, although this not means that the ‘art of war’ has ceased to exist or have acquired greater nobility.
However, Toledo swords have had a second chance through the movies. The major film factories continue entrusting to Toledo replicas of the most extraordinary and celebrated pieces: Tizona, Excalibur, the sword of Attila, katanas of all kinds…
Of course, fiction also has given notables examples of the Toledo steelwork: the sword of Xena, the Warrior Princess; the sword of the Lord of the rings; the one of Conan the barbarian; the one that used Brad Pitt in Troy; the Uma Thurman katana in Kill Bill…
Creative Commons or Public Domain Image: Flickr/madcowk