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Emil Andersson




Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2012 12:39 pm    Post subject: Rapier vs Longsword         Reply with quote

Hello.

I've recently taken up Capo Ferro rapier fencing together with a fencing buddy, and we've worked through some of the first plate sequences. Today we tried some sparring with single rapier vs longsword and we ran into a little bit of trouble. It seemed as if the two different weapons tied each other up too well. The speed of the rapier's tip denied the longsword the use of any cuts, while the mass of the longsword diverted the rapier's thrusts very easily. My buddy tried adding in a dagger for the left hand which did make a difference, but I still feel that the rapier itself must be possible to use more influentially than we did.

How can the rapier be used to circumvent the longsword's length and mass? Should you avoid blade contact as best as you can and change lines of thrusting?

Please discuss. Big Grin
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Matthew P. Adams




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2012 1:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6r7VWIQCHvM

Just a quick Youtube search.

It seems like feinting would be the way to go with with the rapier. If you can get the longswordsman to raise or lower his guard and come around? I have no rapier experience but I have practiced Italian Longsword for a couple years.

"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Julian Reynolds




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2012 2:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Last Saturday, we held an inter-salle rapier vs longsword tournament, but in the run up to the actual contest, it was agreed that the rapier guys should be allowed to use parry dagger. This was for two reasons - firstly, the use of the offhand is very much an instinctive part of rapier, and unless one's hand was held behind one's back, the likelihood of injury to the offhand was seen as too high to warrant the risk of it getting caught up in the action without some kind of appropriate defence (we could have worn armoured gauntlets, but that would have been unrealistic....). Secondly, a longsword just plows it's way through rapier guards and parries, and a rapier on it's own has too little mass to make an opening against a two-handed sword, so it was felt that the parry daggers should be allowed in order to assist in deflecting cuts and making openings. A parry dagger was also seen as a typical (if not universally encountered) companion to the rapier.

Feints were useful, as was avoiding contact and sniping with the point. But a steel feder is also capable of being wielded with a lot of accuracy and dexterity (indeed one longsworder started to use rapier tactics against the rapiers!) and with a lot of power and control, making things considerably trickier.

In the end, the rapier guys won the contest, but those feders took a heavy toll on their equipment - one rapier blade completely cleaved in two, one parry dagger completely bent out of shape, lots of twisted and bent quillons and bent dagger blades.......

Julian
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Mackenzie Cosens




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2012 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
... for we admit that he who tries to parry the blows of a two-handed sword with a plain sword will find himself deceived and instead of a sword will find himself holding a dagger instead, But as the manner of resisting such force consists, not in opposing it, but in diverting and evading it...
Academy of the Sword Girard Thibault d' Anvers 1630 translation Michael Greer

Thibault has 3 sections or about 12 pages on dealing with a two handed sword. The weapon shown is bigger then your standard longsword but I would say not as massive as Alfrieri;s Spadone but these things are hard to judge looking at engravings- anyway Thibault talks about how to deal with massive two handed sword like thingies with a skinny long rapier like thingie & might be worth a read.

If memory servers me correct, somewhere on the internet there is a video of Tom Leoni taking a Zornhaw from I believe Christian Tobler by transitioning from 4th to 1st and taking the blow on the forte
m
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2012 9:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Rapier vs Longsword         Reply with quote

Emil Andersson wrote:
How can the rapier be used to circumvent the longsword's length and mass?


Is this the right question? Rapier and longsword are of similar mass, rapier is often significantly longer (not even counting the reach advantage you'll get for using it one-handed).

Perhaps "How can the rapier be used to circumvent the greater leverage of the two-handed grip?"?

You have more reach. Use it. One can do the same with one-handed longsword versus two-handed longsword. More reach, so stick them with the point.

Avoid binds - their leverage will cause you some serious problems. Offer binds to lure them, but when they try for it, disengage and stick them with your point.

