Why are swords so popular? Even in like actual medieval literature, the heroes still usually use swords. Why do you never see heroes in stories with axes and spears and such?
Because swords are the best. Do I look like some woodcutting peasant?
Basically every culture has swords as straight up weapons for killing other people. Axes, spears, bows, they all have alternative hunting/gathering uses as tools. Swords are weapons.
Other non sword examples will be listed throughout the thread by many anons but swords exist as weapons in every culture. Grungr springs to mind.
Historical answer: Unlike an axe or a bow or a spear, a sword has one function and one function only: to kill people. You can't really use it for hunting. You can't chop down trees very well with it.
Therefore the sword is a status item. Remember, a weapon is not just 1d10 dmg, 19-20/x2 crit. It has a place in society. So, whereas most cultures by the early medieval period would allow a peasant to have a spear, bow, or even a sword (though, depending on the cheekiness of the local laws, a large knife is usually permitted), but most would not be allowed to carry the sword openly in town.
Warriors in ancient stories did often carry weapons other than the sword, but the sword epitomizes those work because it is purpose made for it.
There's also the fact that swords were very hard to make, and that made them very expensive.
So swords were also a sign of wealth, because you could afford to have one commissioned.
Most commoners could never afford a decent sword while spears can be easily made by even the dumbest blacksmith/carpenter.
Thus the sword was a symbol of the wealthy classes.
And who besides some priests was able to read books in those times?
Yeah, whereas it is pretty much impossible to defeat a competent spearman with a sword, assuming equal levels of competence. In REAL LIFE, not babby D&D shit, a spear would impale you before you even got close.
Swords were useless except in the royal-ass knight wrestling bullcrap. They even got BTFO by longbows.
Sword-wielding heroes surviving more than 10 seconds is pure fantasy. Deal with it.
The Mahabharat had plenty of emphasis on bows.
>Swords were useless except in the royal-ass knight wrestling bullcrap
They had much more versatility than some weapons. You could half-sword, mordhau, etc
A well made suit of armor could withstand the bullets of the time.
I was stating the historical fact that swords were used as a status symbol since they were expensive to make and thus became a symbol of the wealthy and nobles.
Never mentioned them being more useful than a bow or pole-arm except at really short range and then you are better of wrestling your opponent to the ground before stabbing him if you have decent armour.
>There's also the fact that swords were very hard to make, and that made them very expensive.
Depending on the time and place, sure. During the Classical period throughout the world and lands East of Persia after about 300 CE this is certainly true.
After the wonkiness of the early Migration period and as the Toledo steel mines in Spain really got underway, however, swords weren't particularly expensive for most European peasants (a number of kingdoms required that their peasantry have a long knife).
Not true. Swedish Helsinge Law required that every man have access to a sword, as did the laws of Sodermanland, Ostergotland, and Soderkoping. They're less expensive than you might imagine. Obviously, outrageous gold-encrusted jeweled swords can be expensive, but that's true for anything.
troll and/or deeply uneducated post, no need to reply
In addition to what other anons have said, I would add that swords are very conducive to 1 on 1 dramatic combat. A straight clash of steel on steel makes for the perfect final battle scene
Axes don't really work because the curved blades slide off each other and there are no small wounds like a slash across the cheek or a stab in the shoulder
Spears don't work because it's just a stick fight and dying from being poked is gay
Maces come close but they're too slow and drastic. Either a hit totally annihilates you or it just stuns you. It's just a dodge fest really.
I'm not saying they can't work, but swords are the most well suited
Unlike almost all other weapons, swords only have one use. Axes, spears, bows and hammers all have their foundations in labour and other work, but made effective weapons when used and had some specialized variants purely for use as weapons.
A sword, though? A sword was an expensive tool only used for one thing- fighting. Having one was a sign of being a warrior.
Because most other weapons usually have a use beyond killing another human.
Axes, knives, hammers, and spears have secondary uses.
A sword really only has one purpose, to fight another human.
Very possibly. Flails do seem to have existed, at least ostensibly, in some medieval artwork, though most surviving examples of actual non-agricultural flails aren't historical (that is, they were manufactured many years after the time period they were said to have been used in).
People tend to underestimate just how fast a sword is in combat. Because the blade is fairly light, much of the damage of a sword (against unprotected flesh) is due to the rapidity of the slice (which is why in cultures where substantial armor is either prohibitively expensive to obtain (east asia) or stupidly stupid to use (in very hot or humid places) you see a proliferation of single-edged curved swords).
Many mid-medieval arming texts refer to using the motion of the wrist to flick a sword. You can see it in some HEMA demonstrations: a sword, even one up to 40 or so inches, can hit from multiple angles very, very quickly.
Now, medieval longswords (as in, actual longswords and not the arming swords we typically imagine) become heavier and heavier to counter a wider proliferation of heavier armor up to the hundred year's war, but this is another story altogether.
