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.

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