Why Didn't All Medieval Swords Have Two-Handed Or Long Grips?

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There are plenty of reasons why a longer grip is beneficial, including the ability to use the sword in two-handed or one, or even for balance and hooking …

49 thoughts on “Why Didn't All Medieval Swords Have Two-Handed Or Long Grips?

  1. MAL says:

    Matt has his gamberson, Shad has his gamberson, Skal has his Viking helm, and Metatron has his samurai armor. The Squad is gettin ready to go on a adventure

  2. Fervidor says:

    You know, this explains a lot about the katana – a sword that proportionally has an usually long hilt for its length. The Japanese, for whatever reason (I presume culture-specific battle tactics) abandoned personal shields rather early on in their history. Since no samurai carried a shield, the longer hilt wouldn't have been as much of a nuisance letting them take advantage of the increased leverage. Compare the Chinese, who did use shields. At a certain point the Japanese sold a large amount of their surplus sword blades to Ming dynasty China and the Chinese put single-handed hilts on them because they considered them to be dao, which at least back then where a military sword supposed to be used along with a shield.

  3. JustSomeGuy says:

    Another Schola video watched en garde. Sound historical and martial information (to the best of my knowledge), as always. You should do a video about how all the different types of shield were carried

  4. bogrbon says:

    What do you know about the decline in the use of shields. You mention they went on through the 16th century. Was the decline in shields correlated to the decline in armor with later gunpowder weapons?

    It would be interesting to have a video about how the change in technology in both armor and weapons changed the prevalence of both. It comes up frequently in context of other videos, but I don’t think you’ve made a video specifically on the timeline of those changes.

  5. Jacob Staten says:

    One thing problem I've run into sharing your content with others, is that people often complain that you repeat yourself a lot (some are more hyperbolic about it than others). For the sake of branching out, would it be rude of me to suggest editing your videos to be more concise?

  6. Ian Alexander says:

    I know swords are mostly side arms, and I've always thought of it in the context of soldiers carrying a sword and using a polearm as primary weapon, or on horse back with a lance and shield. But if a soldier in full harness is on foot and still using a shield… What is he using with it if not a sword or other side arm (axe/mace/hammer). Spear?? I've always thought the spear and shield combo to be more of an earlier weapon set or one for less armoured soldiery.

  7. Emanuele Rusconi says:

    Please, point your camera down a bit, we almost can't see the scabbard at all. There's nothing interesting to see above your head anyway. This is a – minor, of course – recurring annoyance of your camera work.

  8. ZenithArt07 says:

    I'm most impressed with Matt's off-handed expertise, just casually mentioning a bunch of other swords from all over the world when giving examples of hilt length, and his mention of German historical battle schools. God damn, you're brain is so full. Why not just publish a book already!!! The world is waiting.

  9. ROMAN STANISZEWSKI says:

    WOULDN'T BE EASIER AND CHEAPER TO EQUIP ARMY WITH SPEARS SHIELDS AXES AND GAMBESON ARMOUR ?
    FULL PLATED KNIGHTS WERE EXPENSIVE SUPER WEAPONS .
    GIVE PAESANT A CROSS BOW AND KNIGHT IS NO LONGER A SUPER WEAPON …

  10. Artos says:

    As a history student something that I´ve noticed is that when we study this types of things we often get too focused in triying to give a definete and generalized answer that always has to have a significant meaning behind, when in fact I assume most of this decisions boiled down to personal preference, some guys liked the short grip and others the long grip, just like today, I don´t know, someone might choose a white car over a red one, we tend to dehumanize the past a bit, thanks for the reflection Matt, awesom video!!

  11. Steeve Martial says:

    Just a small point to mitigate yours: at the time we usually see more vertical suspension for swords and especially messers. Yours is accurate but it seemed to me much less common in artwork.

  12. Will Mathieson says:

    Matt you should be in HollyWood. Advisor for correct swords and use of in film and act in series such as Vikings, Game of Thrones and even Walking Dead since the star actor has returned to the UK. Has anyone contacted you?

  13. Ray X says:

    Interesting, people are the same now as they were then. Many of us carry compact and subcompact handguns as our daily carries because they are less cumbersome and we are willing to trade some performance for convenience.

  14. Matthew St. Cyr says:

    Before Watching Let me guess:
    – It would throw off the balance of a one-handed sword
    -Your hand could slip down the handle and make you lose grip and/or leverage
    -It would clang with the shield that you may have in your other hand

    After Watching: So it was my third guess. Cool.

  15. R. Akers says:

    The key thing to me in this video is that last phrase, "certain weapons are chosen". It is kind of like the revelation when my dad told me that there was nothing in a great painting "by accident". The people using this stuff were thoughtful, well trained, and professional, and oh yeah, their lives depended on their choices!

  16. Adler Mow says:

    Matt, although an angled scabbard is the best when wearing the sword alone, as it helps with the draw and allows for a longer weapon, If using a shield you should really use a upright scabbard. You can't let all the blame on the hilt when your scabbard is at least half of the problem!

  17. Anthony Westbrook says:

    This makes me want to design a board game where you can get certain small advantages at the cost of carrying something unwieldy with you in real life for a set amount of time beforehand. "+1 damage if you've worn a 60 pound backpack for the last 3 days." "If you've had a walking stick or similar object within reach at all times for the last week, +1 to initiative, damage, and defense per foot of length." Let people play that and realize that some small advantages just aren't worth the daily inconvenience.

  18. Joe JoeLesh says:

    I have been watching a lot of "Forged in Fire" lately.
    Whenever a sword comes in with a long grip, the testers complain about hand slippage. This makes sense to me, especially when hacking.

    What is the S.G. group think on this?

  19. dembro says:

    The obvious solution is to wear the longsword on your back! Then, it goes from a sidearm that interferes with your shield to a backarm that increases your Cool Factor by 200%.

  20. Calvin Duncan says:

    I understand that not all "knights" were actually knights and that you had to be knighted for that. But, my question was if men-at-arms enjoyed the same social privileges as those who were knighted. Obviously, the wealthier you were, the higher up the social ladder you were, but I wonder if you enjoyed most of the same privileges as knights if you were a well-armored man-at-arms.

  21. Bartolomeo Rizzo says:

    I have a question that is stuck in my mind: were there shields that left the hand free? For example shields fixed to the arm, leaving the hand free to hold, for example a dagger, a firearm or whatever? Maybe bucklers?

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