(About): The Birth of the Age of Chivalry, Forged Into Steel
Hand-forged in the artisan workshops of Canada’s foremost sword-maker Darksword Armory, our Norman Sword is a masterwork of historical reproduction. Working from the historical originals held in the finest museums in the world, Darksword’s master-artisans have plucked an 11th-century Norman knight’s sword from the mists of the past, using the perfect blend of heritage techniques and updated methods to produce a weapon with the precise character and characteristics of a High Medieval chivalric sword.
The only choice you have to make is – do you want a shining cold steel Norman sword? Or do you want to own a piece of sword-smithing history? With our Elite Series Norman Sword, you have the opportunity to own one of a small handful of specially-commissioned swords made from recreated medieval Damascus steel. For the wanna-be Norman elite, there is no finer Norman sword for sale – nor will there be ever again!
A Single-Minded Blade, Master-Crafted For Its Purpose
The blade of our Norman Sword is a stalwart of High Medieval weapon design, perfectly adapted to its role. It is fits into Oakeshott’s typology as a Type Xa – this is a subtype of the late-Viking and transitional High Middle Ages blades that emerged in the Northern European and Viking successor states, but which were quickly adopted as a prime format for the chivalric arming sword.
The Cusp of the Viking Age and the Age of Chivalry
The broad, flat-bladed, parallel edged Viking sword blades of the 9th and 10th centuries were fantastically well-adapted to their own military environments, but as armor began improve with the wider adoption of chainmail by more troops than just elite nobles and their chosen few warriors, the typical sword styles began to change to counter this. Swords began to become more elongated with a sharper taper and a longer point, and they also became stiffer, usually by the narrowing and deepening of the fuller – these changes reflected the requirement for swords to become better at thrusting with the point to split mail and pierce leather. So, although the late-Viking Type X survived well into the High Middle Ages, it was supplemented by the Type Xa. Initially, Oakeshott classified the Type Xa as Type XI blades, which are mostly slender single-handed cavalry swords that emerged in the 12th-century CE, but although they had deep, narrow fullers and longer points, they retained many features of their Viking heritage, such as the broad, flat blade. Thus in a 1981 revision of his earlier 1964 magnum opus ‘The Sword in the Age of Chivalry’, Oakeshott added the Xa subtype to his schema, describing those blades which straddled the medieval arming sword and their Late-Viking grandfathers.
The Ideal Blade Geometry for a Mounted Knight’s Blade
Our Norman Sword is characterised by a broad blade that tapers steadily to a long, sharp point, with a deep and narrow fuller that ends some distance before the tip. Whilst later swords would adopt all sorts of methods to keep the blade as light as possible, these date from the era when thrusting swords were all-important for frustrating much tougher forms of transitional and plate armor: the Norman Sword, however, is a cutting sword, designed to be swung on high from horseback. Thus, its shorter fuller deliberately creates a point of balance is a little further from the guard than similar arming swords in order to give those cutting swings weight and heft, whilst still retaining the agility to aim thrusts with pinpoint accuracy. The end result is a blade that has unparalleled presence in the hand – no other Norman sword for sale today will make you feel like a Norman mounted knight whilst wielding it.
Modern Materials for a Rugged Re-Enactment-Grade Sword
The master blade-smiths at Darksword Armory have selected 5160 carbon steel as the material from which to make our Norman Sword. By the time Norman cavalry swords began appearing in the 11th century CE, the methods of making swords from carbon steel had fully eclipsed the older pattern-welding techniques, which married up steel edges with pattern-welded homogenised blade cores. The 5160 spring steel is an excellent modern analogue for these High Middle Ages steels: Darksword’s smiths use hand-forging techniques (as well some modern time-saving, cost-reducing measures) to shape and finish their blades, and then they heat-treat them with their secret dual-tempering technique. This results in blades that are incredibly hard with excellent edge-retention, whilst being flexible and elastic enough to absorb and dissipate the gigantic forces involved in functional use. Our completed Norman Sword blade has a Rockwell hardness of 60 HRc at the edge and 48-50 HRc at the core – this means that it is a battle-ready blade, capable of going toe-to-toe with swords of a similar hardness in light combat, as well as shrugging off the knocks and scrapes of roleplay and re-enactment use.
The Hilt that Spanned the Medieval Era
What do you think of when you read ‘sword’? You probably think of a straight-bladed, cruciform arming sword, right? The influence that our Norman Sword’s hilt had over the next five centuries of European sword design cannot be overestimated; it is the genesis of everything from the Scottish claymore to the . The ‘cruciform’ hilt, ie. a hilt shaped like a cross, was a Viking invention, emerging from the narrow-hilted forms of earlier Carolingian swords with the ‘gaddhjalt’. Coming from the Norse for ‘spike-hilt’, it might be easy to assume that its name refers to the long, thin quillons of the cross-guard, but historians generally agree that the name actually derives from the long, sharply-pointed tang that Frankish and Germanic smiths began to finish their sword-blades with in this period. The classic gaddhjalt style, with its brazil-nut shaped pommel, gradually gave way to the round-pommeled Norman sword. Darksword Armory’s magnificently faithful historical reproduction is based on surviving historical originals, the precise geometry of which has been replicated down to the millimetre.
