History and Types Of Longsword

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Types of Long sword

What is a Long Sword called

Types of Long sword

Service history
In serviceca. 1350–1550 AD

avg. 1.1–1.5 kg (2.4–3.3 lb)


avg. 120–150 cm (47–59 in), blade length:

avg. 100–122 cm (39–48 in)

Width4.14–3.1 cm, then sharp point

Longswords generally refer to the medieval weapon, but it can also be used in context with Bronze Age arms and early modern dueling weapons. A long sword is an armour designed for combat from the Middle Ages to late Medieval Europe. These swords are used with two hands and capable of delivering powerful blows, cuts or slicers according to your fighting style, but can also be used as a defensive tool in close-combat situations.

See Also: Best Longsword Reviews

A long sword can be used with one or two hands. A single-handed grip allows the offhand to grapple and punch an opponent. This is made more possible by advances in protective armor, which have led to less need for a shield and thus freed up the offhand.

Techniques referred to as “half-swording” were developed as a result of this change. Half-swording is a form of technique involving holding the blade in your second hand. This enables you to be more precise with your thrusts and makes it easier to puncture heavy armor with your sword.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, a long sword was typically 4′-4.5′ feet long and weighed between 3-4 pounds. They were designed with a simple cruciform hilt and straight double-edged blade to be used as a medieval battle sword, which differed from friendly joust competitions, or single hand swords in that they are “longer swords” rather than just “swords”.

Types of Long sword

Fighting with a sword, knights developed the tactic of repeatedly hitting an opponent on the back of their hands (the “pommel”) giving us our common phrase “to pummel one to death.” There are two layouts of swords, long sword and greatsword.

A long sword is appropriate for single-handed combat, but it can be used by both hands as well.

A greatsword is a large blade that takes more than one hand to wield effectively and is designed for fast powerful attacks with few pauses between swings.

Evolution of a Longsword

Types of Long sword

There are a number of variations in swords over the medieval period but there is no clear evolution of longsword because it varies by region.

The longsword was designed more for two-handed use and wasn’t just longer, but had a much longer handle making it easier to grip in both hands. Swords with long hilts were an uncommon feature in swords of the High Middle Ages, but these are rare enough that they cannot be considered representative of a significant trend before the late 13th or early 14th century.

The longsword is a weapon that emerged from the Hundred Year’s War.

It was in use for warfare and began to be used by the early 14th century on foot as well as while being mounted. The sword was widely used throughout the late medieval period, from 1350-1550.

The term two-handed sword evolved in the late 15th century to describe larger swords that were not suited for being used with a shield.

By the 16th century, these weapons had largely been replaced by hunched over zweihänder wielded by German peasant soldiers called Landsknechte. By the 16th century, swordsmanship had mostly become a recreational sport and likely in duels as knights continued to decline.

The first half of the 16th century saw major changes in weapons, including in sword-hilt types.

Oakeshott, in his study of Medieval European weaponry distinguishes twelve different types. These all seem to have originated in Bavaria and in Switzerland. Early forms of the developed-hilt appeared on this type of sword by the late 16th century.

Beginning about 1520, the Swiss sabre (schnepf) replaced straight longswords in Switzerland and began to take on their hilt types. By 1550, longsword use had fallen out of favor in Switzerland; it persisted a little longer into the early part of the 1560s in southern Germany before falling out or use there as well.

This paragraph mentions two examples of swords kept in the Swiss National Museum; both are marked with vertical grooves and silver inlay and belong to noblemen who served France during the 16th and 17th centuries. The swords also include an espadon or montante, which is known as Spanish appearing relatively later.

Terminology of a Longsword

Types of Long sword

Historical names for this sword type include spadone, espadón, and montante and can be found in 15th to 16th century texts. In Gaelic, claidheamh mòr means “great sword.”

When the English introduced a more prominent variant with a V-shaped crossguard; they called it claymore.

Historical terminology can overlap with that for the Zweihänder sword in the 16th century: French espadon, Spanish espadón or Portuguese montante may also be used to refer to these large swords. The French épée de passot may also refer to a single-handed medieval sword optimized for thrusting.

