The Sword Defined:
Sword weapon of offense and defense in personal combat, consisting of a blade with a sharp point and one or two cutting edges, set in a hilt with a handle protected by a metal case or cross guard. The sword may have developed from the dagger at the beginning of the Bronze Age. It was not, however, until the more durable iron sword was introduced in the early Iron Age that the sword became an effective weapon. Greek and Roman swords were very short, with pointed ends, and had two cutting edges. Medieval knights used two types of swords: a short sword with a pointed end that was used with one hand and a heavy two-handed sword with a rounded end. During the Middle Ages the best blades were those made by the Arabs in Damascus and Toledo. Swords were widely used in the Middle East and E Asia as well as in Europe. The scimitar, used by the Persians and Arabs, is a curved steel sword. One of the best known of the East Asian swords is the Japanese samurai sword, consisting of a curved single-edged tempered steel blade set in a long handle. As a highly personal weapon the sword attained symbolic importance; surrendering one's sword became a token of submission, and the custom of taking an officer's sword away from him and breaking the blade when he was dismissed from the service in disgrace arose because a sword is the mark of an officer and a gentleman. During the Crusades and later, the sword, because of its shape, frequently was used to symbolize the Cross. The sword is now obsolete as a weapon and is carried in some military units for decorative purposes in times of peace. Special types of swords are the rapier, the épée, and the saber.
-The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 2008 The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright 2008 Columbia University Press. (Hide copyright information) Copyright
The Bronze Age Sword:
Bronze Age swords appear from around the 17th century BC (depending on location), evolving out of the dagger. Before bronze, stone (flint, obsidian f.e.) was used as primary material for cutting edged tools and weapons. Stone is however very fragile, and therefore not practical to be used as swords. With the introduction of copper, and eventually bronze, the daggers could be made longer, and evolved into swords. The first swords appear in the Aegean and Near east, and as time goes by the use of swords spreads out to other parts of the world.
The length of bronze age swords ranges from roughly 50 to 90cm, with some longer exceptions. This was the ideal length for the material. Any longer and they would bend easily unless they were impractically thick and heavy. Longswords were not practical for combat until the invention of materials, such as steel, which are stronger for their weight than bronze. As bronze is an alloy between two metals, the strength could be optimized by adding more or less tin. More would make the bronze stronger, but also more brittle. For most bronze age swords (except for China), an alloy was used with around 10-12% tin, which is strong, but not brittle. This means that the sword would not be likely to break in use, but could bend. To prevent the latter, the blades were very cleverly designed to get the maximum strength with the material, while still giving the blade great balance and thrusting and/or cutting ability. This led to designs as the leafbladed sword, with thick but narrow blade near the hilt, and a broad, but thin blade near the tip. The edge was frequently hardened, and hammered to a hollow edge, which gives a very sharp, yet strong cutting edge. This makes the bronze age sword a great example of very advanced engineering in early times.
Bronze age swords in:
The Iron Age Sword:
Swords made of iron (as opposed to bronze) appear from the Early Iron Age (ca. 12th century BC), but do not become widespread before the 8th century BC.
Early iron swords were not comparable to later steel blades. The iron was not quench hardened although often containing sufficient carbon, but work-hardened just like bronze by hammering. This made them comparable or only slightly better in terms of strength and hardness to bronze swords. So they could still bend during use, rather than spring back into shape. But the easier production, and the better availability of the raw material allowed for larger scale production.
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). By quenching and tempering, (quenching makes the steel hard and brittle, tempering removes the brittleness), swords could be made that would suffer much less damage, and would spring back into shape if bent. It took a long time however until this was done consistently, and even until the end of the early medieval period, many swords were still unhardened iron. Several different methods of swordmaking existed in ancient times, including, most famously, pattern welding. Over time, different methods developed all over the world.
History of Iron Swords:
The Proto-Celtic Hallstatt culture (8th century BC) figured among the early users of iron swords. During the Hallstatt period, the same swords were made both in bronze and in iron. At the end of the Hallstatt period, around 600-500BC, swords were replaced with short daggers. The La Tene culture reintroduced the sword, which then very different from the traditional shape and construction from the Bronze Age and early Iron Age, and much more like the later swords that developed from them.