Why are Katanas & Japanese swords so popular? What about Jians or Chinese swords?
because katanas, you see
are really pretty.
Not to say jian aren't pretty, most swords are, in fact, pretty, but the slight curve and the single edge, combined with the specific lustre granted by folded steel, makes katanas really pretty.
Still shit swords though
Because China until some 20 Years ago was treated as North Korea tier and we can't have positive portrayals of commie countries now can't we.
That's the period of time when the whole exotic warriors and stuff became popular and wide-spread + japan has a living sword-fighting tradition thanks to kendo.
South Korea has its own tradition which still somehow survived the Jap occupation and suppression.
Chinese sword-fighting traditions however only survived on Taiwan.
Also katanas are sabres so fool-proof for use.
Jiangs are arming swords and require fencing skills.
It's the reason why only nobles wore them because they could pay the instructors and had time to practice with them while commoners used the Dao sabres.
Also because of the fact that they're excellent weapons that were somehow made out of utter shit materials. There is, in Japan, just about fuck-all for good swordsmithing iron, so that they were able to make a sword that could cut decapitate two people with one swing using pig iron is also a pretty amazing feat.
Imagine if the Japanese had the kind of steel that was found in Damascus.
Bit of an over-exaggeration there.
"passable" fits much better, they were passable weapons made out of utter shit materials.
An "excellent" weapon wouldn't be as fragile as a katana is
True, I suppose. Still, the material-to-product-quality ratio is stellar.
I understood that pretty much any sword made of steel was folded if you didn't want to have it shatter on the first bone you hit?
Just to note the Japanese swords were made with the fact in mind that they'll quite often break so the shape is meant to allow you to conserve materials by sharpening the remnants of the sword and reforging it into a shorter sword.
Basically they were made to be economic and easy to replace so materials aren't wasted.
Whereas the Chinese Dao was made extremely durable with a thicker spine and more front heft.
That's it. I'm sick of all this "Katanas are sabres" bullshit that's going on in /tg/ right now. Katanas deserve much better than that. Much, much better than that.
I should know what I'm talking about. I myself commissioned a genuine katana in Japan for 2,400,000 Yen (that's about $20,000) and have been practicing with it for almost 2 years now. I can even cut slabs of solid steel with my katana.
Japanese smiths spend years working on a single katana and fold it up to a million times to produce the finest blades known to mankind.
Katanas are thrice as sharp as European swords and thrice as hard for that matter too. Anything a longsword can cut through, a katana can cut through better. I'm pretty sure a katana could easily bisect a knight wearing full plate with a simple vertical slash.
Ever wonder why medieval Europe never bothered conquering Japan? That's right, they were too scared to fight the disciplined Samurai and their katanas of destruction. Even in World War II, American soldiers targeted the men with the katanas first because their killing power was feared and respected.
>I understood that pretty much any sword made of steel was folded if you didn't want to have it shatter on the first bone you hit?
Tempered & folded yes, but it's not like folding a blade hundreds of times (exaggeration) made it invincible. People exaggerate blade folding's, still useful, abilities.
Cultural exchange happened depending on the level of communication and trade the countries had at a time.
The Japanese for example used straight double sided leaf shaped swords made out of bronze well into the 6th to 7th century before they switched to iron/steel and curved single edged swords were imported from Korea.
Then they adapted the smithing technique to the resources they had at hand and developed their own style.
Koreans took their style from the Chinese and adapted it to their needs making them lighter.
Chinese took their style from Persians through trade and made heftier blades.
Mm. I remember reading that folding a sword too much (I forget what the number was) actually made it too brittle. Folding it that fifty times or whatever it is some people claim would make it be like trying to kill someone with glass.
What's kinda funny about Japanese fencing is that while Western fencing often has the same basic lessons and then when you get into the advanced stuff each school of German or Spanish or whatever fencing has different ideas of attack and defense and which maneuvers (Mordhau, Half-swording, etc) are effective in which situations, Japanese fencing schools almost all universally agree on what is and isn't an effective combat maneuver and defense and then argue over weirdly irrelevant specifics like positioning, stance, which foot you put forward first, and where your hand goes on the grip and such.
This is basically because as an almost purely cutting weapon that's made for footmen but was developed from a heavier mounted-use sword there's really not a lot of ways you can use it effectively, so the only thing they can argue over is irrelevant shit.
Why there were enough sword schools to argue in the first place is a completely different matter, mostly one involving problems besetting the samurai's socioeconomic class.
Pretty much this.
A spear is just a pointy stick, anyone can get his hands on those.
An axe is a lumberjack's tool first and foremost
A scythe a farmer's tool, as were most medieval weapons in its origin.
A knife is a chef's tool and found in most households for the sake of cooking.
