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The French estoc is a type of sword, also called a tuck in English, in use from the 14th to the 17th century. [1] It is characterized by a cruciform hilt with a grip for two-handed use[ citation needed ] 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.



The estoc was a variation of the longsword designed for fighting against mail armour or plate armour. [2] It was long, straight and stiff with no cutting edge, just a point. Examples from Poland are more than 1.57 metres (62 in) long, with a blade of 1.32 metres (52 in); however, others show a more manageable 1.17 metres (46 in), with a 0.91 metres (36 in) blade.[ citation needed ] Such swords average about four pounds (2 kg) with no specimen weighing more than six pounds. [3]

Blade cross-sections can be triangular, square, rhomboid or flat hexagonal. [1] This geometry leaves hardly any cutting capability as a sharpened edge could simply not be ground, but allowed the weapon to become lengthy, stiff, and very acutely pointed. [4]

Early on, the estoc was hung from the saddle when on horseback and simply hung from the belt when a soldier took to the ground. As the weapon developed, however, infantrymen using it began to wear it in a scabbard. [5] Most varieties of estoc provide a long grip like that of a greatsword, though others mimic the zweihänder in providing a long ricasso with a secondary guard of parrierhaken. [upper-alpha 1] As on the zweihänder, this extended grip gives the wielder the advantage of extra leverage with which to more accurately and powerfully thrust the long weapon. Some other forms provided finger rings, curved quillons, or other varieties of compound hilts. [2]


As armour improved, so did the methods of attacking it. It was quickly realized that cutting weapons were losing their effectiveness, so crushing weapons such as maces and axes were utilized. Thrusting weapons that could split the rings of mail, or find the joints and crevices of plate armour, were also employed. Long tapered swords could also be used as lances once an actual lance had splintered. Thus was the estoc developed. The French word estoc translates to thrust. [4]

While there is nothing to stop an estoc from being one-handed, most are two-handed, being used half-sword or two hands on the grip.[ citation needed ]

During the English Civil Wars, General George Monck recommended that foot soldiers carry "a good stiff tuck, not very long" because they often broke regular swords by using them to chop firewood. [7]

In addition to being popular for use as a cavalry weapon, the estoc was frequently used during dismounted hand-to-hand combat at tournaments, its lack of a sharp edge reducing the risk of unintentional injury.[ citation needed ]


It was also widely employed as a hunting sword in the late 15th century, [8] usually for hunting wild boar, bear, and stag; typically from horseback. Although hunting with a sword is less ideal than using a lance or spear, the added element of danger added to the thrill of the hunt, since using a sword brought the hunter in closer proximity to dangerous animals, as well as bringing more perceived glory. The estoc was useful for this purpose, being a long sword with a strong blade, able to take the shock of meeting with an animal without breaking, while also giving the necessary reach to attack from horseback. However, it also had a very thin, sharp point, designed for penetrating chain mail. This thin point had little immediate terminal wounding effect on a wild boar or bear, unless a vital organ was hit, requiring a second man to stand by with a spear to finish the wounded animal off. It was also very easy to over-penetrate, bringing the wielder into danger from the animal's claws and teeth. Around 1500 AD, a solution was reached by replacing the thin point of the estoc with a standard leaf-shaped boar-spear head, in essence creating a one-handed short spear. To prevent the blade from over-penetrating, most were fitted with a cross-shaft above the blade. To allow the blade to fit into a scabbard, these were typically simple removable pegs of wood or bone, but some examples have spring-loaded shafts that automatically deploy when the blade is drawn. An early image of these "boar-spear swords" shows Emperor Maximilian I in a triumphal procession after a successful boar-hunt, the riders proudly carrying their spear-pointed swords upright. These weapons quickly became widely popular all over Europe, and examples can be found in numerous illustrations and descriptions of the time.[ citation needed ]


Estoc is also the name given for the sword used by a matador in the Spanish sport of bullfighting, also known as espada de matar toros ('sword for killing bulls'). The matador's estoc is typically a shorter (88 cm), one-handed sword used for thrusting. [9]

See also


  1. small, pointed lugs or flanges protruding from their blades 4-8 inches below their guard. These parrierhaken or 'parrying hooks' act almost as a secondary guard for the ricasso to catch and bind other weapons or prevent them from sliding down into the hands. [6]

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.

A spear is a pole weapon consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a pointed head. The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with fire hardened spears, or it may be made of a more durable material fastened to the shaft, such as bone, flint, obsidian, iron, steel, or bronze. The most common design for hunting or combat spears since ancient times has incorporated a metal spearhead shaped like a triangle, lozenge, or leaf. The heads of fishing spears usually feature barbs or serrated edges.

Rapier Slender, sharply pointed sword

A rapier or espada ropera is a type of sword with a slender and sharply-pointed two-edged blade that was popular in Western Europe, both for civilian use and as a military side arm, throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.