If your rapier simulators are shorter than their longsword simulators, get longer rapiers.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Julian Reynolds




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2012 10:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There was a mix of 37" and 42" rapiers being used in our tournament. The idea that you can stand outside of a longsword's reach and lunge your way to victory is nice but not really feasible - the longsworders like nothing better than to close those distances very quickly (even to grappling distance), and as said before, those feders are quicker & nimbler than you would imagine, and were even thrown out (singlehanded) to increase their range considerably. They are used to dealing with their opponent having a long reach, and so the advantage was a lot less than expected, and the opportunity for a full lunge very limited.

Julian
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Aleksei Sosnovski





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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2012 11:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Many longswords were pretty long, having blades of 100cm and sometimes even longer, as opposed to modern "standard" of about 90 cm. While a rapier usually has a slightly longer reach, one should keep in mind that in real combat running your opponent through probably will not instantly incapacitate him, especially if he is delivering a blow at that moment, so the rapier guy should make sure that he will not get hit the moment after thrusting his opponent.

From what I see, most people use light rapiers which are readily available nowadays. Real early rapiers were long but heavy, sometimes weighing more than a longsword. There was a good reason for this. Julian wrote that a lot of equipment was damaged by longswords. Imagine what would happen if rapier blades were of lesser quality! I think intentionally hitting rapier blade with a longsword would be a viable tactic against light slender weapons. Modern metallurgy and heat treatment allow us to worry about our weapons much less than a person would have to in the 16th century.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2012 1:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the rapier benefits from rules for fighting to first touch/first blood. Longsword might benefit from fighting "for real".

But one-handed longsword, against the right opponent, can be OK against two-handed longsword, so rapier versus longsword can work. Against the right opponent.

Feh! Just take a long two-handed spear! Have both leverage and reach.!

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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T. Arndt




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 9:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
I think the rapier benefits from rules for fighting to first touch/first blood. Longsword might benefit from fighting "for real".

Some HEMA longsword tournaments require that after making the "kill", the winner-to-be must be able to either: defend an attack, take 3 steps or allow 5 seconds to pass, all unscathed, to truly win the point. I think this goes a long way towards making the fighting more "for real".

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Feh! Just take a long two-handed spear! Have both leverage and reach.!

Totally, the spear is mankind's oldest and most verstile weapon:

Spear vs Sword and Buckler: Nick vs Mike Sparring
Spear vs Longsword: Nick vs Jake AHF sparring

I can't find any Spear vs Rapier video's however-

Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association (WHFA) - La Crosse
A HEMA Alliance Affiliate

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” -Juvenal
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Julian Reynolds




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 1:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Spear vs Rapier - sorry, very improbable, no wonder you can't find anything.

Rapier is not primarily a battlefield weapon, although they were carried on the field (usually with a heavier blade than one would normally associate with a civilian rapier). At a pinch, you could possibly justify rapier against a 'badge of rank' polearm such as a spontoon/partizan/halberd, or try it against massed pike (good luck!). But a spear was an unlikely adversary for a rapier.....

Julian
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T. Arndt




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julian Reynolds wrote:
But a spear was an unlikely adversary for a rapier.....Julian

I don't think anyone said this was a likely pairing- I only said that I could not find a video.

Lots of HEMA clubs have longsword, spear/poleaxe and rapier programs within their clubs, so chances are someone has played with this weapon combination before- I was just hoping to find a video.

Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association (WHFA) - La Crosse
A HEMA Alliance Affiliate

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” -Juvenal
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 5:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julian Reynolds wrote:
There was a mix of 37" and 42" rapiers being used in our tournament. The idea that you can stand outside of a longsword's reach and lunge your way to victory is nice but not really feasible


Aleksei Sosnovski wrote:
Many longswords were pretty long, having blades of 100cm and sometimes even longer, as opposed to modern "standard" of about 90 cm.


Using a 37" rapier against a longsword doesn't sound very good. If longsword switches to one hand, you have no extra reach, and you don't have the option of switching back to two hands. Better by far to, if longsword uses a "standard" 36" longsword, to use a rapier of at least 42". This should give about 10" more reach. If longsword uses 40", face them with 48-50", and have 12-14" reach.

