8 Most Impressive Swords in World History

The Heaviest Swords in History and Battle (Actual Weights Revealed) [Updated]

The Heaviest Swords in History and Battle (Actual Weights Revealed) [Updated]

Medieval and modern swords are objects of fascination for modern history buffs, smiths and movie buffs

We’ve all seen medieval swords wielded in battle, whether it’s in our favorite historical documentary or at a Renaissance festival

Although the medieval and renaissance sword is one of the most well-known weapons, it is also widely misunderstood thanks to media misrepresentations and inaccurate reproductions

When studying historical swords, one of the most important characteristics to consider is the weight of the weapon

This is a short list of the heaviest swords in history, but it is also an article dedicated to busting some of the most common myths about sword weight in medieval and early modern times

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the heaviest swords used by medieval and renaissance fighters

Below is a discussion of average sword weights and some common misconceptions

Japanese Swords: Cultural Icons of a Nation; The history, metallurgy and iconography of the samurai sword

The German Zweihänder was a massive sword weighing up to 10 pounds

This two-handed weapon was used ceremonially

Lestat (Jan Mehlich), CC BY-SA 30, via Wikimedia Commons

The German Zweihänder is perhaps the most extravagant sword of the modern or Renaissance era

This two-handed sword averaged 4 feet 7 inches in length and weighed 88 pounds or more

The sword saw battle in the early to mid-16th century

By the end of the century, the Zweihänder was used for ceremonial purposes

Zweihänder swords used in battle would necessarily have been smaller and lighter than those used in ceremony

Ceremonial specimens could weigh up to 10 pounds!

Close-up of a medieval claymore

This sword was used in Scotland and was stylistically similar to the English greatsword and earlier Viking swords

Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The two-handed claymore was a Scottish sword developed as early as the 13th century

Scottish soldiers used this sword most frequently in the 15th-17th centuries in clan wars and skirmishes with the English

Similar in size and design to the English greatsword, the claymore was also modeled after Viking swords

Soldiers in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 13th and 14th centuries used early versions of the claymore

The claymore averaged 55 inches in length and weighed about 55 pounds

Regardless of design, the average medieval sword used in battle weighed between 25 and 35 pounds

Surprisingly, swords in medieval and early modern Europe averaged 25-35 pounds

Famed sword historian and expert Ewart Oakeshott studied hundreds of medieval and renaissance swords throughout his career and noted that most were very light and manageable:

“Medieval swords are neither heavy nor manageable nor equal: the average weight of any of normal size is between 25 lbs

Even large hand and half “war” swords rarely weigh more than 45 pounds

These weights, for men who were trained to use the sword from the age of seven (and who had to be tough specimens to survive that age), were not too large to be practical ”(Oakeshott, Sword in Hand, p

Oakeshott worked in the 20th century, at a time when many misconceptions about medieval weapons were taken for granted

Unfortunately, Ffoulkes in 1945 even stated: “All swords from the 9th to the 13th century are heavy, poorly balanced, and provided with a short and impractical hilt” (Ffoulkes, Arms, p

Imagine 500 years of professional warriors and fighting men getting it wrong, but a museum curator in London in 1945, who had never been in a real sword fight let alone trained with swords real in any form, you can inform us of the errors of these magnificent weapons

Most of these medieval one-handed swords weigh no more than 4 pounds

Two-handed swords would have been heavier, but not as heavy as one might think

Ewart Oakeshott, the most famous sword expert of the 20th century, handled hundreds of medieval swords and classified them by style, function, weight and other characteristics

Modern scholars and swordsmiths agree that the average medieval sword was well balanced, light and easy to use

Dr Timothy Dawson explains that one-handed swords only weighed up to 35 pounds

Ceremonial swords such as the Zweihänder discussed above could be much heavier, but were not used in combat

Although many soldiers were quite strong from years of practice, it would not make sense for the swords to be unnecessarily heavy

As John Clements said earlier, medieval swordsmiths and swordsmiths had hundreds of years to develop functional and balanced swords that were effective in the fighting styles of the time

Enguerrand de Monstrelet’s one-handed swords are shown in this illustration from the famous Battle of Agincourt

Enguerrand de Monstrelet, CC BY 40, via Wikimedia Commons

While the myth of the heavy sword is slowly waning in academic circles, the popular misconception of the weight of the medieval sword continues to be perpetuated in movies, television shows, and other media

We hope this article and other online sources can help combat these misunderstandings while celebrating the uniqueness of Claymore and Zweihänder swords

One final note: Although this article is about European swords, the same information applies to swords from other continents during this period

There are some stories of swords in India weighing 40 pounds or more, but these stories lack substantial historical evidence

List of the Greatest and Longest Swords in World History [Updated]

List of the Greatest and Longest Swords in World History [Updated]

The sword is a well-known weapon that appears in famous historical events, movies, video games, television, and books

Almost every culture in the world has used the sword at some point in their history

This usually meant that swords were contained to a certain weight and length in order for a soldier to wield them effectively

Some of the most fascinating swords in world history were large and long

From ancient China to Renaissance Europe, military professionals made use of large, long swords for specific purposes

The following are some of the longest and largest swords in the history of the world