A sword, on the other hand, is just a sword. It has no practical uses. A sword can't be used by lumberjacks or cooks or whatever. If someone carries around a sword, it's for the specific purpose of killing people and literally nothing else. That's why it became associated with the warrior nobility and eventually mystified.
Sabres are simple to use thus it's pretty hard to make stuff up for it.
A straight double edged sword on the other hand has more movement options for combat and thus requires more co-ordination and has a greater numbers of styles and methods to employ.
While the ''Spanish'' style is focused on fast and lithe movements to overwhelm the opponent with agility.
The ''Italian'' style which is full on defense and counter attacks (and the one with the most practitioners dying from its use).
The ''German'' style emphasizes using strength to knock down and wrestle an opponent and using leverage in the optimal way to deliver well placed heavy strikes and is regarded as the ''most reckless'' yet most successful style in Europe.
All this was just birthed from the wider array of movement a straight double edged sword has.
>implying Glass sword isn't best
I'm wondering something that's not entirely related to the discussion, but I have to wonder why there isn't (at least to my knowledge) a French school of fencing. The Italian, Spanish and German fencing schools, if I'm not mistaken, mostly flourished during the late middle ages and early renaissance. At the time France was one of the premier military powers of Europe and the greatest rival of the Habsburgs (which only became worse once the Habsburgs weakened after the Spanish-Austrian split). Why did they never create or popularize a school of fencing then? Were the aforementioned three schools so popular in France that they never bothered creating their own, or is there something else behind it?
The closest thing I can think of is the handbook "jeu de hache", but that's about axes and polearms rather than swords.
>arguing spears BTFO swords
Well okay, I dont agree but something can be said about it depending the circumst-
>They even got BTFO by longbows.
Oh boy, every fucking time
Now this post is probably bait and all, but I have seen so many fucking retards that DO say shit like this once driven into a corner, dragging other unrelated weapons into the discussion.
so, they'd die horribly, but your sword would break, then. katanas are already kind of fragile weapons given their construction, so shattering one into someone for a lethal blow wouldn't have necessarily been terrible if you had extras on hand. ;p
(fragile in this case meaning 'will be broken by peasants with farm implements because it can't take a blow to the back of the blade or bend sideways really very much')
Swords are usually Christian weapon (fact it resembles the cross has a some impact imho)
Pagans liked their spears and axes (especially old Slavs liked axes) as heroic weapons more
Yeah, japan had poor quality iron. But to (grossly) generalize, once you have jumped through all the hoops to get to the product of steel, the quality of iron you started with doesn't fucking matter... all it really determines is how much labor you have to put in to get the finished product.
If they had the type of iron found in europe or the fabled damascus all it would have meant is they'd have made more swords, more spears and more metal armor significantly faster and they'd be cheaper, because they wouldn't have had to take as much time or use as much labor to get to the final product of steel. Fuck go watch Princess mononoke, the great big centerpoint of "iron town" is a giant fucking blast furnace where they produce good steel, and other people are largely only interested in it because of the sheer fucking quantity of steel they're producing, not because it's got some magical property due to being folded a bajillionty times. They literally detail the whole process "there's iron in the sand and in some of the hills nearby, we dump it into the furnace that is worked CONSTANTLY 24/7 and we mass produce steel".
Functionally, steel is steel is steel is steel, regardless of the base iron material.
So no, the fact that they made 'good swords out of shit iron' isn't impressive, what is impressive is the techniques they used to cope with poor quality iron in order to get good quality steel.
I wish /tg/ would stop being so fucking retarded and wanking up this regurgitated shit.
Simply said France either used the German or Spanish styles while the main heft of its units came from spear rows, cavalry and crossbowmen and very few people trained with the swords.
Swords were a dueling weapon for nobles and a side arm in most situations.
The spear was the weapon of Odin so it was the heroic weapon with the norse poeoples.
The axe is the weapon of Perun the one of the chief gods among the slavs and theri equivalent to Jupiter/Zeus/Thor.
There likely WAS one or two, but I've noticed sword schools tend to become a thing when a country STOPS constantly going to war and they begin to formalize schools and put up education regimens; during a war you have to use whatever weapon fits the moment and swords, no matter how well-drilled you are in them, aren't really a good substitute for an alternative.
Also, during a battle with the heavy press of infantry and the charge of cavalry smashing into each other, sophisticated sword maneuvers weren't really helpful, and instead you relied on numbers, drills, and brute force.
Stuff like German sword schools were so popular despite most parts of the Empire being relatively peaceful because trial by combat was very much alive and well there so anyone could in theory need to fight in a duel one day and thus a gentleman's education often included fencing in some way; court justices in some cities actually kept a guy on payroll who's job was to fight and kill on behalf of the city if someone did a trial by combat.
