Historical Swords, History of The Swords

A Comparative Look at Longswords and Greatswords

A Comparative Look at Longswords and Greatswords

Introduction to Longsword and Greatsword

Two-handed swords were super important in wars and stories throughout history. In battles, they helped fighters reach farther and hit harder, making them better at attacking and defending. People thought of them as symbols of strength and skill, so they were famous weapons back then.

Often, however, people get confused and interchange "longswords" and "greatswords." Basically, you can conveniently wield a longsword (holds comfortably in one hand) with the other arm—either holding a shield or another weapon. Having two hands in order to use a greatsword, the powerful and heavy weapon, can be really difficult to do well.

It's good to know the difference because it tells us how each sword was used and what times they were used.  Both were vital in battles with distinct roles, intriguing histories, and weapon enthusiasts alike. Now let's take a deep analysis of longswords and greatswords.

Defining the Titans: Longswords and Greatswords


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A longsword typically ranges from 100 to 120 centimeters in length and weighs between 1.0 to 1.5 kilograms. It gained prominence during the late medieval period and Renaissance, evolving from earlier single-handed swords. Longsword techniques emphasized versatility, allowing for both cutting and thrusting attacks. Fighting styles varied across Europe, with notable schools such as the German Liechtenauer tradition and the Italian school of swordsmanship. Techniques included strikes, thrusts, parries, and grappling maneuvers.

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The greatswords are bigger and heavier than a longsword, generally in a length of 150 to 180 centimeters, and weigh between 2.0 to 3.0 kg. It witnessed widespread use during the late Middle Ages as well as the Renaissance. And while the German Dwaelhander and the Italian Montante were just a few of the regional variants.
Greatswords were often used in formation warfare, favored by foot soldiers and mercenaries for their ability to cleave through armor and opponents. Notable techniques included powerful overhead strikes, sweeping cuts, and thrusts aimed at exploiting gaps in armor.

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Key Differences between Longsword and Greatsword:

Size and Weight:

Longswords typically range from 100 to 120 centimeters in length and weigh between 1.0 to 1.5 kilograms, offering a balance between reach and maneuverability. Greatswords, on the other hand, are much larger, measuring between 150 to 180 centimeters and weighing 2.0 to 3.0 kilograms. The greater size of greatswords gives them more power but makes them slower and less agile compared to longswords. This impacts handling and fighting style, with longsword users often favoring speed and precision, while greatsword wielders rely on strength and momentum.

Construction and Design:

In contrast, longer swords had narrow, Longsword blades can be double-edged, not just single-edged. They were carefully sharpened from the bottom to the top to get the right cut and poke. The crossguard and the grip are usually designed in such a way that it is suitable for use with one or two hands. Longswords, on the other hand, have wider, single-edged swords with a noticeable arch for their swinging slashes, thus making it a powerful weapon. Their hilts are longer than those of short swords for both hand and arm to give more control over heavier weapons. These combat properties are among the main of great swords which are traditionally recommended for heavy, frontal attacks against armored opponents and for slow, sustained movements.

Combat Applications:

Combat Applications Longswords vs Greatswords

Longswords are versatile weapons suitable for a variety of combat situations, offering speed and precision in both offense and defense. They are effective against lightly armored opponents and excel in dueling and skirmishing scenarios. Greatswords excel against armored foes and multiple attackers.. They work great in big battles where soldiers fight together because they can make big swings and stabs that go through lots of enemies. But they aren't great in tight spaces or long fights.

Historical Context:

In the olden days of medieval Europe, knights and soldiers used longswords a lot. They were like big knives that knights carried around for fighting in wars and duels. Longswords were a big part of how knights fought with honor and respect.

Greatswords were also popular during this time, especially in places like Germany. Soldiers liked them because they were great for fighting against other soldiers wearing armor. Johannes Liechtenauer taught sword fighting in Germany. Fiore dei Liberi taught fencing.

Legends of greatswords include Swiss fighters who used Zweihänders and Spanish conquerors who carried Montantes when they were taking over new lands.

Beyond the Battlefield:

Combat Applications Longswords vs Greatswords

Longswords and greatswords aren't just tools for fighting anymore; they've become famous symbols in stories, art, and entertainment. In tales, they symbolize honor and bravery, often appearing in epic adventures featuring knights and heroes. Artists have drawn and sculpted them for centuries, showing off how cool and strong they are. And in movies, TV shows, and video games, they're still super popular, making people feel amazed and interested because they're symbols of being really strong and skilled.

Resurgence of Interest:

In recent years, greatswords and longswords have attracted the attention of the public in a big way due to the revival of historical European fencing techniques practiced under the HEMA discipline. Fencing fans delve into historical fencing manuals and manuscripts in search of methods and traditions of swordsmanship, typical of the European Middle and late ages. The HEMA adepts engage in sparring, and battles, practice outside of the given time frames, and deepen their knowledge of recreated weapons of the past as well as their historical approaches at the tournaments and events. This resurgence has developed our admiration for the longsword and greatsword which are utilized in fighting by the martial heritage and it also has promoted this hobby culture dedicated to preserving and sharing such historical moments.

Conclusion to the debate between Longsword vs Greatsword:

Longswords and greatswords are different in size, weight, and how they were used in battles. Longswords are about 100 to 120 centimeters long and weigh around 1.0 to 1.5 kilograms. They're good because they're not too heavy and not too light, which means they're easy to handle and can reach far. Longswords were famous during the time of knights and in the Renaissance. They're connected to famous people like Johannes Liechtenauer and Fiore dei Liberi, who were experts at fighting with them.

On the other hand, greatswords are bigger, around 150 to 180 centimeters long and weighing 2.0 to 3.0 kilograms. They're heavier, which means they hit harder, but they're slower because they're so big. Greatswords were used a lot in battles during medieval times and the Renaissance, especially in places like Germany. Soldiers like Swiss fighters and Spanish conquerors used them to win battles and take over new lands.

People still argue about exactly how to classify these swords because different places and times had different ideas about them like Longswords and Greatswords.

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