‘Patriotic sword’ used to fight Russians in January Uprising found in Bulgaria

The sword has been identified as what is known as a “patriotic sword” in Polish, a type that was especially popular in the Austrian-controlled part of Poland in the early 1860s, around the time of the January Uprising. Ivan Tzerov

A Polish sword from the time of the 19th century January Uprising has been found in Bulgaria.

In 1863-1864, Poles rebelled against Russian rule in Poland, which had been divided between Russian, Prussian and Austrian rule at the end of the previous century.

The sword is decorated with patriotic symbols and inscriptions.Ivan Tzerov

This insurrection, which was suppressed by the Russians, is known as the January Uprising. 

Now a sword from this period of struggle in Polish history has been located in Bulgaria, where it is housed at the Archeological Museum in the town of Veliko Tarnovo, in the north-central part of the country.

The weapon was found in a village near the town of Veliko Tarnovo.Ivan Tzerov

The sword has been identified as what is known as a “patriotic sword” in Polish, a type that was especially popular in the Austrian-controlled part of Poland in the early 1860s, around the time of the January Uprising.

These weapons were decorated with patriotic symbols and inscriptions – just like the ones on the sword found in Bulgaria, which can be discerned on its blade.

The surprising find has now raised questions about how it got there and in what circumstances.

In 1863-1864, Poles rebelled against Russian rule in Poland, which had been divided between Russian, Prussian and Austrian rule at the end of the previous century.Public domain/{SOURCE_MISSING}

Piotr Dyczek, professor at the Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre at the University of Warsaw who was contacted by the Bulgarian museum said: “The sword was probably captured by an officer from the tsarist army who took part in the suppression of the January Uprising in 1863 and 1864, who then bound it in a silver shashka hilt; that is, a sword with an open hilt with a split head.”

The officer might then have used the sword in a later conflict: the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, which included battles in the area around Veliko Tarnovo – which could explain how the Polish weapon ended up in that faraway place.

Explaining how it ended up in Bulgaria, Piotr Dyczek, professor at the Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre at the University of Warsaw said: “The sword was probably captured by an officer from the tsarist army.”ncn.gov.pl

For now, it seems that the sword was found in a village near the town. An international team has been set up to take a closer look at where it came from.