Arms & Armor Bohemian Broadsword
A hands-on review by Patrick Kelly, with contributions by Jason Elrod

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During the early Middle Ages, hand-and-a-half blades of a flat cutting design were quite popular. As armour improved, these designs gave way to more rigid thrusting swords in an attempt to defeat improvements in armour technology. However, at the end of the 15th century there was a resurgence in the popularity of these cutting swords, as evidenced by the many re-hilted Type XIIIa blades and the development and proliferation of Type XX swords, which Ewart Oakeshott considered to be a sort of late development of the Type XIIIa.

One sword shown below, dated between 1480-1510 and housed in a private collection, is an excellent example of this trend.
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The Bohemian Broadsword, by Arms & Armor, takes this original as inspiration. It is a unique sword in the production market. While most production companies focus on producing the more widely known 13th-14th century Grete Swerdes, A&A has chosen to focus on a lightweight 15th century Type XIIIa with hexagonal cross-section. Arms & Armor of Minneapolis, MN has long been a popular choice for collectors desiring historically-based recreations. Their designs are based on surviving historical originals.
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Measurements and Specifications:
Weight:2 pounds 6 ounces
Overall length:44 inches
Blade length:36 inches
Blade width:1 3/4 inches at base, tapering to 1 1/8 inches
Guard width:8 inches
Grip length:5 inches
Point of Balance:6 3/8 inches from guard
Center of Percussion:~22 inches from guard
Oakeshott typology:Type XIIIa blade

Replica created by Arms & Armor of Minnesota

Handling Characteristics
The Bohemian Broadsword exhibits quick handling qualities, it's quite responsive and is as easy to use with one hand as it is with two. When used with two hands, the pommel is easy to grasp and refined enough that it does not dig into one's palm. Those with small hands may find the grip to be long enough to be grasped with two hands and that the shape of the pommel helps lock the hands into place on the handle.

The flat hexagonal cross-section blade is extremely thin, light, and slightly "whippy"; the blade even sags a bit under its own weight. This thin cross-section combined with the strong distal taper allows the sword to excel in light cutting exercises. However, the Bohemian was not designed for the rigors of armoured combat and one should avoid using the sword against hard targets.

This sword is designed to cut. While its weight allows the sword to be quick during a thrust, the whippy blade makes it a little difficult to accurately control. In addition the rounded point and its cross-section make it less than effective for thrusting.

Fit and Finish
The Bohemian's mild steel furniture is cast in a writhen design that was very popular in northern Europe during the high medieval period. The components are cleanly cast, devoid of any pitting, and very attractive. The pommel is exceptionally beautiful. Each branch of the pommel is smooth and slightly rounded so it does not scrape against your arm during use. In addition, incised lines accent the end of every branch on the pommel making this one of the most wonderfully detailed pommels that seen on a production sword.

The blade is finished with a very attractive satin finish that is authentic and easily maintained. There are no visible grind marks on the blade; however the small fuller is slightly irregular, being wider and uneven closer to the guard. While many people would consider this a flaw, it's important to remember that, as with originals, each Arms & Armor piece is hand finished, so slight irregularities are possible.

The sword's wooden grip is covered with leather that has been stitched and shrunk to fit with beeswax. This provides a grip that is functional, secure and durable: a very no-frills and practical way to wrap a handle. However, due to the refinement of the cast pommel and guard, the leather grip seems a tad coarse compared to the rest of the sword.

Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, Arms & Armor's Bohemian Broadsword is a joy to handle and is a true hand-and-a-half design: as versatile with one hand as it is with two. If you are looking for a heavy duty 13th-14th century Grete Swerde then this is not the sword for you. The Bohemian was not intended for use against heavily-armoured opponents and would more likely please those 15th century collectors who desire a smooth-handling, lightweight riding sword.

About the Author
Patrick is a State Trooper serving with the Kansas Highway Patrol. He has been fascinated with edged weapons, particularly the medieval sword, since early childhood. Not only is Patrick thankful for any opportunity to indulge in his favorite hobby, he is also blessed with a wife who tolerates a house full of sharp pointy things.

About the Author
Jason Elrod is a retail manager with Borders Books in Dulles, VA. His sword obsession is tempered only by the knowledge that no matter how large his collection becomes, he still will not be able to use it to send his son to college.

Photographer: Steve Maly

Click photos to enlarge:

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