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Types of Swords – Medieval Swords in Europe. Historical sword types in medieval Europe. Description and picture gallery of various swords.

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Anelace (cinquedea – five fingers) – short sword or dagger used for parrying or in pair. Favorite sword in Italy.

Backsword – A sword with one sharp edge.

Badelaire – A French term for a short, broad, curved, and double-edged pointed sword.

Bastard Sword aka as the Long Sword (also Half sword or 1,5 handed sword) – The length of the Long Sword (Bastard sword) ranged from from 44 to 50 inches in length. The versatility of the design of Bastard Swords prevented the sword from being specifically categorized as either a one-handed or two-handed weapon hence the name ‘Bastard’.

Bilbo sword – a thrusting-sword, seems to take its name from its place of manufacture – Bilbao.

Braquemar sword – straight bladed but curved-edge.

Broadsword – The earliest of the Medieval swords from the 6th Century. The Broadsword had a two-edged blade measuring 2-3 inches wide at the base and tapering to a point. The length of the Broadsword ranged from 30 – 45 inches and weighed between 3 – 5 pounds.

Richard Lionheart sword

Richard Lionheart sword

Claymore (Scottish sword) – may refer two types of Scottish swords.

Two handed claymore – The average 2 handed claymore ran about 140 cm (55″) in overall length, with a 13″ (33 cm) grip, 42″ (107 cm) blade, and a weight of approximately 5.5 lb (2.5 kg).

Two handed Scottish Claymore sword - medieval swords

Two handed Scottish Claymore sword

One handed claymore – Basket-hilted claymore – It could be either single- or double-edged, typically weighed between 2 and 3 lbs (0.9 and 1.5 kg), with a fairly wide blade typically 30 to 35 inches (0.75–0.9 m) long. Used till 2WW by Scots and English officers.

Cruciform – A generic term for any sword which when inverted point downward will form the shapeof a crucifix.

Curtana (Cortana or Courtain) – meaning of name is “shortened sword”, used for a ceremonial type of sword.

Cutlass sword – is a short, broad sabre or slashing sword, with a straight or slightly curved blade sharpened on the cutting edge, and a hilt often featuring a solid cupped or basket shaped guard.

Cutting sword – These swords were at first used by early Medieval Knights and were also particularly favoured by the the Vikings. A slashing stroke would be used but this became ineffective against heavy body armour.

Curve Blade Swords – German curved Messer, Grossmessr and the Bohemian Dusask.

English Tuck (Estoc) Sword – Thrusting swords to penetrate armor. Estoc is the French word meaning thrust or point. Some Polish variants has more than 1,57metres it means 62″!

Executioner’s Sword – a sword designed specifically for decapitation  of condemned criminals. These swords were intended for two-handed use, but were lacking a point, so that their overall length was typically that of a single-handed sword (ca. 80-90 cm). The quillions  were quite short, and mainly straight, the pommel was often pear-shaped or faceted.

Falchion Sword – A Falchion sword was favoured by some Medieval Knights who had been on Crusade. This sword was similar to a heavy scimitar. The Medieval Falchion swords had a short, heavy blade with a single edge.

Flame-bladed sword – type of greatsword, When parrying with such a sword, unpleasant vibrations may be transmitted into the attacker’s blade. These vibrations caused the blades to slow contact with each other, as additional friction was encountered with each wave. Used in defence of important leaders by well-trained and experienced swordsmen, called Doppelsöldner (double mercenary) because they received double pay. It may have been the case that the wave-shaped edges were more useful for attacking the wooden shaft of an opponent’s pike, cutting off the tip and thus rendering the pike relatively harmless. It is not known if the undulating blades on these weapons imparts a significantly greater or lesser ability to cut, slice, or thrust against a human target.

Flamberge – flame bladed rapier.

Great Sword – The Great Swords were large two-handed swords. The length of the Great Swords ranged from from 50 to 72 inches, with a handle that measured 18 – 21 inches in additional length. Great Swords weighed between 6 – 10 pounds. The Great Sword featured an extended handle that allowed the blade to be used in two hands.

Hunting Sword – type of single-handed shortsword that was used during hunting parties. Possibly developed from German  Hiebmesser. Used for finishing animals.

Hand and a Half Sword – also called a Long Sword or Bastard Sword.

Kriegsmesser is a large, curved, single-edged two-handed sword typically around the same length as the longsword or hand-and-a-half sword. They were popular in the 15th and 16th century Germany. The name literally translates from German to “War Knife.”

Malchus Sword – Single-Handed Sword.

Mameluke sword – cross-hilted, curved, scimitar-like sword historically derived from sabres used by Mamluk warriors of Ottoman Egypt from whom the sword derives its name. The Mameluke sword remains the ceremonial side arm for some units to this day. Used for example in US marine Corps and British Army.

Messer – German machete style of sword.

Mortuary Sword – sword used after 1625 by cavalry during the English Civil War. This two-edged sword sported a half-basket hilt with a straight blade some 90-105 cm long. Similar swords: Walloon Sword, Schiavona.

Pistol Sword – Edged weapons with built-in pistols were common in Eastern Europe. The flintlock axe pistol was a trademark Polish cavalry weapon from the 16th until the 18th century. Similar guns were made in Hungary and a multi-barreled version was invented in Germany. Axe pistols were also issued to the Swedish navy in the early 18th century.

Practice Sword – Wooden Swords or Batons were used for training as practice swords.

Rapier – rapier is a relatively slender, sharply pointed sword, used mainly for thrusting attacks, mainly in use in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Rapier swords


Sabre – curved, single-edged blade and a rather large hand guard, covering the knuckles of the hand as well as the thumb and forefinger. Although sabres are typically thought of as curved-bladed slashing weapons, those used by the world’s heavy cavalry often had straight and even double-edged blades more suitable for thrusting. The length of sabres varied, and most were carried in a scabbard  hanging from a shoulder belt known as a baldric or from a waist-mounted sword belt. Sabre may came may come from such Medieval European designs as the falchion, or the earlier scimitar. used as a cavalry weapon, but it gradually came to replace the various straight bladed cutting sword types on the battlefield.

Karabela – karabela was a type of Polish sabre (szabla). Perhaps one of the most famous types of that type of weapons, it became highly popular in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 1670s. Most likely the name was coined after the Turkish terms Kara (dark) and belâ (curse).

Spadroon – a light sword with a straight blade of the cut and thrust type. The style became popular among military and naval officers in the 1790s.

Sax Sword (Hadseax, Sax, Seaxe, Scramaseax,Scramsax  and Sachsum) – Old English means knife or cutting tool. In modern archeology (and further in this article), the term seax is used specifically for the typically large knives that were worn by men in the 5th to 11th century, in the region roughly enclosed by Ireland, Scandinavia  and Northern Italy.

Scimitar – The scimitar was a type of sword most commonly associated with the Saracens in the Holy Land who fought against the Crusaders. Scimitars had a distinct curved blade ending with a sharp point.

Storta – Italian curved storta sword.

Yatagan – Turkish sword (which became known in other countries as the ‘Turkish sword’) used from the mid-16th to late 19th centuries. The yatagan was extensively used in Turkey and in areas under Turkish influence, such as the Balkans.

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Types of Swords – Medieval swords in Europe

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