I find, when using a shorter longsword, that 4" is a significant difference. That the reach-gaining one-handed longsword techniques can work against longsword shows the value of it too. 10-14" of extra reach is, IMO, a lot.

Julian Reynolds wrote:
... - the longsworders like nothing better than to close those distances very quickly (even to grappling distance)


Surely this is the point of the dagger, to discourage closing.

With a long rapier, you are more dangerous at extreme range. With the dagger as well, you are more dangerous in close. There is a band in the middle where longsword will be better - if they are skilled enough to go there and fight you, you have a problem. If you are skilled enough to not let them, you have, IMO, an advantage.

In a real fight, the prospect of 10" of rapier in your flesh before you can even touch the opponent might have significant effect on the flow of the fight. In tournament, where 1 step further in and a strike can convert that into a non-scoring double-hit makes it less fearsome. First-touch rules might be more realistic in this case.

For a real early big rapier, even if approaching 50", 1.5kg or so still gives a robust enough blade. If modern fencing rapiers suffer too much, then that's the fault of modern fencing rapiers, and not representative of the kind of thing that one would (choose to) take against a longsword.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 7:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:

With a long rapier, you are more dangerous at extreme range. With the dagger as well, you are more dangerous in close. There is a band in the middle where longsword will be better - if they are skilled enough to go there and fight you, you have a problem. If you are skilled enough to not let them, you have, IMO, an advantage.

In a real fight, the prospect of 10" of rapier in your flesh before you can even touch the opponent might have significant effect on the flow of the fight. In tournament, where 1 step further in and a strike can convert that into a non-scoring double-hit makes it less fearsome. First-touch rules might be more realistic in this case.

For a real early big rapier, even if approaching 50", 1.5kg or so still gives a robust enough blade. If modern fencing rapiers suffer too much, then that's the fault of modern fencing rapiers, and not representative of the kind of thing that one would (choose to) take against a longsword.


A long while back I was doing some fun bouting with longsword against rapier and dagger and I managed to block/parry simultaneously the rapier and the dagger and my point was at my opponent's throat, I believe I was in that middle ground favouring the longsword. ( Basically I think I contacted the dagger first from the side and pushed into his rapier jamming up both his hands and weapons for the fraction of a second needed to slip past both by keeping my point menacing ).

By the way, this was a scary thing for both of us as I had to withdraw my longsword point really fast as my opponent was closing in on me so quickly that my point could have done some serious damage.

Luck or technique ? Probably luck, but it did show me that a single Longsword can deal with someone armed with a weapon in each hand. Oh, against sword and buckler I could at times double around the rim of the buckler and/or slip in around or between again.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Aleksei Sosnovski





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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 1:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:

Using a 37" rapier against a longsword doesn't sound very good. If longsword switches to one hand, you have no extra reach, and you don't have the option of switching back to two hands. Better by far to, if longsword uses a "standard" 36" longsword, to use a rapier of at least 42". This should give about 10" more reach. If longsword uses 40", face them with 48-50", and have 12-14" reach.

............................

For a real early big rapier, even if approaching 50", 1.5kg or so still gives a robust enough blade. If modern fencing rapiers suffer too much, then that's the fault of modern fencing rapiers, and not representative of the kind of thing that one would (choose to) take against a longsword.


My point was that an authentic rapier of a comparable length would be either considerably heavier or more fragile than a modern one. Well, a rapier with a 50" blade (and these were probably very rare, as I would expect one to have a lot of problem with drawing such weapon) weighing 1.5kg would be MUCH slower than a modern "reproduction" with a flimsy 42" blade. So while one would have a decent advantage in reach, his attacks would also be easier to parry. Also while such rapier would have a pretty stiff blade, the point would still be pretty thin and fragile. You simply cannot make a long blade with a strong point that is at the same time well-balanced and not overly heavy.