The French épée bâtarde and the English bastard sword originate in the 15th or 16th century, nominally describing swords of unknown origin.

The Masters of Defence competition organized by Henry VIII in July 1540 listed two handed sword and bastard sword as two separate items.

The term “broadsword” can refer to many different types of swords.

However, it has typically been used to describe blades that are both large and broad. The meaning of the German langes schwert is not certain as it does not refer specifically to a specific weapon.

Contrasting with kurzes schwert, which refers to short weapons used in fencing at arm’s length, langes schwert probably referred to longer weapons instead. Only in the later 16th century can it be shown that the term for a type of sword is called langes schwert.

Contemporary use of “longsword” or “long-sword” resurfaces in connection with reconstructions in 2000 and refers to German fencing schools.

The name “hand-and-a-half sword” is relatively new, developed at the close of the 19th century. This terminology was created because the balance of a particular sword type makes it usable in one hand as well as two.

The term “bastard sword” was regularly used to refer to this type of blade during the first half of the 20th century, while “long swords” (or “long-swords”), if referenced at all, referred to rapiers (during Renaissance or Early Modern fencing).

History and Types of Longsword

Types of Long sword

The sword is considered by many the “Queen” of weapons. It has been decorated with beauty in many forms throughout history due to its skill and knowledge, for it took a long time for people to make swords or master how to use them efficiently.

The sword’s history spans a very long time and as a result it can be categorized into many groups or subgroups.

The sword is a weapon designed to inflict both cutting and stabbing wounds. In old world civilizations, the nature of swords changed according to geographical spread.

  1. Oriental and Asian
  2. European
  3. African

Some swords in the Oriental and Asiatic group were created in Egypt, while some originated in Africa. European swords were devised to form a very distinct style of blade compared with those found on American continents. In South America there was also an Aztec wooden sword studded with glass blades which was used by native cultures.

To get an understanding of the various swords used throughout the world, it’s necessary to take many different classes.

Some of these swords are so unusual that they need to be mentioned in a class by themselves. Examples include European straight-blade styles like cutlasses, which vary in shape and importance from country to country.

Other common types of swords that can technically be classified as Middle Eastern or Asian curved blades saw development over time. The most likely origin for both types is Egypt, with Middle Eastern and Asian variations remaining fundamentally the same while European varieties became more varied over time.

Swords can be classified into four groups:

  1. The two edged straight sword
  2. The one edged sword straight or curved
  3. The one edged spud ended sword
  4. The curved sword with expanding blade (scimitar)
  5. The curved pointed sword edged on the inner (concave) edge
  6. The Egyptian falchion
  7. Eccentric types (flamberge, executioner’s sword, etc.)

Swords can be categorised by whether they require the use of one or both hands. For instance, the European longsword, which requires two hands and nose called a side-weapon in German literature, is an example of a double-handed sword. A single-handed sword requires that only one hand be used for grip and includes words such as the Scottish Claymore Sword.

A two edged straight sword is a primarily European weapon. There are two main types of this weapon:

  1. Leaf-shaped blade
  2. Straight-shaped blade

The long sword became popular in the 14th century and remained common until 1550. Swords with exceptionally long hilts have been found throughout the High Middle Ages, but these remain rare. It was used as a military steel weapon of the earlier phase of the hundred Years’ War. It was intended for wielders wearing full plate armor either on foot or on horseback throughout the late medieval period.

Types of Long sword

Bladesmiths of the 16th century developed different hilt styles for bastard swords in Bavaria and Switzerland. The great sword was popularized in Spain, appearing much later than its cousin.

Types XIIa and XIIIa

The Type XII blade evolved from the knight’s sword that was mainly used during the Crusades. The type of sword characteristic to the medieval era are known for their long, wide blade whose edges are parallel and end with a rounded or spatulate tip. The cross-guard is typically straight, while the pommel may be either dish shaped or spherical like a Brazil nut.

​Types XVa

Type XVa is the classical two-handed sword that was used in Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries. These swords have a shorter, wider blade and grips that are long enough for two-handed use. In contrast to type XIV, these blades are more designed as means of thrusting rather than cleaving.

