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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Historic Sword Weights Reply to topic
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2011 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a useful compilation - we have to thank both Richard for starting it and Jojo for resurrecting the thread.

Going back to Nathan's original question, it is indeed interesting that the weights for historical rapiers come out to a pretty similar range (2-3lbs or a bit more) as the classic one-hand medieval cutting sword. What this suggests to me, and what I think anyone can intuit from handling various swords, is that there's a certain biologically determined range of weights that the arm can handle, optimizing between speed, durability, and mass of the weapon (notwithstanding other variables like mass distribution, balance, size and strength of the person who owns the sword, style of fighting).
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,438

PostPosted: Wed 14 Dec, 2011 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
This is a useful compilation - we have to thank both Richard for starting it and Jojo for resurrecting the thread.

Going back to Nathan's original question, it is indeed interesting that the weights for historical rapiers come out to a pretty similar range (2-3lbs or a bit more) as the classic one-hand medieval cutting sword. What this suggests to me, and what I think anyone can intuit from handling various swords, is that there's a certain biologically determined range of weights that the arm can handle, optimizing between speed, durability, and mass of the weapon (notwithstanding other variables like mass distribution, balance, size and strength of the person who owns the sword, style of fighting).

i noticed that actually looking at the stats for those german zweihanders, fairly closely match the weights for danish axes, both in historically determined length aswell asweeight, they are both about the 4 foot mark, maybe a bit more, but around that,
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
Joined: 27 Nov 2004

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PostPosted: Wed 14 Dec, 2011 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm fascinated that Oakeshott's recordings and those others given for swords from the 13th-15th century are typically heavier than we'd except high quality reproductions to be. I see more in common with the weight of the originals to your typical Del Tin reproduction than an Albion, for example...

Thoughts?

-Gregory
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jan, 2012 10:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i have some data on a two handed german 'flamberge/ zweihander' from the graz armoury, i thought it might be a blade intended for the field but maybe its not
heres the full description given by the armoury

Two-handed Sword, Passau, towards 1600
> Conical pommel with a button; grip coverd with linen and thickened with a baluster shape. Flat quillons bent downwards whose widened ends are decorated with tree volutes each. Pair of pierced side-rings with a double volute; the arms of the hilt end in volutes. Double-edged, wavy blade with ridge; the ricasso is covered with leather.
> Length: 190cm
> Weight: 5,04 kg.

judging by the figures for the other 2 handed swords id say this sword as well is possibly a ceremonial blade.
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Matt Easton




Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Joined: 30 Jun 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 3:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clive Thomas wrote:
here are some (accurate) measurements and weights of three of the big 'swords of war' shown in "Records" that I have had the good fortune to have handled over the last 4 years or so:

XIIa.3 (Royal Armouries, Leeds, No. IX.915)
Length overall: 122.5cm, Blade length: 96.3cm, Weight: 1,710g (3lb 12oz).

XIIIa.8 (Private collection)
Length overall: 99.7cm, Blade length: 77.4cm, Weight: 1,683g (3lb 11.4oz)

XIIIa.10 (Burrell Collection, Glasgow, No. 2/75)
Length overall: 130.0cm, Blade length: 102.5cm, Weight: 1,850g (4lb 1.5oz.)

These dimensions and weights are interesting in that they show some rather different values to the generally accepted ones that have been published.


Clive, many thanks for sharing these - and also for all your articles in the Park Lane Arms Fair catalogues over the years. They have proven, along with Oakeshott's articles, to be invaluable resources for me.

Regards,
Matt

Schola Gladiatoria - www.fioredeiliberi.org
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/scholagladiatoria
Antique Swords: www.antique-swords.co.uk/
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Clive Thomas




Location: Warwickshire, United Kingdom
Joined: 05 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt,
Thanks for posting here, and for your thoughts on my articles. I remember quoting you in the one on Albrecht Durer! I'm always happy to help with things like this, especially with so little of this kind of information generally available. Having said that, this thread is doing a great job of informing people with some suitably accurate measurements.

