Matt Galas' Sword Stats

Before anyone goes any further into this page, I must point out that I had nothing to do with the collection of the stats, all I have done is convert Matt's original three news postings on rec.sports.fencing to a single HTML page and put his stats into tables. All other credits go to Matt.

And I quote

Greetings, all!

Over the years, I've been amazed at the misconceptions about medieval and Renaissance weaponry. To dispel some of the myths, here's a dose of raw data. The following are measurements and weights of rapiers in the collection of the Museum Fuer Deutsche Geschichte (Museum of German History) in Berlin.

Notice that these weapons are not particularly light - they weigh more than twice as much as a modern sports epee. Notice as well how long they are - some are over 4 feet in length. The rapier was far longer than, for example, the native one-handed broadsword of England. This accounts for the advantage enjoyed by rapier men...at least at long distance. Some masters, such as George Silver of England, disliked the rapier because of its cumbersome length.

Rapiers reached the height of their popularity from about 1550 - 1650. Thereafter, the rapier transitioned towards a shorter, lighter weapon. Finally, the featherweight smallsword (the weapon that a fencer's foil represents) appeared in the 1650s, displacing the rapier entirely.

Back to the statistics:

Rapiers

Type Description Overall Length Blade Length Weight
French rapier, circa 1560 - 1580 50" 44" 2.9 pounds
Spanish rapier, late 1500s Blade by Juan Martinez The Elder of Toledo 52.75" 47" 2.8 pounds
Spanish rapier from 1597 Blade by Juan Martinez The Elder of Toledo 43.3" 36.6" 2.9 pounds
The matching dagger has the following stats: 16.1" 11.4" 0.75 pounds
German flame-bladed rapier, late 1500s 51.7" 45" 2.7 pounds
Spanish rapier, circa 1600 Blade by Hortuno de Aguirre of Toledo 45" 38" 2.5 pounds
Spanish rapier, early 1600s Blade by Francisco Ruiz of Toledo 47.8" 42" 2.6 pounds
German rapier from around 1620 This weapon belonged to Georg Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg Blade by Clemens Horn of Solingen, Germany 46" 40" 2.3 pounds
German rapier, circa 1620 This rapier also belonged to Georg Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg Blade by Clemens Horn of Solingen, Germany 47.2" 40.5" 2.8 pounds
Italian rapier, circa 1650 Blade by Giovanni Antonio Ginammi of Gromo, Italy 44.5" 39.3" 2.75 pounds


As I mentioned in my earlier post on rapiers, I've been amazed at the common misconceptions about medieval and Renaissance weaponry. The worst misconceptions are about the European hand-and-a-half sword, also known as the bastard sword or war sword. Here are a few statistics that may help dispel the myths about the knightly sword. The following are weights and measures of weapons in the collection of the Museum of German History in Berlin.

A few observations on the use of these weapons, taken from the 60 or so German manuals that survive:

- Against unarmored opponents, the weapon was generally used with both hands. On a superficial level, the stances, basic cuts and thrusts are quite similar to those used in Kenjutsu (Japanese swordsmanship). Despite the common misconception, these masters fully understood the use of the point, and used it often.

- Against armored opponents, the swordsman usually held the grip with his right hand, grasped the middle of the blade with his left, and used the weapon like a short spear, thrusting at the gaps in the opponent's armor. These methods were known as "half sword" techniques.

- On horseback, the weapon was mainly used with one hand, although the "half sword" techniques mentioned above were sometimes used as well.

(Shameless, self-promoting plug: I'm currently working on a book which details the methods of the German masters...one of these days it'll be in print...)

On to the statistics:

War Swords

Type Description Overall Length Blade Length Blade Width Weight
War sword from around 1240 Probably belonged to Conrad of Thueringen and Hessen, Grandmaster of the Teutonic Knights Broad blade with a well-developed thrusting tip 45.8" 37.3" 2.1" 2.9 pounds
War sword from around 1350 Broad cutting blade, poorly-developed point 48" 37.7" 2.1" 4.2 pounds
War sword from the late 1300s Blade tapers to a very acute point 53.5" 41.5" 2" 4.8 pounds
War sword from around 1400 Broad blade with a well-developed tip 47.5" 37.5" 4 pounds
War sword from the early 1400s Narrow, diamond-sectioned blade with a sharply tapering point Note: this weapon is lighter than many rapiers! 46.7" 36" 1.5" 2.4 pounds
War sword from early 1500s Broad blade with a well-developed thrusting tip Landsknecht-style figure-8 quillons 53.5" 41.3" 2" 4.8 pounds
War sword from the early 1500s Slim, hexagonal-section blade with a well-developed thrusting tip 47.5" 37.5" 1.85" 3.1 pounds
War sword from the early 1500s Narrow blade with an acute point Flat blade with a raised central rib (to provide rigidity) 49.5" 39" 1.6" 3 pounds
War sword from the early 1500s Same type blade as above: narrow, acute point, raised central rib This blade is as light as many rapiers! 45" 36" 1.5" 2.75 pounds

I decided to average the weights and measures of all the war swords listed in my source. Here are the averages:

Averages
Overall Length Blade Length Blade Width Weight
48.4" 38.4" 1.8" 3.7 pounds


This is post number 3 in a series on weapon weights and measures, designed to dispel some of the myths about medieval and Renaissance weaponry. I can't count the number of times I've heard people swear that two-handed swords weighed at least 20 or 30 pounds.

