Italian Short Sword

An under appreciated style of sword that is one of my favorites are these shorter broad bladed, double edged single handers with knuckle bows integral to the guard. We did a piece based on an illustration from a prayer book from 1440 of St. Martin that depicts an early version. if you are wondering what makes a short sword check out or blog on the subject here.

In this case we have made one in the style of the later pieces seen often in the mediterranean region. These would have been the arms of serving men and lower status soldiers. They were light and quick in the hand and a dangerous weapon to face in the confined streets of an Italian city.

Italian Short sword with black grip over all view

 I have often thought these would be the arms of such characters as Sampson and Gregory who appear at the beginning of Romeo and Juliet. Retainers who would be armed but not as nicely or elaborately as the main characters.

The compactness of these swords makes them easy to wear in crowded streets or less cumbersome to carry when on the march than a rapier of long sword. This piece is only about 30 inches in over all length and the blade is under two feet.

Italian short sword hilt with knucklebow

 While it is not long, the width of the blade and keen edge makes it a very good cutting sword. The acute point allows for deep penetrating thrusts in soft targets. The whole sword weighs about 2 and half pounds. 

Italian short sword with scabbard and attached belt

Sword with scabbard and attached belt

Here is a quick video looking at the sword and its attributes. We like this piece quite a bit and plan to do more research on this style and possibly introduce one as a stock piece in the future. Note on video: apologies for the fan sound we just got finished straightening up some axe heads and it was hot would have been sweating if the fan was not on.


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 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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