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Historical Weapons - Glossary of swords and daggers
Category: History and Culture > Swords and daggers
Date & country: 26/03/2011, UK
Words: 34


Arming Sword
after the 14th century, with the appearance of the longsword the simple, single-handed weapon became known as a short sword or arming sword, since it hung from the belt of the knight, while his longsword hung from the saddle. In the mid-15th century treatise How a Man Shayl be Armyd, the author advises:

Backsword
The backsword was so named because it only had one cutting edge. The non-cutting edge (the back of the blade) was much thicker than the cutting edge thus creating a wedge type shape which was said to increase the weapons cutting capacity. Also known as a "Mortuary Sword", or the German "Reitschwert."

Basilard
a two-edged, long bladed dagger of the late Middle Ages, often worn with both civilian dress and armour.

Bastard Swords
developed in the mid 1400's as a form of long-sword with specially shaped grips for one or two hands. These swords typically had longer handles which allowed use by one or both hands. The sword's hilt often had side-rings and finger rings to defend the hand, and a more slender, or tapered, narrowly pointed blade. Bastard swords continued to be used by knights and men-at-arms into the 1500's, an...

Broadsword
A term popularly misapplied as a generic synonym for medieval swords. The now popular misnomer "broadsword" as a term for medieval blades actually originated with Victorian collectors in the early 19th century.

Claymore
Identified with the Scot's symbol of the warrior, the term "Claymore" is Gaelic for "claidheamh-more" (great sword). This two-handed broadsword was used by the Scottish Highlanders against the English in the 16th century and is often confused with a Basket-hilt "broadsword" (a relative of the Italian schiavona) whose hilt completely enclosed the hand in a cage- like guard. Both swords have ...

Compound-hilt
a term used for the various forms of swept, basket, and cage hilts found on Renaissance swords. The compound hilt is comprised of the quillon, side-rings, and a knuckle bar in a variety of configurations.

Cross-guard
the steel, cross-piece between the hand and blade of a Medieval sword.

Cut-and-Thrust Sword
the spada filo or spada da lato of the Italian Renaissance masters. The sword was a thinner, more tapered sword than the earlier Medieval forms, but still shorter and wider than the nearly edgless rapier. They were used for hacking, slashing, stabbing, and had compound hilts used to employ a "fingered" grip. Unlike the later rapier, which was wholly a civilian weapon, the cut & thrust sword was ...

Dagger
a knife, usually in the form of a sword. Daggers came a variety of forms, with both single and double edged varieties. Like swords, were usually fitted with a pommel and guard, and throughout the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, also developed progressively more complex hilts.

Dirk
a long, usually single-edged dagger that developed from the Medieval ballock and kidney daggers.

Espada
Spanish for sword.

Espee/Epee
Old French and Modern French terms for sword, respectively.

Estoc
A form of long, rigid, pointed, triangular or square bladed and virtually edgeless longsword designed for thrusting into plate-armor was the estoc. Called a "stocco" in Italian and a "tuck" in English, they were used with two hands

Falchion
a single-edged, heavy-bladed sword, usually widening noticably towards the tip. A form of sword that was little more than a meat cleaver, possibly even a simple kitchen and barnyard tool adopted for war. Indeed, it may come from a French word for a sickle, "fauchon". It can be seen in Medieval art being used by warriors of all stations, especially in close quarters fighting. The weapon is entire...

Flamberge
An unusual waved-bladed rapier popular with officers and upper classes during the 1600s. It was considered to look both fashionable and deadly as well as erroneously believed to inflict a more deadly wound. When parrying with the flamberge, the opponent's sword was slowed slightly as it passed along the length. It also created a disconcerting vibration in the other blade. The term flamberge was a...

Great-Swords
are infantry swords which cannot be used comfortably in a single-hand. The term "great-sword" has come to mean a form of long-sword that is still not the specialized weapons of later two-handed swords. They are, however, the weapons often depicted in various German sword manuals. Length was usually measured against the wielder's body

Longsword
the Medieval hand-and-a-half sword, which forms the basis of most surviving Medieval fighting treatises. Longswords are the classic "hand and a half" or "war sword," of the 14th and 15th centuries. Between 4

Main-gauche
the left-handed, parrying dagger used with the rapier.

Misericorde
from the word

Pommel
the large steel knob that counter-balanced the sword, and provide a secondary weapon in its own right. Pommels came in a variety of shapes: disks, balls, brazil-nuts, crescents, a sort of mushroom cap, etc., and changed in popularity as much with changes in fashion sense as martial usage

Quillons
A Renaissance term for the cross-guard.

Rapier
a long, double-edged, slender bladed, single-handed sword, designed to emphasize the thrust. Rapiers first appeared in the mid-16th century, and were used through the next century. The rapier may be the first, purely civilian sword, devised. The exact origins of the rapier are still debated between Italy or Spain, but in either case, its popularity grew with the new, deadly

Rebated
a sword that has had its point and edge blunted for training or tournament.

Ricasso
the unsharpened portion of the sword blade neares the hilt.

Rondel dagger
a military dagger witht he pommel and hand-guard formed of roundels. The dagger was often 18

Sax/Saex
a long, heavy single-edged knife favored by the Nordic peoples, with a recognizable modern descendant in the Bowie knife. The Saxon race is said to have taken its name from this weapon, which originally meant stone. Some saxes could be as much as three feet long, and hilted like swords.

Scabbard
a sheath for a sword or dagger. Most scabbards were made of thin wood, lined with felt of sheepskin, and covered in leather.

Schiavona
A form of agile Renaissance cut & thrust sword with a decorative cage-hilt and distinctive "cat-head" pommel. So named for the Schiavoni or Venetian Doge

Small-Sword
Sometimes known as a "court-sword", a "walking-sword", or "town-sword", small-swords developed in the late Renaissance as a personal dueling tool and weapon of self-defense. Most popular in the 1700's it is sometimes confused with the rapier. It consisted almost exclusively of a sharp pointed metal rod with a much smaller guard and finger-rings. Its blade was typically a hollow triangular s...

Spada
Italian for sword.

Spatha
the Roman long (36

Two-handed sword
a specialized type of great sword that became popular in the 16th century. The size and weight of the weapon, made it unsuited for close formation fighting, and its use was reserved for banner defense, guarding breeches in siege warfare, and forming skirmish lines. The grip was very long in proportion to the blade, and the overall sword could be 5 1/2

Waster
a wooden practice sword. Also called a bevin, bavin or cudgel.