Longsword

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The Longsword is a type of European sword used during the late medieval period, approximately 1350 to 1550 (with early and late use reaching into the 13th and 17th centuries, respectively). Longswords have long cruciform hilts with grips over 10 to 15 cm length (providing room for two hands). Straight double-edged blades are often over 1 m to 1.2 m (40" to 48") length, and weigh typically between 1.2 and 2.4 kg (2½ to 5 lb), with light specimens just below 1 kg (2.2 lb), and heavy specimens just above 2 kg (4½ lb).[1]

The longsword is commonly held in combat with both hands, though some may be used single-handed. Longswords are used for hewing, slicing, and stabbing. The specific offensive purpose of an individual longsword is derived from its physical shape. All parts of the sword are used for offensive purposes, including the pommel and crossguard.

With regard to the Medieval Period, the Oakeshott typology [1] mentions the sword subtypes XIIa and XIIIa from the latter part of the High Middle Ages, c. 1250-1350, as the forerunners of the later longswords. Calling these two subtypes 'great swords', it lists their hand-and-half grip (with enough room for the off-hand to hold the pommel securely) and relatively large blade (roughly 36 inches), for the most part longer and broader than contemporary arming swords. Later, in the Late Middle Ages, c. 1350-1550, various longsword subtypes emerge with their hand-and-half grip:

Notably, this last subtype XVIIIe sometimes exhibits a proper two-handed grip. While all of the above subtypes of the Late Middle Age can count as 'longswords', the Oakeshott typology does not go on to list the properly two-handed longswords of the Renaissance Age, whose blades are truly huge, such as the Scottish claymore (blade length roughly 42 inches) and the German zweihänder (blade length roughly 53 inches).

Thus generalizations about the 'longsword' can vary wildly, depending on whether the Late Medieval hand-and-halfers or the Renaissance two-handers, or both, are taken into account.

Contemporary terminology includes the Dutch grootzwaard, German Langschwert, Spanish espadón or mandoble, Italian spadone or spada longa (lunga) and Portuguese montante. The French épée bâtarde references the bastard sword, a type of longsword. English Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts refer to the longsword as the two hand sword. The terms "hand-and-a-half sword", "greatsword", and "bastard sword" are used colloquially to refer to longswords in general.

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