Elizabethan battle swords

I am in a living history group at our local Renn Faire. Yes, some of us actually do living history. I portray a prof soldier vet (England circa 1580-1595). I usually carry an English or sometimes my calvier. What in the world did the soldiers use as swords. I find it hard to believer they would use rapiers. Bastard swords? Backswords? Thick bladed rapiers? The Sidney plates show the hilts, but not too much of the blade.

Thank you all

Bruce Willis
Sidearms would have been singlehanded, and often had some degree of a complex hilt.

Military swords would usually have a blade that we would today consider to be "cut & thrust," and be paired up with a hilt that might very well resemble that of a rapier or all the way down to a simple ring or two. Try searching for spada da lato and sidesword...those should get you some images that will help.

Another possibility might be an early baskethilt. There are tons of examples from England and Germany.

If you portray a lower class individual, a simple falchion might work. Though if you carry a caliver, you'd be likely to be able to afford something finer.

A couple contemporary authors had a couple of things to say on selecting a sword as well....

George Silver recommended a sword with a blade of about (if I remember correctly) 37-40 inches...though he describes a system to pick out the ideal length for the individual. Definitely check out his book...http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/paradoxes.html

John Smith asserted that a soldier's blade should be about 27 inches in length.

Take a look through the photo albums on this site. There's a wealth of useful stuff to be found there.
On the basis of the instructions issued by the Privy Council to levy troops for services in France, the Low Countries and Ireland.

The usual instruction is to issue swords with close hilts and good "Turkey" blades. There are references to basket hilts and a single reference to rapiers for 20 musket and caliver men in Kent during January 1598. Daggers are always issued and sword and dagger is always worn with a girdle and hanger.

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