I don't like guns. They only have one purpose and that is to maim or kill. But swords...I love swords. Some people (not historians, naturally) find this confusing. It's as if swords and guns are the same.
Swords carry great symbolism in a way that mere implements of death never could. They were expensive to make and the decorative features in the metalwork and bejewelled hilts made them beyond the reach of anyone other that the very rich and powerful. Serious Medieval bling. And being so expensive they were something to hand down to heirs and even spouses on the wedding day.
A tool of status, modern day monarchs still have swords. Edward the Confessor, who died on 6 January in 1066, had a sword that is now part of the British Crown Jewels, although there is some debate over whether it actually did belong to Edward, some suggest it was tried out by Charlemagne. It is one of five swords used in the coronation of new monarchs ceremony, last used when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953.
The sword was named 'Curtana' meaning 'short' in Latin and is just over 98 cms long with an estimated 2 cms missing from the end of the blade. The steel blade is inlaid with copper and has a wire bound grip. The scabbard is covered with red velvet and embroidered with gold thread. The blade has a double gutter which is offset from the centre and has a running wolf design. The scabbard is a later addition which belies the fact that the sword was made in the eleventh century, so the other stories of ownership don't accurately tie up, but the timing is more in line with Edward.
King Edward was a pious and softly spoken man and was given the name 'Confessor' because of his similarities to a priest. He was later made a saint. His father was Ethelred the Unready and it has been argued that Edward was an unsuitable king because of his naive disposition. He was described in Life of King Edward (anonymous, 1067) as 'Pleasant, but always dignified, he walked with eyes downcast, most graciously affable to one and all.'
All of this fits nicely with the myth of his sword. An angel broke the tip of the blade to prevent wrongful killing and represents the mercy of the sovereign. It is true that the tip was broken, although the jagged edge has now been squared off.The other swords used in the coronation are symbolic of the qualities required of a monarch. The Sword of Mercy is also the one used when bestowing a knighthood. The queen touches the shoulders of the new knight with the pointless sword and then she says the famous words: arise sir...
Edward the Confessor no doubt used his sword to kill or at least threaten to kill, but its symbolism has become part of British tradition in a good way. I can't see that happening with a Magnum somehow.