List of Heaviest Swords in History [Facts & My

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

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

Medieval and early modern swords are objects of fascination for modern day history buffs, bladesmiths, and movie junkies

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

While the medieval and renaissance sword is one of the most well-known weapons, it is also very misunderstood thanks to media misrepresentation and inaccurate reproductions

When studying historical swords, one of the most important characteristics to note 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 dispelling some of the most common myths about sword weight in the medieval and early modern periods

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

A discussion of average sword weights and some common misconceptions follows

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

The German Zweihänder is perhaps the strangest sword of the modern or early 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 and mid 16th century

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

The Zweihänder swords used in battle were necessarily smaller and lighter than those used in ceremony

Ceremonial specimens can weigh up to 10 pounds!

This sword was used in Scotland and stylistically was 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 in the early 13th century

The Scottish soldiers mostly used this sword in the 15-17 centuries in the war of the clans and fights 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 sword was last used at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689

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

Regardless of design, the average Medieval sword used in battle weighed about 25-35 pounds

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

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

“Medieval Swords are neither unwieldyly heavy nor are they all alike – the average weight of a normal sized sword is between 25lb

Even the large hand and a half ‘war’ swords rarely weigh more than 45 lbs

Such burdens, for men who had been trained to use the sword from the age of seven (and who must have been tough specimens to survive at that age), were by no means too great to be practices” (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 ninth to the thirteenth century are heavy, poorly balanced, and are equipped with a short and impractical grip” (Ffoulkes, Arms, p

Imagine that, 500 years of professional fighters and fighting men were all wrong, but a museum curator in London in 1945, who had never been in a real sword fight let alone trained with real swords in any form himself , is able to inform us of the shortcomings of these magnificent weapons

Oakeshott’s observations are confirmed by the many swords included in the Wallace Collection Museum in London

The majority 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 categorized them according to style, function, weight and other characteristics

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

This conflicts with the popular idea that medieval swords were heavy, cumbersome, and club-like

Dr Timothy Dawson explains that one-handed swords only weighed as much as 35 pounds

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

Mismatched swords would not have been practical in hand-to-hand combat or combat on horseback

While many soldiers were quite strong from years of practice, it didn’t make sense for the swords to be unnecessarily heavy

As stated above by John Clements, medieval swordsmen and swords had hundreds of years to develop functional and balanced swords that would be effective in the fighting styles of the period

In this illustration of the famous Battle of Agincourt by Enguerrand de Monstrelet one-handed swords are seen

Enguerrand de Monstrelet, CC BY 40, via Wikimedia Commons

While the legend of the heavy sword is slowly fading in academic circles, the popular misconception of the weight of the medieval sword is being perpetuated in movies, television shows, and other media

We hope this article and other online sources can help combat (pun intended) these misunderstandings while celebrating the uniqueness of claymore and Zweihänder swords

Final note: while this article discusses European swords, the same information applies to swords on other continents during this period

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

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