During the Dark Ages did people carry swords frequently?

Jul 2018
67
United States
#1
Were swords only brandished by certain classes? Was it expensive to purchase a sword? Were swordfighting skills something only knights and nobles honed?
 

Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,362
Lower Styria, Slovenia
#2
Price was connected to the quality of the sword. A good sword made of quality Swedish steel would be expensive (they used to fake them as well), while some random sword made in a hurry by your neighbour Joe (unless Joe was a skilled and respected craftsmen). Nobles would have to provide armed men for the army of their feudal overlord and would equip those according to their financial standing. Spears are a lot cheaper and easier to use, they require much less training and you can get more men for your money. So swords would deffinetly be a status symbol. I don't know if there were any limitations as to who can carry a sword like there were later in the middle ages (you can take a look how the Messer evolved as an answer to this).
 
Nov 2010
7,328
Cornwall
#3
Were swords only brandished by certain classes? Was it expensive to purchase a sword? Were swordfighting skills something only knights and nobles honed?
Most people worked in the fields I would suggest. Or industry like ceramics and weaving.

But you need to define where you are talking about, and also 'dark agaes'
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,604
Blachernai
#4
While I'm not at all clear what you mean by "dark ages", carrying weapons was unusual in Byzantium. Only in 440 in the Roman west was the ban on private weapon ownership rescinded. The urban militias seem to be quite poorly equipped in late antiquity, and popular revolts in Constantinople frequently hit the armories since presumably the mob had nothing more than makeshift weapons. There is at least some evidence for elite ownership of weapons later on, though. The future Isaakios II Angelos had a sword at home which he used against the agents of Andronikos when they came to arrest him, George Akropolites refers to a crowd with bare swords hunting some of the ministers of Theodore II Laskaris in the mid-13th century.
 

Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,635
#6
Actual swords tended to be rare as well as expensive. However seax or scramasax (many names) style long bladed single-edged utility tools were common at least in certain areas and could easily double as either long daggers or short swords.
 
Feb 2016
4,171
Japan
#7
As the man says the English nearly all carried a seax, which wasn’t quite a sword but a big knife.
Slaves would be unarmed, freemen would be entitled to carry what ever weapons they owned though I think if they wandered about town with a spear people might wonder why.
Swords were something of a high status weapon I believe, would be quite well off to afford one, though if your Thegn or Cyning was generous and you were favoured you might be gifted one, you might inherit one from you father if it was a family sword or you might kill someone on a battlefield and take it as a trophy. But bear in mind if you weren’t trained in how to use one it would be pretty useless. That said wearing it was more to show you were hard and important.. why risk damaging such a special bit of kit when you have a spear and long knife you can use.

Spears were the most common weapons and axes too.

The poorest Ceorls would still have a spear and seax I think.

Towards the latter dark age I believe swords beocome more common.
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,474
Dispargum
#8
Were swords only brandished by certain classes? Was it expensive to purchase a sword? Were swordfighting skills something only knights and nobles honed?

You bring up another important point. It's not just the cost of the sword but also the time necessary to develop the proper skill. Swords are difficult to use effectively and require a great deal of training and practice. Most people were too busy growing food or doing other things necessary to survive and did not have the leasure time necessary to develop their swordsmanship skills. Only nobles and other professional warriors could set aside an hour or so everyday to practice swordsmanship. Not all professional warriors used swords. There were plenty of other weapon options for a warrior to specialize in.
 
Feb 2017
325
The Rainforests
#10
Are you also referring to the Eastern side of the world when you refer to the 5th till 10th century(Dark Ages)?Most likely you aren't but I can give my opinion on this if you are.
 

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