What is a gothic sword?

Today we examine what it means to call a weapon "Gothic". Though there is a subset of our readers who may have in mind the sword of Azrael Abyss, the term Gothic was used historically to identify a certain artistic style that primarily developed in the Germanic lands of Northern Europe.  

The Gothic style is complex, but in terms of swords is differentiated from other medieval forms by, among other things, the writhen, or twisting, style of crosses and pommels.  Our German Branch Sword, a faithful copy of an original in the Royal Armouries London, is an excellent example of a Gothic style sword.  

Arms and Armor German Branch Sword

Arms and Armor German Branch Sword

Sculpting the cross and pommel to resemble twisted branches was a very common decorative motif.  Sometimes the twisting was more subtle, as on our German Bastard Sword and Schloss Erbach swords, below.

German Bastard Sword Arms and Armor      Arms and armor Schloss Erbach Sword
Here is a more naturalistic Gothic hilt sometimes referred to as the Gothic Bough style. The grip is antler and the guard is worked steel mounted on a single edged hunting sword.


Check out the video below for some more information.

l'armeria real di turino

Here is the book mentioned in the video.



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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