During the Dark Ages did people carry swords frequently?

Aug 2014
3,810
Australia
#61
in his "Gallic wars" Caesar mentioned the very bad quality of Gaulish swords ,
they were very thick and heavy simply to have a minimum of functionality but often would bend
None of the swords examined by Pleiner can be described as "thick and heavy" and I find it hard to believe that Caesar said that either. Peter Connolly wrote about personally witnessing a La Tene sword that was dredged from Lake Neuchatel (covered in mud and water for over 2000 years) that could still be flexed "almost double" and spring back to its original shape even today. Not all of their swords were made of spring steel but some definitely were.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
#62
Obviously there are different qualities of sword; perhaps they were saying they were poor when compared to others? But a sword is really a one-job tool, and that is for fighting. An axe is easier to make, easier to maintain, easier to carry, easier to use (for the untrained) and can be used for day to day tasks. Plus it can be just as effective as a sword.

There's simply no need for a peasant to choose a sword over an axe or a knife.
 
Apr 2017
647
Lemuria
#63
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).
It's not the sword but how skilled someone was at wielding the sword.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,587
Sydney
#66
"personally witnessing a La Tene sword that was dredged from Lake Neuchatel (covered in mud and water for over 2000 years) that could still be flexed "almost double" and spring back to its original shape even today "
must have been a hell of a smith
 
Jan 2015
2,812
MD, USA
#67
in his "Gallic wars" Caesar mentioned the very bad quality of Gaulish swords ,
they were very thick and heavy simply to have a minimum of functionality but often would bend
I don't recall Caesar being *quite* that disparaging of Celtic swords! But remember that Celtic swords in Caesar's time were just BIGGER than Roman swords, so of course a Roman would find them heavy. Not that all Roman swords were masterpieces, either--some surviving ones seem to be pretty clunky.

Also, the metallurgy of the time was very different from nearly a millenium later in the Early Middle Ages. They just didn't have the high-carbon steels that could be quenched and tempered, yet, at least not very often at all. They were also sometimes using sulfur or phosphorous as hardening agents. So there was almost no way a sword blade could be quite as good as a medieval one, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if some of them didn't have the springiness Dan describes, and might take a "set" after some heavy blows. There'd be a lot less of that in the middle ages.

Matthew
 

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