Rapiers – Fighting On The Edge

Since the dawn of time, many combat weapons have come and gone.  Among them are swords, which have been one of the earliest weapons and have lasted through the generations.  It wasn’t until the emergence of firearms that swords took the back seat.  And in the vein of swords exist many types, each one offering specific characteristics that set it apart.  Some are used for cutting while others are used for thrusting and some are capable of both.  In the thrusting class, one of the swords that enjoyed a nice ride in the 16th and 17th centuries is the rapier.

The rapier entered the scene during the Renaissance era as a dueling weapon for nobility.  It started out small in Spain, then known as an espada ropera, and served as a civilian dress weapon.  However, this cutting device could not be contained for long.  As word got out, the weapon spread throughout Western Europe.  Rapiers replaced battlefield swords, developed to become lighter and easier to wear over time, and were eventually replaced by small swords in the 18th century.

Classical Rapier:

Classical Rapier

As with any sword, the rapier offered advantages over others.  Characterized by a long, thin, sharp blade, the rapier’s strength was in its impeccable ability to execute thrusting attacks.  Sometimes this sword would be sharpened on the entire cutting edge and other times, it was sharpened only from the center to the tip.  To protect the hand, the weapon also possessed a complex hilt with rings extending forward from the crosspiece.  These rings were later replaced by metal plates and then by cup hilts.  The average rapier weights about 2.2 pounds and is 39 inches in length.

When fighting with a rapier, the combat is done with a one-handed grip, using the index and middle fingers, as well as the thumb for solid control.  Because only one edge of the sword is sharpened, this allows for half-sword techniques involving holding the weapon by its blade.  A dagger, small shield, or other weapon would accompany the rapier in the combatant’s free hand.

17th Century Swept Hilt Rapier:

17th Century Swept Hilt Rapier

Even though the rapier is not a primary fight weapon today, its popularity continues to live on in books, films, television, video games, and more.  That being said, there’s gotta be something appealing about it!  To see our collection of rapiers, check out http://www.armorvenue.com/.

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