Medieval swords are some of the most astounding weapons, and the craftsmanship and intricate detail of many these weapons are a wonder. The medieval sword descended from the Roman spatha, the shorter sword used by Roman infantry. The barbarian Franks preferred to use long heavy swords that were constructed from soft iron that were far less reliable than the well crafted short Roman swords.
In the 6th century, Viking invaders began terrorizing many parts of Europe, and the Vikings carried large swords that were capable of smashing through the smaller swords once favored by the Romans. The sword that the Vikings carried was the direct forefather of the traditional Knight sword favored by so many in the Middle Ages.
Medieval weaponry was fairly simple during the early Middle Ages, but the crafting of swords continued to advance as man’s knowledge of crafting metal advanced. Most medieval swords were crafted from a strong metal compound that made them much harder to break, and the weight of swords increased as the blades got longer.
Blade weapons had been one of the primary form of weapons used by mankind throughout history. Since the creation of bladed weapons over three thousand years before Christ, swords were the weapon of choice for nearly every civilization in history. They were the primary weapon used by millions of people until the late 19th century when the invention of gunpowder made traditional Medieval weaponry obsolete.
There are a number of traditional medieval swords:
• The short sword, designed to be a short stabbing blade that is easy to wield in close quarter combat.
• The longsword, a longer blade than the short sword, was made to be swung easily in battle. It added reach to the sword’s wielder while still being light enough to be easily used.
• The broadsword was the traditional sword of knights. The broadsword was designed to be heavy and cause blunt force damage in addition to the chopping and slicing damage done by the sharp blade, and the blade was heavier and broader than the average long sword.
• The bastard sword or hand-and-a-half sword, was a sword that could be used with one hand or two. This sword was made to deliver a great deal of force.
• The claymore was the favored sword of Scottish warriors, and the two handed claymore was used as a two handed weapon capable of inflicting massive damage.
• The greatsword was designed as a two handed weapon capable of chopping through chainmail and deep into the flesh, but they were heavy and difficult to use.
Medieval swords were the main weapons of use in a time when lances, spears, pikes, and halberds were common infantry weapons. Due to the high price of steel in medieval times, only the rich lords and knights were able to afford the costly medieval weaponry. Less fortunate warriors were relegated to using weapons that combined wood with a steel tip, such as spears and pikes. Swords were usually fancy affairs, and many people gilded their swords in order to decorate them. A sword was considered a man’s honor, and dishonored knights were forced to relinquish their sword to their conqueror as a sign of submission.