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Bastard swords were developed in the mid-1400s in the Middle Ages as a form of the longsword with specially-shaped grips for one- or two-handed combat. These swords typically had longer handles, which allowed use by one or both hands.
Bastard swords are also known as hand-and-a-half swords. The sword’s hilt often had side-rings and finger rings to defend the hand, and a more slender, or tapered, narrowly pointed blade.
Knights and men-at-arms continued to use the bastard sword into the 1500s, and for a time, they enjoyed the civilian side-arm role that would later be superseded by the side sword and longsword.
The hilts of German bastard swords before the middle of the sixteenth century were basically cruciform, with long straight or curved quillons, ring guards, and one or two arms of the hilt. In some later types, a more developed guard included two knuckle bows connected by a loop, not unlike a basket hilt.
From the early sixteenth century, the hilts of the Swiss bastard swords were provided with knuckle guards as well as with recurved quillons and ring guards. It was also the time that saw a new lasting form of the Swiss bastard sword, which had a slightly curved blade and an asymmetrical pommel often shaped like a bird or animal head.
Bastard swords, like many later rapiers or longswords, also made use of the technique of “pummeling,” in which their rounded or plum-shaped pommel is partially held in the palm of the second hand.
Their method of use also differed by the addition of a “compound-hilt” of side-rings and finger-rings. These were later called finger-rings or annelets, and side-rings or anneus. The addition of these extra bars and guards developed as a result of a new method of gripping.
Improved point-control for thrusting into armor openings was gained by wrapping the index finger around the cross-guard. Gripping in this manner required more protection for the exposed fingers and necessitated the development of the close or compound-hilt.
Warriors were also going more and more without heavy gauntlets, and these newer hilts offered greater hand protection, particularly against intensifying attacks by thrust. The close-hilt offered superior defense and was used on many bastard swords, some longswords, and even two-handed swords.
Our bastard swords can be used for display or for battle re-enactments, as each reproduction is created to the specifications of the original. The dimensions and weight are accurate on every piece, so you get a medieval weapon that is actually balanced and fun to hold instead of just pretty to look at.
Medieval times were sometimes brutal, sometimes romantic, but always a source of intrigue.
We invite you to share in the experience of a bygone era with our collection of bastard swords. All our bastard swords are expertly hand-crafted and authentic blade replicas. Our line of medieval swords is great for display in your office, home, or even when used for LARP and other types of medieval reenactments.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long are bastard swords?
The medieval bastard sword which has a two-edged blade and handle has a blade length that ranged from 40 to 48 inches. The handle adds 10 to 15 inches in additional length. Since its extended handle allowed it to be gripped by both hands, the sword weighed around 5 to 8 pounds.
Why are bastard swords called that?
Many historians believed that the medieval bastard sword got its name because it was an in-betweener type of sword. Bastard swords are a hand and a half meaning it was not a normal one-handed sword or a long sword that is gripped with two hands.