Medieval Swords – Great Swords of the Middle Ages!

Discover the History of the 'Medieval Sword' - *The favourite weapon of the Magnificent Knight and Vicious Vikings

The Knightly Sword was more than just a weapon, it had Great Symbolic meaning and Spiritual Significance *A revered weapon as depicted in the legendary Arthurian Tales of Excalibur *ɛkˈskælɪbər - the legendary sword of King Arthur!

Bastard Sword

Bastard swords were popular medieval fighting swords used by knights, they were probably the best swords of the day... Read more about the Bastard Sword >>

Broadsword

An example of a Broadsword - Claymore, Basket-hilted and Sabre sword

The Broadsword was the name for a group of very popular medieval swords, the design was lightweight and the blade made slashing the enemy quite easy with the proper training. Read more about the Broadsword >>

Claymore Sword

The Claymore Sword was used by William Wallace, the name Claymore Sword comes from Gaelic and means "Great Sword" and was used by the Scottish Highlanders. Read more about the Claymore Sword >>

Falchion Sword

A Fachion Sword

The Falchion Sword was a fearsome weapon used from the 11th century onwards in battle, it was a one handed sword with a single edge and was used in close range combat. Read more about the Falchion Sword >>

Medieval Short Swords List

Short Swords like the Baselard or Seax were reserve swords of medieval warriors, medieval civilians also were commonly armed with short swords Read more about the Medieval Short Swords List >>

Medieval Swords List

The Knightly Sword, Longsword, Falchion and Rapier Swords were all well known swords during the medieval period used by Knights and soldiers Read more about the Medieval Swords List >>


Early Medieval Swords

Viking Swords

The Viking sword *Viking Age Sword was wielded by the ferocious Viking raiders throughout Europe during the early medieval times. The medieval sword was a sign of power and wealth, owning a sword was a matter of pride amongst early medieval warriors such as the Vikings.

High-ranking Vikings would decorate their swords in Gold, silver, and other precious materials in early medieval times. The standard style of a Viking sword was that of a sword with a double-edged blade that measured as long as 90 centimeters.

Such a sword was meant to be wielded with a single hand so that the warrior using it could carry a shield in his other hand.

Collection of rare original Viking Swords

Anglo Saxon Swords

Swords were a highly treasured piece of weaponry among the Anglo-Saxon military. Although the Anglo Saxons fought mostly with spears, the most notable warriors or the leading noblemen wielded richly decorated swords.

Swords were often unsheathed and used only when an enemy was already wounded. Typically, Anglo Saxon swords ran the length of nearly 37 inches.

These longswords were fairly heavy and were used to slash and cut with heavy downwards strokes rather than used in piercing the enemies’ armor.

Anglo Saxon warriors treasured their swords highly and the swords would pass from one generation to another, often with inscribed hilts, gilded pommels, and other decorative signs which identified the noble owning of the sword.

Anglo Saxon People


Knightly Sword *Arming Sword * Knightly Arming Sword

The knightly sword in Europe developed near the later part of the early medieval period and was the favorite weapon of the Medieval Knight! Medieval warfare historians also describe the sword as being the favorite weapon of the Vikings!

Medieval Knights Weapons Swords

Knights weapon of choice *Knightly Sword

This type of sword was directly descended from the spathe which was wielded by the Germanic peoples since pre-medieval times. The spathe sword, in turn, came all the way back from the Roman days.

The knightly sword which came to be used in early medieval Europe was typically double-edged and straight with a blade that measured somewhere between 70 and 80 centimeters. Kings and Nobles would decorate their swords will silver, gold, and other expensive materials.

Knight Sword being drawn for battle

This type of sword was already used in regions of Europe by the 10th century and by the 11th century, it had reached most of Europe through Norman armies. It eventually became the key weapon of the knights in different European territories.


Sword Types List

Knightly Sword -*Arming Swords *Knightly Arming Sword – Light sword of the High Middle Ages.

Bastard Sword *French description, a general term for a large sword of uncertain origins the épée bâtarde.

