Friday, 30 May 2014

The Bastard Sword: Medieval Weaponry and Accoutrements

A rather misleading name for what was essentially a longsword, or more properly, a hand and a half sword. So why exactly was it called a 'bastard' sword?

The name originates from the French 'epee bartarde', and may have been intended to signify the irregular nature or misleading appearance of the bastard sword. While it might be much the same length as a single-handed sword, the tang was long enough to allow the weapon to be wielded two-handed, which gave it greater versatility.

The bastard sword generally featured a double-edged tapered blade measuring 40-48 inches, and a hilt that allowed for two-handed use, measuring another 10-15 inches. It was favoured for its reach and superior cutting and thrusting, and was predominantly used by medieval knights. Despite its size, it rarely weighed more than 4.5 pounds. 

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Will Hahn said...

Thanks Ciara, I just eat up this type-of-sword stuff with a spoon! And I agree with this definition of bastard sword. In my upcoming tale (July 4th) the adventuring party's leader named Haltar uses one of these, constantly sharpens it between battles. So it always picks up a nick, and he always wants to replace it between times!

J Lenni Dorner said...

I love swords that can be used with either one or two hands.
Good post.

A M Guynes-Annikka Woods said...

I love learning about weapons and armor. It gives me information that I can expand on to bring realism to my stories. Thanks so much for posting these.

Dipti Bahuguna said...

Bastard sword is a common name in many hack n slash games. It refers to a hand-and-a-half sword. (can be used 1 hand or two). I think it might be a modern term though. People of the time probably called bastard swords 'long swords' or something. In fact buying such swords are tough to decide.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I was aware of the bastard sword and the hand and a half sword but didn't realise until now they were the same thing.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

My pleasure :-)

Ciara Ballintyne said...

Apparently 'bastard sword' isn't a modern term, and came from a French expression of the time.

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