Charles VI Holy Roman Emperor - Schiavona
Place of Origin: Venice
Date: c.1711 - 1740
Broadsword blade of exceptional quality, etched and gilded throughout the entirety of the blade and bearing the Arms of Charles the 6th, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia (as Charles II), King of Hungary and Croatia, Serbia and Archduke of Austria (as Charles III). This sword represents a shift of power in Southern Europe towards the Habsburgs. Austro-Hungarian iconography is common on blades of this era.
The hilt of very high quality construction has remnants of original gold gilding in the fluting which has been used to decorate the guard, giving it a very pleasing appearance and denoting a high quality sword. The pommel is commensurate in quality and is cast in bronze of a fiercely moustachioed mask.
The Schiavona’s connection with lands east of the Adriatic goes back several centuries before this sword was made. The Croats, Slovenians and Dalmatians were hired in large numbers by the Venetian Republic, which as a maritime power had no land-base on Italian soil to draw large numbers of recruits from. Venice gradually gained de facto control of much of Croatia (the city of Dubrovnik was called Ragusa) and the region's cultural leanings towards Italy lasted all the way until World War II when the Croats allied with Mussolini. I think the shared Catholic faith accounts for a lot of it, since Croats along with Slovenians have had to exist surrounded by Eastern Orthodox and Muslims for centuries, sometimes on unfriendly terms.
Croats, Slovenians and Dalmatians continued to serve as mercenaries well into the basket-hilt era. Eventually, though, Venice's hold over the region waned as the Austro-Hungarian Empire grew more powerful and it consolidated its hold on the Balkan region (this largely due to the Habsburgs' success over Ottoman forces).
Venice's fortunes slowly declined in the 17th and 18th centuries, due to competition in maritime trade from Atlantic trade generated by the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and English.