History UsefulNotes / Swords

3rd Dec '17 12:45:21 PM HazelMcCallister
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The other way to assemble a sword is to make the blade with a wide, flat ''slab'' tang (which is often, but not always, as long and wide as the fully-assembled grip; when it is, it's a ''full-profile'' tang. As an aside, "full tang" can mean either full-length or full-profile, [[SeparatedByACommonLanguage depending on the speaker]]). Usually the hilt parts are held on with pegs that pass sideways through them and the tang; other methods of attaching may include glue, flanges along the tang's edges, and/or a binding wrap such as wire. Japanese swords usually have a partial-length slab tang and a one-piece grip held on by one or more removable pegs. Near Eastern and European slab-tang swords tend to have a pair of organic plates or ''scales'' held on with peened metal rivets to form the grip, like a kitchen knife. Some early European bronze swords lacked a tang and had the hilt riveted to the blade's shoulders; these "bronze rapiers" were made for stabbing, since a hard chopping blow could break the hilt from the blade.

to:

The other way to assemble a sword is to make the blade with a wide, flat ''slab'' tang (which is often, but not always, as long and wide as the fully-assembled grip; when it is, it's a ''full-profile'' tang. As an aside, "full tang" can mean either full-length or full-profile, [[SeparatedByACommonLanguage depending on the speaker]]). Usually the hilt parts are held on with pegs that pass sideways through them and the tang; other methods of attaching may include glue, flanges along the tang's edges, and/or a binding wrap such as wire. Japanese swords usually have a partial-length slab tang and that fits into a slot in a one-piece grip grip, and is held on in place by one or more removable pegs. Near Eastern and European slab-tang full-profile-tang swords tend to have a pair of organic plates or ''scales'' held on with peened metal rivets to form the grip, like a kitchen knife. Some early European bronze swords lacked a tang and had the hilt riveted to the blade's shoulders; these "bronze rapiers" were made for stabbing, since a hard chopping blow could break the hilt from the blade.
29th Nov '17 10:05:24 AM HazelMcCallister
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* One other thing to note is that although the smallsword proper was mainly an upperclass civilian or officer's weapon, a few militaries such as the French infantry around the early 1700s issued their troops swords that were very similar in appearance. So if you see common soldiers with what look like smallswords in a period piece, it's not necessarily incorrect.
24th Nov '17 1:53:45 PM HazelMcCallister
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The other way to assemble a sword is to make the blade with a ''full-profile'' or ''slab'' tang. Usually the hilt is held on with pegs that pass through the hilt and tang; other attachments included flanges along the tang's edges, glue, and/or a binding wrap such as wire. Japanese swords usually have a partial-length slab tang and a one-piece hilt held on by a removable peg and binding cord, while Near Eastern and European slab-tang swords tend to have a pair of organic plates or ''scales'' held on with peened metal rivets, like a kitchen knife. Some early European bronze swords lacked a tang and had the hilt riveted to the blade's shoulders; these "bronze rapiers" were made for stabbing, since a hard chopping blow could break the hilt from the blade.

to:

The other way to assemble a sword is to make the blade with a wide, flat ''slab'' tang (which is often, but not always, as long and wide as the fully-assembled grip; when it is, it's a ''full-profile'' or ''slab'' tang. As an aside, "full tang" can mean either full-length or full-profile, [[SeparatedByACommonLanguage depending on the speaker]]). Usually the hilt is parts are held on with pegs that pass sideways through them and the hilt and tang; other attachments included methods of attaching may include glue, flanges along the tang's edges, glue, and/or a binding wrap such as wire. Japanese swords usually have a partial-length slab tang and a one-piece hilt grip held on by a one or more removable peg and binding cord, while pegs. Near Eastern and European slab-tang swords tend to have a pair of organic plates or ''scales'' held on with peened metal rivets, rivets to form the grip, like a kitchen knife. Some early European bronze swords lacked a tang and had the hilt riveted to the blade's shoulders; these "bronze rapiers" were made for stabbing, since a hard chopping blow could break the hilt from the blade.
24th Nov '17 9:03:01 AM HazelMcCallister
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There are two components a sword needs to have: a handle (the ''hilt'') and a blade. Many swords also have a ''guard'', which prevents the hand of the wielder from slipping onto the blade and may be used to parry an opponent's blade. The exact shape of the guard can vary wildly from weapon to weapon (contrast the C-shaped basket hilt on a backsword to the little oval ''tsuba'' on a katana). Finally, many swords have a ''pommel'', which is the knob on the end of the hilt. This pommel is often weighted to counterbalance the blade; it also has something to do with how the sword is built. Generally the blade has a tail on the end, a ''tang'', around which the hilt is constructed. The tang often extends ''past'' the length of the pommel and is then peened (hammered until it mushrooms out), creating a physical seal that keeps the sword in one piece. (The TV show ''Series/{{Highlander}}'' notwithstanding, basically the last thing you want in a fight is for the blade to go flying away.) For the past few centuries, tangs have also sometimes been threaded and screwed into the pommel or a nut on top of the pommel; this method is particularly common on munitions-grade weapons and inexpensive replicas. This is a less secure connection than peening, but allows the hilt to be easily re-tightened or even disassembled and reassembled. Blunt "swords" used in theatrical fights are also usually threaded, since they see FAR more strenuous use than real swords and need to be re-tightened regularly. How thick the tang is and how it's secured thus has a lot to do with a sword's durability, and modern sword enthusiasts will inspect a specimen carefully to figure out how it was built.

