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max asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 7 years ago

swords for ranks in medievel times?

in the medievel times (before guns) when swords were main weapons: were swords not as they are in pictures- like in quality? did they have hammer marks over them not shinned up. I guess the high rank soilders had good swords but did anyone have sword like you see in pictures like perfectly smooth and shinny. and how much of the armies would have a sword to quality. because i know swords arnt easy to produce like you see in pictures. some explanation on this would be great thanks, some pictures and links aswell, also how many blacksmiths would they have and how fast did they create swords

2 Answers

  • Cabal
    Lv 7
    7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    A shiny sword is a sharp sword, well taken care of but it doesn't mean the metal was a one piece modern looking piece of steel shiny and mirror smooth.

    You had different kind of swords, and different kind of forging, but count at least a week per sword. The 'cheap' militia swords could be folded up to 800 times, folding and hammering by hand 800 times a piece of metal takes time. And even if metal was abundant in Europe it still cost money to make swords so as said above many foot soldiers were armed with upgraded farm tools or had weapons with metal blades but wood handles. It was better for them too as the host was usually not made of professional soldiers who had the time to learn to use a sword but conscripted peasants more at ease with a sickle or a pike or a war flail than with a sword. And sickles were very good at cutting horse legs. War flails too were created from the threshing tool of the same name.

    Here are a few pictures of hand made copies of medieval swords (sorry, the site is in French as the swordsmith making them is French). As you will see they might look mirror smooth and shiny from afar but when you look closer you can see the folded metal. If you touched the blade you would feel some slight roughness compared to a modern sheet of metal. Smooth means no weakness, so the smoother the blade the best it was as it meant the sheets had been hammered into a single piece, but you had rougher ones, done quickly, cheaply, and with inferior grade metal. The less folding, the less flexible the blade is.

    The pictures of that time we still have were ordered by rich nobles and used as propaganda, so they showed rich armies, led by very rich and powerful nobles able to arm all their soldiers with swords and expensive armour. You can find some with other kind of weapons but consider that those pictures are usually showing only the best so the abundance of sword carriers can be a slight exaggeration.

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  • 7 years ago

    The commoners who were drafted into foot soldiers in medieval warfare mostly used weapons that doubled as agricultural tools: billhooks, axes, sickles, etc. Sometimes these things were mounted on a pole to "weaponize" them. Other weapons might be a sharpened pole used as a simple pike or a club made of wood. Such simply equipped soldiers were known as the host (or fyrd in Saxon) Archers were specialized semi-professionals who had status above the peasant soldiers.

    These dual-purpose implements would not have been given any polish or decoration, being simple tools made by village blacksmiths for the use of common folk. Hammer marks would be visible.

    Swords were made by specialized craftsmen out of steel rather than wrought iron. The more talented armorers would make decorated pieces for the gentry. Steel was made by heating, folding and hammering the iron into layers; introducing small amounts of carbon in the process. It could take days to hammer out the billet that would become a single sword blade.

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