Everyone is entitled to their own preferences, and there is certainly no accounting for taste. But here at Arms and Armor we really appreciate how real medieval and Renaissance swords look and feel. If you compare real medieval swords with most modern reproductions, even high quality ones, a few distinct differences really stand out. First of all, real medieval and Renaissance swords have a handmade aesthetic that instantly sets them apart from machined or computer designed modern reproductions.
Arms and Armor Schloss Erbach Sword
While medieval sword makers and knowledgeable consumers highly valued certain qualities, for example, the types of proportionality that our friend Peter Johnson has identified, other qualities, like perfect symmetry of decoration seem to have been of little concern. Furthermore, the qualities that these sword makers and users valued changed over time and across geography. For example, the highly ornate decorative styles of the Viking age had become old-fashioned and even quite foreign by the high Middle Ages. Here is a another example, check out the incredible detail on the Bronze Age sword model below, and compare that to the details from the medieval sword that follows. These two European weapons from our sister organization, The Oakeshott Institute, separated in time by two millennia, are also separated by a vast cultural and aesthetic gulf. The decorative details on the Bronze Age sword would be entirely out of place on a medieval weapon.
Artisans and consumers from the past had their own criteria for judging the beauty and value of the weapons of their age. In the video below Nathan describes how we at Arms and Armor are inspired by original medieval and Renaissance swords to produce high quality replicas that look, feel, and function just like the originals on which they are based, and some of the techniques we use to try and capture the period aesthetic.
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