​Types XVIa

Samurai swords from the 14th and 15th centuries are usually shorter than typical longswords, in order to allow wielders to use them with one or two hands.
Types of Long sword

​Types XVII

A sword popular during the 14th century is known as a single hander. This type of sword has an even tapering blade with a hexagonal cross-section and two handed grip. These swords are suited for thrusting, but some have been found to weigh more than 2kg!

Types XVIIIb and XVIIIc

Longswords were in use from the mid-1400s to as late as 1520. These are tapering blades with a broad base, short grip, and diamond cross-section. Bastard swords fit under that category and have a longer blade and long grip.

Types XX

This type of blade has a lenticular or octagonal cross-section. These include the 14th to 15th century “hand and a half sword” or “two-handed” swords, often with two or more fullers. Thicker blades curve upward. The direction changes to downward at the tip.

Morphology of a Sword

Types of Long sword
When classifying swords, experts have often resorted to terms like “broadsword” or “longsword”. However many of these are not accurate and refer vaguely to a type of weapon (or similar ones). Today there is much disagreement on what each term means, but those who study historical weapons agree that words like “link” or “short-sword” come from the medieval eras and were arbitrarily assigned their meaning.

Terminology can be perplexing because efforts made to simplify it were often wrongly interpreted by antiquarians in the 19th century and in 20th century pop culture. Terms like “hand-and-a-half sword” or “single handed sword”—now misinterpreted as bastard sword, rapier, estoc—were once common terms for what are now broadswords, while terms such as “spada da lato” which is not a weapon at all – was added to the list by false equivalency.

Historically, the term “side-sword” was coined by Italian curators and not  broadswords. This confusion in classification will only grow as terms are redefined or newly introduced.

The most well known classification of blade types in the European medieval sword is James Oakeshott’s typology. Elizabethans used these terms: “short”, “bastard” and “long.”

Blade profile

Long swords have a straight blade and sharp edges on both sides. Over time, the blades became more rigid in cross-section and less wide to make them better for thrusting through armor after plate was developed as an effective defense against cutting weapons. The longsword was no longer as prominent a weapon because it couldn’t thrust properly, but the longsword’s cutting capability remained intact in some rapiers.

See Also: How To Sharpen And Polish A Longsword

Blade cross-section

There are two basic types of blade cross-section: lenticular and diamond. Lenticular blades have a thin doubly convex cross-section that provides adequate strength in the center, but still has a proper cutting edge side to side. They often contain fullers, which are grooves or channels running down the flats of the blade originating at or slightly below the hilt. Blades come in two shapes – lenticular and diamond. As blades get longer, they transition from a lenticular shape to a diamond shape. The benefit of the diamond shaped blade is both its geometry and size. These are hammered by the smith before finishing treatment and offer additional thrusting capabilities due to their shape and size.


The hilt of your sword is the lower part that you hold onto and control its edge. The hilt consists of a grip, the pommel, and an elaborate or simple guard. The pommel is an enlarged fitting at the top of the handle that serves both a practical and decorative purpose. In newer swords after the 10th century AD, the weighty pommel became a counterbalance to the blade allowing for more fluid handling of this weapon from close range.
Types of Long sword

Each element of the sword’s hilt can have a number of different forms, from crescents to oblate spheroids. The grip is the handle of the sword, which your hand wraps around during use. It typically consists of wood or metal with an untanned leather surface. During the Middle Ages, guards became more elaborate and emphasized protecting the hand. By the 17th Century, their designs were robust with a shield surrounding up to two inches of blade. These are known as “cup-hilt”


Sword hilt types are important because they balance the weight of blades, affect the length of swords, and provide some measure of comfort. So when deciding what type you want, consider these factors to identify which handle type suits you best.

The longsword is a type of European sword often characterized by the hilt, which extends past the blade. The weapon was used frequently throughout medieval times and saw a resurgence in popularity during Renaissance periods, likely lasting from the 13th to 17th centuries with possible use dating as far back as following Roman conquests.

In medieval and Renaissance times, the term “longsword” referred to a variety of weapons used with both hands. Some variations were also usable in one hand, though they were typically shorter versions than the long-established version of this weapon.

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