Why are some swords bent

sword

The sword (from ahd .: swert) is a cutting and thrusting weapon with a straight double-edged blade, handle and, depending on the epoch, quillons and pommel.

Differentiation from other edged weapons:

Like swords, daggers are straight and double-edged, sometimes with a square or triangular blade cross-section, but not suitable for striking. Usually double-edged weapons with a blade length of up to 40 cm are seen as daggers, longer as swords. Due to their small size, daggers were often used as assassin weapons, especially in the Middle Ages.

Sabers (e.g. the Arabic scimitar or "scimitar" or the Chinese Dao) are single-edged and curved. Real curved swords (i.e. with two cutting edges) are rare. Whether swords or sabers are more common depends on the quality of the armor. The blow of a long straight sword is crushing and splitting; it is effective against heavily armored people. A saber blow cannot penetrate heavy armor, but against light or unarmored people it is stronger than a sword blow due to its additional cutting effect.

The Japanese katana are single-edged and curved, so basically sabers, but cannot be clearly designated as such, as they have some features that deviate from the classic definition of a saber. The katana is a class of its own; it is mostly multi-layered, but not in the sense of Damascus steel and ground very sharply. A katana requires less force to pierce limbs than a long sword, but is less stable.

Although the Chinese sword (Jian) ​​at first glance looks very similar to the sword of western origin described here (straight, double-edged blade, pommel and handle), it differs greatly in handling and use. It is used cutting and stabbing, targeting sensitive areas of the body (tendons on wrists, knees and ankles, neck).
construction

The construction principle has hardly changed over the centuries. It is discussed with the help of the following drawings:

1. The pommel serves as the end of the sword; it holds the handle and the blade together and is usually made of steel or brass. The blade is soldered, forged or riveted to the pommel. The blade goes through the pommel or ends at the end of it. In addition, the pommel forms a counterweight to the blade, which shifts the center of gravity and thereby simplifies guiding the sword.
2. The exercise book should be easy to grasp and easy to guide. It consists of a staple, which is placed around the fishing rod, and a winding or a braid made of leather or fabric. Metal wires were also used for windings.
3. The cross-guard is intended to absorb blows from the opponent. Brass is easier to forge, but it is also far less durable; it was not used on high quality pieces in the area of ​​the quillons.
4. The blade is made of forged steel.
5. The scabbard should protect the blade; it is made of wood and / or leather. The sword scabbard usually has various handles or loops to attach it. In addition, metal sleeves, called chape, often close the sword scabbard at the bottom and thus protect the corners.
6. The scabbard mouth plate should protect the leather from the edge of the sword and make it easier for the blade to slide in.
7. Soldered joints on the pommel are not unusual; the blade should be held particularly well in the pommel.
8. The wooden handle should protect the blade from moisture and hold the handle wrapping. It is made of a hardwood. A wooden cylinder is pierced and put on the tang. Sometimes the handle wood is also cut in half; the halves are then held in place either by the winding itself or by riveting.
9. The handle winding ensures handiness and comfort when guiding the blade; it is made of leather, fabric or metal.
10. Soldering points on the crossguard are rare. Soldering on the crossguard is possible, but not recommended, as the vibrations cannot be cushioned. This may result in broken blades at the beginning of the quillons.
11. The tang forms the part of the blade that goes through the cross-guard and the handle into the pommel. It is the thinnest part of the blade and is attached to the pommel.
12. The central ridge of a blade does not always have to be present; z. B. a blade with a hexagonal profile does not have a central ridge.
13. The ricasso is the area that has not been sanded. It is often located at the beginning of the blade just before the quillons. In this area, it doesn't really make sense to sharpen the blade, as this area is not used for attacking anyway and stability is particularly important, especially when parrying in this area. With large, two-handed swords, the ricasso can occupy a large area of ​​the blade and is then sometimes grasped with the second hand during various combat maneuvers. In some historical two-handed swords from the late Renaissance, this area is therefore protected by a second crossguard, the so-called crossguard. In contrast to the quillons, this is always a forged part of the blade.
14. The hollow throat, also incorrectly called blood channel, appears from the Middle Ages (ancient swords do not have them) and serves to reduce weight and stabilize the blade, but is not a drainage groove for the opponent's blood. The fuller is forged on both sides and usually does not break through the blade. Only with ornamental weapons could it happen that the blacksmith created artistic openings. Sayings or names were often worked into the hollow.
15. The cutting edge is the sharply ground part of the blade and often consisted of “cutting strips” made of particularly hard and edge-holding steel that are worked into the blade. The sharpness of the blade increased towards the point.
16. The location is the tip of the blade and represents the “most dangerous” part of the weapon.

