The distinct sword of the famous Landesknecht soldiers is called a Katzbalger. Today we look at the Arms & Armor replica Katzbalger Sword and Dagger. This excellent sword is one we have made for many years and we crafted a matching dagger for those looking for a suite of weapons.
This style of sword was a weapon associated with the Landesknechts, elite troops of the 15th and 16th Centuries. They and the Reisläufer, their Swiss counterparts and the inspiration on which Emperor Maxmilian created the Landesknecht were known for the ruthless and wild behavior and willingness to change sides for a better offer, even mid battle. There was a vicious rivalry between the Swiss and German troops and when they met in combat it was called the “schlechten krieg” or bad war, as no quarter could be expected or would be requested.
The sword they carried was very much a piece that identified them and was often chosen for ostentatious display. By decree of the Emperor they were exempt from the sumptuary laws of the period, so not only were their weapons fancy they are known for their multilayered and colored puff and slash fashion.
Landesknechts in Triumphs of Maxmilian
The sword we are looking at has a guard that turns back on itself forming a figure eight shape, it is the most recognizable characteristic of the Katzbalger. The pommel is most often a wide flared cap shape that seats tight against the back of the hand though you do see some variety. In the larger longsword and two handed forms of the sword we see a pommel shape more like a wide short sent stopper in form.
The dagger is a smaller version of the sword and has the same elaborate detail. This form of dagger s seen quite often but the Landesknechts had other forms as well.
In the video I mention getting a letter from a customer talking about his experiences with the term Katzbalger, I dug into some of my old records and was able to find the text so I could share it with you.
Hope you find this interesting.
Don't forget to check out the Free Sword Contest
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.