The Arming Sword (#1313)
Wallace Collection, England, A.460 French, c. 1375-1400, Type type XVIII sword.
By the 14th C. the classical Medieval Knight’s sword took shape in the Arming Sword. Short for close quarter combat, light, and well balanced with a sharp taper and reinforced tip, the Arming Sword proved to be a devastating weapon again the developing full plated armor of the time. The heavily tapered and narrowing blade gave the sword devastating stabbing force against plated armor, while retaining its destructive cutting edge. The sword came to be known as the “Arming Sword” because it formed part of the Medieval Knight’s standard equipment. By the 14th C, the Arming Sword became the weapon of choice for many knights of the English, French and German empires.
Classified as a type XV in Ewart Oakeshott classification, the Arming Sword is a one-handed medieval weapon. Although popular during the 14th and 15th C, some sources suggest that type XV swords made their appearance as early as the latter part of the 13th century. During this period, sword geometry evolved to balance thrusting with the cutting geometry of previous periods. It was during this period that blade geometry began morphing more quickly as a response to the technological advances of the full plate armor of the medieval knights.
The blade is stiff and has a four-sided triangle-shape profile, with a diamond cross section, acute point and no fuller. The guard is designed for blocking opposing blows as well as to be used as an extension of the sword. The guard’s sharp tip was designed to thrust through the visor and other openings in the armor in close quarter combat.
Such blades were popular from the 14th to the 15th centuries among the nobility for their resilience, light weight, dexterity and devastating thrusting capabilities. Due to their light weight and potent thrusting abilities, this powerful and effective sword went on to become the prevailing medieval weapon of the 15th C.
Over the years of doing research in museums around the globe, we have seen numerous variations of arming swords. One of the most popular being the one on display at the Wallace collection (A460) , procured from the Comte de Nieuwerkerke (count of Nieuwekerke).
Being one of the most simple designs among single hand medieval weapons, the arming sword is elegant and unique; Simple, yet sophisticated. It’s clean lines and elegance made it a prime sword for us to replicate at our shop.
The hollow ground blade made this sword particularly interesting for our staff. The shape of the hollow ground blade is paralleled on the geometry of the pommel and downward slopping guard, preserving a perfect sense of geometry and proportionality among its’ individual parts.
Simple, yet refined, the guard had to be carefully ground to preserve crisp edges, clearly defining it’s sectional frame.
Our creation of the arming sword is forged with 5160 High Carbon Steel. The full tang construction is peened over the pommel. To see a detailed video of our forge.
Arming Swords were exclusively owned by the elite aristocracy, who were the medieval knight of the time. Their use was so common among the knights of the German, French and English forces that it came to be known as the quintessential sword of the medieval knight of the 14th and 15th century.
Being specifically designed for close quarter combat, the Arming Sword handles beautifully. It is a very responsive sword that feels “alive” and light in the hand. Easily wieldable even in novice hands, the Arming Sword’s characteristics make it a medieval weapon of choice for all collectors. The sword is perfectly balance for swift movement and powerful delivery in both cut and thrust motions.
While historically made for the noble elites, the Arming Sword is perfect for beginner and advanced students of the sword. Being perfectly balanced and relatively short, the Arming Sword has become a favorite among beginners seeking to perfect their form.
The diamond cross-section of the blade results in a thick spine that sharply tapers to the edge, providing good stiffness without sacrificing structural integrity. This makes the arming sword light enough in the hand to be wielded easily, yet resilient enough to withstand actual use in combat.
The Arming Sword is a one-handed medieval weapon that gives little resistance. It handles very well with one hand use, permitting the use of a shield, for students of mode I-33, on the opposite hand. Arming Swords are known for being manageable and powerful with excellent cut-and-thrust ability.
The Arming Sword has a very deep tapering, giving the sword an excellent piercing ability against chain mail and plate armor. The deadly thrusting tip can penetrate 18g armor, but is mainly used to thrust through opening under the armpits, gorgets, pauldrons, and other openings in the armor.
While primarily a thrusting weapon, the stiff blade of the arming sword makes it an excellent cutter against pumpkins, water bottles and tatami mats.
Historically, the Arming Sword could be used with effectiveness against both armored and unarmored opponents. This was by design, as the wielder would face both armored knights as well as the lightly-armored infantry. As a result, the Arming Sword was designed to be a versatile weapon that would be able to suit a variety of combat situations.
This version of the knightly Arming Sword is paired with a classic wheel pommel, one of the more simple historical designs. This style of pommel can be seen on examples well before the 14th C. While the design may be basic, it is anything but uninspired; a wheel pommel not only balances the blade and improves the handling, but can be used as a weapon in its own right. A crushing blow from the heavy round pommel of the Arming Sword could take an enemy by surprise, injuring them or knocking a helmet askew. The elegant curved guard is another classic, representative of several surviving examples of medieval Arming Swords.
The Arming Sword is truly a delight of a medieval weapon. Easily wield-able and very responsive, it provides both novice and experienced users a very good performing battle ready weapon which will easily cut and thrust through most targets set against it. The Arming Sword is faithfully crafted from the original at the Wallace Collection (inventory .A460). Skillfully crafted with the same dimensions as the original the sword is responsive, exceptionally well balanced, and delivers forceful blows. The Arming Sword is finely crafted, classically styled, and a must even for the most discriminating collector!