(About): The Battlefield’s Jack-of-All-Trades
Improving armor in the Age of Chivalry meant that wealthy knights were no longer as reliant on their shields for defense – and so they could wield flexible weapons in one or both hands, depending on the tactical situation. The knights’ bastard sword was a jack-of-all-trades: capable of being wielded one-handed with a shield, or with both like a war-hammer. Our Knight Bastard Sword is a faithful historical reproduction of a 15th-century hand-and-a-half sword, made by Canadian artisan smiths Darksword Armory. Like all of Darksword’s blades, our Knight Bastard Sword has been designed and forged to meticulous tolerances using the highest quality materials, resulting in a peerless historical weapon that might outstrip even the chivalric original.
The Bastard Blade In Detail
The blade of our Knight Bastard Sword is of Oakeshott Type XIV: a development from earlier cutting blades, the XIV is diamond-shaped in cross-section, meaning that it is much more rigid than similar blades of its type, with a linear taper from hilt to tip. This blade is a knight-killer, designed to puncture heavy chainmail and pierce plate armor. It is hand-forged from 5160 spring steel, and dual-tempered to produce a staggeringly resilient and durable weapon. The hilt is rugged mild steel, with a curved, period-authentic crossguard. The grip is wet-formed leather for superior grip. The pommel is raised-wheel, classified by Oakeshott as a Type J, weighted so as to made the blade agile and wieldy. This sword is a fully-functional, battle-ready weapon made with a full-tang peened construction – and it is supplied with a fantastic reinforced leather scabbard with an optional interlaced sword-belt made from tough leather. It’d make the ideal trusty companion to an a period-accurate Late Medieval knight, as well as a noble sword for a LARP outfit of a fantasy warrior or soldier.
(History): A Sword for a New Century of Warfare
The height of the Age of Chivalry in the 14th-century saw a paradigm shift in warfare – both an enormous increase in the scale of battles to the level of tens of thousands of soldiers engaged on the field at once, and in arms and armor. The emergence of plate armor in the early 1300s led to the gradual discarding of shields in favor of two-handed weaponry, amongst those who could afford it, at least. Before these developments, swords capable of being wielded with two hands were the choice only of those with a reckless disregard for their personal safety, whereas now they became de rigueur amongst the class of armored knights who dominated the militaries of the European High and Late Middle Ages. The bastard sword was one such weapon – also known as the ‘hand-and-a-half sword’, the bastard sword is the child of both one- and two-handed swords, the grip being long enough to accommodate two hands, and the blade being short and light enough to be agile when wielded one-handed.
Quite a few terms that we use today for various arms and armor are retronyms – words that we’ve applied retrospectively to describe categories which were probably indistinguishable or unimportant to medieval people. ‘Bastard sword’ is partially one of these: the term was used in the Late Medieval and Renaissance period, but it seemed to refer to large swords that were of ambiguous origin – for example, an espée bastarde was a sword that was not clearly of Spanish, French or German style. Antiquarians in the 19th-century who began to routinely categorise medieval weapons then took this term to mean the large half-way swords between two-handed longswords and late-medieval arming swords.
- Total length: 44 inches
- Blade length: 32 ½ inches
- Blade distal taper: 6.5mm – 3.7mm
- Blade material: 5160 carbon steel
- Blade hardness: 60 HRC at edge ; 48-50 HRC at core
- Guard and pommel material: Mild steel
- Grip length: 9 inches
- Grip material: Leather
- Weight: 3 lbs 3 oz.