How to break your sword...

Today we examine how battle damage, especially edge on edge contact between sharp swords can lead to failure and breakage, even in otherwise excellent swords.  As viewers of our videos know, we've been doing a series of tests pitting our weapons against medieval armors, and against each other, to see how, for example, edge on edge contact between swords impacts the weapons, how effective swords are against plate armor, and how chain maille holds up against axes, flails, daggers, and war hammers.  

In last week's post on how to resharpen a sword with edge damage, and in our examination of historical swords that evidenced being repaired, we explored how nicks and chips were fixed.  Today we look at what happens when a sword continues to be used despite having deep notches due to edge contact with another weapon.  As you can tell by the picture above, the results can be catastrophic.   Dr. Nathan Clough also reflects on what broken swords can teach us about HEMA, modern conceptions of medieval battle, and how medieval warriors might have thought about the danger of broken weapons.

divider swords

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, Western Martial Arts Workshop, 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

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