Crossguard

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Parts of a sword Sword parts-en.svg
Parts of a sword

On a sword, the crossguard, or cross-guard, also known as quillon, [1] is a bar of metal at right angles to the blade, placed between the blade and the hilt. The crossguard was developed in the European sword around the 10th century for the protection of the wielder's hand. The earliest forms were the crossguard variant of the Spatha used by the Huns, the so-called Pontic swords. [ citation needed ] There are many examples of crossguards on Sasanian Persian Swords beginning from the early 3rd century. They might be the oldest examples. [ citation needed ] The crossguards were not only used to counter enemy attacks, but also to get a better grip on the sword. They were later seen in late Viking swords, and is a standard feature of the Norman sword of the 11th century and of the knightly arming sword throughout the high and late medieval period.[ citation needed ] Early crossguards were straight metal bars, sometimes tapering towards the outer ends. While this simple type was never discontinued, more elaborate forms developed alongside it in the course of the Middle Ages. The crossguard could be waisted or bent in the 12th and 13th century.

Beginning in the 13th or 14th century, swords were almost universally fitted with a so-called chappe or rain-guard, a piece of leather fitted to the crossguard. The purpose of this leather is not entirely clear, but it seems to have originated as a part of the scabbard, functioning as a lid when the sword was in the scabbard.

In the 14th to 15th century, many more elaborate forms were tried. A feature of such late medieval forms is the cusp or écusson, a protrusion of the crossguard in the center where it is fitted on the blade. Also from the 14th century, the leather chappe is sometimes replaced with a metal sheet. An early example of this is a sword dated to c. 1320–40 kept at the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow. A later example is the "Monza sword" of Estore Visconti (early 15th century), where the rain-guard is of silver and decorated with a floral motif.

After the end of the Middle Ages, crossguards became more elaborate, forming first quillons and then, through the addition of guard branches, the basket hilt, which offered more protection to the unarmored hand.

Ewart Oakeshott in chapter 4 of his The Sword in the Age of Chivalry (1964) classifies medieval cross-guards into twelve types:

Swiss two-handed longsword, 15th or 16th century, with a prominent straight crossguard Espadon-Morges.jpg
Swiss two-handed longsword, 15th or 16th century, with a prominent straight crossguard
  1. a plain horizontal bar, tapering towards the end. This is the basic shape found from the late Viking era through the 17th century.
  2. waisted type, popular in the 15th century.
  3. a relatively short bar with a rectangular cross-section. Popular during 1150–1250 and again during 1380–1430.
  4. the terminals of the bar are bent towards the blade.
  5. "bow tie" style with widened and flattened terminals.
  6. a curved or bent variant of type 5.
  7. the bar has a flat cross-section and is bent towards the blade; popular in the 14th century.
  8. bent terminals as in style 4, but a more elaborate form with a hexagonal cross-section of the part fitted around the tang and a pronounced écusson, popular in the late medieval period.
  9. an elaborate late medieval type with the bar bent towards the blade and a flat diamond or V shaped cross-section and a pronounced écusson.
  10. the arms of the bar taper towards the hilt rather than away from it; mostly also with a pronounced écusson.
  11. knobbed terminals, with round or rectangular cross-section, popular during the 15th to 16th centuries
  12. the bar curves strongly in the horizontal plane, forming an S-shape; this type dates to the end of the medieval period and is transitional to the early modern quillon types.

The medieval dagger in the 14th and 15th century also adopted a variant with quillons, styled after the hilt of a sword. Quillon-daggers remained popular in the 16th century, after the sword type it resembled had fallen out of use. [2]

Related Research Articles

A sword is a bladed melee weapon intended for cutting or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.

Falchion One-handed, single-edged sword

A falchion is a one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin, whose design is reminiscent of the modern machete. Falchions are found in different forms from around the 13th century up to and including the 16th century. In some versions the falchion looks rather like the seax and later the sabre, and in other versions the form is irregular or like a machete with a crossguard.

Hilt Handle of a sword or similar weapon

The hilt of a knife, dagger, sword, or bayonet is its handle, consisting of a guard, grip and pommel. The guard may contain a crossguard or quillons. A tassel or sword knot may be attached to the guard or pommel.

A longsword is a type of European sword characterized as having a cruciform hilt with a grip for two-handed use, a straight double-edged blade of around 85 to 110 cm, and weighing approximately 1 to 1.5 kg.

The French estoc is a type of sword, also called a tuck in English, in use from the 14th to 17th centuries. It is characterized by a cruciform hilt with a grip for two-handed use and a straight, edgeless, but sharply pointed blade of around 0.91 metres (36 in) to 1.32 metres (52 in) in length. It is noted for its ability to pierce mail armor.