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There are two components a sword needs to have: a handle (the ''hilt'') and a blade. Many swords also have Hilts incorporate a grip and often a ''guard'', which prevents the hand of the wielder from slipping onto the blade and may be used to parry an opponent's blade. The exact shape of the guard can vary wildly from weapon to weapon (contrast the C-shaped basket hilt on a backsword to the little oval ''tsuba'' on a katana). Finally, many swords have a ''pommel'', which is the knob on the other end of the hilt. This pommel is often weighted to counterbalance the blade; it also has something to do with how the sword is built. built.

Generally the blade has a tail on the end, a ''tang'', around which the hilt is constructed. The majority of weapons we recognize as swords have ''hidden'' or ''rod'' tangs, which are narrow and pass through successive holes in the guard, grip and pommel[[note]]A hidden tang that's too thin and frail to survive serious use is called a ''rat tail'' tang and is often found on cheap decorative swords[[/note]]. The tang typically extends ''past'' a little bit out the length top of the pommel and is then peened (hammered until it mushrooms out), creating a physical seal that keeps the sword in one piece. (The TV show ''Series/{{Highlander}}'' notwithstanding, basically the last thing you want in a fight is for the blade to go flying away.) For the past few centuries, tangs have also sometimes been threaded and screwed into the pommel or a nut on top of the pommel; this method is particularly common on munitions-grade weapons and inexpensive replicas. This is a less secure connection than peening, but allows the hilt to be easily re-tightened or even disassembled and reassembled. Blunt "swords" used in theatrical fights are also usually threaded, since they see FAR more strenuous use than real swords and need to be re-tightened regularly. How thick the tang is and how it's secured thus has a lot to do with a sword's durability, and modern sword enthusiasts will inspect a specimen carefully to figure out how it was built.
built.

The other way to assemble a sword is to make the blade with a ''full-profile'' or ''slab'' tang. Usually the hilt is held on with pegs that pass through the hilt and tang; other attachments included flanges along the tang's edges, glue, and/or a binding wrap such as wire. Japanese swords usually have a partial-length slab tang and a one-piece hilt held on by a removable peg and binding cord, while Near Eastern and European slab-tang swords tend to have a pair of organic plates or ''scales'' held on with peened metal rivets, like a kitchen knife. Some early European bronze swords lacked a tang and had the hilt riveted to the blade's shoulders; these "bronze rapiers" were made for stabbing, since a hard chopping blow could break the hilt from the blade.



* The messer and its variants were mostly used in German-speaking lands in the 14th-16th centuries. The messer was similar to the falchion, the fundamental difference between the two lying in the grip construction: falchions have a narrow hidden tang that passes through the guard, one-piece grip, and pommel, like a "real" sword, while messers have a wide tang with flat grip "scales" riveted to either side, more like a common kitchen knife.

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* The messer and its variants were mostly used in German-speaking lands in the 14th-16th centuries. The messer was similar to the falchion, the fundamental difference between the two lying in the grip construction: falchions have a narrow hidden tang that passes through the guard, one-piece grip, and pommel, are made with hidden-tang construction, like a "real" sword, swords, while messers have a wide tang with flat grip "scales" full-profile tangs and riveted to either side, more scales like a common kitchen knife.
knives.



