Presentation sword

Contributed by Castle Cornet - Guernsey Museums

This highly decorative sword features a jewelled handle with a pair of sea serpent heads. The weapon was presented by Sweden to James Saumarez, then a Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy, for saving the country from destruction during the Napoleonic Wars. Saumarez fought alongside Nelson. After the Battle of Trafalgar he was given command of HMS Victory and patrolled the Baltic seas between 1808 and 1813. Crucially, Britain was obtaining turpentine, tar, pitch, timber and sailcloth from Sweden and this was literally keeping the Royal Navy afloat. With the might of Napoleon's army at its throat, Sweden was forced to declare war on Britain and fired on British ships. Saumarez worked with the Swedish forces to perpetuate the appearance that the two countries were at war, without actually firing a shot. Napoleon was fooled and Sweden was saved from attack. The sword was an expression of the nation's gratitude.

Comments are closed for this object

Most of the content on A History of the World is created by the contributors, who are the museums and members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC or the British Museum. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site’s House Rules please Flag This Object.

About this object

Click a button to explore other objects in the timeline


View more objects from people in Guernsey.

Find out more

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.