Many different types of swords were used in warfare during the medieval period. These ranged from broad-bladed single-edged and double-edged swords to thinner swords with a tilted curvature.
Among the types of swords named as being used in the medieval period were the broadsword, arming sword, falchion, longsword, rapier, sabre, and shortsword among others.
Swords were typically used occasionally and only when the mounted cavalry had to engage in close combat or in such rare cases when the infantry used swords as a primary weapon. In some cases, a sword served as a reserve weapon while another weapon such as a spear or an axe was used as a primary weapon.
The most common and popular type of sword used in the medieval period was the one wielded by European knights. This type of sword was typically straight and double-edged. The average length of the blade of a knightly sword ranged from 28 to 31 inches.
The knightly sword came into being sometime around the 11th century, evolving from the Norman swords used by the Viking descendants in the 10th century. Such a sword was meant to be wielded with a single hand so that the knight’s other hand was free to hold up a shield. The knightly sword’s popularity declined towards the late medieval period when the longsword became more popular.
A Longsword was a type of sword which came into use in the late medieval period. This type of sword typically came with a longer grip. Such a longer grip allowed the wielded to use the sword with both hands. The blade of an average longsword was 33 to 43 inches in length while the grip alone measured 6 to 11 inches in length.
This type of sword became popular from the 13th century onwards, notably being used in the Hundred Years’ War. From the 13th to 15th centuries, longswords were used both by armoured and mounted cavalrymen as well as by infantrymen. From the 15th century onwards, the use became limited to the infantrymen and by the 16th century, the longsword had become obsolete.
A falchion is a type of medieval sword that was used in different parts of Europe from the 13th to 16th centuries. Falchions were single-edged swords that were designed to enable single-handed use. The falchion was similar in design to the shamshir sword used by the medieval Persians.
Extant specimens of medieval falchions suggest that although it was commonly used by the peasants, falchions were also used by members of the nobility. However, compared to other types of medieval swords, the use of falchion was not very widespread.
The Rapier is a type of sword which came into common use during the final decades of the medieval period. This type of sword comprises a thin blade with a sharp point which is then most commonly used for thrusting.
Rapiers have also been historically used for cutting and slashing an opponent. Although some preliminary models of rapier were used on the battlefield, this type of sword was popularly used for civilian combat and dueling during the late medieval period.