The Cromwell Mortuary Sword by Hanwei was a very detailed and accurate replica of the sword carried by 'Old Ironsides' himself, Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), and currently on display at the Royal Armoury of Leeds.
Reviewed here by our own Mortuary Hilt sword fan, Bill Goodwin - who received one of the very first of these swords Hanwei released (and had a few problems with it, as you will read below) - we will see just how this modern replica measures up.
Review by Bill Goodwin, Roanoke, USA
Since I'm a huge (and I mean obsessive) mortuary sword fanatic, the original piece in the Royal Armouries - Leeds UK has always been my fav.
While doing my initial research years ago , I came across makers Armour Class of Scotland, who offers a couple mortuary swords including a copy of the Cromwell Drogheda mortuary. Since the price tag on it was a bit more than I could swing, I opted for the standard mortuary model.
So when CAS / Hanwei put it out last year or so that they were finally doing a reproduction of this sword, I was thrilled, to say the least.
I was probably one of the first to grab one up, but to my shock and disappointment, the first one I received had a bad tempering issue.
I did a flex test on it and a bend set at the false edge. After talking, corresponding with CAS / Hanwei Customer Service Mgr. and talks between them and the factory, the defective was sent back and a replacement was soon shipped out to me. That episode made a big impression on me about CAS / Hanwei and there customer service. My input on the matter was valued in the whole process of describing the issue and working towards a solution.
Ok...now to the sword itself. The second one came in the normal, well packaged fashion and smeared with grease.
First thing I checked was the flex, of course, and it passed with flying colors. Quick dry handling was OK, like any new sword, takes a little while to get the feel.
Mazansky Typology : hilt IICa, Pommel III
The backsword blade on this is nicely done. Good distal taper (1 7/8" to 1/2" at tip). The mostly un-sharpened false edge (sharp about 2" back from tip) works well for thrusts. The antique-ish finish is a nice feature IMO, have heard some say they didn't like that. Again, has a good flex, not too stiff and not to whippy.
The shark-skin and wire wrapped grip is OK. I've had issue's with the heavy gauge wire they wrapped it with. If you don't wear a good pair of gloves or gauntlets while doing drills or test cutting, it will dig into your hand & fingers. The sharkskin is a bit on the rough side as well. The Turks Head knots at the ends of the grip are even and neat.
Pommel as stated is a Type III according Cyril Mazansky's book "British Basket-hilted Swords". Decorated in the same fashion as the original. It's a screwed on pommel I'm rather sure...haven't taken it apart.
The guard is nice and roomy (another thing some had issues with). I much prefer it to be a bit large, just for better manoeuvrability.
I like the scabbard for the fact that it's a decent fit. There was no scabbard with the original, so it's a welcomed touch. My only problem with it is they mounted the frog backwards as to what original scabbards have.
CAS / Hanwei did a bang up job on capturing the look of the original piece. The basket was really japanned (black lacquer and gilt with foliage) on the original at the R-A, but the Cromwell from Hanwei has more of a deep bronze look to it. Again, it's a production model, so I'm not going to nit-pic about that aspect.
Test cutting and thrusting has been a treat with this sword. It's fast become one of my favorite's to cut with and it's works well in thrusting techniques too. Milk jugs, melons, medium thickness cardboard tubes are easily dispatched with the Cromwell Mortuary sword, without a whole lot of effort or power needed. Overall handling took a little getting use to, but the more time spent with it, you learn to adapt to the feel.
Conclusion is that this is a really nice sword for the money (around $375 + / - ). For anyone interesting the this style of sword, re-enactment of the British Civil Wars, or just in the market for a good basket-hilt, it will fit the bill. A very solid, good handling, well presented reproduction of an original sword.
I hope this review of the Hanwei Cromwell Mortuary Sword has been helpful. To return to Renaissance Swords from Hanwei Cromwell Mortuary Sword Review click here