The iron versions of the Scythian/Persian Acinaces appears from ca. the 6th century BC. In 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).
Chinese steel swords make their appearance from the 3rd century BC Qin Dynasty, although earlier iron swords are also known from the Zhou dynasty. The Chinese Dao (刀 pinyin dāo) is single-edged, sometimes translated as sabre or broadsword, and the Jian (劍 pinyin jiàn) double edged.
The Roman Iron Age Germanic sword (from ca. 1st c. AD) is based on the spatha and evolves into the Viking sword in the 8th century.
The Samurai Sword:
The first samurai swords we're actually straight bladed, single edged weapons imported from Korea and China known as chokuto, which were later replaced with the curved blade variety at the end of the 8th Century. The name of the curved blade swords which replaced them was Tachi. The reason for this transformation was samurai found that a curved sword could be drawn from the scabbard more swiftly and provided a far more effective cutting angle.
The point of a samurai sword is called a Kissaki. This is the hardest part of the sword to polish and forge and to hand create a quality one would require an extremely skilful artisan. The value of a sword is determined largely by the quality of the point.
Samurai would use wooden swords (Bokken) for practice for safety reasons as well as for preserving their real swords from unnecessary damage.
The samurai would give names to their swords as they believe in the sword lived their warrior spirit.
There are three main types of samurai sword. 1: Katana: The longest type of sword, over 24inches, generally used for outdoor combat. 2: Wakizashi: Around a third shorter than the Katana at between 12 and 24 inches, this was worn in indoor establishments by samurai for its obvious better manouverability indoors. 3: Tanto: A small knife used in much the same manner as a Wakizashi.
As part of the samurai sword making process a sword tester took the new blade and cut through the bodies of corpses or condemned criminals. They started by cutting through the small bones of the body and moved up to the large bones. Test results were often recorded on the nakago (the metal piece attaching the sword blade to the handle).
Shogun is the name of the most powerful samurai, and they would wear two samurai swords. A Katana and a Wakizashi. They had a license to dismember anybody who offended them.
Early samurai would fight on horseback, and they're weaponry in addition to samurai swords was bows and arrows.
Article by Nick Johnson of Japanese samurai swords Dot Net http://www.japanese-samurai-swords.net/
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Nick_Johnson
The Broad Sword:
What is a Broadsword?:
Meaning of Broadsword - it was a sword with a broad blade and usually two lethal cutting edges. The Broadsword was used to cut rather than stab. The Broadsword was predominantly used by a Medieval Knight. The weapons, armor and horse of the Knight were extremely expensive - the fighting power of just one knight was worth 10 ordinary soldiers.
Description of Broadsword:
The weapons used during the Middle Ages include the Broadsword. The description of the Broadsword which provides basic facts and information about the weapon is as follows:
The Broadsword was the earliest of the Medieval swords from the 6th Century
The Broadsword had a two-edged blade measuring 2-3 inches wide at the base which tapered to a point
The length of the Broadsword ranged from 30 - 45 inches
The Medieval Broadsword weighed between 3 - 5 pounds
It was used as close contact weapon
The weapon was primarily used for cutting or slicing an opponent and was capable of cutting off the limbs or head of an enemy in one stroke
Type or group of weapons - Cutting Weapon
Looking back at history, one of the most recognized swords of any culture is the Roman sword (or Gladius). The highly trained and disciplined Roman legionnaires, cavalrymen and infantrymen all capitalized on variations of this highly effective weapon. The sword skills of these warriors combined with the advanced materials used in making these swords resulted in one of the most successful military reigns of all time.
The Romans were masters at adopting and modifying sword designs to overcome disadvantages in combat. Improvements to Roman swords were often based upon technology from other cultures like the Greek, Celts and Spanish. This allowed Romans to have a different sword for each warfare strategy.
Combat in the mountainous regions required a shorter sword with superior slashing capabilities (Pompeii Gladius). However, the Roman cavalry and charioteers needed a longer and more slender Roman sword to gain the ‘extra reach’ required to effectively fight from a mounted position (Spatha).