The following are the individual statistics for all of the 64 two-handed swords in the famous arsenal at Graz, Austria, plus 5 unmounted two-handed sword blades.

The source for this information is Die Zweihaender des Landeszeughauses in Graz (The Two-handers of the Provincial Arsenal in Graz) by K. Kamniker and P. Krenn.

First, the ranges:

Ranges
Overall length Blade length Blade width Weight
from 57" to 78.4" from 41" to 55.3" from 1.3" to 2.9" 5.4 pounds to 13.1 pounds

Of the swords below, 40 are straight-bladed, and 29 are flame-bladed.
On to the statistics:

Two Handed Swords and Blades

Overall length Blade length Blade width at hilt Weight Comment
THE SWORDS
66.5" 49.4" 2.9" 8.3 pounds widest in the collection
66" 50" 1.9" 7.6 pounds
61.4" 44.5" 1.7" 6.8 pounds
66.5" 47.4" 1.7" 6.9 pounds
67.7" 50.1" 1.6" 7.7 pounds
71" 52.3" 2.3" 9.6 pounds
72.4" 52.75" 2.2" 8 pounds
67.1" 49.4" 2.2" 7.9 pounds
77" 53.4" 2.1" 13.1 pounds (heaviest in the collection)
77.5" 54.3" 2" 11.9 pounds
73.4" 52.75" 1.9" 9.5 pounds
71" 52.5" 1.8" 9.4 pounds
70" 50.7" 1.6" 7.75 pounds
71.6" 53.5" 1.7" 8.2 pounds
73.2" 54.3" 1.8" 8.6 pounds
78.4" 54.7" 1.9" 12 pounds (longest in the collection)
73.8" 53.1" 1.7" 10.3 pounds
69" 51.5" 1.6" 8 pounds
63.7" 46" 1.6" 7.2 pounds
66.3" 47.8" 1.5" 5.4 pounds (lightest in the collection)
67.1" 48.6" 1.5" 8.3 pounds
62.4" 45" 1.8" 6.4 pounds
67.1" 49.2" 1.7" 8.1 pounds
64.7" 47.4" 1.5" 8.3 pounds
62.2" 45.8" 1.7" 6.8 pounds
66.3" 48.8" 1.5" 7.4 pounds
68.3" 47.2" 2.1" 8.2 pounds
67.1" 49.4" 1.7" 7.7 pounds
69.4" 51.3" 1.6" 8 pounds
69.3" 50.2" 2" 8.3 pounds
68.7" 49.4" 2" 8.3 pounds
67" 48.4" 1.6" 7 pounds
69" 49.4" 2" 9.5 pounds
66.5" 49.4" 1.8" 9.2 pounds
66.5" 48.8" 1.5" 6.5 pounds
74.8" 55.3" 1.6" 8.9 pounds
72" 52.3" 2.4" 10.4 pounds
68.1" 49.6" 1.7" 7.6 pounds
65.7" 48.4" 1.9" 8.4 pounds
73.6" 52.3" 1.8" 10.4 pounds
71" 52.7" 1.9" 8.3 pounds
71" 50.7" 2.2" 10.2 pounds
59" 43.5" 1.6" 6.4 pounds
64.7" 47.2" 1.7" 8.1 pounds
67.3" 48.4" 1.5" 7.4 pounds
67.5" 50.3" 1.3" 7.8 pounds
65.9" 49" 1.6" 7.6 pounds
69" 51.1" 1.8" 8.5 pounds
67.3" 49" 1.7" 7.7 pounds
69" 52.1" 1.7" 7.8 pounds
62.9" 46.6" 1.7" 6.5 pounds
66.3" 48.2" 1.5" 7 pounds
66.3" 48.4" 1.7" 7.7 pounds
62.7" 45.6" 1.8" 7.3 pounds
59.4" 42.7" 1.7" 6.5 pounds
58.6" 42" 1.6" 6.3 pounds
59.2" 42.7" 1.7" 6.8 pounds
68.7" 50.3" 1.7" 7.8 pounds
61.2" 44.6" 1.7" 6.75 pounds
61.2" 45" 1.8" 7 pounds
63.3" 46" 1.7" 6.7 pounds
61.8" 45" 1.7" 7 pounds
57" 41" 1.7" 5.9 pounds (shortest in the collection )
62.8" 45.6" 1.7" 6.9 pounds
UNMOUNTED BLADES:
69.6" 6 pounds
72.8" 3.8 pounds
63" 3.8 pounds
62.5" 3.4 pounds
62.4 3.4 pounds

Matt Galas Mons, Belgium


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