Baton Sword *Early sword used as a training sword in medieval tournaments, wood or whalebone.

Baton Weapon Sword

Broadsword or Basket-hilted sword *Early Modern longsword that had a metal basket design to protect the hand.

Claymore Sword *A two-handed long sword popular in Scotland with forward sloping quillons.

Medieval Swords Claymore Sword Hilt

Falchion Sword *Curved shape European one-handed fighting sword with a single edge.

A Fachion Sword

Great Sword *A variety of long swords fit this description used from medieval times and the renaissance.

Long Sword *Two-handled long sword straight double-edged blade used in medieval times and the renaissance.

Scimitar Sword *Fighting sword used by Saracens and in the crusades, it has a steep curve.

Short Sword *General term to group together most short swords from the medieval period and beyond.

Short Sword Medieval Baselard

Ulfberht Sword *German sword used in the Germanic period from the 8th to the 11th century.

Ulfberht-Sword

Zweihander Sword *German meaning two-handed large sword that could only be used with two hands.


The Bastard Sword épée bâtarde *1350 Late Medieval Period

The bastard sword is the English pronunciation of the French name for the Sword épée bâtarde – it describes a hand and a half Sword that was commonly known as a longsword in medieval times. The blade length of the bastard sword could vary in length, it could be short or long, but the main thing was that the handle grip was long enough so that medieval military men could get two hands around the handle of the Sword.

épée bâtarde

épée bâtarde

The main advantage of this was that the medieval soldiers were able to get a better grip on the sword and also more power could be put into the slashing swiping actions, due to the fact that more muscles in the back could be used with a double grip.

Bastard swords usually had a very narrow blade that was pointed and they were more tapered than a lot of medieval swords around at the time, another advantage of the bastard sword was its reach, medieval knights particularly liked this weapon for its cutting and thrusting properties.


Baton Sword

Batons swords were used in training knights, they were usually made from wood or whalebone and were fairly basic melee weapons that were cheap and easy to make. Baton Swords that were used by soldiers or knights as training weapons were usually around 2 1/2 feet long and were commonly used in tournaments, they were even decorated so that they looked like real swords.

Pell Training for Knights

The pell was a very basic but effective training device for Knights

Baton swords were used for military training purposes and used in medieval shows and tournaments when entertaining medieval people. Even though Baton swords were made from wood and bone for training and entertainment purposes, they were still quite dangerous swords. Baton swords were usually made from lime wood being one of the best materials used to make Baton Swords.

Baton Weapon Sword

Example of medieval Baton Sword


Broadsword *One-Handed Arming Sword

The Broadsword was also known as the basket-hilted sword, these types of swords are very easy to recognize as they have a basket-shaped guard that was designed to protect the hand of the military person holding them.

The reason the Broadsword got its name is that the actual blade is quite wide or “broad” in contrast to other medieval swords around at the time, which had slimmer blades. The Broadsword is a heavy weapon that required quite a lot of strength in a sustained fight against an enemy, however, they were very destructive and popular medieval swords.
  1. Claymore
  2. Basket-hilted sword

Claymore Sword – Medieval Swords (1) *Broadsword

The Claymore Sword is a Scottish sword with a Broadsword used by Scottish mercenaries in the late medieval period the name Claymore sword means the “Great Sword” and this term is derived from the early Gaelic language. This Great Sword was used by Scottish Highland warriors, it is a huge sword that must have been a scary sight on the battlefield and is about 55 inches in length.

The Claymore sword was used without a shield as it would be very hard to hold with one hand due to the size and weight, two hands were needed to hold the Claymore sword and the main thing that distinguished it from other medieval swords was its sloped style hilt, that is unique.

There are many different versions of the Claymore sword which originate from Scotland. The Claymore sword would have been a frightening presence on the battlefield and could inflict great injury and could easily cut off limbs such was the power that could be generated by the strong Highlanders with this two-handed sword.

Basket-hilted sword (2) *Broadsword

The basket-hilted sword is a Late Middle Ages sword of the early modern period. In modern times, this kind of sword could be labeled as a broadsword.