Shamshir Type of Persian/Iranian curved sword

A shamshir is a type of Persian/Iranian sword with a radical curve. The name is derived from the shamshīr, which means "lion's fang" in the Persian language. The curved "scimitar" sword family includes the shamshir, kilij, talwar, pulwar and nimcha.

Pulwar

The pulwar or pulouar is a single-handed curved sword originating in Afghanistan.

Oakeshott typology

The Oakeshott typology was created by historian and illustrator Ewart Oakeshott as a way to define and catalogue the medieval sword based on physical form. It categorises the swords of the European Middle Ages into 13 main types, labelled X through XXII. Oakeshott introduced it in his 1960 treatise The Archaeology of Weapons: Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry.

Takoba Type of sword used across the western Sahel

Takoba is the sword that is used across the western Sahel and among ethnic groups such as the Tuareg, the Hausa, and the Fulani. It usually measures about one meter in length. Takoba blades are straight and double edged with a pronounced tapering from the guard towards the tip; they can exhibit several notable features, including three or more hand-ground fuller grooves and a rounded point.

Chape

Chape has had various meanings in English, but the predominant one is a protective fitting at the bottom of a scabbard or sheath for a sword or dagger. Historic blade weapons often had leather scabbards with metal fittings at either end, sometimes decorated. These are generally either in some sort of U shape, protecting the edges only, or a pocket shape covering the sides of the scabbard as well. The reinforced end of a single-piece metal scabbard can also be called the chape.

Parrying dagger

The parrying dagger is a category of small handheld weapons from the European late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. These weapons were used as off-hand weapons in conjunction with a single-handed sword such as a rapier. As the name implies they were designed to parry, or defend, more effectively than a simple dagger form, typically incorporating a wider guard, and often some other defensive features to better protect the hand as well. They may also be used for attack if an opportunity arises. The general category includes two more specific types, the sword breaker and trident dagger.

Swords made of iron appear from the Early Iron Age, but do not become widespread before the 8th century BC.

Wallace Sword Type of two-handed sword

The Wallace Sword is an antique two-handed sword purported to have belonged to William Wallace (1270–1305), a Scottish knight who led a resistance to the English occupation of Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence. It is said to have been used by William Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and the Battle of Falkirk (1298).

1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword Type of

The pattern 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword was the sword used by the British heavy cavalry, and King's German Legion Dragoons, through most of the period of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It played an especially notable role, in the hands of British cavalrymen, at the battles of Salamanca and Waterloo. The pattern was adopted by Sweden and was used by some Portuguese cavalry.

Claymore Type of Sword

A claymore is either the Scottish variant of the late medieval two-handed sword or the Scottish variant of the basket-hilted sword. The former is characterised as having a cross hilt of forward-sloping quillons with quatrefoil terminations and was in use from the 15th to 17th centuries.

Basket-hilted sword Sword with basket-like hand protection

The basket-hilted sword is a sword type of the early modern era characterised by a basket-shaped guard that protects the hand. The basket hilt is a development of the quillons added to swords' crossguards since the Late Middle Ages. In modern times, this variety of sword is also sometimes referred to as the broadsword.

In the European High Middle Ages, the typical sword was a straight, double-edged weapon with a single-handed, cruciform hilt and a blade length of about 70 to 80 centimetres. This type is frequently depicted in period artwork, and numerous examples have been preserved archaeologically.

Bangkung Type of Sword

The bangkung or bangkon, is a short sword originating in the Sulu Archipelago of the Philippines. The bangkung was used primarily by the Moro people of the Sulu and is not associated with Moros in other areas such as Mindanao, although it is sometimes found in coastal regions. The bangkung is a slashing weapon, meant to deliver hacking type blows. While the bangkung is a very effective sword, it was not popular unlike the panabas and the pirah and for this reason it is one of the most rarely found Moro edged weapons. Few were produced and even fewer survive.

Rain-guard

A rain-guard or chappe is a piece of leather fitted to the crossguard of European swords of the later medieval period. The purpose of this leather is not entirely clear, but it seems to have originated as a part of the scabbard, functioning as a lid when the sword was in the scabbard.

The Pattern 1831 sabre for General Officers is a British army pattern sword prescribed for the use of officers of the rank of major-general and above. It has been in continuous use from 1831 to the present. It is of a type of sword described as a mameluke sabre.

References

  1. a quillon is "either of the two arms forming the cross-guard" (OED). The term arises in Middle French in the late 16th century, and is adopted in English only in the 19th century. The French word is a diminutive of quille "bowling pin", itself a loan of German kegel.
  2. Frederick Wilkinson, Edged weapons, 1970, p. 71