Swords in Korovia

A character riding a giant raven
while carrying an arming sword
By Charles Moffat

Historical realism.

I am one of those people who gets upset when a movie or a book portrays a historical weapon in a false manner.

And while I don't start foaming at the mouth and shouting obscenities when it happens, it still bothers me and I know other authors / readers who feel the same way.

Thus when I am writing a book or a short story my preference is to portray weapons accurately to their historical counterparts... And keep in mind I am an archery instructor, and we are known to be perfectionists.

Thus I spend a good amount of time writing historically accurate combat scenes for archery, but also for swords, axes, and other weapons.

Today I want to talk about the type of swords which appear in my Korovia books. Namely:

  • Short Sword
  • Sabre
  • Arming Sword
  • Bastard Sword
  • Longsword
  • The Grosseklinge (Greatsword)

The Short Sword

Sometimes spelled shortsword, this is a sword with a double-edged blade measuring typically 14 to 24 inches long. The handle is meant to be used by one hand only. Some shortswords are so small they could possibly be considered to be daggers.

The Sabre

A sword with a curved blade, with the single edged blade length being roughly 32 to 35 inches long. The handle is meant to be used by one hand only, and sometimes has a basket hilt or a handguard to protect the user's hands.

Note - There are also similar weapons like the cutlass, the scimitar, and the falchion. The falchion for example was roughly 38 inches long, and could be considered to be something similar to the bastard sword further below.

The Arming Sword

A standard sized sword (mistakenly called a "Longsword" in Dungeons & Dragons) with a straight double-edged blade about 28 to 38 inches long that tapers towards the end. Obviously there is a lot of variability in blade length with the arming sword, with the length of blade varying by as much as ten inches. It was possible to wield an arming sword with two hands (by gripping the pommel), but doing so meant the swordsman didn't really have proper leverage when swinging it.

Note - Historically there was no strict length of specific swords, so a lot of swords of varying lengths are classified as being arming swords. Most swords that appear in my Korovia stories, unless otherwise stated, are arming swords. So for example the elf Gyburn from "The Demon's Sacrifice" wields an arming sword called "Bonecleaver".

The Bastard Sword

A longer sword with a straight double-edged blade (sometimes called a 'hand-and-a-half sword') with a blade 40 to 48 inches long, but with a larger handle that typically measures 10 to 15 inches. The extra large handle means there is space for a second hand on the handle, and enough space that swinging the sword allowed to put extra force into the swing using leverage.

Note - So what happens if you find a sword that has a blade 39 inches long? Well, is it an arming sword or a bastard sword? Honestly, it depends on the handle. Does it have an arming sword handle, or a bastard sword handle? Not everything is perfectly cut and dried when it comes to swords, their lengths and their classifications.

The Longsword

This is the classic two-handed sword, similar to a claymore, with a straight double-edged blade about 49 to 65 inches long. The handle was meant for two-handed use, typically being 15 to 20 inches long, with the longer handle allowing the swordsman to put a lot more leverage into their swings.

Note - Like the arming sword there is a lot of variability in how long the blade can be and still count as a longsword. In Dungeons & Dragons this type of sword is often mistakenly called a "Greatsword", but this is inaccurate. The proper term is Longsword, and as you can see further below they should not be confused.

The Grosseklinge / Greatsword

This is the biggest of all swords (ignoring those wielded by ogres or giants, etc) available in Korovia, and historically. With an average blade length of 6 feet (72 inches), these swords had blades anywhere from 66 inches long to possibly 7 feet (84 inches). They were also so big that normal men couldn't wield them properly, requiring the swordsman to usually be at least six feet tall just to wield the smallest of Greatswords. Anyone too short would be prone to scraping or bumping the sword against the ground, damaging it.

Note - The hero Wrathgar (from my novel series The Adventures of Wrathgar) wields a traditional Grosseklinge sword from his tribe, the Baarstammderstark. He wields the sword in addition to a bearded axe and a longbow in the following books:

You can learn more about my books by visiting amazon.com/author/moffat or by visiting fiction.charlesmoffat.com.

You can learn more about historical swords by watching the video below.

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