The basket-hilted sword was a military sword in the main but also used by civilians in medieval periods civilian contexts. Broadswords possess a double-edged blade. The basket-hilt of the sword was basically mounted on a broadsword, there was another variant of this called a backsword.

The Basket-hilted sword *Broadsword

The Basket-hilted sword *Broadsword


Falchion Sword *Faucon Sword

The Falchion Sword ‘French Faucon’ was a European one-handed single-edged sword from around the 13th century of the medieval period. The Falchion had a single edge blade with a slight curve similar to the *Backsword *Machete *Sabre swords.

The Falchion should sword was popular with medieval knights and is recorded as being used by crusaders during the many Holy wars that took place in medieval times. The Falchion Sword was a mass-produced weapon that was a common sight on medieval battlefields, the main part of the blade was made from iron, and the blade edges from steel, it was a single-edged blade that was slightly curved.

Falchions were close combat swords that were not too heavy and could be easily maneuvered weighing in at around 1-2lbs, they were around 36-40 inches long.

The Falchion sword was a close combat weapon used for cutting and slicing an enemy and just like the Claymore sword it could also cut off the enemy’s limbs in a single stroke, it was classed as a cutting weapon in medieval times

Types of Falchion *Cleaver *Cusped

Cleaver Falchion

Shaped very much like a large meat cleaver, or large bladed machete. 13th and 14th centuries.

A Fachion Sword

Cusped Falchion

Cusped Falchion swords are characterized by a straight blade with flare-clipped or cusped tips, thus the name Cusped Falchion. Most historical art shows the Cusped Falchion as something that resembles the knife.

Falchion Sword - Elaborate Design

Falchion Sword elaborate design *royalty or nobility


Great Swords *Long Swords

Great Sword is the term used to describe large, heavy, and long swords in the medieval period*

The long sword of medieval times was a two-handed sword used for hewing, slicing, and thrusting actions used in medieval battles (combat). Ideal for two-handed use thanks to the large two-handed (grip) *can also be used in one hand.

Great Sword is a general term for a straight-bladed double-edged sword that requires the use of two hands so that it can be wielded effectively.

Medieval Battle Swords

Medieval Battle Swords Cutting a man in Half

Longswords

The Longsword is one of the world’s most recognizable weapons, it is a European design sword with a cruciform hilt that was used in late medieval times, it is a very substantial sword that needed to be used with two hands. A sword described as a Longsword would have a straight double-edged blade that was around 35 to 43 inches in length.

Medieval Knights Sword

Great Sword *Long Sword

There are many different Swords that fit the category of Longsword such as the Claymore sword or Great Sword, the Spanish espadon, the Italian Spadone, and many more, in fact, the term Longsword is used more as a grouping of large swords of a similar type from medieval times.

There are different Swords that are classed as Great Swords the ‘Scottish Claymore and ‘Basket-Hilted Sword. The name Great Sword can also apply to various other long swords that had a two-handed grip. Because different medieval swords can be classed as Great Swords it is difficult to decide which Swords should be in this grouping, but the term can refer to swords that were held with one or two hands and also the hand and a half grip.

Great Swords we usually large swords that were between 90-120cm in length.

Greatswords (long swords) such as the Claymore sword were large and heavy and needed to be wielded with two hands, they had a large grip on which to position two hands, the top hand pushed as the lower hand pulled, this extra momentum made the sword easier to swing and negated much of its considerable weight.

Medieval Swords Claymore Sword Hilt

Claymore Sword Hilt

The golden era of Great Swords was in the renaissance after the medieval period.


Short sword

Many different types of short swords were cast and forged by Blacksmiths across medieval Europe as primary or secondary weapons, used by cavalry or foot soldiers (infantry).

Medieval Blacksmith at Work

Blacksmith using a forge to heat the blade of a sword

Short swords *Advantages & Uses

  • Light-weight and easy to wield by mounted warriors.
  • Could be used as a reserve weapon and easily carried as part of the uniform for all warriors.
  • Could be used as a civilian weapon in towns and cities during street fighting and feuds.

