The 8 Most Famous Swords in History

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 swords are objects of fascination for history buffs, bladesmiths and moviegoers alike

We’ve all seen medieval swords in battle, in our favorite historical documentary, or at a renaissance festival

Although the sword is one of the most popular weapons of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it is also widely misunderstood thanks to media misrepresentations and inaccurate reproductions

When examining 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’s also an article dedicated to busting some of the most common myths about medieval and early modern sword weight

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

A discussion of average sword weights and some common misconceptions follows

Japanese Swords: Cultural Icons of a Nation; History, Metallurgy and Iconography of the Samurai Sword

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

This two-handed weapon was used ceremonially

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

The German Zweihänder is perhaps the most unusual sword of the early modern or Renaissance period

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

The sword fought in the 16th century at the beginning and middle of the century

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

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

Ceremonial beads can 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 from the 13th century

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

Similar in size and design to the English greatsword, he also made claymore Viking swords

Early versions of the claymore were used by soldiers during the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th and 14th centuries

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, medieval and early modern European swords averaged 25-35 kilos

Renowned sword expert and historian Ewart Oakeshott has examined hundreds of medieval and Renaissance swords over the course of his career and found most of them to be very light and easy to handle:

“Medieval swords are not unbearably heavy, nor are they all the same – the average weight of any normal sized sword is up to 25 lbs

Even large hand-and-a-half “war” swords rarely weigh more than 45 lbs

Such weights, for men who had been trained to use a sword from the age of seven (and who had to be of hard grain to survive that age), were by no means too large to be practical

Oakeshott worked in the 19th century, at a time when many of the misconceptions about medieval weapons were held to be true

Unfortunately, Ffoulkes said in 1945: “All swords from the 9th to the 13th century are heavy, balanced, and equipped with a short and impractical handle” (Ffoulkes, Arms, p

Imagine that 500 years of professional warriors and fighting men got it wrong, but a museum curator in London in 1945, who had never been in a sword fight, trained with real swords, is able to report it either way from the failures of these magnificent weapons

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

Two-handed swords would be heavier, but not as heavy as you might think

By Ewart Oakeshott, XX The most famous sword expert of the 20th century, he handled hundreds of medieval swords and classified them according to style, function, weight and other characteristics

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

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

Ceremonial swords like the Zweihänder mentioned above could be much heavier, but were not used in combat

Although many soldiers were quite strong during practice, it wouldn’t make sense for their swords to be unnecessarily heavy

As John Clements points out above, medieval bladesmen and swordsmiths had hundreds of years to develop balanced and functional swords that would be effective in the fighting styles of the time

Enguerrand de Monstrelet’s illustration of the famous Battle of Agincourt shows one-handed swords

Enguerrand de Monstrelet, CC BY 40, via Wikimedia Commons

While the myth of the heavy sword is slowly dying out in scientific circles, the popular misconception of medieval sword weight continues to persist in movies, TV shows, and other media

We hope this article and other sources online can help address these misunderstandings while celebrating the uniqueness of the claymore and Zweihänder sword

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

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

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

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

The sword is a popular weapon featured in famous historical events, movies, video games, television, and books

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

This usually meant that the sword had to be of a certain weight and length for a soldier to use effectively

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

From ancient China to Renaissance Europe, military professionals used large, long swords for specific purposes

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

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

The Miaodao sword is one of several great swords in Chinese history

student, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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

The Miaodao sword itself is a modern sword dating from the Republic period (1912-1949)

It averages 12 meters or 47 inches in length

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

The modern Miaodao is part of a long history of Chinese greatswords

This variant was used in the Tang Dynasty and was 213 centimeters or 7 feet long

This blade was used between 1129 and 1141 mainly as an anti-cavalry weapon

The length of the blade was ideal for cutting down enemy horses

林義親, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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

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

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

Less common was the famous ōdachia katana, but it was 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 by samurai foot soldiers for dismounting maneuvers

In addition to being a deadly weapon, medieval Japanese also offered ōdachi to kami or gods in Shintoism

Norimitsu is the largest known ōdachi

It was carved 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

Although medieval swords are sometimes called longswords, certain variants were longer than others

Scholar Ewart Oakeshott organized medieval swords into several categories, one of the largest being Type XII

In the Middle Ages, the Type XIIa sword was called a “greatsword” or “war sword” Soldiers used this type in the 13th and 14th centuries, and some swords appear earlier or later than this range

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

It had a two-handed grip and a flat, broad, equally tapered blade

4) Oakeshott type XIIIa

4) Oakeshott type XIIIa

Dbachmann at enwikipedia, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Another unique medieval greatsword was the Oakeshott XIIIa type This variant of the knight’s sword reached its peak of use in the 13th and 14th centuries

The artworks of that time suggest that the knights in the 12th century that they used the sword in the 15th century and later in the 15th century

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

The handle of this variation can range from 65 to 10 inches

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

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

A Scottish claymore with his signature forward angled cross grip and four decorative bottoms

Pearson Scott Foresman, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Scottish Claymore is a famous weapon used in the Scottish Wars of Independence and clan warfare

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

The Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 was the last major conflict that saw the widespread use of the claymore

Early Claymore swords looked different than the type pictured above

These swords were smaller and did not have the gang design of decorative overlapping circles on the hilt of the cross

This large sword measured an average of 140 centimeters (55 inches) and had a hilt of 33 centimeters (13 inches)

The largest claymore sword can weigh 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 by experts as a large sword and can measure between 1445 and 199 centimeters, with 1706 centimeters being the average length

Large two-handed swords like the Zweihänder are considered Renaissance weapons in their truest form

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

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

The Zweihänder’s long blade can easily knock weapons aside or cut them in half

A powerful weapon that only the biggest and strongest soldiers like the Landsknecht could wield

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 had an undulating blade that resembled a flame

Landsknecht mercenaries carried this unique sword into German battles

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

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

The last sword to make the list is the high variation sword or parade sword

This type of greatsword has caused some confusion among sword enthusiasts

Since many sword bearers are similar to zweihänder, a common myth is that these swords were actually used in combat despite their large size

In reality, soldiers only carried swords in ceremonial processions

Perhaps it is better to think of them as parade swords to avoid confusion between them and similar zweihänder

Swords or parade swords were very large at 10 to 15 pounds, but their use as ceremonial weapons means they did little real damage

Scroll to Top