* Most sword historians nowadays use "broadsword" in a fairly specific way, referring to a sword produced after the Middle Ages with a wide blade like an arming sword but usually a more complex hilt. Backswords, used in the same period, were very similar in profile but had single-edged blades with a triangular ("backed") cross section; this gave the advantage that a backsword could be made with a more acute cutting edge for the same thickness. Hilts ranged from relatively simple shells and side rings to the "crab claw" hilt with four downcurved quillons and a wide knuckle guard, to baskets that completely enclosed the hand, like the Slavo-Italian ''schiavona'', and the "half-basket" or "mortuary" hilt of the 17th century which was very common during the UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar. Broadswords and backswords were initially used in combination with shields and bucklers, but later on just by themselves.

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* Most sword historians nowadays use "broadsword" in a fairly specific way, referring to a sword produced after the Middle Ages with a wide blade like an arming sword but usually a more complex hilt. Backswords, used in the same period, were very similar in profile but had single-edged blades with a triangular ("backed") cross section; this gave the advantage that a backsword could be made with a more acute cutting edge for the same thickness. Note that not all museum catalogues and reference books regard backswords as a distinct category; they are often klept as broadswords which happen to be single-edged. Hilts ranged from relatively simple shells and side rings to the "crab claw" hilt with four downcurved quillons and a wide knuckle guard, to baskets that completely enclosed the hand, like the Slavo-Italian ''schiavona'', and the "half-basket" or "mortuary" hilt of the 17th century which was very common during the UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar. Broadswords and backswords were initially used in combination with shields and bucklers, but later on just by themselves.
22nd Nov '17 9:53:03 PM nombretomado
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* Most sword historians nowadays use "broadsword" in a fairly specific way, referring to a sword produced after the Middle Ages with a wide blade like an arming sword but usually a more complex hilt. Backswords, used in the same period, were very similar in profile but had single-edged blades with a triangular ("backed") cross section; this gave the advantage that a backsword could be made with a more acute cutting edge for the same thickness. Hilts ranged from relatively simple shells and side rings to the "crab claw" hilt with four downcurved quillons and a wide knuckle guard, to baskets that completely enclosed the hand, like the Slavo-Italian ''schiavona'', and the "half-basket" or "mortuary" hilt of the 17th century which was very common during the EnglishCivilWar. Broadswords and backswords were initially used in combination with shields and bucklers, but later on just by themselves.

to:

* Most sword historians nowadays use "broadsword" in a fairly specific way, referring to a sword produced after the Middle Ages with a wide blade like an arming sword but usually a more complex hilt. Backswords, used in the same period, were very similar in profile but had single-edged blades with a triangular ("backed") cross section; this gave the advantage that a backsword could be made with a more acute cutting edge for the same thickness. Hilts ranged from relatively simple shells and side rings to the "crab claw" hilt with four downcurved quillons and a wide knuckle guard, to baskets that completely enclosed the hand, like the Slavo-Italian ''schiavona'', and the "half-basket" or "mortuary" hilt of the 17th century which was very common during the EnglishCivilWar.UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar. Broadswords and backswords were initially used in combination with shields and bucklers, but later on just by themselves.
7th Nov '17 8:52:04 PM TheBigBopper
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Throughout world history, and even well into the gunpowder age, swords were an important weapon for professional soldiers such as knights, men-at-arms, mercenaries and state troops. The crafting of these weapons was of vital importance to any state that wanted to raise military forces. While the concept of a sword is pretty ubiquitous, hundreds of different types of this common weapon were crafted with much of the difference based on culture and region. While swords have largely disappeared from modern armies since the mid-20th century, with more reliance placed on automatic rifles while combat knives and bayonets serve as weapons of last resort, the allure of the blade is still alive today. Just see KatanasAreJustBetter.

This is a UsefulNotes page to give some background info on that marvelous weapon of yesteryear, the sword. For thoughts on ''using'' them, see our UsefulNotes/EuropeanSwordsmanship and {{UsefulNotes/Kenjutsu}} pages.

to:

Throughout world history, From the time that humans learned how to work metal, and even well into the gunpowder age, swords were an important weapon for professional soldiers such as knights, men-at-arms, mercenaries and state troops. The crafting of these weapons was of vital importance to any state that wanted to raise military forces. While the The concept of a sword is pretty ubiquitous, but hundreds of different types of this common weapon were crafted with much of to suit the difference based on culture needs and region. While swords have largely disappeared from modern armies since the mid-20th century, with more reliance placed on automatic rifles tastes of different cultures. And while combat knives the full-sized sword is no longer worn as a fashion statement, and bayonets serve as weapons its use has been ended by most militaries except for highly ceremonial occasions, the allure of last resort, the allure of the blade is still alive today. Just see KatanasAreJustBetter.

today.