In case anyone is interested, I have just completed an article on the swords found at Castillon in the 1970s (to be published in the Spring 2012 Park Lane Arms Fair catalogue, available at the fair on 4th March) and this will give some quite comprehensive details of six of the swords in question, plus a falchion and a dagger from the site, for a bit of variation.
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Matt Easton




Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Joined: 30 Jun 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great, I look forward to it, they are a fantastic assemblage.
Matt

Schola Gladiatoria - www.fioredeiliberi.org
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/scholagladiatoria
Antique Swords: www.antique-swords.co.uk/
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2012 2:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

recently i did an interesting excercise using data from this article http://www.thearma.org/essays/2HGS.html
The article from the ARMA duiscusses and debunks the myth of the ltra weighty and cumbersome 2 handed sword.

in the article, clements provides stats of, (among others) 69 2 handers from the graz armoury in austria. the info lists the swords length overall, and weight, in both metric and imperial measurements.

i did a very interesting analysis of that data

what i did was look at the list and seperate the swords into groups according to length, the classes were 140-149 all the way to 190-199cm size brackets

then i did a measurement of the number of grams per cm of the swords length by dividing the weight of the sword in grams, by the length of the sword in cm.

i essentially measured the length to weight ratio for each sword then took an average of each size bracket
the whole purpose was to see how weight of a sword increases as the size increases. whether its linear or not. the main reason was whether to determine whether a sword in the graz armoury, was likely a ceremonial sword or not. im doing that bby seeing if, comparing that sword to the 3.5kg, 175cm swords mostly seen. whether the simple fact its 15cm longer in the blade maybe justifys alot more weight.

its 190cm and 5kg but the finish doesnt seem really ornate, having a simple black wrapped handle, black iron quillons with a bit of extra scrollwork. but nothing fancy.

heres the results for each size bracket
140-149, 2 swords,ratio of 20.7g/cm
150-159, 13 swords, ratio was 18.29g/cm
160-169 17 swords ratio of 19.73g/cm
170-179 21 swords, ratio was 20.5g/cm
180-189 12 swords, ratio of 22g/cm
190-199 4 swords, ratio of 27.8g/cm im willing to bet these weapons are bearing swords.

and clearly, the 190cm sword i am interested in, seems therefore to be overweight than what its length, would likely be for a soldiers sword, based on slightly shorter swords, 20cm of length shouldnt realistically mean an extra 1.5kg of weight, so it is probably a ceremonial sword.

i also looked at the reproductions by lutels and manning imperial plus the experiences of clemets in wielding authentic swords of similar sizes. plus other lists in the article detailing a sword as either normal or ceremonial

and it sems the 177cm and 3.5kg is not an unreasonable weight.

a quick analysis of other swords, mostly albion reproductions which , from what ive heard, are pretty good reproductions of historical sword types in terms of weight and size, as well as handling.

the brescia spadona was 12.45g/cm
the albion dane was 14g/cm the gaddjalt was only 10g/cm, the albion kingmaker was 12g/cm

this is just for comparison sake, of course.


in each size catagory there were exceptions, like a 185cm sword weighing only like about 1.72kg only 9.2g/cm
and some, obviossly ceremonial ones, were grossly heavier than the ratio i determined, would suggest that status. on average.

by the way i realise im making a of of assumptions here about weights and weight distribution like, the fact that a sword, obviously isnt a uniformly sized bar of steel, but has a dynamic weight distribution. with sections with comparatively no weight at all like the grip.

i also realise alot of replicas have fairly similar lengths and weights, for example both hanwei and albions viking swords are similar in terms of total weight, and total length. although i think one would agree the albions are clearly VERY much superior in terms of handling.
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Edward Lee




Location: New York
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PostPosted: Sun 01 Mar, 2015 11:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm curious, why were some one handed 14-15th century swords weight almost 3.5 lb? Such as estore visconti's sword, were they for decoration purpose only or were some one handed swords actually weighted over 3lb for functionality?
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Mar, 2015 5:43 am    Post subject: Sword weight         Reply with quote

Edward Lee wrote:
I'm curious, why were some one handed 14-15th century swords weight almost 3.5 lb? Such as estore visconti's sword, were they for decoration purpose only or were some one handed swords actually weighted over 3lb for functionality?


Hi Edward

Overall weight is a factor in how a sword functions but the placement of that mass in the overall piece is far more important. As I am sure you know there are many threads on this board that go into the specifics of sword dynamics and when you look at the historical samples they will vary along any metric you choose to define. These variations are what make the study of swords so interesting. There is no perfect sword. A sword is always a compromise of many characteristics.

