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Sharpe's Sword is a 1995 Britishmarker television drama, part of a series screened on the ITV network that follows the career of Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier during the Napoleonic Wars. It is based on the novel of the same name by Bernard Cornwell, though it is set a year later (1813) than the book.


On the French-Spanish frontier, a French patrol led by a colonel of Napoleon's Imperial Guard overtakes a carriage containing a priest and three nuns. The priest is the confessor of El Mirador, Wellington's best secret agent; he is tortured into revealing the spy's identity. Then, he and two of the nuns are killed, but the youngest (Emily Mortimer), a novitiate, gets away.

Major Sharpe (Sean Bean) and his riflemen show up and rout the French, taking a captain captive, while the colonel is killed. Sharpe finds a piece of paper filled with cryptic numbers on the prisoner and suspects that his captive is actually the colonel in disguise. However, he is unable to convince his superior, nor his fellow officer, Captain Jack Spears (James Purefoy); the Frenchman is allowed to give his parole and is not imprisoned. The young woman, having lost her faith and being rendered mute by the horror she has witnessed, attaches herself to Sharpe.

Back at camp, Wellington's spymaster, Major Mungo Munro (Hugh Ross), has received word that Napoleon himself has sent Colonel Leroux (Patrick Fierry) of the elite Imperial Guard to capture El Mirador. Munro assigns Sharpe the task of killing the colonel, but refuses to divulge the spy's identity. He sends Sharpe and the South Essex Regiment to the town where El Mirador is based.

The British already control the place, but there is a French-held fort close by. When the men near the town, a surprise artillery barrage from the fort causes enough confusion to allow the prisoner, who is in fact Leroux, to break his parole and escape to its safety.

Sharpe meets two people, his old enemy Sir Henry Simmerson (Michael Cochrane), now the British representative to the town, and Father Curtis (John Kavanagh), who runs the hospital.

The regiment attacks that night, but the French have been forewarned and the assault is bloodily repulsed. Barkley is killed, leaving Sharpe in charge, though he himself is seriously wounded. While he recovers, he sends for British cannons and orders his most literate rifleman, Harris (Jason Salkey), to decode the message he took from Leroux. During this time, the woman regains her voice and her faith.

Harris succeeds in breaking the code. The message unmasks Spears as a traitor (he had been taken captive, tortured, and then blackmailed by Leroux). However, Spears is unable to bring himself to kill El Mirador, who is revealed to be Father Curtis. When the cannons arrive, Sharpe gives the officer the opportunity for an honourable death.

After the fort is softened up by a barrage, Spears charges singlehanded and is killed. Sharpe and the South Essex then storm the position. When Leroux tries to surrender, Sharpe offers him a duel to the death instead; if he kills Sharpe, he can go free. Sharpe wins the swordfight.

Taking advantage of Sharpe's absence, Simmerson attempts to rape the novitiate (who had humiliated him earlier when he had made a crude advance), but is stopped by Father Curtis. The priest accuses Simmerson of warning the French of the first attack; when Simmerson advances on him with sword drawn, Father Curtis, an ex-soldier, unexpectedly draws his own and teaches him a very painful lesson.

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