This is a UsefulNotes page to give some background info on that marvelous weapon of yesteryear, the sword. For thoughts on information about ''using'' them, see our UsefulNotes/EuropeanSwordsmanship and {{UsefulNotes/Kenjutsu}} pages.



By the 15th century, full plate armor made of hardened and spring-tempered steel was commonplace in Western Europe; thus, impetus was placed on the development of weaponry that could defeat a man wearing such pieces of armor without sacrificing versatility. The pollaxe was one such weapon that demonstrates this focus, combining an axe head with both a spear point and a hammerhead on a 5-6 foot wooden shaft. Swords in particular had their blades made narrower and stiffer and their grips lengthened in order to accommodate the use of both hands for a more forceful swing or thrust, but the most effective technique for fighting in armor was "half-swording," or gripping the middle of the blade with the off hand to guide the point into the gaps in the plate. The increasing effectiveness of firearms and pike formations in the 16th century favored the use of massed troops instead of individually talented warriors, and the fully-armored knight wielding the lance was replaced by the three-quarter or half-armored cuirassier armed with a sword and a pair of pistols.

Meanwhile, the Japanese, due to their poor mineral resources, continued to use armor made largely of leather and soft iron, and rarely had to deal with outsiders due to their insular island-nation tendencies. As such, Japanese weapons are specialized towards warfare ''within'' Japan; indeed, the tachi, the main ancestor to the katana, tended to break its tip off when used against Mongolian and Korean armor. That said, some Japanese swordsmiths were able to accomplish quite astonishing things with the low-carbon steel available to them, though the techniques they used to achieve differential tempering of different regions of the blade were labor-intensive, to say the least. As was the case in Europe, Japanese swords also underwent an evolution that, among other things, resulted in thicker blades and deeper edges.

to:

By the 15th century, full plate armor made of hardened and spring-tempered steel was commonplace in Western Europe; thus, impetus was placed on the development of weaponry that could defeat a man wearing such pieces of armor without sacrificing versatility. The pollaxe was one such weapon that demonstrates this focus, combining an axe head with both a spear point and a hammerhead on a 5-6 foot wooden shaft. Swords in particular had their blades made narrower and stiffer stiffer, and their grips lengthened in order to accommodate the use of both hands for a more forceful swing or thrust, but the most effective technique for fighting in armor was "half-swording," or gripping the middle of the blade with the off hand to guide the point into the gaps in the plate. The increasing effectiveness of firearms and pike formations in the 16th century favored the use of massed troops instead of individually talented warriors, and the fully-armored knight wielding the lance was replaced by the three-quarter or half-armored cuirassier armed with a sword and a pair of pistols.

Meanwhile, the Japanese, due to their poor mineral resources, continued to use armor made largely of hardened leather and soft iron, and rarely had to deal with outsiders due to their insular island-nation tendencies. As such, Japanese weapons are specialized towards warfare ''within'' Japan; indeed, the tachi, the main ancestor to the katana, tended to break its tip off when used against Mongolian and Korean armor. That said, some Japanese swordsmiths were able to accomplish quite astonishing things with the low-carbon steel available to them, though the techniques they used to achieve differential tempering of different regions of the blade were labor-intensive, to say the least. As was the case in Europe, Japanese swords also underwent an evolution that, among other things, resulted in thicker blades and deeper edges.



