The longsword is a specific kind of European sword that is described by having a cruciform hilt with an adequately-sized grip for double-handed use. The longswords were also referred to as the bastard sword and in the later times, the half-and-half swords. The sword was given the name longsword because of its long handle which allowed the user to wield it with both hands. It also featured a longer blade which made it extremely popular for its extensive reach; plus, its excellent thrusting and cutting abilities. The longsword was mostly utilized by the medieval knights and only they were able to acquire these since the longswords, along with the horses and armor, were extremely costly. With that, the fighting power of a single knight equals to ten regular soldiers.
Features of the Longsword
The longsword features two-edged blades plus a handle that was long enough to accommodate two hands. Its blade measures about forty to forty-eight inches while the handle measures ten to fifteen inches long. The longsword’s weight ranges from five to eight pounds and as for the extended handle, it allowed for the wielder to hold the piece with two hands. The longsword is a type of cutting tool that was utilized for close contact battles; it was also capable of executing deadly blows but was mainly used for slicing or cutting opponents. The longsword was also capable of cutting off the head or limbs of the enemy in just a single stroke.
The First Longswords
The very first longswords had an identical design to the much earlier arming swords, these were just longer. The swords also had two edges that were sharp all the way from the hilt to its point and it could be utilized for accurate thrusting, slashing, and cutting. The longswords also featured a fuller down the blade’s flat, as well as a groove that strengthens and makes the sword more lightweight. Just remember that this was not a blood groove which is a modern-day misconception. The longsword’s weight was balanced via the pommel which was positioned at the other end of the sword’s hilt which was a counterweight in the form of a disc or wheel.
Evolution of the Longsword
The longsword is mostly characterized by having a longer grip and not a longer blade; this indicates that the longsword was made specifically for double-handed use. Swords that had very long hilts could be found in a lot of areas during the High Middle Ages; however, these remained as rare pieces and were not part of an identifiable trend before the late thirteenth or early fourteenth centuries. The longsword emerged in the fourteenth century and it appeared as a military steel weapon from the much earlier chapter of the Hundred Years’ War; the sword also stayed identifiable as a type during the years 1350 to 1550. Additionally, it also remained a weapon of war that was necessary for warriors who wielded a full plate armor; this occurred during the late medieval period. Yet from the late fifteenth century, records also claim that the sword was wielded by unarmored mercenaries or soldiers.
The Great Sword
Making use of the double-handed great sword by the infantry may have originated from the Swiss people during the fourteenth century; and by the sixteenth century, the military use of these great swords was almost obsolete, culminating during the time when the extremely large Zweihander was carried by the Landsknechte in the early to mid-sixteenth century. By the second half of this period, the weapon remained simply as a weapon for sportive competitions, as well as knightly duels.
The Bastard Sword
The unique bastard sword’s hilt types began developing in the first half of the sixteenth century and experts distinguished twelve varying types of these; records also state that these pieces may have originated in Switzerland and Bravia. By the late sixteenth century, earlier forms of the improved hilt began appearing on this type of weapon, and at the start of the year 1520, the Swiss saber started replacing the straight longsword in Switzerland. In southern Germany, the weapon remained until the year 1560 but its use also fast declined during the sixteenth century’s second half.
Training with the Longsword
Skills to utilize the medieval weapons, as well as understanding the strategies and methods of medieval warfare, were vital as it played an important part during the medieval period. Training to use the longsword was required by every knight and this was highly time-consuming. Skills in utilizing the medieval weapons like the longsword were vital since it was necessary to make them expert swordsmen. The knight would first be trained as a Page at the age of seven to fourteen then a Squire from the age fourteen to twenty-one.
When training with the longsword, these knights would practice in a place called the Pell and this allowed each knight to practice vicious, powerful, and deadly strokes, as well as maneuvers during their training. Other things that they learned during the period included cutting, thrusting, and slicing without having to worry about injuring their opponents.