Baselard

A baselard was a type of short sword which came into popular use during the late medieval period. This weapon began to be used in medieval Europe in the 14th century and was more common in civilian hooliganism rather than on the battlefield

Short Sword Medieval Baselard

Historical sources mention outlaws carrying the baselard as a common sidearm in street feuds. Towards the end of the 14th century.

Seax

A seax was a short sword that was wielded by the migrating Germanic tribes, especially the Saxons, during the early medieval period. The design of a typical seax is comprised of a notched and an overall curved blade.

Anglo Saxon Warfare

Falchion

A falchion was a type of short sword which was used in different parts of Europe from the 13th century until the 16th century. Its design comprised of a single-edged blade and a hilt which was meant for single-handed use.

A Fachion Sword


Scimitar Swords – Medieval Swords

The Scimitar Sword is a European term for a grouping of swords that were used by warriors in the Middle East and includes various swords from the region such as the Shamshir and the Turkish kilij.

This sword was used by the Saracens in medieval times, against the invading enemies of the West in the crusader battles for the holy land.

Saracen Armies Battle of Tours

The Saracen armies prepare for the battle of Tours

The Scimitar sword has a very distinctive design with a wide curved blade ending in a point, these are very fearsome-looking weapons that must have scared their enemies on the battlefield.

The Scimitar sword was designed to be used on horseback as a slicing weapon, they had either long narrow curved blades or wide curved blades with two designs that could be used as one or two-handed weapons depending on the Scimitar sword chosen.

Turkish-kilij-Sword

Turkish Kilij Sword

This was primarily a cutting weapon that was capable of cutting off the limbs of an enemy soldier in one stroke! *The blades were around 30 to 36 inches in length and were used as a close combat weapon that would be used for cutting and slicing in medieval battles.


Ulfberht Sword

Ulfberht swords date back to the *9th to 11th centuries *The word “Ulfberht” is the name of the Frankish bladesmiths who made the swords for several centuries.

Viking Warrior wielding a Sword and wearing a Helmet

Viking Warrior wielding a Sword

The Ulfberht sword is a type of sword found in medieval Europe that appears as a transitionary weapon sandwiched in-between the Viking and medieval knightly sword periods.

The Ulfberht Sword was a Viking medieval sword that was made of superior steel that was very advanced for medieval times, the steel had a high carbon content, this made the sword very strong and this new type of steel also gave greater flexibility to the sword as the metal was less brittle than other medieval swords made at the time.

Ulfberht-Sword

Ulfberht Sword

The Ulfberht sword was used by Vikings from around the early 8th century and was used by elite Viking warriors, the Ulfberht sword was lethal in battle and had far superior to typical medieval swords.

These swords were so well renowned in medieval times that many people tried to imitate the weapons and there were many fake versions in circulation.


Zweinander Sword

As the name suggests the Zweinander sword was a medieval sword that originated in Germany but like the arming sword and short sword this was a long two-handed sword also called the Great Sword.

The Zweihänder in German means ‘two-hander’

The Zweinander sword was a true two-handed sword like some other long swords which could also be used with one hand this was a heavy fighting sword that could only be used with two hands.

Landsknechts German Medieval Soldiers

Landsknechts German Mercenaries

They developed a trend from the 14th century the larger and larger fighting swords and the Zweinander was at the end of this trend of swords getting so heavy and large they were difficult to use in battle. The invention of guns and gun-powder brought with it a new era of warfare that made this type of medieval sword redundant in battle.

Zweihänder swords developed from the longswords towards the end of the late medieval period widely used by the German Landsknechte, they were large, heavy, and increased striking power and range, but were difficult to carry.

Medieval Landsknects

Landsknects *Gunpowder Weapons

It was during this period of medieval history that great strides were being made in the development of gun powder weaponry and this brought an end to the continued development of larger and heavier swords.

Great Resources On Medieval Swords for Further Learning:

Medieval Swords at Wikipedia

The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England: Its Archeology and Literature New Ed Edition