A Norman Sword Hilt Up Close
Our Norman Sword cross-guard is a stark and simple design with flattened terminals that emerged in the 11th century, and was still in use three centuries later. The broad guard gave significantly better protection to the hand against other bladed weapons than earlier narrow-guarded Norse blades (which may well indicate that sword-on-sword combat had become much more common this period) – and its flattened terminals could be used as a makeshift deadly knuckleduster in the tangle of the melee. The grip is a simple single-handed grip wrapped in brown leather – these swords would almost always be wielded one-handed from horseback, with a long Norman shield strapped to the rein arm. The pommel is a large wheel-shape of Oakeshott Type I, being precisely balanced to give the blade agility without sapping the smashing weight from its blows.
Overall, this weapon is a rare treat. Darksword’s swordmakers have not tried to make the ‘perfect’ weapon, stripping out its quirks and qualities, thereby removing this sword’s unique historical character. Rather, they have succeeded in a special project of reproducing a Norman chivalry weapon in precise detail, warts and all. In a word? Staggering. It puts any other Norman sword to sale to shame. It would make a magnificent historical accompaniment to a historically-accurate High Middle Ages knight re-enactment outfit, but it also has an enormous range of fantasy applications. It simplicity bears an undeniable nobility, so it is as authentic at the hip of an errant knight roleplay as it would be at the hip of a fantasy king.
A Unique Elite Series Sword – for the Collectors of the Finest Swords Only
For the most discerning of sword collectors, Darksword Armory have designed a range of bespoke, hand-forged weapons that would make a Norman lord’s eyes pop out of their head. All of the metal parts of our Elite Series Norman Sword have been hand-shaped from the legendary material known as ‘Damascus steel’. In the medieval period, ‘Damascus steel’ referred to the super-hard crucible steel that was imported to Europe from South India by traders from the Middle Eastern Islamic states. This material was the equal of any steel that would be produced before the Industrial Revolution, and although the swords forged with it acquired a miraculous reputation, even their reality would have been spectacular enough – contemporary swords would be notched, bent or even shattered by the Damascus blades. They were instantly known by the rippling water-like patterns in their blades (one theory says that their name comes from ‘damas’ meaning ‘watered’ in Arabic); these beautiful patterns were formed in the crucible firing process by the differential layers of carbon as it infused into the steel.
Nowadays, although the precise nature of medieval ‘Damascus steel’ remains a topic of endless historical and archaeo-metallurgical debate, we can recreate Damascus steel with master-forged modern materials. The artisans at Darksword Armory have chosen four different steels – 1095, 5160, L-6 and O1 – to laminate together by pattern-welding. These steels are piled together, heated, forge-welded, stretched, folded, cut and piled again to form a staggeringly hypnotic and complex four-tone patternation throughout the metallic elements of the sword. Every Elite Series Norman Sword has its own unique ‘fingerprint’ – no smith in the world, no matter how talented, could reproduce its pattern.
Such a special sword is extremely limited edition. Only 100 of these weapons will ever be made to order for lucky clients – once they are gone, they are gone forever. Every Elite Series sword bears a certificate of authenticity, stamped with Darksword Armory’s Elite Series wax-seal and signed by the master-smith and founder of Darksword Armory, Eyal Azerad. It also includes the upgraded leather scabbard with interlaced sword-belt. The opportunity to place a resurrected Damascus steel arming sword on your wall doesn’t come along every day – so don’t let it pass you by!
(History): The Normans: Viking Blood on French Soil
It may seem surprising that we have talked so often of the birth of chivalry and of the Vikings in the same breath. But they are deeply interlinked – and it all happened in a corner of north-western France.
From early in their expansionist phase, Vikings were looking beyond raiding towards settling and colonising, which they did south-eastward into the Russian interior along the Volga, into the East of England, and also into north-Western France. By the early 10th century, there were flourishing Viking settlements along the lower Seine. A Viking leader called Rollo besieged Chartres in 911 CE, and forced the somewhat unfortunately-named Frankish King Charles III the Simple to cede the land between Rouen and the river’s mouth to him, in return for his fealty. In becoming a French vassal, Rollo made the leap from adventurer and raider, into the nobility. This land became the Dutchy of Normandy, literally ‘the land of the North-men’.
Rollo’s great-great-great-grandson, William the Bastard, took advantage of the destabilised Anglo-Dane polity in England, and installed himself as William I the Conqueror of England. The military campaign he undertook to secure his throne used the crack Norman heavy cavalry, whose traditions of horsemanship the Normans had adopted from the Frankish horse elite. The devastating military victory of the Norman cavalry, bearing their Norman swords, in the campaigns to secure the rest of England swept away the Anglo-Dane elite, and secured their position as a knightly ruling-class. Thus, the forms of political patronage and knightly service pioneered by the newly-installed Anglo-Norman ruling-class were instrumental in setting the imagery and ideology of chivalry – including, critically, their totemic Norman sword.
The Norman sword, now the supreme weapon of a powerful chivalric ruling-class straddling the English Channel, became only more deeply associated with Christian chivalric virtue with the French and English knights participating in the Crusades, beginning in the late 11th-century, cementing its position as the weapon that would forever be the emblem of the Medieval age. Our meticulously reproduced Norman Sword embodies every shred of that titanic legacy.
- Total length: 34 inches
- Blade length: 28 inches
- Blade width: 2 inches
- Blade material: 5160 carbon steel / 1095, 5160, L-6 and O1 steel (Elite Series)
- Blade hardness: 60 HRc at edge ; 48-50 HRc at core
- Guard and pommel material: Mild steel / 1095, 5160, L-6 and O1 steel (Elite Series)
- Grip material: Brown leather / Black leather (Elite Series)
Weight: 2lbs. 5 oz.