This mid 15th C style of sword has a unique hilt form. It is seen in surviving pieces and depictions in art and is most often seen in connection with southern German states and surrounding regions.
Our sword is based on a surviving sword in the Zürich Landesmus dated to c.1450. The piece is a bit corroded, so we took some of the decorative detail from an example in art painted by Hugo van der Goes about 1475. This shows a high-status sword carried by an armoured saint.
This form of pommel while wide has a thin cross section, it reminded Ewart Oakeshott of an antique watch key. He referred to these as “key shaped pommels”. They are categorized as his type U pommel form. The narrow base of the pommels matching the upper grip so the hand would use the base of the pommel as part of the grip.
The guard is a gently arched Type 1a according to Oakeshott. The slightly oval cross section is highlighted with a matching detail to the pommel.
The grip is a waisted form with both the lower and upper portion being concave in profile. This hock bottle form of grip was very popular across several sword styles and in combination with the Oakeshott Type U pommel creates a very distinctive shape. It is quite comfortable in the hand and provides a narrow upper grip that allows the back hand to freely flow around the sword as it winds.
The sword is 43.5 inches in overall length with a 33 and just over half inch blade. Its weight is 2.6 pounds or 1180 grams. The result is a surprising lively sword in the hand with a great feel for the cut or the thrust. The crossed risers on the grip also give a solid purchase for the hand and help provide a tactile sense of where the blade is in the fight.
This sword is very popular with reenactors of the 15th century, as it strongly dates to this period and is seen in several depictions that place it context for that time. Another group of fans for this piece are test cutting aficionados. They find the sword to be very good for cutting practice.
Check out our video review.
Video review of the Arms & Armor English Longsword
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.