16th Century AD Swords

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Swords History - 16th Century AD

Badelaire Sword - Badelaire is a type of sword that featured blade that is similar to falchion. This type of sword was in use during the 16th century. The blade of the sword was short and wide. The pommel was usually very ornate in design. The quillons were curved. The quillon on the sharpened side of the sword was curved towards the pommel and the other one was curved towards the point of the blade.

Cutlass Sword - The Cutlass sword is a sword that is based on a cavalry sabre and adopted to be used at sea. In 1812 American Navy adopted this sword for enlisted sailors. The Cutlass sword found its use during the Barbary Coast wars.  The sword was shortened for the Navy use and its length averaged about 31 inches. The hilt of the cutlass was heavily decorated. In late 18th Century, the Royal Navy adopted the cutlass sword for its own use. Their cutlasses were larger as they were 39 inches in length. They were too long to be a good thrusting weapon and because they had little curvature, they didn’t perform well when cutting. Because of that, the Cutlass enjoyed little popularity; however, being inexpensive to manufacture, it was in use during the Napoleonic wars to large extend. In later years, the Cutlass sword was improved and standardized.

Dha Sword - Dha is the sword that was popular in Burma and other neighboring countries. Dha was a broadsword that had a single-edged and slightly curved blade. The hilt of the sword was long and it had no guards or the guards were very small and similar to tsuba on Japanese swords.  The hilt was often decorated with ornamental carvings. The hilt was made either of wood, ivory or silver. The blade was also inlaid with ornaments and intricate designs or simply with maker’s mark. The scabbards were made of wood often decorated with silver or gold. The dha sword’s blade varied in size and the shape of the tip. Some swords had the tip upswept, downswept, squared or shaped like a spear tip. Dha swords were meant to be used as single-handed weapons; however, there are double-handed versions of Dha swords in existence.

Dussack (Dussage) Cutlass - The Dussack Cutlass originated in 16th century in Central and Eastern Europe (Hungary or Bohemia). The cutlass was adopted throughout Germany as it was a simple weapon that was inexpensive to manufacture. It was a perfect practice weapon as trainees could practice with this weapon for Großes Messer (Hiebmesser), Falchion or Cutlass. Dussack swords were made of one piece steel with the end of the blade gradually transforming (looping) into handle and knuckle-guard. The blade of the Dussack type swords measured between 25 to 38 inches in length.

Epee - Epee originated as a stiff and heavy weapon that was excellent for thrusting and parrying. Just like the rapier, Epee has evolved over the years and nowadays it is only used for fencing. Today’s epees that are used in sport are very lightweight.

Executioner's Sword - Executioner's sword can be classified as an eccentric sword as this sword was not meant for combat but rather for decapitation of condemned criminals. Executioner’s sword was double-handed and featured a very wide and straight blade that ended that did not taper towards the end. These types of swords were in wide use in the 17th century.

Kampilan Sword - Kampilan is a large sword that was in use in the Philippines. The sword measured on average between 36 to 40 inches in length. The kampilan sword has a very distinct design in regards to the construction of the blade and the hilt. The blade has a very sharp tip that widens for few inches towards the hilt and then tapers again towards the base of the hilt. Also, the top part of the blade may feature a little spike. The hilt has a very distinctive pommel that resembles an open mouth of a creature. It is said, that the creature represented in the pommel is the mythical serpent “Naga”, a lizard or a crocodile. Since the sword is very long the hilt must be long enough to counterbalance the blade. The hilt is made of hardwood. The hilt also features a distinctive cross-guard. The kampilan sword features a full tang, which is completely covered by the hilt. The kampilan sword was used in the tribal warfare and according to historical records the sword was also used as a headhunting sword. The scabbard of the sword was disposable as it was made from discarded wood that was tied with rattan or fiber strings. When going to battle a warrior carrying the kampilan sword would simply strike the sheathed sword against the ground and shattering the sheath.

Kaskara Sword - Kaskara is a sword that was in use North African countries (Sahara) by Baghrimi. Kaskara was a broadsword that with blade that was double-edged. The edges of the blade were parallel to each other with some taper towards the tip of the blade. It is believed that the sword originated in the 16th century as a version of the original medieval Arab sword with straight blade. The hilt of the sword resembles the hilts found on traditional European Medieval cruciform swords. The cross-guard of the hilt was often made of iron or brass, while the pommel, in the shape of a disk, was made of wood. The flat side of the disk pommel faced the cross-guards. The scabbards for the swords were made of red or brown leather and they featured a very characteristic width flare-out just before the tip.

