Medieval Swords and Armor were NOT heavy!

That medieval swords and armor were ‘heavy’ is one of the strangest misconceptions of medieval life.  These people’s LIVES depended on their agility and ability to survive a fight.  Why would they be wielding 20 pound swords and wearing armor so heavy if they fell of their horse, they’d find themselves as helpless as upturned turtles? One reason for the confusion comes from the fact that ornamental swords and armor that remain to us often ARE heavier than ones used in battle, secondly, the sport of ‘fencing’ has greatly confused people as to what sword fighting really entailed (the purpose of fencing is to poke your opponent with the tip; the purpose of sword fighting is to get your opponent on the ground and shove your 2 lb. sword through his midsection to kill him), and thirdly, that in the Read more…

Medieval Sword Vocabulary

Following up on the post about medieval swords, here’s an extensive vocabulary list for swords from http://www.thearma.org/SwordForms.html  From all us medieval-obsessed people, thank you for posting it! _______________ SWORD PARTS Many sword types are closely identified with a particular style of hilt.  Yet hilts were very often replaced on blades over time a weapon. Thus, a sword cannot be classified or categorized by whatever kind of cross, pommel, or grip it has, but by the length, form, and geometry of its blade. Hilt – The upper portion of a sword consisting of the cross-guard, handle/grip, and pommel (most Medieval swords have a straight cross or cruciform-hilt). Called the Handhabe in German. In Old French the crosspiece was called helz, the grip called poing, the pommel called pom, and the handle might be bound with metal rings called mangon. Cross – The typically straight bar or “guard” of a Read more…

Medieval Swords and Armor

I have posted about how medieval swords and armor weren’t ‘heavy’ here: http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/medieval-swords-and-armor-were-not-heavy/ about dark age and medieval armor:  http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/darkageandmedievalarmor/ and about medieval martial arts and its resurrection as an art form: http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/european-martial-arts/   A friend has justdirected me to a post detailing the different kinds of medieval swords.: http://www.thearma.org/SwordForms.html Here’s a sample of their section on long swords: Long-Swords The various kinds of long bladed Medieval swords that had handles long enough to be used in two hands were deemed long-swords (German Langenschwert/ Langes Swertor Italian spada longa). Long–swords, war-swords, or great swords are characterized by having both a long grip and a long blade. We know at the time that Medieval warriors did distinguished war-swords or great-swords (“grant espees” or “grete swerdes”) from “standard” swords in general, but long-swords were really just those larger versions of typical one-handed swords, except with stouter blades. They were “longer swords,” as opposed to Read more…

Excalibur (Caledfwlch)

“Excalibur” was first used for King Arthur’s sword in the embellishment of the King Arthur legend by the French.  Contrary to present-day myth, Excalibur was not the famous “Sword in the Stone” (which broke in battle), but a second sword acquired by the King through the intercession of Myrddin (Merlin). Worried that Arthur would fall in battle, “Merlin took the King to a magical lake where a mysterious hand thrust itself up from the water, holding aloft a magnificent sword. It was the Lady of the Lake, offering Arthur a magic unbreakable blade, fashioned by an Avalonian elf smith, along with a scabbard which would protect him as long as he wore it . . .”  http://www.britannia.com/history/arthur/excalibur.html The Welsh name for King Arthur’s sword was ‘Caledfwlch’, which means ‘cleaving what is hard’.  (from Celtic Culture:  A Historical Encyclopedia).  It later Read more…

Dark Age and Medieval Armor

The Arthurian knight in plate mail, jousting on his horse, is the classic image of a medieval knight, but is totally inaccurate.  Armor has evolved over time and that plate mailed knight was a relatively late development in the evolution of warfare. Dark Age warriors wore a range of leather and chain mail armor, properly referred to as simply ‘mail’.  This was standard for the next five hundred years, until the gradual shift to plate mail during the fourteenth century, particularly for high status warriors. From: http://historymedren.about.com/library/weekly/aa041500a.htm “The construction of mail was begun by hammering a sheet of metal very thin and flat. The sheet would then be cut into narrow strips, and each strip would be wound around an iron mandrel or rod. (Later, when the technique of drawing wire was developed, soft iron wire would be used instead.) The wound wire or strips Read more…