The knight sword in myth and history
We came to know about knights in folklores and childhood tales. In these stories, we knew them as gallant soldiers in the service of Kings and rich landholders in the Middle Ages. They were sworn to protect the kingdom and uphold the values of loyalty, courage, and honor.
Chivalric tales of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare portrayed them as willing captives of love and would go to the world’s end to save their damsels in distress. And of course a knight cannot be without his shining armor, a horse of highly-coveted pedigree, and invincible medieval sword.
The Knight Sword
What is a medieval sword or a knight sword? Children of today might be familiar with medieval fantasy swords found in their console games and thus know well of the answer. Knight swords are the weapons of choice of soldiers in the past. Long, made of strong steel alloy, and forged by master swordsmith, they are an unmistakable symbol of power, strength, and bravery.
Folklores have not spared the knight sword of the Medieval Ages from attaining mythical status. For example, King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was said to have been made out of and by magic. Only King Arthur, and no one else, could wield it to efficient use. It was only he who was able to pull it out of a stone, from which it has been stuck for ages. And when the King died Excalibur was returned to the Lady of the Lake, its goddess-smith.
The Parts of the Knight Sword
Folklores aside, the history of medieval sword or knight sword is centered on its development and design. After thousands of years, the design of the knight sword remained to be fairly consistent even though medieval sword fighting and armor have developed. The knight sword still consisted of blade, hilt, and scabbard. Of the three, only the scabbard is not a physical part of the sword. Rather it is used to sheath the sword to protect it from dust, moist, and unnecessary friction. Scabbard is also serviced so that the sword will not pose any danger when idle.
The hilt is the lower end of the sword intended for the grip. It is also intended to serve as safety division from the blade and protect the knight’s hand from being wounded. Knight sword can have a one-handed or two-handed grip. The latter was popular especially when heavy metal armors were produced. It was also more potent and fatal, as the sword can be swung with much larger force.
The blade is the metal, sharply edged part of the sword intended for thrusting, cutting, and slashing. The blade of early versions of sword were more like knives, as they were no more than half a meter in length. The blade of the knight sword, on the other hand, like the longsword can reach to a length of two meters.
The knight sword and decorative arts
What makes knight swords popular today is their decorative art. In the past, kingdoms have vaunted their presence through decorative designs in knight sword. In Japan, rich landowners etched their clan’s name onto the tang of the blade. (Tang is that part of the blade that extends to the hilt). German cavalries have been for hundreds of years putting a tassel or a sword knot at the hilt. The tassel, made of woven silver or gold, is used to keep the blade from being lost.
The Knights Templar sword, on the other hand, had inserted their seal of fleur-de-lis, cross pattee, and red Jerusalem cross on the hilt and scabbard. Viking swords, old Nordic tribes of Europe, were designed with runic inscriptions to mark the owner’s rank and clan. Lastly, Celtic swords were wrought from iron and sparsely embellished.
But the most distinguishable knight sword is that of the sword of Abu 'abd-Allah Muhammad XII, also known as Boabdil. With ornate Moorish designs at its sloping hilt, it was the sword that Boabdil carried when he cried for losing to the King of Spain. At which his mother said, “You do well to weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man.”