Oakeshott type XVIII swords are among the most iconic forms from the Medieval period. The gentle curve to a sharp point, whether in a single-handed or a longer sword, is what most people see in their minds when they hear the term Medieval sword. Our Dürer Bastard Sword is an elegant example of a type XVIIIb longsword. A typical hand and a half hilt is paired with a lively, well balanced blade. If the terms "longsword", "bastard sword", and "hand and a half sword" are confusing to you, check out this previous blog post in which we explore these meanings.
A painted version after Dürer's etching of Knight, Death and the Devil.
We named this sword after our favorite artist Albrecht Dürer, because his work illustrates many beautiful and detailed examples of these weapons. They are often shown on the hip of mounted and unmounted individuals most of whom are iconic examples of the 15th century man at arms. This particular sword is an excellent example of the thinner and more cut oriented varieties of the type. Compared to the thicker and more rigid type XV swords, such as our Black Prince Sword, these type XVIIIs sometimes featured a thinner blade overall, making them fast and devastating cutters. In fact, this sword is an excellent example of knightly longsword of a type that is perfect for practitioners of the Liechtenauer school of German fencing. Its fine, thin, blade makes it superb for cutting tatami and other practice targets, while its handling characteristics make it a great companion to one of our training feders.
The sword has the classic blade shape with a diamond cross section and a slightly curved edge tapering to a fine point. The hilt is a classic gently S-shaped guard that swells to small rolls on the ends of the arms, and features a well-formed wheel pommel defined by a nicely shaped ridge around the hub. The pommel is one of the reasons we choose this sword to reproduce from the original in a private collection. While some of the sword is heavily corroded enough of the pommel detail remained to show this nicely formed shape.
The grip is a slightly waisted bottle shape, reducing to a thinner upper grip which allows the rear hand to rotate freely when in play and practice. This sword is one of our favorite pieces for practicing long sword forms and using for test cutting. Weighing only 3.1 pounds, the nice balance and handling characteristics of this sword have made it one of our most popular longswords over recent years. Check out our spotlight video below.
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.