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History of Swords
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Arms and Armor Glossary
History of Swords
→ 17th Century AD Swords
17th Century AD Swords
Swords History - 17th Century AD
- Butterfly sword is a type of a short Chinese dao sword. The blade of the sword was single-edged. The sword’s length on average equaled the length of human arm and therefore it was easy to conceal in one’s sleeve. The short length of the sword allowed it to be used in close-quarters fights. Butterfly swords were always wielded in pairs. The blade of the sword was usually sharpened from its middle to the point. The blade was about 11.5 inches in length and the handle was 5 inches in length. The sword featured a small crossguard with one side of the guard curved towards the tip of the blade and the other curved back and joined with the pommel forming a knuckle-guard. Butterfly swords are used in some of the Chinese martial arts.
Basket Hilt Claymore Sword
- The basket-hilt claymore sword (circa 1700) could be either single-edged or double-edged. The sword was much shorter as it was single-handed sword with blade between 30 to 35 inches in length. The weight of the sword was ranged between 2-3 pounds. The basket hilt of the sword protected the entire hand of the person wielding the sword. The basked was often lined with red velvet and often it had tassels on the hilt and pommel for decoration.
- The name hanger sword originated from the fact that if hung from the belt of the person wearing it. Hanger swords were rather cheaply made and flimsy. The blade of the swords was single-edged and slender and often times it was slightly curved. The blade of the sword was between 24 to 27 inches in length and the hilt was about 6 inches in length. The hilt often featured a shell hand-guard. The hanger swords were popular in the Caribbean among pirates.
- Hunting sword is type of short, single-edged and single-handed sword that was used to finish off game during hunting. The sword was popular in Europe between 17
century. The sword was short, with pointed blade that was about 25 inches in length. The hunting swords came in various versions and designs.
- Karabela is a sabre that was used between 17
century in Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The sabre served as melee weapon and it was popularized during the reign of the king Jan III Sobieski who’s famous for his victorious participation in the Battle of Vienna in 1683. The Karabela sabre originated based on the swords used in close-quarter combat by Turkish foot-soldiers. Karabela featured a hilt that had small and straight cross-guards. The pommel was part of the handle and it was curved towards the blade and often it was shaped after an eagle’s head. The grip was very comfortable and firm as it allowed bracing the little finger of the wielding hand against the “beak” of the pommel and the thumb was pressed against the straight cross-guard on the opposite side from the “beak”. This allowed better handling of the weapon while on foot and to deliver heavier blows while on horseback. The sabre also served as a ceremonial weapon and often it featured hilt inlaid with gemstones, the blade and the scabbard were decorated with ornate designs. Often the sabre was worn every day as it served as a symbol of noble status. The name of the sabre comes from Turkish words “kara” and “bela” meaning “black” “curse”.
- The Mortuary Sword is a cut-and-thrust, two-edged, straight blade, half-basket-hilted sword that was used by the cavalry between 1625 and until around 1670. The Mortuary Sword featured a blade that was about 35 to 41 inches in length. The half-basket of the sword often featured intricate and ornate designs. The Mortuary Sword was the favorite weapon of Oliver Cromwell.
- Musketeers were infantry soldiers equipped with muskets. Those on horseback were called dragoons. In France, musketeers were members of the elite King’s guard called Garde du Corps and Gardes suisses. French Cardinal Richelieu created a musketeer bodyguard corps for himself and this caused rivalry between the two musketeer corps. Musketeers were also equipped with rapiers for close range combat. In 17th century, rapiers were very light and featured thin and short blades that were perfect for duels.
- Nimcha was a straight and single-handed sword that was in use in 18
century in Northern Africa (Morocco). Nimcha swords often had much older blades that were usually made in Europe. The blade of the sword on average was about 34 inches in length. The overall length could be 40 inches. The most characteristic part of the Nimcha sword was the hilt with distinctive down-curved quillons. The hilt featured a knuckle-guard that started beneath the quillons and was fastened to the end of the pommel. The handle was made of rhino horn. The base of the blade might be decorated with gold. The scabbard was made of wood and it could be decorated with velvet and silver chape and locket.
- Palach was a type of a sabre used in Poland in the 17
century. The sabre featured a blade that was either straight or slightly curved. The hilt had a short but heavy pommel. The cross-guards were short and straight or curved towards the blade. The palach was a very versatile weapon that was perfect for close melee combat delivering heavy blows and cuts.
- The pata is a double-edged, long sword that has an integrated, katar-like, punch-grip and arm-guard. The grip of the pata sword is at the right angles to the blade similarly to the katar. The pata could be used as a thrusting and slashing weapon and it was especially effective against heavily-armored cavalry, though it was hard to master. The pata blade reached up to 44 inches in length. The pata sword was used between 16
century with 17
century being the most popular period. The weapon was used by the Mughals in northern India, Hindu Mahrathas and Sikhs in the Punjab. The some versions of the sword had the gauntlet part decorated, embossed or inlaid with silver Hindu deities and images of Shiva and monkey God Hanuman. Pata was a favorite weapon of the Mahrattas; however, it was used throughout the Indian continent.
- Pillow sword was a sword that was stored by the pillow in one’s house and used in emergencies. These types of swords were used in Europe in 17th century. Pillow sword featured a straight blade and straight, cruciform cross-guard. Pillow swords were also used in Japan where they were called by the same name and they were used for similar purpose.
Pirate Cutlass Sword
- It is believed that the pirate cutlass had evolved from the Boucan hunting knife used by the French Buccaneers. The cutlass was short and it was a very useful weapon on board a ship where confine space dominated. It was much easier to wield such sword on the ship’s deck, below the deck and between the masts and riggings. The cutlass was also an efficient tool to cut through ropes, canvas and wood on board a ship. The sword was a basic cut and thrust weapon and it didn’t require as much training as the rapier or small sword.
- Small sword was also referred to as dress sword or court sword. The small sword originated from the Rapier in the middle of 17th century. The blade of the sword was triangular in cross-section and it was designed for thrusting making it an effective dueling weapon. The sword was very light and one-handed. The blade of the small sword was short as it measured about 24 to 33 inches. It didn’t have an edged but it tapered towards a very sharp point. The hilt of the sword featured a shell guard or an oval disk. The sword was used in fencing schools and it was also used as a decorative weapon to display one’s social status or military rank. Small swords were worn by military officers during the WWI and even WWII. They are still being part of the uniform of some military corps during parades.
- The Waloon Swords were made in Solingen, Germany for the Dutch (Amsterdam Town Guard). They were first in use around mid-17
century. The typical Walloon sword featured a large and round, basket like, hand-guard, knuckle-bow to protect the fingers and thumb-ring. The knuckle-bow led from the hand-guard then expanded in the middle and then it was screwed to the pommel. The handle was coved with iron wire. The blade of the sword was double-edged and featured a 7-inch fuller at the base. The sword was very light and flexible and it was perfect either cutting or thrusting. It could also serve as a replacement to a rapier. This type of sword was also adopted by the French in the late 17
century and the Swedish army until the middle of 19
Sword Origin Timeline
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