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In the realm of medieval weaponry, few weapons command as much respect and admiration as the mighty bastard sword. With its imposing size, remarkable versatility, and striking aesthetics, the bastard sword has carved a place for itself in history as a symbol of power and authority. In this article, we will delve into the world of bastard swords, exploring their origin, design, historical significance, and the enduring appeal they hold for collectors and enthusiasts today.

Origins of the Bastard Sword

The origins of the bastard sword can be traced back to Europe during the Late Middle Ages. Also known as the hand-and-a-half sword, this weapon emerged as an evolution of the earlier longsword. The bastard sword earned its name from its unique length, which fell between that of a one-handed sword and a two-handed sword. This design allowed for versatility in combat, providing the wielder with the option of using it with one hand or gripping it with both hands for increased power.

Design and Features

Bastard swords typically boast a straight double-edged blade, measuring approximately 35 to 43 inches in length. The blade is forged from high-quality steel, ensuring both durability and superior cutting ability. The hilt of a bastard sword features a crossguard that protects the wielder's hand during combat, along with a grip wrapped in leather or other materials for enhanced control.

The Bastard Sword in History

Role in Medieval Warfare

During the medieval period, the bastard sword played a significant role in warfare. Its versatility allowed knights and soldiers to adapt to various combat situations. Whether on horseback or engaged in close combat on foot, the bastard sword provided the wielder with the range and power needed to effectively engage adversaries.

Famous Bastard Swords

Several bastard swords have gained fame throughout history. One notable example is the sword wielded by William Wallace, the Scottish hero. Another renowned bastard sword is the Oakeshott Type XVII, which was favored by knights during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Collecting and Caring for Bastard Swords

For enthusiasts and collectors, acquiring and preserving a bastard sword requires careful consideration. When collecting, it's crucial to verify the authenticity, provenance, and condition of the sword. Proper storage and regular maintenance, including cleaning and oiling, are essential for ensuring the longevity of these remarkable weapons.

The Modern Bastard Sword

While no longer employed in warfare, the bastard sword has found a place among modern practitioners of historical European martial arts (HEMA) and as a sought-after item in the arms and armor collecting community. Skilled craftsmen continue to create beautiful reproductions of bastard swords, incorporating traditional techniques and materials to capture the spirit of these ancient weapons.

The Bastard Sword in Popular Culture

The enduring allure of the bastard sword can be observed in its depiction across various forms of media. From literature to films and video games, the bastard sword often represents strength, heroism, and adventure. Its presence in popular culture continues to captivate audiences, further enhancing its iconic status.

The Fascination with Bastard Swords

The fascination with bastard swords can be attributed to their impressive combination of elegance and power. Their formidable presence, striking aesthetics, and rich historical background make them highly desirable for collectors, enthusiasts, and those intrigued by the romance of the medieval era.


The bastard sword stands as a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of the medieval period. Its enduring legacy lies not only in its effectiveness as a weapon but also in the symbolism it carries. Today, the bastard sword continues to captivate the hearts and minds of individuals drawn to its power, history, and timeless allure.


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