Each has its own unique characteristics, but the eight swords discussed also share some interesting similarities in their construction and purpose

The miaodao sword is one of the many great swords in Chinese history

student, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

“Miaodao” is commonly used to refer to various great swords in Chinese history

The miaodao sword itself is a modern sword dating from the Republican era (1912-1949)

It averages about 12 meters or 47 inches long

Although this sword is not commonly used in Chinese martial arts today, it was wielded by soldiers during the Second Sino-Japanese War in the 1930s and 1940s

The modern miaodao is part of a long history of great swords in China

This variation was used during the Tang Dynasty and measured 213 centimeters or 7 feet long

This blade was mainly used between 1129 and 1141 as a weapon against cavalry

The length of the blade made it ideal for cutting down an enemy’s horses

林義親, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Japanese ōdachi or nodachi was used by samurai during the Kamakura period (1185-1333)

This sword was truly fantastic weighing between 22 and 145 kilograms and measuring between 906 and 337 centimeters

Historians aren’t entirely sure how a weapon of this size would have been carried onto the battlefield

The ōdachi was less common than the famous katana, but proved useful for knocking down enemy horses

In this way, ōdachi can be compared to the Chinese changdao and zhanmadao

Because of its size, the ōdachi sword was best used for the downward attacking maneuvers of samurai foot soldiers

In addition to being a deadly weapon, medieval Japanese also offered the ōdachi to the kami, or gods, at Shinto shrines

The Norimitsu is the largest ōdachi in existence

It was created in 1446 and measures 376 centimeters or 12 feet long!

3) Oakeshott Type XIIa

3) Oakeshott Type XIIa

Simocarina, CC BY-SA 40, via Wikimedia Commons

Simocarina, CC BY-SA 40, via Wikimedia Commons

While medieval swords are sometimes called longswords, some particular variations were in fact longer than the rest

The scholar Ewart Oakeshott organized medieval swords into several categories, and one of the largest is Type XIIa

In the Middle Ages, the Type XIIa sword was called a “great sword” or “war sword” Soldiers used this type in the 13th and 14th centuries, with some swords appearing before or after this rank

Type XIIa was a larger version of the typical knight’s sword of the time

It featured a two-handed grip and a flat, broad, evenly sharpened blade

4) Oakeshott Type XIIIa

4) Oakeshott Type XIIIa

Dbachmann at enwikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Another singularly large sword of the Middle Ages was Oakeshott’s Type XIIIa This variation of the knight’s sword reached its peak use in the 13th and 14th centuries

Artwork from the time suggests that knights used the sword as early as the 12th century and as late as the 15th

Type XIIIa is similar to Type XIIa but has even larger proportions

The grip of this variation alone could measure 65 to 10 inches

Average Type XIIIa swords measure 94 to 102 centimeters (37 to 40 in)

These swords are recognized not only for their size, but also for their flat cross-sections, broad, parallel blades, and half fullers

A Scottish claymore with its forward sloping cross grip and four-leaf ornamentation

Pearson Scott Foresman, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Scottish claymore is a famous and widely used weapon during the wars of Scottish independence and clan warfare

The sword was most common between 1400 and 1700, but earlier and later versions did exist

The Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 was the last major conflict to see widespread use of the Claymore

Early Claymore swords looked different than the type shown above

These swords measured smaller and lacked the characteristic four-blade design of overlapping decorative circles on the cross hilt

This greatsword averaged 140 centimeters (55 in) in length with a hilt 33 centimeters (13 in) long

Larger Claymore swords could weigh up to 55 pounds

Portrait of a Landsknecht soldier with his zweihänder

Marie Müller (1847-1935), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps the most famous sword on this list is the zweihänder

This sword is known for its size

The zweihänder is classified as a large sword by experts and could measure between 1445 and 199 centimeters, with 1706 centimeters being the average length

Two-handed greatswords like zweihänder are considered Renaissance weapons in their truest form

Although medieval swords often had two-handed grips, none were used in the same way as the greatswords of the Renaissance

Because of their size, soldiers wielded zweihänders and other large swords against pikemen

The long blade of the zweihänder could knock weapons aside or even cut them in half

Only the biggest and strongest soldiers like the landsknecht could wield such a powerful weapon

Details of the wavy blade of the Flammard sword

Rama, CC BY-SA 20 FR, via Wikimedia Commons

The flammard is another example of a great Renaissance sword

This version featured a wavy blade that resembled a flame

Landsknecht mercenaries carried this unique sword into battle throughout Germany

A common myth surrounding the flammard sword is that it could cut pikes more easily than other swords such as the zweihänder

Although this curved blade looks unique, the sword did the same damage as other swords in this category

The last great sword variation to make the list is the carrying sword or parade sword

This type of greatsword has caused some confusion among sword enthusiasts

Because many of the swords they carry resemble zweihänder, a common myth is that these swords were actually wielded in battle despite their large size

In reality, soldiers only carried swords in ceremonial processions

It is perhaps best to think of them as parade swords to avoid confusion between them and the similar zweihänder

Carrying swords or parade swords were really massive at 10-15 pounds, but their use as a ceremonial weapon meant they did little real damage

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