3.5 lbs is getting up there but not outside the envelope of usability.

Best
Craig
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 04 Jul, 2016 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few more additions to this thread:

1) Sword, Royal Armouries IX.5610, 950-1150 AD

675 grams, 1 lb 8 oz. (alleged to be a boy's sword, based on the total length of 750 mm)


2) Oakeshott Type XIa sword (XI.a1 in Records), Royal Armouries IX.1082, 1100-1199 AD

2 lbs 13 oz. (around 1.27 kg)


3) Sword, Royal Armouries IX.5614, 1250-1300 AD

4) 730 grams, 1 lb 10 oz


5) Oakeshott Type XIV sword (XIV.2 in Records), Royal Armouries IX.1107, 1250-1300 AD

1.2 kg, 2 lb. 11 oz.


6) Sword, Royal Armouries IX.1441, 1271-1299 AD

1.09 kg, (about 2 lbs, 6.4 oz)


7) Oakeshott Type XVI sword (XVI.1 in Records), Royal Armouries IX.13, 1300-1399 AD

745 grams, 1 lb 10 oz.


8) Oakeshott Type XVIa (XVIa.5 in Records), Royal Armouries IX.1084, 1300-1399 AD

3 lb. 1 oz. (around 1.39 kg)


9) Oakeshott Type XV, Royal Armouries IX.5501, 1325 AD

705 grams, 1 lb 9 oz. (Significant surface pitting and corrosion)


10) Oakeshott Type XVa (Xva.1 in Records), Royal Armouries IX.1106, 1365 AD

1.818 kg, 4 lbs 0.25 oz


11) Oakeshott Type XIX (XIX.7 in Records), Royal Armouries IX. 950, 1370-1430 AD

765 grams, 1 lb 11 oz.


12) Sword (Multiple Miscellaneous 20 in Records), Royal Armouries IX.14, 1380-1395 AD

1.528 kg, 3 lb 6 oz. (Overall length 1285 mm, 50.6 inches)


13) Oakeshott Type XVIII (XVIII.3 in Records), Royal Armouries IX.1426, 1400-1499 AD

1.3 kg, (about 2 lbs, 13.85 oz)


14) Oakeshott Type XVIII (XVIII.6 in Records), Royal Armouries IX.3683, 1400-1499 AD

1.4 kg, 3 lbs 1 and 1.4 oz.


15) Sword, Two-Handed, Royal Armouries IX.1787, 1430-1450 AD

2.2 kg, 1 lb 13 oz.


16) Oakeshott Type XVIII or XVIII.a (XVIII.9 in Records), Royal Armouries IX.949 1480 AD

1.26 kg, 2 lb 12 oz.


All weights courtesy of the Royal Armouries website. I have arranged the entries here chronologically. In some cases, you will note that one of the weights will be listed in brackets; this is because the Royal Armouries website sometimes only gives the weight in grams/kg, or alternatively in lbs and oz, so the figure in the bracket is based upon an online conversion that I did. Occasionally, I added extra information that I felt was pertinent, such as the state of corrosion for no. 9 as it's not in Records, or the massively long length of no. 12, helping to account for its enormous mass.
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 498

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jul, 2016 10:46 am    Post subject: Re: Sword weight         Reply with quote

Craig Johnson wrote:
Edward Lee wrote:
I'm curious, why were some one handed 14-15th century swords weight almost 3.5 lb? Such as estore visconti's sword, were they for decoration purpose only or were some one handed swords actually weighted over 3lb for functionality?


Hi Edward

Overall weight is a factor in how a sword functions but the placement of that mass in the overall piece is far more important. As I am sure you know there are many threads on this board that go into the specifics of sword dynamics and when you look at the historical samples they will vary along any metric you choose to define. These variations are what make the study of swords so interesting. There is no perfect sword. A sword is always a compromise of many characteristics.

3.5 lbs is getting up there but not outside the envelope of usability.

Best
Craig

Also, usage plays a point. Like, as Mat has pointed out for Victorian era swords, heavy calvary are typically longer and heavier than infantry sword because you are mostly not fencing with them, but timing your swinging while galloping at speed on a horse. They don't need to be as nimble. The speed and force comes from the horse as much as you.
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