Switzerland, in the modern world, is famous for its neutrality. It does not participate in war and has not done for over two centuries due to the complexities of the Treaty of Paris. This has led some to conclude that Switzerland has always been a neutral nation or that there were no warriors in Swiss history. As countless armies on the receiving end of Swiss blades discovered, nothing could be further from the truth.
During the Middle Ages soldiers went through a period of evolution. While in centuries past soldiers were typically farmers, peasants, or otherwise employed individuals temporarily wrapped around a core of career warriors and nobles, the transition to feudalism and castle warfare opened up significant possibilities for those who wished to view war as a profession rather than a temporary divergence from everyday life. Few countries could afford a standing army, so those who wished to enter into a career of soldiering would often join a mercenary troop that would be hired to act as (or supplement) a country’s own military. Of these mercenary troops the Swiss Reisläufer were generally regarded as one of the most fearsome and effective collection of warriors in the world.
The Reisläufer were employed in numerous wars and countless battles across Europe from a time encompassing the later Middle Ages well into the Enlightenment period. Their particular tactics – including heavy use of polearms, phalanx formations, and brute-force approach to infantry combat – allowed them to dominate on the battlefield. As their polearms protected them from cavalry and their training, armor, and large numbers often outmatched simple foot soldiers they were frequently the deciding factor in a war. The British, French, Dutch, and Spanish armies – to name a few – all would at one time or another rely on the Reisläufer to win the day.
While the primary weapons of the Reisläufer would have been pikes, halberds, and later in their existence early firearms, many of them also carried two-handed, single-edged swords. The Swiss Sabre, or Schweizerdegen, was popular in Switzerland during the High Middle Ages and especially with those warriors of the Reisläufer. Unlike the “Schweizersäbel” – a modern term coined in 1914 by antiquarian and curator Eduard Achilles Gessler (1800 – 1947) of the Swiss National Museum – the Schweizerdegen was a 16th Century saber using among Swiss soldiers and mercenaries. It is also the inspiration for this historically-based sword from Darksword Armory.
Like all Swiss Sabers, the Darksword Armory Ring Hilt Swiss Saber has a single-edged, slightly curved blade. The tip of the blade is clipped with a false edge extending back to the stiff, robust spine that gives the blade its cutting strength and resilience. The hilts of Swiss Sabers were of various designs with some plain, others complex, with recurved quillions and rings and knuckle guards. By the late 16th century, specialized hilt forms begin to emerge, often with pommels shaped as a lion’s head, or plated with silver. This design has a classically inspired renaissance-style ring-hilt, similar in form to early side swords and the two-handed ring hilt swords that appeared more frequently in the 16th century and following. This version of a Swiss Saber has a unique crown pommel to differentiate it from similar modern reproductions and to give it more of the renaissance character that the ring hilt implies. If the Reisläufer are ever again needed, this sword would serve them well – and would sure be a worthy member of your household/mercenary troop as well.
Blade: 5160 High Carbon Steel. Dual Tempered HRc 60
48-50 at the core
Total length: 46″
Blade length: 34″
Blade width at base: 2″
Weight: 3 lbs. 12 oz.
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