Medieval Swords: On The Cutting Edge

In the scheme of medieval weapons, swords have won the prize for most favorite and highest interest!  While medieval sword fighting was prominent and exciting, an often overlooked fact is that these weapons were pretty simple and offered little variation in their selections.

Medieval Swords:

To begin with, composition of medieval swords merged the best of two metal worlds together to make a master class weapon.  These cutting pieces contained a soft iron core surrounded by a hard steel shell.  This craftsmanship took the strength of steel’s hardness and combined it with iron’s flexibility.  In doing so, each metal’s weakness, steel’s brittle nature and iron’s softness, was compensated for, resulting in an exquisite, battle ready piece!

In addition to sword composition, there were consistent design elements intact throughout the various types.  To maintain rigid structure and strength, as well as lightness, there was typically a full, or groove, running down the blade’s center.  Curvature, cross sections, hilt, grip, cross guard, and pommel were also aspects of medieval swords across the board.

Medieval Arming Sword:

Medieval Arming Sword

For medieval fighters, the weapon of the day was the longsword, also called an “arming sword”.  The longsword was designed as a one-handed weapon and boasted 4 feet in overall length with a 3 foot blade and weighed in at 2 to 3 pounds.  This weapon was inspired by the Roman spatha and basically was a glorified gladius.  A relative variation of the longsword surfaced in the bastard sword, also known as a “hand-and-a-half” sword.  Essentially, this meant that both hands could have holding action, but the second hand could only have partial grip of the handle and pommel.  While both hands could be in play with a bastard sword, its original intention was one-handed use.

For a more intimidating weapon, another option was the greatsword.  Based off German and Scottish models, these were massive swords, possessing an overall length of nearly 7 feet and weighing as much as 14 pounds.  Needless to say, these suckers weren’t the most convenient to carry around.  The advantage that these swords offered over others was their ability to hack into and disrupt a formation of spearmen or pikemen.  In addition, they could also be used with the same fighting techniques as longswords and bastard swords.

Bastard Sword:

Bastard Sword

Other swords in play during the medieval period came from Japanese influence and were the tachi and katana.  Tachi had long, curved blades and were primarily used for combat on horseback.  From this sword, the katana developed and was able to be used for fighting on foot.

Today, medieval swords may not be used in the same way that they once were, but they still manage to captivate the awe of collectors, historians, and artists.  Indeed, their legacy lives on, giving the sword industry a great deal of inspiration.  To see our collection of medieval swords, go to

This entry was posted in Medieval Swords and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *