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    wiss longsword, 15th or 16th century

Look up Sword in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

 

A sword is a long-edged piece of metal, used as a cutting and/or thrusting weaponin

many civilizations throughout the world. The word sword comes from the Old English

sweord, which cognates to Old High German swert, Middle Dutch swaert, Old Norse

sverð (cp. modern Scandinavian sværd/sverd/svärd: Danish sværd, Norwegian sverd,

Swedish svärd) Old Frisian and Old Saxon swerd and Modern Dutch zwaard, from a

Proto-Indo-European root *swer- "to wound, to hurt".

 

A sword fundamentally consists of a blade and a hilt, typically with one or two edges for

striking and cutting, and a point for thrusting. The basic intent and physics of

swordsmanship has remained fairly constant down the centuries, but the actual techniques

varied among cultures and periods as a result of the differences in blade design and

purpose. The names given to many swords in mythology, literature, and history reflect

the high prestige of the weapon (see list of swords).

Contents

[hide]

 

 

 

[edit] History

[edit]Bronze Age          

 

Main article: BronzeAge sword

 

 

 The famed 2500-year-old Sword of Gou Jian, a first-level protected artifact of the

People's Republic of China

 

Humans have manufactured and used bladed weapons from the Bronze Age onwards. The sword developed from the dagger when the construction of longer blades became

possible, from the early 2nd millennium BC. Swords longer than 90 cm were rare and not practical during the Bronze Age as this length exceeds the tensile strength of bronze. It

was not until the development of stronger alloys such as steel that longswords became practical for combat

 

The hilt at first simply allowed a firm grip, and prevented the hand from slipping onto the blade when executing a thrust. Bronze Age swords with typical leaf-shaped blades first

appear near the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and in Mesopotamia. Swords from the Nordic Bronze Age from ca. 1400 BC show characteristic spiral patterns. Sword

production in China is attested from the Bronze Age Shang Dynasty

 

The Naue Type II Swords which spread from Southern Europe into the Mediterranean, have been linked by Robert Drews with the Late Bronze Age collapse.See(1)

 

Lapse.[edit] Iron Age

 

Main articles: Iron Age sword and Migration period sword

Iron swords became increasingly common from the 13th century BC.[citation needed] The

Hittites, the Mycenaean Greeks,[citation needed] and the Proto-Celtic Hallstatt culture (8th

century BC) figured among the early users of iron swords. Iron has the advantage of

mass-production due to the wider availability of the raw material. Early iron swords were

not comparable to later steel blades; being brittle, they were even inferior to well-manufactured bronze weapons, but the easier production, and the better availability of the raw material for the first time permitted the equipment of entire armies with metal

weapons, though Bronze Age Egyptian armies were at times fully equipped with bronze

Weapons.

 

Eventually smiths learned that by adding an amount of carbon (added during smelting in

the form of charcoal) in the iron, they could produce an improved alloy (now known as

steel). Several different methods of swordmaking existed in ancient times, including, most famously, pattern welding. Over time, different methods developed all over the

World.

 

By the time of Classical Antiquity and the Parthian and Sassanid Empires in Iran, iron

swords were common. The Greek xiphos and the Roman gladius are typical examples of

the type, measuring some 60 to 70 cm. The late Roman Empire introduced the longer spatha (the term for its wielder, spatharius, became a court rank in Constantinople), and

from this time, the term long sword is applied to swords comparatively long for their respective periods.

 

Chinese steel swords make their appearance from the 3rd century BC Qin Dynasty. The Chinese Dao ( pinyin dāo) is single-edged, sometimes translated as sabre or

broadsword, and the Jian ( pinyin jiàn) double edged.

 

[edit] Middle Ages

 

Main articles: Viking sword   Arming sword

 

The spatha type remained popular throughout the Migration period and well into the Middle Ages. Vendel Age spathas were decorated with Germanic artwork (not unlike the

Germanic bracteates fashioned after Roman coins). The Viking Age saw again a more standardized production, but the basic design remained indebted to the spatha.

 

It is only from the 11th century that Norman swords begin to develop the quillons or crossguard. During the Crusades of the 12th to (13th) century, this cruciform type of

arming sword remained essentially stable, with variations mainly concerning the shape of the pommel. These swords were designed as cutting weapons, although effective points were becoming common to counter improvements in armour. Single-edged weapons

became popular throughout Asia. Derived from the Chinese Jian or dao, the Korean hwandudaedo are known from the early medieval Three Kingdoms. The Japanese katana, production of which is recorded from ca. 900 AD (see Japanese sword), is derived from

the jian.

 

[edit]  Late Middle Ages and Renaissance

 

 

Main articles: Longsword and Zweihänder

From around 1300 to 1500, in concert with improved armour, innovative sword designs evolved more and more rapidly. The main transition was the lengthening of the grip, allowing two-handed use, and a longer blade. By 1400, this type of sword, at the time

called langes Schwert (longsword) or spadone, was common, and a number of 15th and 16th century Fechtbücher offering instructions on their use survive. Another variant was the specialized armour-piercing swords of the estoc type. The longsword became popular

due to its extreme reach and cutting and thrusting abilities. The estoc became popular because of its ability to thrust into the gaps between plates of armor. The grip was sometimes wrapped in wire or coarse animal hide to provide a better grip and to make it harder to knock a sword out of the user's hand.

 

In the 16th century, the large Doppelhänder (called the Zweihänder today; both German names refer to the use of both hands) concluded the trend of ever-increasing sword sizes (mostly due to the beginning of the decline of plate armor and the advent of firearms), and the early Modern Age saw the return to lighter, one-handed weapons.

The sword in this time period was the most personal weapon, the most prestigious, and the most versatile for close combat, but it came to decline in military use as technology changed warfare. However, it maintained a key role in civilian self-defense.

 

[edit]  Modern Age

Main articles :Rapier, Backsword

 

Some think the rapier evolved from the Spanish espada ropera in the 16th century. The rapier differed from most earlier swords in that it was not a military weapon but a primarily civilian sword. Both the rapier and the Italian schiavona developed the

crossguard into a basket-shaped guard for hand protection. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the shorter smallsword became an essential fashion accessory in European countries and the New World, and most wealthy men and military officers carried one. Both the smallsword and the rapier remained popular dueling swords well into the 18th century.

As the wearing of swords fell out of fashion, canes took their place in a gentleman's wardrobe. Some examples of canes—those known as sword canes or swordsticks—incorporate a concealed blade. The French martial art la canne developed to fight with canes and swordsticks and has now evolved into a sport.

 

Towards the end of its useful life, the sword served more as a weapon of self-defense than for use on the battlefield, and the military importance of swords steadily decreased during the Modern Age. Even as a personal sidearm, the sword began to lose its preeminence in the early 19th century, paralleling the development of reliable handguns.

  

     The hilt of the 18th century smallsword used by Captain John Paul Schott in the American Revolutionary War.

  The hilt of the 18th century smallsword used by Captain John Paul Schott in the American Revolutionary War.

 Swords continued in use, but were increasingly limited to military commissioned officers' and non-commissioned officers' ceremonial uniforms, although most armies retained heavy cavalry until well after World War I. For example, the British Army formally adopted a completely new design of cavalry sword in 1908, almost the last change in

British Army weapons before the outbreak of the war. The last units of British heavy cavalry switched to using armoured vehicles as late as 1938. Swords and other dedicated melee weapons were used occasionally by various countries during World War II, but typically as a secondary weapon as they were outclassed by contemporaneous firearms.

 

[edit]  Terminology

 

     Hilt of a sword

 Hilt of a sword

   Full Sword in scabbard

 Full Sword in scabbard

 The sword consists of the blade and the hilt. The term scabbard applies to the cover for the sword blade when not in use

 [edit] Blade

 Three types of attacks can be performed with the blade: striking, cutting, and thrusting. The blade can be double-edged or single-edged, the latter often having a secondary "false edge" near the tip. When handling the sword, the long or true edge is the one used forstraight cuts or strikes, while the short or false edge is the one used for backhand strikes. Some hilt designs define which edge is the 'long' one, while more symmetrical designs allow the long and short edges to be inverted by turning the sword of one's hand on the hilt.

 The blade may have grooves known as fullers for lightening the blade while allowing it to retain its strength and stiffness, similar to the effect produced by a steel I-beam used in construction. The blade may taper more or less sharply towards a point, used for

thrusting. The part of the blade between the Center of Percussion (CoP) and the point is called the foible (weak) of the blade, and that between the Center of Balance (CoB) and the hilt is the forte (strong). The section in between the CoP and the CoB is the middle. The ricasso or shoulder identifies a short section of blade immediately forward of the

guard that is left completely unsharpened, and can be gripped with a finger to increase tip control. Many swords have no ricasso. On some large weapons, such as the German Zweihänder, a leather cover surrounded the ricasso, and a swordsman might grip it in one hand to wield the weapon more easily in close-quarter combat. The ricasso normally bears the maker's mark. On Japanese blades this mark appears on the tang (part of the blade that extends into the hilt) under the grip.

 

  • In the case of a rat-tail tang, the maker welds a thin rod to the end of the blade at the crossguard; this rod goes through the grip (in 20th-century and later construction). This occurs most commonly in decorative replicas, or cheap sword-like objects. Traditional sword-making does not use this construction method, which does not serve for traditional sword usage as the sword can easily break at the welding point.

  • In traditional construction, the swordsmith forged the tang as a part of the sword rather than welding it on. Traditional tangs go through the grip: this gives much more durability than a rat-tail tang. Swordsmiths peened such tangs over the end of the pommel, or occasionally welded the hilt furniture to the tang and threaded the end for screwing on a pommel. This style is often referred to as a "narrow" or "hidden" tang. Modern, less traditional, replicas often feature a threaded pommel or a pommel nut which holds the hilt together and allows dismantling.

  • In a "full" tang (most commonly used in knives and machetes), the tang has about the same width as the blade, and is generally the same shape as the grip. In European or Asian swords sold today, many advertised "full" tangs may actually involve a forged rat-tail tang.

         From the 18th century onwards, swords intended for slashing, i.e., with blades ground to a sharpened edge, have been curved with the radius of curvature equal to the distance from the swordman's body at which it was to be used. This allowed the blade to have a sawing effect rather than simply delivering a heavy cut. European swords, intended for use at arm's length, had a radius of curvature of around a meter. Middle Eastern swords, intended for use with the arm bent, had a smaller radius.

 [edit] Hilt

 The hilt is the collective term of the parts allowing the handling and control of the blade, consisting of the grip, the pommel, and a simple or elaborate guard, which in post-Viking Age swords could consist of only a crossguard (called cruciform hilt). The pommel, in addition to improving the sword's balance and grip, can also be used as a blunt instrument at close range. It may also have a tassel or sword knot

 The tang consists of the extension of the blade structure through the hilt

 [edit] Scabbard

 The scabbard is a protective cover often provided for the sword blade. Over the millennia, scabbards have been made of many materials, including leather, wood, and metals such as brass or steel. The metal fitting where the blade enters the leather or metal scabbard is called the throat, which is often part of a larger scabbard mount, or locket, that bears a carrying ring or stud to facilitate wearing the sword. The blade's point in leather scabbards is usually protected by a metal tip, or chape, which on both leather and metal scabbards is often given further protection from wear by an extension called a drag, or shoe.

 [edit] Typology

 See also Types of swords

Swords can fall into categories of varying scope. The main distinguishing characteristics include blade shape (cross-section, taper, and length), shape and size of hilt and pommel, age, and place of origin.

 For any other type than listed below, and even for uses other than as a weapon, see the article Sword-like object.

 [edit] Single-edged and double-edged swords

 As noted above, the terms longsword, broad sword, great sword, and Gaelic claymore are used relative to the era under consideration, and each term designates a particular type of sword.

 One strict definition of a sword restricts it to a straight, double-edged bladed weapon designed for both slashing and thrusting. However, general usage of the term remains inconsistent and it has important cultural overtones, so that commentators almost universally recognize the single-edged swords such as Asian weapons (dāo , katana ) as "swords", simply because they have a prestige akin to their European counterparts.

 Europeans also frequently refer to their own single-edged weapons as swords — generically backswords, including sabres. Other terms include falchion, scimitar, cutlass, dussack, Messer or mortuary sword. Many of these refer to essentially identical weapons, and the different names may relate to their use in different countries at different times.

 machete as a tool resembles such a single-edged sword and serves to cut through thick vegetation, and indeed many of the terms listed above describe weapons that originated as farmers' tools used on the battlefield.

 [edit] Single-handed

 ·        Bronze Age swords, length ca. 60 cm, leaf shaped blade.

·        Iron Age swords like the xiphos, gladius and jian , similar in shape to their Bronze Age predecessors.

·        Spatha, measuring ca. 80–90 cm.

·        The classical arming sword of Medieval Europe, measuring up to ca. 110 cm.

·        The late medieval Swiss baselard and the Renaissance Italian cinquedea and German Katzbalger essentially re-introduce the functionality of the spatha, coinciding with the strong cultural movement to emulate the Classical world.

·        The cut & thrust swords of the Renaissance, similar to the older arming sword but balanced for increased thrusting.

·        Light dueling swords, like the rapier and the smallsword, in use from Early Modern times.

·        The Japanese short sword, or wakizashi

·        The ida of the Yoruba tribe of West Africa. It can also be regarded as a two-handed sword

·        The Arabian scimitar, the similar Persian shamshir

·        The East Indian kris, with a wavy double-edged blade

·        The Fillipino itak, (image) used by pre-Spanish Filipinos or Austronesians as a primary weapon in protecting its boundaries.

 

[edit] Two-handed

 

    

 

 

Katana of the 16th or 17th Century, with its saya.

 

·        The Japanese samurai sword, or katana, tachi and nodachi

·        The longsword (and bastard sword/hand-and-a-half sword) of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

·        The 16th-century Doppelhänder or Zweihänder (German for "double-hander" or "two-hander'')

·        The Chinese anti-cavalry sword, zhanmadao of the Song Dynasty.

·        The Scottish Highland claymore, (or claidheamh mór-gàidhlig, great sword); in use until the 18th Century.

 

[edit] Punishment devices

 

·        Real swords can be used to administer various physical punishments: to perform either capital punishment by decapitation (the use of the sword, an honorable weapon on military men, was regarded as privilege) or non-surgical amputation. In Scandinavia, where beheading has been the traditional means of capital punishment, noblemen were beheaded with sword and commoners with an axe.

·        Similarly paddle-like sword-like devices for physical punishment are used in Asia, in western terms for paddling or caning, depending whether the implement is flat or round.

·        The shinai, a practice sword, is also used in Japan as a spanking implement, more common in prized private extracurricular schools (illustrated in these 1975 and 1977 articles [2] & [3]) than the US school paddling; in fact hundreds of cases of illegal corporal punishment were reported from public schools as well.

 

[edit] Symbolism

 

The sword can symbolize violence, combat or military intervention. Jesus' statement "For all who draw the sword will die by the sword"(NIV) uses the term in this sense. In Islam, the Arabic expression Jihad bis saif 'struggle by the sword' means 'holy' war for Islam.

 

Another example of this metaphorical significance comes in the old saying The pen is mightier than the sword -- attributed to Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

 

See also Sword of Damocles, a moral anecdote where a sword suspended above a leader signifies the everpresent danger that accompanies high station.

 

In the following cases, the sword stands for arms in general, and has often been retained as a symbol even after it had in operational practice been replaced with firearms.

 

·        Swords form a suit in Latin suited playing cards which include the Italian suited Tarot decks (replaced by spades in the French deck of modern playing cards and in modern French suited Tarot or Tarock decks.) In divinitory Tarot, the sword is often interpreted as representing air, as well as intelligence. It can also represent fire and will, and the military/noble classes of society. In the Tarot deck the uninverted swords represent ill fortune with the Ten of Swords being the worst.

·        The sword often functions as a symbol of masculinity and particularly -since its form lends itself to this, especially in erect position- as a phallic symbol of virility. The Latin word for sword, "gladius", also means "penis".

·        The straight-bladed sword can be considered a representation of the Cross to Christian swordsmen, especially nobles and those who participated in the crusades.

·        Swords are also used as emblem or insignia (in or on formal dress such as uniforms, badges, various objects, even coats of arms), especially:

 

o       as symbol of power, such as a Sword of State, Sword of Mercy, Curtana and Sword of Justice (all can be used as regalia, in England five in total during the coronation).

o       as symbol of armed force, or of a corps entitled to use force as the strong arm of the law, as in military and police insignia, or of a unit (e.g. regiment) of such a corps - as these are numerous, inevitably many variations and combinations (two crossed swords, or with a laurel wreath, crown, national or founder/patron's emblem etcetera) are used.

o       as a part of military officer's uniform. In the U.S., they are worn by Army, Navy, and Coast Guard officers. Marine officers and NCOs also wear a sword. Chaplains of all services are excepted. The ceremonial use of swords stems from the time when only gentlemen wore swords, thus making it a symbol of rank or position, which most military officers held).

o       on the flag of Saudi Arabia.

 

·        Its symbolic meaning is also reflected in the existence of prestigious titles, linking people of valor to it, such as:

 

o       Sword of Allah, in Arabic Saifullah

 

o       Sword of Religion

 

o       Sword of the Faith

 

o       Sword of the State

 

o       Sword of War

 

 

 

·        It can be awarded as an honorary attribute, like a decoration, known as sword of honour

·        Being dubbed a knight is traditionally performed by being touched (originally, struck hard) on the shoulder with the flat of the sword of one's lord or another knight.

·        Crossed swords have their own particular symbolism, and are in the

 

Miscellaneous Symbols area of Unicode at U+2694

 

 

o       On a map: a site of battle

o       In genealogy or biography: signifying that a person was killed in action.

·        It is also not unusual for swords to represent reason - as in "cutting through" a series of elements in a problem in order to leave only those with proven relevance, most famously of Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian Knot

·        Symbol for bravery for fighting a just cause; the sword of Lady Justice symbolizes the strict application of justice in a neutral manner involving legal decisions

·        The term double-edged sword can be used as an expression for anything that can simultaneously help and hinder, as when in swordfighting a person can increase his leverage by putting his hand on the blade, which might win the contest but also result in a wound.

·        The Japanese Daisho-- a pair of swords, Katana and Wakizashi or Tanto -- symbolised the Samurai's strength and honour.

·        In Finland a sword is given to doctors in the conformant ceremony. The sword symbolizes knowledge.

 

 

[edit] Famous swords

In this painting, Ravana is seen cutting the wings of Jatayu with his sword Chandrahas.

 In this painting, Ravana is seen cutting the wings of Jatayu with his sword Chandrahas.

Apart from the aforementioned types of symbolic swords, the following individually named swords are noteworthy:

 

[edit] Swords in history

 

See also: Types of swords#History and mythology

 

·        Sword of Gou Jian, a historical artifact from the Spring and Autumn Period.

·        Zulfiqar - Sword of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, Ali ibn Abu Talib and later Husayn ibn Ali in the Battle of Karbala.

·Honjo Masamune, Sword of the Tokugawa shogunate, a feudal military dictatorship of Japan established in 1603.       

·        Jewelled Sword of Offering, Sword of King George IV of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1820-1830).

·        Seven-Branched Sword, which Wa received from Baekje

·        Snake Sword, which was wielded by the great king Ashoka. [citation needed]

·        Sword of Boabdil, Sword of the last Moorish King in Spain.

·        Tizona, El Cid's personal sword which exists to this day in Spain as a national treasure.

·        A Mameluke sword was given by Prince Hamet Karamali to Presley O'Bannon, an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, during his participation in the First Barbary War.

 

 

[ edit ] Swords of myth and legend

 

See also: Types of swords#History and mythology

 

·        Arondight - Sword of Lancelot

·        Attila the Hun's sword, which he claimed was the sword of Mars, the Roman god of war.

·        Caladbolg - Sword of Fergus mac Róich

·        Chandrahas (Moon blade) - King Ravana's sword in the Indian epic Ramayana

·        Claíomh Solais - Sword of Nuada Airgeadlámh, legendary king of Ireland.

·        Crocea Mors - Sword of Julius Caesar

·        Curtana - Sword of Ogier the Dane , a legendary Danish hero, and a paladin of Charlemagne

·        Durendal - Sword of Roland, one of Charlemagne's paladins

·        Excalibur/Caliburn/Caledflwch - Sword of King Arthur

·        Heaven's Will/The Will of Heaven/Thuan Thien/Thuận Thiên. Sword of Vietnamese King Le Loi

·        Fragarach - Sword of Manannan mac Lir and Lugh Lamfada

·  Gram (Balmung) (Nothung) - Sword of Siegfried, hero of the Nibelungenlied

·        Hauteclere - Sword of Olivier, a French hero depicted in the Song of Roland

·        Hrunting - Sword of Beowulf

·        Joyeuse - Sword of Charlemagne

·        Kusanagi - Sword of Susanoo

·        Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar - Sword of King Solomon(in Persian folklore)

·        Tyrfing - Cursed sword that causes eventual death to its wielder and their kin

 

 

[edit]  Swords of modern fiction

 

See also: Category:Fictional swords

See also: List of fictional swords

 

·        The Lightsaber is a sword concept featured in the Star Wars universe. Its popularity

 has inspired similar laser based swords to have been used in other works of science fiction media.

·        Various swords from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, including Narsil (later Andúril), Sting,

 Guthwine (sword of Éomer), Herugrim (sword of King Théoden) and Glamdring, sword of Gandalf.

 Many, if not all, European fantasy swords found in literature today were inspired by these swords as Tolkien's works were unique for their time. However, similar mystical swords could be found far

 back into older mythology and religions.

·The Zanbatō is an incredibly large type of Japanese sword with a mysterious historical background

that has inspired various fictional swords found in a wide variety of today's media including anime

television, books and video games. Most unrealistically large swords such as the Buster Sword or the

 Tessaiga found in Japanese media today are inspired by the zanbatō.

·        The Vorpal blade is a sword from the poem Jabberwocky. It has since been adopted into

modern media as a type of magic sword. Similar magical swords have become common in fantasy

literature, games, and art, but this particular sword has had its name continuously mentioned and

 spread among many works.

 

[edit] Misconceptions

 

Many medieval (and other) swords are depicted as large and heavy, on occasion reported to weigh

as much as 20 kg or 44 pounds. However, according historical and archaeological finds, most swords weighed significantly less; swords weighing even as much as 2.5 kg (6 pounds) were unusually heavy and

almost unused in battle. [4] Heavier swords may have served as Swords of State or Ornamental

 purposes, but it is unlikely they found use on the battle field.

 

Light swords such as a well-made cutlass weighed around one pound (450 g) . Most real medieval

European swords weighed between 1.3 to 1.8 kg (3 and 4 pounds) regardless of whether they were

 made to be used with one or two hands. The reputed unwieldiness of long two-handed swords

comes from the distribution of their weight along a greater length instead of from any significant

increase in weight - the center of gravity and hence the center of inertia momentum transcends

along the blade towards the tip, making them "tip-heavy" and difficult to wield. Swords are

constructed to be this lightweight not only because it is necessary for their use, but also because

 a sword has to be made deliberately fat and useless in order to weigh much more. The pommel

acts far more as a counterweight rather than "plug" preventing the grip to slip, and even a badly

balanced sword can be rendered much more wieldy by adjusting a new pommel.

 

[edit] See also

 

·        Types of swords

·        Swordsmanship

o       Historical European Martial Arts

§         German school of swordsmanship

§         Italian school of swordsmanship

o       Chinese martial arts

o       Eskrima (Filipino Martial Arts)

o       Fencing

o       Kenjutsu

·        sword-like objects

o       macuahuitl

·        Knight

·        Oakeshott typology

·        Waster

·        Sword making

·        List of sword manufacturers

 

  

 

 

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