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Learn about Medieval Swords

The evolution of the medieval sword began earlier than 1500 BC with the traditional one-handed sword carried by the celts. A common material of this time was copper, which produced very soft swords that dulled quickly. Later on, swords were made of bronze because of its definite advantages over copper. The mixture of copper and tin produced a sword that was stronger while being more flexible than copper.

During the approach of the middle ages the sword grew into a more sophisticated cutting weapon. The blades were close to 3 ft in length while still designed to be wielded with one hand. This was important for the fighting style of the era where a soldiers main defense was a shield. These swords were constructed with a very thin blade which were very light and had the ability to hold a very sharp edge.

The one handed sword was less effective in the later years with the evolution of armour and the discovery of iron. With the introduction of plate armour the sword blade became longer and thinner. The tips of the swords came to a sharp point to make it easier to thrust into the weakest areas of the armour.

Glossary of Medieval Sword Terms

Glossary of Medieval Sword Terms

BasketThe cage around the grip protecting the wielder's hand. These are most commonly found on Scottish basket-hilted swords, and European rapiers.

BladeThe section of the sword extending from the hilt

ChappeAlso known as a "rain gard" is a piece of leather attached to the sword hilt. This acts like an umbrella that prevents water from entering the mouth of the scabbard.

EdgeThe cutting surface of the blade. Also the section that would be sharpened.

FerruleA decorative metal banding used at either ends of the grip to secure the handle wrap.

Full TangThe blade tang passes straight through the swords handle (grip) to the end of the pommel.

FullerOften believed to channel blood from your slain opponent and commonly called a "Blood Groove." The fuller "groove" is to lighten the blade of a sword.

GripIs the handle section of the blade where it is held by the wielder.

GuardThe guard is the section usually between the grip and the blade that protects the wielders hand. The guard can be in many forms such as a Cross Guard, Basket, Disc etc.

HamonThe line seen between the edge and spine of a blade where the metal is changes hardness. This is typical in Japanese styled blades from the process of differential tempering or hardening.

HiltThis is the guard, grip and pommel section of the sword. The entire sword excluding the blade

KnuckleguardPortion of the hilt that protected the knuckles seen on many sabres and also sometimes formed into a full basket

PointTip of the sword blade used for thrusting and stabbing

PommelThe pommel is located at the end of a sword's hilt. It's pupose is to counter-weight the blade to balance the sword. Also has been used as a striking implement hence the expression "I'm going to pommel you"

QuillionThis is a term for the crossguard. Used almost exclusively when referring to Renaissance rapiers.

Rat-Tail TangA modern method of manufacturing involving a threaded rod being welded onto a normal tang. This method is used on decorative swords to lower the cost and should not be used on "functional swords". This method is not safe on a functional sword as it will likely break upon use which could result in serious injury.

RicassoThe section of sword's blade which remains unsharpened just above the guard. The wielder is able to loop a finger over the guard to increase control.

TangThis is the unseen section of the blade that the hilt is attached to.

TipPoint of the sword blade used for thrusting and stabbing

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