I have found this thread about rapier length and weight http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.p...ier-length Don't know how correct the information there is, but let everyone decide for himself what rapier he would put against a longsword. Not what rapier he would choose if he knew he had to fight against a longsword, but what rapier was more likely to face a longsword in reality.
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Jimi Edmonds




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 2:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We had a tournament with Rapier and Longsword not so long ago, I was using longsword. We had a melee event where it was four vs four, with the teams 3 rapier 1 longsword vs equal other, it the first round I took out 2 rapier and the longsworder, this was easy though, as I was on the flank, the rapierists were extended and engaged exchanging thrusts so I came in from the side and used slashing unterhaus on both, then with a Vorschlag I opened the longsworder up for a thrust to the chest, he fell back over himself with two of my rapiers sticking him..
When I came against rapier as a one on one (I had an Albion Lichtenauer, he had 42" hanwai rapier), I spent alot of the time in a stance simular to Meyers extended low Pflug, the Irondoor, which worked well, from out of that I was using zwerchs, the odd krump and alot of hanging guards upper and lower and thrusts, as straight out strikes just don't work.
My main aim was to get under his sword quickly. unfortuiatly after a fury of attacks and parries from us both I came forth with a high thrust from ochs, he changed through and because of his extra reach managed to thrust through the side of my head, had I had my head cocked to the side a bit more or twisted more into the thrust I proberly would have surrived and thrust him square in the face...
Other times facing the rapier you either must be faster than him or use schiels and hangers, krumps work, and winding works..
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 2:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aleksei Sosnovski wrote:

My point was that an authentic rapier of a comparable length would be either considerably heavier or more fragile than a modern one. Well, a rapier with a 50" blade (and these were probably very rare, as I would expect one to have a lot of problem with drawing such weapon) weighing 1.5kg would be MUCH slower than a modern "reproduction" with a flimsy 42" blade.


One could say the same for an authentic longsword: it would either be considerably heavier or more fragile. If modern steels are better, this applies to both. So, extra fragility should affect both equally. Assuming a reasonably authentic modern rapier.

Yes, difficult to draw, slow, and clumsy were noted in period (e.g., Silver). Add to that, long rapiers are not so useful when the opponent comes past the point.

Aleksei Sosnovski wrote:

I have found this thread about rapier length and weight http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.p...ier-length Don't know how correct the information there is, but let everyone decide for himself what rapier he would put against a longsword. Not what rapier he would choose if he knew he had to fight against a longsword, but what rapier was more likely to face a longsword in reality.


Looks plausible. Nordstrom's "White Arms of the Royal Armoury" has lengths and weights. A lot of the early ones are about 40" of blade, with plenty around 41-45", some longer. These tend to be about 1.3kg, some heavier, and a few lighter. (The blade lengths in the book are from the tip to the lowest point of the complex hilt. For a good comparison with longsword blade lengths, these should instead be measured from the end of the grip or the bottom of the cross. My lengths above are such.)

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Aleksei Sosnovski





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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 3:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:

One could say the same for an authentic longsword: it would either be considerably heavier or more fragile. If modern steels are better, this applies to both. So, extra fragility should affect both equally. Assuming a reasonably authentic modern rapier.


Yes, but still a blade of an average longsword would be considerably stronger than a blade of an average rapier. So the situation would be exactly same: in most cases if one of the weapon is badly damaged than this weapon is rapier, not a longsword. As I said, intentionally hitting the blade of a slender light rapier in order to damage it could have been a viable tactic. It doesn't mean that the rapier blade would always break or bend, but the chances of such an outcome would be pretty high. Chances would be considerably lower in case of a stronger heavier rapier, but such a rapier would be slower and thus easier to fight against than a lighter nimbler weapon. But with modern steels and heat treatment it is very difficult to damage even a lighter blade in a single fight, so modern fencers can't rely on it. Not to mention the fact that intentionally damaging your sparring partner's gear may result in no-one wanting to fight with you any more.
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Julian Reynolds




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 11:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The idea behind the tournament we held, was to have a mix of 'typical' weapons, not to cherry-pick the best suited weapons. Hence the different lengths of rapiers (and types - pappenheimer, cup hilt, swept hilt etc.). The rapier blade that was cleaved in two was not the longest one there, or the oldest/most abused. It was, however, comparatively stiff, and was cleanly cut in two by an edge-on strike that obviously 'bit' into the steel and caused a clean break. The steel across the break is homogenous (ie. no flaws or inclusions etc.).

