Knightly Warfare. The knights primary and considered most well known weapon was the sword.

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Knightly Warfare

The knight was one of three types of fighting men during the Middle Ages: Knights, Foot Soldiers, and Archers. The medieval knight was the equivalent of the modern tank. He was covered in multiple layers of armor, and could plow through foot solders standing in his way. No single foot solders or archer could stand up to any one knight. Skill in the use of Middle Ages weapons and armor was necessary and played a vital part in medieval life. Every man was expected to be able to use a medieval weapon; they had spent their whole lives gaining expertise in the use of the lance, swords and daggers as well as mastering maneuverability in heavy armors.

The knight’s primary and considered most well known weapon was the sword. A sword itself was a long sharp blade with a handle made for cutting, slashing, stabbing, thrusting, and so on. Swords of medieval Europe evolved from steel Celtic swords (Byam 31). Swords tended to have blades just a yard in length with a grip designed to accommodate a single hand (Byam 31). The earliest medieval swords were designed to primarily cut, having surprisingly thin blades (Sword 1). By the close of the Middle Ages, these weapons became more stouter and becoming more optimized for thrusting and stabbing as well as cutting (Sword 1). During the Middle ages swords technology improved along with the advances in armor, making it a very advanced and powerful weapon (Sword 1). The arming sword, also sometimes called a knight's or knightly sword, is the single handed cruciform sword of the Middle Ages. The Arming sword was the most popular and widely used among most knights of the Middle Ages. Typically used with a shield or buckler, the arming sword was the standard military sword of the knight. The arming sword was overall a light, versatile weapon capable of both cut and thrust combat; and normally boasts excellent balance. Although a variety of designs fall under the heading of 'arming sword', they are most commonly recognized as single-handed double-edged swords that were designed more for cutting than thrusting. The arming sword was worn by a knight even when not in armor, and he would be considered 'undressed' for public if he were without it. With this growing use of more advanced armor among knights, two handed swords for more powerful blows came into existence (Sword 1). Along with the introduction of the long sword, innovative sword designs evolved more and more rapidly for a sense of fashion as well as a weapon (Sword 2). Swords slowly became wider and heavier for increased power, and more elegant and stylish for more appealing fashion among knights and other ranks (Sword 2). The main transition was the lengthening of the grip, allowing two-handed use, and a longer blade (Sword 2). The transition to these “Long swords” was to due to is extreme reach and cutting/thrusting abilities compared to the original sword, now known as the “Short sword” to specify between the two variations (Sword 2).

Long swords were a variation of short swords with a long, double-edged blade and have long cruciform hilts with grip room for two hands (Byam 31). These swords were commonly held with two hands; used for hewing, slicing, and stabbing (Byam 31). Since Long swords mostly required the usage of two hands to fully utilize it, the wielding of a shield while also wielding a long sword was nearly impossible, but the swords parts made up for the lack of defense with a dramatic increase in offense. All parts of the sword are used for offensive purposes; including the pommel and cross guard; a cross guard being the horizontal bar at the hilt of a sword and the pommel being the design at the very end of the handle (Med. Weapons 1). Not all long swords, however, required the strict usage of two hands. Generalizations about the long sword can vary widely, depending on the grip. One may be a late Medieval hand-and-halfer or the Renaissance two-hander (Med. Weapons 1). The construction of the blade was relatively thin, over time long sword blades evolved to become longer and thicker (Med. Weapons 3). The change in the blade was caused by the rapid transition from chain mail armor to plate mail armor (Med. Weapons 4). To counter the switch to stronger and larger armors, Knights had to use long swords more as a thrusting weapon against opponents in plate armor, requiring a more acute point and rigid blade (Med. Weapons 4). The blade was not the only thing to change over time with the long sword. A Variety of hilt styles existed, changing over time to accommodate different blade properties and proportions (Med. Weapons 4). Both short and long swords became the primary and standard bladed weapon for a knight, with many other variations stemming from either swords and favored among certain knights.

One variation of the long sword that became widely popular on the battlefield was the claymore. While the long sword left room for the option for using two hands or not, the claymore was strictly a two-handed sword used in the late medieval periods (Gravett 27). Claymores were somewhat longer than long swords and had a much heavier blade compared to the long sword; hence the reason as to why this sword demanded two hands for excellent and complete usage (Nardo 40). A typical claymore’s appearance also made it distinct from the typical long sword (Byam 31). Claymores developed a distinctive style of a cross-hilt with either up-sloping or down-sloping arms, while most long swords cross-hilts were made to be horizontal (Med. Weapons 7). The blades of claymores were also more rigid and heavier than average long swords (Med. Weapons 8). Claymores had ability to deal much more powerful cuts and thrusts due to its heavier blade and two handed requirement (Med. Weapons 8). While claymores excelled in its offensive capabilities, the weight of the sword itself and its two-hander requirement left no room for shields and lacked in defense (Nardo 40). Although knights trained extensively in the usage of long swords and claymores managed easier than others and could perform well in battle, claymores were fit for decoration and fashion; as a way of showing off one’s wealth or rank, rather than a battle weapon (Nardo 41).

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Another long sword variation that came around the same time as claymores was called the Flamberge also known as a “Flame-bladed sword” or “Wave-bladed sword” (Med. Weapons 9). Flamberges could either be two-handed or single-handed, although most were constructed to be two-handers (Med. Weapons 9). A Flamberge obtains its unique name directly from its appearance. This long sword has a characteristically undulating style blade, in which the blade takes on the shape of flames or waves rather than appearing as a straight line (Med. Weapons 9). The sword’s wave like construction was considered a useful attribute in combat (Med. Weapons ...

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