The metallurgical history of the swords of Toledo goes back to the Bronze Age. The swords of Toledo have always been feared due to the strength and lightness arising from their unique forging method.
The quality of Toledo steel resides in the skill of the artisans and the secret way it is tempered, ascribed to the waters of the Tagus River, where this process took place. The high temperature of the tempering process and the quality of the steel make the swords of Toledo unique the world over.
The extraordinary strength of these pieces and their exquisite hilts won over some of the most important figures in history, placing these beautiful weapons among their most prized possessions.
According to history, more than two thousand years ago, the blacksmiths of Toledo began forging falcatas, a deadly weapon in the hands of the soldiers of Hispania, specially designed to make the wounds inflicted more fatal. Hannibal chose this type of weapon for his army.
Tizona and Colada, two swords owned by El Cid, were Toledo swords, and the Muslims, who were familiar with the quality of the Toledo sword, adapted this advanced technique to create their scimitars.
After the Reconquista, Toledo emerged as the greatest sword-making centre in the world. The technique used for the Toledo sword had a “soul of iron”, consisting of a steel blade that concealed a wrought iron strip inside it, thus preventing the steel from bending or cracking.
When swords began to be replaced with firearms, Charles III created the Royal National Factory of Weapons in 1761 to protect this art form by bringing together all the master artisans and safeguarding this industry.
The composition, tempering and design of these swords was always shrouded in secrecy, passed on from sword-making artisans to their sons, which led kings and heads of state from around the world, and even a Japanese samurai seeking the best quality weapons, to have their weapons manufactured in the city of Toledo.
Some of the most famous Toledo swords in history include:
- The so-called “ceremonial” sword of the Catholic Monarchs, used to appoint Christopher Columbus as a knight.
- The sword of Emperor Charles V, made to be used with both hands.
- The sword of Charlemagne.
- The Colada and Tizona swords of El Cid.