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Henri F Klein

sword, weapon, straight, swords, length, added and blade

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HENRI F. KLEIN, Editorial Staff of The Americana.

SWORb, The, a weapon used in personal combat for cutting or thrusting, one of the most ancient and highly esteemed of all weapons. No sooner had the art of working metals been dis covered than it made its appearance, replacing almost at once the crude axe of the Stone Age. The earliest swords, of which any authentic records exist, were those of the Assyrians, the Gauls and the Greeks. These swords were double edged, straight or leaf-shaped, and were made of bronze, the art of tempering steel not having then been discovered. The Roman sword, which was made of steel, was short, straight and double edged, having its point cut at an obtuse angle. The swords of the Franks were straight, about 30 inches in length with a lapering point. None of these swords appear to have offered much protection to the hand.

During the Middle Ages the sword was lengthened, while still retaining its general Frankish shape and quillons (cross-pieces) were added for the protection of the hand. A narrow-bladed sword called the estoc, used principally for thrusting, was often carried at tached to the saddle by mounted men, the heavy sword being worn upon the person at the satne time. A dagger called the misericorde (dagger of mercy) was worn on the right side by !alights, and used to dispatch their fallen foes.

The Gextnan lansquenets, or mercenary foot soldiers, used a two-handed sword some six feet in length. On the march this ponderous weapon was worn slung over the back. In wielding the heavy swords of the Middle Ages, the fore finger was often hooked over the right quillon to strengthen the grasp. This forefinger being unprotected (except by the gauntlet) was fre quently injured and so, for its protection. a little ring was placed in front of the quillon through which the finger was passed. For the salce of symmetry another ring of the same kind was added to the left quillon, the two rings being termed the cpas d'ane.)) Side rings were next added for the protection of the hand and the right quillon was curved upward so as to form the elcnuckle bow? A thumb ring was also sometimes added, the Germans being especially fond of this device. During the 16th

century the sword became much lighter, the striking of heavy blows having become less of a necessity owing to the discarding of armor on account of the invention of gunpowder. A cup-shaped guard was added to the quillons (which were generally straight, the knuckle bow being retained as a separate piece) and the weapon became a rapier, the point of which rather than the edge was used in making an attack. With the early rapier a dagger was worn, which when fighting was held in the left hand and used for parrying. Later a cloak was used for the same purpose. As the science of fence became better understood, however, all secondary protections were dis carded, and the rapier became a weapon of both offense and defense. Rapiers were often highly ornamented and the guards were fre quently of fanciful design. The best of them came from Spain, Toledo being especially noted for the excellence of her blades.

Shortly before the beginning of the 18th century the rapier was supplanted to a great extent by the colichemarde, a weapon with a hilt like our modern small sword, the marked peculiarity of which was that its blade was wide for about half its length and narrow for the other half. About 1760 the colichemarde gave way to the small sword, a very light weapon, having a small circular guard, a knuckle bow and a narrow straight blade. The foil used in fencing which represents the small sword is about 33 inches in length with a quadrangular blade and a bell or ring guard. Italian foils have quillons, French ones do not. The duelling sword is a heavier kind of foil, having a triangular blade tapering to a very fine point. A broadsword is a sword that has a cutting edge. It may be either straight or curved, single or double edged. It is essentially a military weapon and is in use in all armies. In the United States army a form of sabre is used varying from 30 to 34 inches in length. In the European War the sword has come into disuse among infantry officers owing to the lack of opportunity for its employment in trench warfare and the dangerous distinctive ness which it gives to those who bear it.

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