Example; most sword schools in Japan, even older ones that are a bit more practical and focus less on form and more on killing the other guy, generally have their origins in the decades AFTER the Civil War period ended and Japan had been at relative peace for decades, with anyone alive with legitimate battlefield experience probably being over the age of 50 or simply dead if you're farther then 20 years after the Sengoku Period ended.
When you temper a blade you're creating a specific crystalline type formation on the outside that makes it 'hard'. The good type of hard will hold an edge. The bad type of hard will shatter. A proper tempering creates the good type of hard, but because the inside of the sword cools more slowly it remains 'softer' and doesn't create the crystalline structure the outside does. This makes it more malleable and pliant (like the type of stuff you'd make armor out of, where you hit it with a hammer and it bends). this is good because it allows it to absorb some impact without shattering in your hands.
You don't 'temper' armor because you don't need the properties of the crystalline structure - it doesn't need to hold an edge. You want armor to be semi-pliant and absorb force.
A good sword has a hard edge for the blade, and a somewhat softer core to absorb the force of coming into contact with other shit.
And stuff like this is why swords are romanticized in myth; making a sword was a LOT more complex then just beating a bit of metal into the right shape, especially if you're using steel.
It's not really an exaggeration to say tha making a sword that actually functions is something of an art form, albeit an art form that was widely practiced by many people.
Aye, that's what many don't get. Harder doesn't always mean stronger. We want armor that bends rather than breaks so it can still be used rather than shatter like glass.
Furthermore the reason that japanese steel/iron is folded is to spread out the distribution of carbon in the metal which ideally prevents it from having massive faults in the metal.
Europe used to do this too, but then they came up with more advanced and less labor intensive techniques, partially due to higher quality iron (actual ores rather than sand that needed to be pumped into a blast furnace).
One of the silliest (and actually heartwrenching) was a mind flayer who rebelled against the elder brains and fell in love with a half-elf mercenary.
Others... a dwarf who has a daughter with a cloud giant, and another with a frost giant. A
silver dragon futawho, despite being a futa, was incredibly kind and gentle with her femboy tiefling Sorcerer fucktoy. There was also something of a noodle incident in another game involving a molydeus and a drow priestess.
There were a few records of women fighting, but they almost always lost and were never anyone's first choice. Viking shieldmaidens? Only recorded instances were all very desperate battles that resulted in losses. They could fight in a pinch, but it never ended well outside of minor raids.
>trial by combat
We need to bring this back as an option.
The beautiful thing about armor is that it's pretty easy to tell when you have it heated to the proper temperature for tempering because it turns blue, which some claim is a sign that God loves smiths.
>Just to note the Japanese swords were made with the fact in mind that they'll quite often break so the shape is meant to allow you to conserve materials by sharpening the remnants of the sword and reforging it into a shorter sword.
The shortening only happened when the lenght of swords was standardized by law and they started cutting down prestigous heirlooms.
Nah, folding a sword too much stops doing anything after a while as you can't make steel homogenous harder after a while and will cook out the carbon, I think. Which turns it into a nice chunk of iron and destroys any semblance of watering pattern that was very much sought after in these blades.
Outside of that it was quite common to reforge a broken sword that way.
The swords would often break and rather than throwing it away and smelting the metal for tools or armor they just cut down and shortened the blade and made shorter swords.
Standardization of length or whatever wasn't a factor in it.
The very design of the sword allows you to reforge it easily when it breaks.
>Europe used to do this too, but then they came up with more advanced and less labor intensive techniques, partially due to higher quality iron (actual ores rather than sand that needed to be pumped into a blast furnace).
Anon, blades up until the 19th century were still made of folded steel and pattern-weld blades were popular gift items. Delamination is a fault that can manifest on your standard-issue Napoleonic sabers.
I'm not saying it didn't happen, but generally when you get a Katana or Tachi that's been grind down that was because of late-period legal regulations, not because somebody felt like recycling a broken sword.
What's more, you can't just grind a new tip on them and call it a day - you have to grind away starting from the tang. Otherwise you're going to expose the back's soft core and create a tip that can't hold an edge for shit.
Pattern-welding is also more a decorative thing than anything. The art of folding iron to strengthen it dates back to around 800 BC, pattern welding is a different process entirely.
Pattern-welding and folding both are forge-welding techniques that work to homogenize steel. The former simply puts an additional spin on it by twisting, stamping and cutting the bars during the welding process to create more specific patterns.
Swords are a symbol of wealth as unlike axes or spears that can be use for cutting wood or hunting they can only be used to kill other men, metal was very expensive in oldentimes
Its a shot in the dark, but axes are basically a peasant tool when not being used for killing, while spears are ridiculously easy to make. The sword was the most prestigious weapon in comparison
Swords are the easiest weapon to carry around, apart from daggers. Most people would wear a sword if they were legally permitted to do so. It's like asking why so many western characters use pistols.