* Finally, there are swords that specialize in stabbing. These tend to have narrow blades with a geometric cross-section triangular, diamond, or even hexagonal and seem to resemble very large needles. Sometimes they have cutting edges so that you can cut with them if necessary (and to deter an opponent from [[BareHandedBladeBlock grabbing the blade]]), but sometimes they don't; their point of balance is way back in the hilt, which makes for faster thrusting and more precise point control, but drastically lowers the power of a slashing attack. Given that these swords were generally meant for use in a civilian context, they're still plenty capable of inflicting vicious cutting wounds. The sport of Olympic fencing descends from these weapons.

to:

* Finally, there are swords that specialize in stabbing. These tend to have narrow blades with a geometric cross-section triangular, diamond, or even hexagonal and seem to resemble very large needles. Sometimes they have cutting edges so that you can cut with them if necessary (and to deter an opponent from [[BareHandedBladeBlock grabbing the blade]]), but sometimes they don't; their point of balance is way back in the hilt, which makes for faster thrusting and more precise point control, but drastically lowers the power of a slashing attack. Given that these Some thrusting swords such as rapiers were generally meant for use in a civilian context, they're and were still plenty capable of inflicting vicious cutting wounds. The sport Meanwhile, estoc-type blades with a thickened triangular or diamond cross-section tended to focus on anti-armor use at the expense of Olympic fencing descends from these weapons.
the edges, and tended to have minimal cutting ability.
7th Nov '17 8:14:18 PM TheBigBopper
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Throughout world history, and even well into the gunpowder age, swords were an important weapon for professional soldiers such as knights, men-at-arms, mercenaries and state troops. The crafting of these weapons were of vital importance to any state that wanted to raise military forces. While the concept of a sword is pretty ubiquitous, hundreds of different types of this common weapon were crafted with much of the difference based on culture and region. While swords have largely disappeared from modern armies since the mid-20th century, with more reliance placed on automatic rifles while combat knives and bayonets serve as weapons of last resort, the allure of the blade is still alive today. Just see KatanasAreJustBetter.

to:

Throughout world history, and even well into the gunpowder age, swords were an important weapon for professional soldiers such as knights, men-at-arms, mercenaries and state troops. The crafting of these weapons were was of vital importance to any state that wanted to raise military forces. While the concept of a sword is pretty ubiquitous, hundreds of different types of this common weapon were crafted with much of the difference based on culture and region. While swords have largely disappeared from modern armies since the mid-20th century, with more reliance placed on automatic rifles while combat knives and bayonets serve as weapons of last resort, the allure of the blade is still alive today. Just see KatanasAreJustBetter.
7th Nov '17 6:04:41 AM Wuz
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* The dadāo, also known as the "Chinese greatsword," is a two-handed sword based on agricultural knives, with a broad blade between two and three feet long and a long hilt meant for both one-handed and two-handed use. Its name literally means "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin big knife]]." During the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1933, due to the under-equipped nature of many smaller factions within China, some Chinese soldiers were armed with just a dadāo and a handgun. They were used to great effect against the Japanese in close combat (or at least, as much as they could in conjunction with guerrilla tactics before they get seriously outgunned), and these units became somewhat legendary, with [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sword_March a patriotic song]] being based on killing Japanese invaders with dadāo.

to:

* The dadāo, also known as the "Chinese greatsword," is a two-handed sword based on agricultural knives, with a broad blade between two and three feet long and a long hilt meant for both one-handed and two-handed use. Its name literally means "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin big knife]]." During the Second Sino-Japanese War UsefulNotes/SecondSinoJapaneseWar of 1933, due to the under-equipped nature of many smaller factions within China, some Chinese soldiers were armed with just a dadāo and a handgun. They were used to great effect against the Japanese in close combat (or at least, as much as they could in conjunction with guerrilla tactics before they get seriously outgunned), and these units became somewhat legendary, with [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sword_March a patriotic song]] being based on killing Japanese invaders with dadāo.
7th Nov '17 6:04:41 AM Wuz
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7th Nov '17 6:03:41 AM Wuz
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* The dadāo, also known as the "Chinese greatsword," is a two-handed sword based on agricultural knives, with a broad blade between two and three feet long and a long hilt meant for both one-handed and two-handed use. Its name literally means "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin big knife]]." During the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1933, many Chinese soldiers were armed with dadāo, using them to great effect against the Japanese in close combat.

to:

* The dadāo, also known as the "Chinese greatsword," is a two-handed sword based on agricultural knives, with a broad blade between two and three feet long and a long hilt meant for both one-handed and two-handed use. Its name literally means "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin big knife]]." During the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1933, due to the under-equipped nature of many smaller factions within China, some Chinese soldiers were armed with dadāo, using them just a dadāo and a handgun. They were used to great effect against the Japanese in close combat.
combat (or at least, as much as they could in conjunction with guerrilla tactics before they get seriously outgunned), and these units became somewhat legendary, with [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sword_March a patriotic song]] being based on killing Japanese invaders with dadāo.
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