A Resource for Historic Arms and Armour Collectors
Arms & Armor English Longsword
A hands-on review by Gordon Clark
Swords designed to effectively use both edge and point have a long history, and have been present for at least three thousand years in both bronze and steel. In the relatively recent past, though, swords seemed to have been made for specialized purposesfirst for cutting, then, after the development of plate armour, for thrusting with the point. Finally, perhaps around 1400, the benefits of swords that were good at both were recognized and "cut and thrust" swords came back into fashion. Swords of Oakeshott Type XVIII share these abilities, but often have little else in common.. Swords of this type range from weapons that were light and agile and used as personal sidearms, to large and imposing swords of war capable of powerful shearing blows and devastating thrusts. The sword presented here lies somewhere in between these extremes.
Arms & Armor has a reputation for quality production weapons based on historic examples. This piece is a fine example of their work. It is based on a German example in the collection of the Zürich Landesmuseum (circa 1450). However, since the original is severely corroded, the hilt details are based on a Flemish painting by Hugo van der Goes, circa 1475. This sword is an interesting example of an elegant and effective weapon.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Arms & Armor of Minnesota.
This sword just feels good, especially when held with two hands. When cutting light targets, the sword is fairly easy to control with one hand, but takes some concentration to keep the edge aligned. With two hands, control is much improved and almost effortless. Vibration is minimal from strikes away from the Center of Percussion (CoP) and cutting effectiveness does not decrease much. Edge alignment is critical though, and the sword is not as forgiving when the edge is not aligned well with the direction of the swing.
The first quarter of the blade is about 0.2 inches thick and shows almost no distal taper, then it tapers very gradually to 0.18 inches at a point about 6 inches from the tip, then more dramatically to the tip. The spine of the sword is fairly thick for most of its length, and it shows; the blade is quite stiff for its weight and length and the point control is very good.
Fit and Finish
A genuinely lovely sword, a faithfully historic sword, and a real performance swordArms & Armor has produced a weapon that really does do it all. A&A certainly has many attractive weapons in their lineup, but I believe that this one is a standout in terms of both aesthetics and overall performance. The current retail price is $640 US, while not cheap, is still a very good value for the money.
About the Author
Gordon Clark spent seven years as a wandering college mathematics professor before settling down to a real job. He is now an analyst for a scientific consulting firm in the Washington DC area. A few years ago he realized a childhood dream of owning a real sword. His wife says that he has re-realized that dream too many times since then.
Photographer: Nathan Robinson