Our French Rapier is one of our most popular rapiers and a true sculpture in steel. The guard is a classic form of a complex swept hilt with the its long S shaped sweep that flows from the knuckle bow to the forearm of the hilt. The rear guard arm curves forward towards the sword tip and the hilt lacks a forward guard arm. The rapier evolved at the very end of the 15th century and by the middle decades of the 16th century this it was the dominant style of sword. It was the stylish choice for anyone of means walking about the city trying to display their wealth and taste with decorated hilts. The more workman-like plain hilts would have been the tools of soldiers, less well healed tradesmen and workers.
The sword comes with a 40.5 inch blade that is just over an inch wide at the hilt. This stout blade tapers to a fine point, making it an excellent cut and thrust weapon. This works well with the fencing systems of the day such as those devised by masters such as Marozzo, Fabris and Capo Ferro.
The rapier was an important weapon for the man in the street from the south of Italy to the docks of Lisbon to the back streets of London. This period of history saw an expansion of the practice and teaching of swordplay and the rapier was the focus of much of this attention.
This blade length is well within the sumptuary laws of the period, as in London in 1562 it was declared that a blade should not be longer than approximately 44”. This was due to the repeated proclamations by the crown to deal with the “dyuers naughty and insolent persons, haue nowe of late attempted to make quarelles, ryottes, and frayes, … for thaccomplishment of their noughty purposes & quarelles, haue caused swordes and Rapyers, to be made of a much greter length” Yes this means you rapierist! Proclamation 17 March 1557.
The sword is 47” in overall length and has an elegant and sturdy construction. Our rapier hilt is hand crafted from steel in our shop and mounted on a 6150 steel blade hardened to 50-52 Rc. The grip is bound in twisted wire in a traditional form providing a sure purchase for the hand when in a duel or just swaggering down your favorite street.
The French Rapier will be an excellent choice for your rapier needs whether "naughty" or nice.
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.