Landsknecht Flamberge Sword - Landsknecht (also called Lansquinet) were German mercenaries at the beginning of the 16th century. Their main combat weapons were halberds, swords and pikes. Landsknecht wore armor that was called Lansquinet armor. The are famous for using giant, over 6 foot swords called landsknecht flamberge. The term flamberge is derived from the terms flambard or flammard which both mean "flame blade" which refers to a normal cutting sword blade that had been forged with wave-shaped edges. The flame, or wave-shaped swords are most commonly found among the two-handed swords called in German "zweihander". The word "flammenschwert" means in German "flame sword". These two-handed swords featured en extremely long blade and long handle that was protected by also long ricasso. The ricasso was protected by flukes on each side of the blade. Such swords were used by Landsknechts in the 16^th century. Such swords were extremely effective against attacks of the pikemen as swords with wave-shaped blades had better ability to cut off the tip of a pike. Waved blade offered more cutting surface compared with swords with straight blades. Another effect of a flame-shaped blade was creation of unpleasant vibrations that were transferred into attacker's weapon and slower contact between weapons as flame-blade added more friction. The "flame blade" was also used in some rapiers.

Rapier - A rapier is a slander and sharply pointed sword that was used for thrusting attacks. Rapiers may feature two cutting edges. The blade might be sharpened on its entire length or from the middle of the blade to the tip or completely without a cutting edge (estoc). The Rapier was very popular in Europe between 16th and 17th century. Rapiers usually featured very complex hilts that were designed to protect the wielding hand. The word rapier was not used by the Spanish, French or Italian masters but rather the terms spade, epee or espada were used.

Schiavona Sword - Schiavona was a double-edged or single edged, basket-hilted, straight broadsword that was very popular in Italy during the Renaissance period. The blade of the sword was much wider (around 1.5 inch) compared with rapiers that were used at that time. The sword was very good for cutting and thrusting. Schiavona swords were found with blades of different lengths. Some of the blades had multiple fullers and some didn’t have fullers at all. There is a lot of confusion about the origins and meaning of the name of the sword Schiavona. In Italian, the word “schiavo” means “slave” and the word “Slavo” means “Slav”. It is said that the word Schiavona meant “Slavic woman” in Venetian Italian, when the sword was in use. There is a huge relation between the sword and Slavic mercenaries from the Balkans, who formed the bodyguard of the chief Venetian magistrate (Doge of Venice). Schiavona swords came in various versions that may have differed from one another. However, when it comes to the basket hilt construction, they shared the same characteristics. The bars that attached across the cross-bars were attached diagonally. The basket was not attached to the pommel which had the characteristic cat’s head shape. In 17th century, the schiavona sword was the preferred weapon of heavy cavalry. It was also used by the mercenaries and upper class.

Sinclair Hilt Sword - One of the earliest basket hilts designs was the Sinclair hilt that originated in south Germany. The main feature of the Sinclair hilt was the triangular plate that was wide at the base of the hilt and which tapered and ended at the pommel. The cross-guards were formed in delicate “S” shape. Sinclair hilt was very similar to the hilt on Main Gauche daggers. This type of hilts was used on many blades including rapiers, backswords, cutlasses and sabres. The Sinclair-type hilt is the probable influence in the origin the Scottish basket hilt broadswords. Swords with Sinclair hilt were brought from the continent to Scotland by George Sinclair mercenaries.

Yatagan Sword - Yatagan (also called a Turkish Sword) was a sword of Turkish origin. The name “Yatagan” is derived after the town called “Yatagan” in South West Turkey. This type of sword was used between 16th to 19th centuries. Yatagans were used in all the areas that were influenced by Turkish expansion. The sword featured a single-edged blade. The blade of the sword was curved forward in the middle and sometimes curved slightly backward at the point where the blade began to taper. The tip of the blade ended with a sharp point. The yatagan was similar to the ancient falcata sword. The back of the blade was made of softer steel while the sharp, cutting edge of the blade was made of tempered steel. The swords’ hilt had no guard. The handle of the sword was joined with the pommel by two, L-shaped slabs made of bone, horn or ivory. The pommel, which served as an extension of the handle, was curved towards the sharp edge of the blade. Both the hilt and the blade were highly decorated and the more ornate the sword was the higher the status was of its owner. Yatagans, on average were about 30 inches in length with the blade about 23 inches. The weight of the sword was less than 2lbs.

Sword History | Sword Origin Timeline

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