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Sword of State
Among the ancient Romans, on all public occasions, a Lictor, one of the guards or officers attending the chief Roman Magistrates, carried a bundle of rods, sometimes with an ax inserted among them, before the Consul or other magistrate as a token of his authority and his power to punish Criminals. Hence, most probably, arose the custom in the Middle Ages of carrying a naked sword before flings or Chief Magistrates. Thus at the election of the Emperor of Germany, the Elector of Saxony, as Arch-Marshal of the Empire, carried a naked sword before the newly elected Emperor. We find the same practise prevailing in England as early certainly as the reign of Henry III, at whose coronation, in 1236, a sword was carried by the Earl of Chester. It was named Curtane, and, being without a point, was said to be emblematic of the spirit of mercy that should actuate a sovereign.
This sword is known as the Sword of State, and the practise prevailing to the present day, it has always been borne in England in public processions before all Chief Magistrates, from the Monarch of the Realm to the Mayor of the city. The custom was adopted by the Freemasons; and we learn from Dr. James Anderson that, from the time of the Revival, a Sword of State, the property of a private Lodge, was borne by the Master of that Lodge before the Grand Master, until the Grand Lodge acquired one by the liberality of the Duke of Norfolk, which has ever since been borne by the Grand Sword-Bearer.
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