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This article describes the European medieval sword. It is just an overview, I do not claim that this description is complete. Furthermore, it is not written for the experts but for the interested layman. Nevertheless, I am very grateful if you send me an email or write a posting on my forum in case you find errors.



Most European medieval swords can be described with this pattern

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I will talk now about the purpose of the different parts of an European medieval sword and I will show some examples.


1. The pommel, German: Der Knauf

The purpose of the pommel is to counterpoise the weight of the blade (a good sword is well balanced), to prop the ferient of the hand and to keep the sword together.


Some typical examples of pommels

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2. The grip, German: Das Heft/der Griff

This is self-explanatory.



3. The cross-guard, German: Die Parierstange

The purpose of the cross-guard is to protect against cuts and to protect the hand. Usually, European medieval swords did not protect the hand well against thrusts.


Typical cross-guards of European medieval swords

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4. The hilt, German: Das Gefaess

The hilt consists of the cross-guard, the grip and the pommel.



5. The blade, German: Die Klinge

The purpose of the blade is self-explanatory. The cutting surface is called the edge and its thrusting end is the point.

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Some swords were better suited for cuts, some for thrusts, but in general, most of the European medieval sword could be used for both, cuts and thrusts. This is also true for large, two-handed swords.

Some blades have one or more fullers (German: Die Hohlkehle) some do not. The fuller is often called blood grove (German: Die Blutrinne). A very missleading name, since their purpose has nothing to do with blood. The purpose of the fuller is to reduce the weight of the blade without sacrificing structural integrity much. However, not every European medieval sword had a fuller and this does not mean that swords without a fuller were too heavy. There are just different ways how to make a sword.

Some swords had flamed/flamboyant blades (see the picture on the right below). The object seems to be that of increasing the cutting surface.


Typical blades of European medieval swords

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6. The point, German: Die Spitze, der Ort

The purpose of the point is self-explanatory.

There are different shapes of the point. Executioner's swords usually had a flat point because they should never be used in combat (see the picture on the right below).


Typical points of European medieval swords

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7. The ricasso, German: Die Fehlschaerfe

The ricasso is the area just below the cross-guard. It is not sharpened and not every medieval sword had one.





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