In my experience, the longer practice blades tend to be thinner and whippier in the foible. So you tend to lose some control over your point, and lose even more of your ability to parry than you already have against the much more dominant longsword blade. On the other hand, if it's too stiff, then the chances of it snapping (or being chopped) are greatly increased.

So going for a longer rapier blade, although it may sound like a good way of countering the length advantage the longsword has over you, is not really the answer. Plus, as said before, longsworders are more than used to tackling a weapon with a long reach. Getting in past their point gives you an advantage. It is much more a test of your skill than the size of your equipment!

Julian
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think the longsword should have any advantage in blade length... It seems that the debate about reach stems from the simulators available, not from the actual proportion of weapons.

If you look at what masters show in their work, the shortest blades are illustrated by Thibault and amount to roughly three fifth of a man's height. At 5'11 (1.80m) like me this gives 43in. For 37in this gives a height of 5'1 (1.56m) which is not average for men anyway...

Thibault is actually on the short side for rapiers, and says so himself. He writes that some people recommend swords that go from feet to armpit of a standing man. The illustrations in Italian manuals tend to agree with that length. That gives almost a foot more of blade length.

I have the montante trainer from Arms&Armor and it is marginally longer in blade than my 42in Darkwood rapier, but cannot efficiently be wielded in one hand. So the length difference is made up by the one-handed vs. two-handed grip. A longsword that can be wielded by one hand would have to be quite a bit shorter, especially if it has to have more blade mass than a rapier to make better cuts.

Thibault says to avoid parrying the cuts of the great sword and I think this is sound advice. He does bind against it but this works mainly because of the longer blade of the great sword I believe. Against shorter longswords I'd use the same tactics against cuts (thrust before the cut starts, thrust after the cut falls, avoiding contact, or divert the cut then glide a thrust in the same motion), and otherwise try to disengage around the longsword to negate leverage and use the nimbleness of a single hand grip.

Regards,

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jul, 2012 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aleksei Sosnovski wrote:
Timo Nieminen wrote:

One could say the same for an authentic longsword: it would either be considerably heavier or more fragile. If modern steels are better, this applies to both. So, extra fragility should affect both equally. Assuming a reasonably authentic modern rapier.


Yes, but still a blade of an average longsword would be considerably stronger than a blade of an average rapier. So the situation would be exactly same: in most cases if one of the weapon is badly damaged than this weapon is rapier, not a longsword. As I said, intentionally hitting the blade of a slender light rapier in order to damage it could have been a viable tactic. It doesn't mean that the rapier blade would always break or bend, but the chances of such an outcome would be pretty high. Chances would be considerably lower in case of a stronger heavier rapier, but such a rapier would be slower and thus easier to fight against than a lighter nimbler weapon. But with modern steels and heat treatment it is very difficult to damage even a lighter blade in a single fight, so modern fencers can't rely on it. Not to mention the fact that intentionally damaging your sparring partner's gear may result in no-one wanting to fight with you any more.


It's the heavier early rapiers that overlap with the longsword (not exclusively - there are some very light early rapiers, under 1kg).

How thick are early rapier blades? Thickness is what will matter - in the plane of the blade, 20-25mm at the guard seems common for early rapiers, versus about double that for a longsword, means that in the plane of the blade, it'll be as strong as the distal half of a longsword blade. Since people hit using that part of a longsword, it seems strong enough. Striking with the distal end of a longsword against a rapier blade forte should be about equal, in this plane. Since a lot of the rapiers are less acutely pointed than (modern) needle-pointed longswords, they might have stronger tips.

So, it depends on the thickness. Blade half the width, 10-20% longer, 15% lighter (if average rapier compared with a non-light longsword; about the same weight if a lightish longsword) - what does this mean for the thickness? I have no measurements.

Perhaps the shortening and lightening of rapiers as time went on was driven by the disappearance of the longer and heavier of the potential opposing non-rapier weapons?

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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