Medieval Swords

A sword is a long blade with a hilt. This weapon is designed to be used for thrusting or slashing – or both – the opponent. Various types of the sword had been used since prehistoric times. Some were curved, others were straight. Some had a pointed tip for thrusting; others had a sharpened cutting edge for slashing. Many models of this weapon were equally good for both styles of attack.

The design and use of medieval swords

Medieval sword was designed after the spatha, which was the long, straight sword that Roman soldiers used during the late period of the Roman army. Its design was very much improved through time. During the migration period and for most of the medieval time, a typical sword still looked very much like spatha. However, it was more advanced and often lavishly decorated with Germanic artwork.

Around the 10th century, sword production became more standardized. Steel was now the material of choice. Unlike the previous period, this material was now properly tempered and hardened.

Medieval Swords

Popular sword types in the middle ages

  • The most famous medieval blade type was the Frankish Ulfberth blade. This maker was well known for the high quality of the weapons that he produced. These swords were so popular that they were exported to other kingdoms. When the Vikings began to use these swords against the Franks, King Charles the Bald, the king of West Francia, Italy, and emperor of the Carolingian Empire, even tried to stop the export.
  • Swords continued to change, and from the 11thcentury, most Norman swords had the quillons (crossguard). Later, in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Crusaders used this type of sword in their quests. Eventually, medieval sword became such a powerful cutting weapon, and a whole new type of armor had to be invented. It was plate armor.
  • The new armor, in turn, led to the development of a new sword – the so-called hand and a half sword. This weapon had an extended grip and could be used with both hands.
  • The blade was becoming longer as well. The longsword, which had extraordinary cutting and thrusting abilities, soon became the most popular type of sword throughout Europe.
  • The next popular kinds of the sword were the estoc, which was good enough to thrust into the openings between plates of armor, and Zweihänder (two-hander). This, last model of the medieval sword, was sometimes nearly two meters long.

While the western armies used long, straight swords, others – such as the Ottomans – developed their own types of this weapon. The Ottoman Turks had a sabre called the yatagan, which had a curved blade

In medieval culture, the sword is a weapon with a special meaning. It is a personal weapon that reflects the power and influence of the person who uses it.


What was the shape of a typical medieval sword in western countries? And what was the shape of Ottoman sword (yatagan)?

A typical medieval sword in the west was long and straight. The Ottoman yatagan was a curved sabre.