Swords were found in most ancient and medieval cultures, both in the occidental and in the oriental and east asian cultures. The first finds of swords already exist from the early Bronze Age, as is shown by finds from Greece (Mycenae, Sparta) and Northern Europe as well as many ancient illustrations. Due to the cultural contact, the early sword forms of the south-east European area reached Central Europe via the Carpathian Basin. It is believed that the swords commonly used in Asia were originally inspired by Europe. The oldest (still preserved) Chinese sword is very large and resembles a sword common in Greece at that time. Signs of use and repairs testify to their commitment and their value to the owner. The shape, signs of use and the association with daggers point to differentiated ways of fighting, as do the blade shapes. The sword did not gain significant importance as a weapon until the beginning of the Iron Age, as iron and especially steel are much harder than bronze. The first finds of iron swords can be found in the Hallstatt period, both in northern and southern Europe. Although the main weapon of soldiers (e.g. Greek hoplites and Roman legionaries) was still the lance at the beginning of the Iron Age, the sword gained importance in the Roman army in the form of the short sword (gladius). This was later replaced by the longer spathe - originally a cavalry sword, then also used by the infantry. This form of construction for swords became decisive in large parts of Europe.

With the Germanic tribes of the Great Migration, the sword, along with the sax, was of outstanding importance as a weapon and retained this during the course of the Middle Ages. The importance of the sword in the societies of the Great Migration Period is particularly evident in the position that swords occupy in most of the mythological stories of the early and high Middle Ages. For example, the sword Excalibur can be found in the Arthurian legend, Siegfried's sword Balmung in the Nibelungenlied, and Wieland's sword Mimung in the Amelungenlied.

The social importance is also reflected in the fact that swords play an essential role in many feudal ceremonies (coronation, sword leadership). Practically every European coronation regalia contains a sword, for example the imperial sword of the Holy Roman Empire, the imperial swords in England and Scotland, etc.

Believers of Christianity often had their swords blessed by priests / pastors. Many sword bearers gave names to their swords.

With the advent of increasingly heavier armor, weapons also had to be adapted in order to be able to injure the enemy despite armor. Due to the increasing spread of the plate armor, the shield became superfluous and the left hand was largely free, at least for unmounted fighters. The originally relatively short swords (around 0.8-1 m) therefore developed into longer and longer swords (now called one and a half-handed swords or bastard swords).

The two-handed sword, which can be seen more often in images from the Landsknechts period, was mainly used for duels when the formations (heap of violence) had already broken up. It is completely unsuitable for chopping away the pikes, as it is repeatedly claimed in rumors. Pikemen and musketeers wore the short Katzbalger as a secondary weapon, which did not hinder the fight with the main weapon. The rapier was worn in civilian life.

Due to the fact that, last but not least, ostentatious weapons have often survived because they have not been exposed to wear and tear, there are often misconceptions about the weight and balance of historical swords. Parade weapons, which were mainly carried on shoulder during parades, often reached weights that were absolutely impractical for combat (four kilograms and more). However, an actual utility weapon - especially if it was intended for military use - had to be able to carry over a longer period of time. A steel sword that is supposed to be suitable for combat weighs between one and 1.5 kg, depending on its length. Depending on the type of sword, a focus more or less close to the crossguard is aimed for. Nevertheless, even high-quality swords with a low weight can have a center of gravity around 20 cm in front of the cross-guard without becoming unwieldy.