Overall, the Roman short sword is known as “the sword that conquered the world”. One of the most well known Roman combat tactics developed was when a Roman soldier simply stepped forward inside the enemy’s “guard” so the longer sword would be useless. At this point, the Roman soldier could quickly cut–and–thrust in any direction swung. This tactic was perfect against enemies with longer swords or spears.
Even the Bible distinguishes the Roman double–edged sword for its awesome powerfulness as a weapon by allegorically referencing to it when describing the power of The Word of God! (Hebrews 4:12) As well, the Roman sword is a critical part of the biblical description of the Full Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10–18)
Gerald Weland once summarize the magnificence of a true antique Roman sword as an artifact (relic) saying,
“As a sword, the Gladius is perhaps the single most important type of sword in human history, embodying artistic, historic and geographic factors in a way that no other weapon has ever done. It is also just about the most impossible sword to collect.” - Gerald Weland
Types of Swords
Aikuchi (合口, 匕首)
Bolo / Itak
Dao (刀 pinyin dāo)
Miao dao (苗刀)
Golok (a catch-all for several types of sword and knife)
Hook sword (钩)
Hwandudaedo (환두대도; 环首大刀)
Jian (剑 pinyin jiàn)
Katana (刀; かたな)
Tachi (太刀; たち)
Wakizashi (脇差; わきざし)
Kirpan (arguably a dagger)
Zweihänder (and Flame-bladed sword variant)
Swords of War
Named swords of History and Legend
Arondight - The sword of Sir Lancelot in the Arthurian legends.
Caladbolg - The sword used by the hero Fergus mac Róich in the Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailnge.
Chandrahas ("Moon-blade") - in Hindu mythology, the sword given by the god Shiva to the ten-headed Ravana, king of Sri Lanka.
Colada - the secondary sword of El Cid.
Crocea Mors- used by Julius Caesar in a story told by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Curtana - the sword of Holger Danske, vassal of Charlemagne; this sword is reputed to be made of the same steel as Durendal and Joyeuse.
Durendal - (or Durindana) the sword that belonged to Roland, nephew of Charlemagne and hero of the French epic The Song of Roland; it once belonged to Hector of Troy.
Excalibur (Caledfwlch,Caliburn, etc. see also Caladbolg above) - King Arthur's sword, given to him by the Lady of the Lake; the sword itself as well as the scabbard were magical.
Galatine - The sword of Sir Gawain in the Arthurian legends.
Gram (in the Volsung Saga) or Balmung (sometimes in later traditions) - Sigurd.
Grus- the historical sword of Bolesław III Wrymouth, medieval prince of Poland.
Hauteclere - this sword that belonged to Olivier, another hero of The Song of Roland.
Heaven's Will (The Will of Heaven,Thuan Thien,Thuận Thiên)The Sword Gods gave to Lê Lợi to help him fight the Chinese.
Honjo Masamune - The best weapon made by Japan's master swordsmith, Masamune.
Hrunting - Unferð, associate of Beowulf.
Joyeuse - the sword of Charlemagne (Charles the Great), the famed Medieval king of the Franks and first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Kusanagi (Grasscutter) - A sword of equivalent importance to Japan as the Excalibur is to United Kingdom
Legbiter - Viking King Magnus Barelegs's sword.
Morgelai - Bevis of Hampton's sword in the Anglo-Norman/Middle English romance Bevis of Hampton.
Lobera, the sword of the king Saint Ferdinand III of Castile
The Sword in the Stone - King Arthur's sword, placed by Merlin into a stone in a churchyard, which only the rightful king could remove. This sword is often identified with Excalibur (see above), but in some versions the Sword in the Stone is broken in a fight with King Pellinore.
The Sword of Damocles - mythical sword of decision.
The Sword of Goujian - The sword used by King Goujian of Yue.
The Sword of Attila, discovered by Atilla the Hun through mysterious means.
Szczerbiec - The sword of Polish kings.
Tizona or Tizón - one of the two swords of El Cid.
Tyrfing - a cursed sword from the Tyrfing Cycle, which includes the Hervarar saga and parts of the Poetic Edda.
Zulfiqar (Thul fiqar) - The two-tipped sword of legendary companion of Muhammad, Ali.