Friday, July 11th — Swords

July 11, 2008

Today I Learned…

…something interesting about swords.  I was reading a list of fantasy novel cliches (basically a test to determine whether you were ripping off either J.R.R. Tolkien or his good friend C.S. Lewis), when I came across the following tidbit.  One of the questions was something along the lines of “do you at any point reference the fact that swords can weigh over 40 pounds?”  It then linked to this site, from the Association of Renaissance Martial Arts.

As ARMA puts it on the above-linked site, “Everywhere from television and movies to video games, historical European swords have been depicted as being cumbersome and displayed with wide, exaggerated movements. On a recent national television appearance on The History Channel, one respected academic and expert on medieval military technology even declared with conviction how 14th century swords were “heavy” sometimes weighing as much as “40 pounds” (!).”

However, the best evidence maintains that not only did swords of that era not weigh 40 pounds, they never even got as heavy as 10 or even 15 pounds.  The Wallace Collection Museum in London, according to ARMA, lists a great number of swords, with only a handful weighing in at over 3 pounds.  Even the heavier swords never really got above 4.5 pounds, which would have been a very reasonable weight for someone who had been trained to use a sword since early adolescence or earlier.

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