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.

Small sword Light one-handed sword designed for thrusting

The small sword or smallsword is a light one-handed sword designed for thrusting which evolved out of the longer and heavier rapier of the late Renaissance. The height of the small sword's popularity was between mid 17th and late 18th century, when any man, civilian or military, with pretensions to gentlemanly status would have worn a small sword on a daily basis.

A flame-bladed sword or wave-bladed sword has a characteristically undulating style of blade. The wave in the blade is often considered to contribute a flame-like quality to the appearance of a sword. The design of the blade is purely decorative. The two most common flame-bladed swords are rapiers or Zweihänders, although there have been other sword types with flame-blades.

Kampilan Sword

The kampilan is a type of single-edged sword, traditionally used by various ethnic groups in the Philippine archipelago. It has a distinct profile, with the tapered blade being much broader and thinner at the point than at its base, sometimes with a protruding spikelet along the flat side of the tip. The design of the pommel varies between ethnic groups, but it usually depicts either a bakunawa (dragon), a buaya (crocodile), a kalaw (hornbill), or a kakatua (cockatoo).

Classification of swords

The English language terminology used in the classification of swords is imprecise and has varied widely over time. There is no historical dictionary for the universal names, classification or terminology of swords; A sword was simply a double edged knife.

A koncerz is a type of sword used by Polish-Lithuanian hussars in the Renaissance period. It is a thin and long thrusting sword, generally used by a type of heavy cavalry and optimized to defeat body armor, but not used to cut or slash.

Ricasso An unsharpened length of blade between the guard or handle on a knife

A ricasso is an unsharpened length of blade just above the guard or handle on a knife, dagger, sword, or bayonet. Blades designed this way appear at many periods in history in many parts of the world and date back to at least the Bronze Age—essentially, as long as humans have shaped cutting tools from metals.

Oakeshott typology Medieval sword classification system

The Oakeshott typology is 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. The historian and illustrator Ewart Oakeshott introduced it in his 1960 treatise The Archaeology of Weapons: Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry.

<i>Zweihänder</i> Sword

The Zweihänder, also Doppelhänder ('double-hander'), Beidhänder ('both-hander'), Bihänder or Bidenhänder, is a large two-handed sword primarily in use during the 16th century.

Pattern 1908 cavalry sword Type of cavalry sword

The 1908 Pattern Cavalry Trooper's Sword was the last service sword issued to the cavalry of the British Army. It has been called the most effective cavalry sword ever designed, although its introduction occurred as swords finally became obsolete as military weapons. In use, it, like other thrust-based cavalry swords, is best described as a one-handed lance, due to its complete lack of utility for anything but the charge. In fact, the closely related US Model 1913 Cavalry Saber was issued with only a saddle scabbard, as it was not considered to be of much use to a dismounted cavalryman. Colonial troops, who could expect to engage in melee combat with opposing cavalry frequently carried cut and thrust swords either instead of, or in addition to, the P1908/1912.

Gothic hilted British infantry swords (1822, 1827, 1845, 1854 and 1892 patterns)

The gothic hilted swords were a family of swords carried by officers and some NCOs of the British Army between 1822 and the present day. They were primarily infantry swords, although they were also regulation pattern for some other officers such as surgeons and staff officers. The term “Gothic hilt” is derived from a perceived similarity between the curved bars of the guard and the arches found in Gothic architecture. They were elegant aesthetically pleasing weapons, although they were considered by some to be mediocre fighting swords. The weapon and its variants had a very long service life.

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.

Wallace Sword Sword supposedly owned by William Wallace

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.

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.

Mughal weapons

Mughal weapons significantly evolved during the ruling periods of Babur, Akbar, Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan. During its conquests throughout the centuries, the military of the Mughal Empire used a variety of weapons including swords, bows and arrows, horses, camels, elephants, some of the world's largest cannons, muskets and flintlock blunderbusses.


  1. 1 2 Loades, Mike (2010). Swords and Swordsmen. Great Britain: Pen & Sword Books. ISBN   978-1-84884-133-8.
  2. 1 2 Tarassuk, Leonid; Blair, Claude (1982). The Complete Encyclopedia of Arms & Weapons: The Most Comprehensive Reference Work Ever Published on Arms and Armor from Prehistoric Times to the Present - with Over 1,200 Illustrations. Simon & Schuster. p. 491.
  3. Clements, J. (2003). "What Did Historical Swords Weigh?". ARMA. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
  4. 1 2 Clements, John. "Medieval & Renaissance Sword Forms and Companion Implements". Definitions & Study Terminology. Association for Renaissance Martial Arts.
  5. Stone, George Cameron (1961). A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armour. Jack Brussel. p. 223.
  6. Clements, J. (October 2004). "The Weighty Issue of Two-Handed Greatswords". ARMA - the Association for Renaissance Martial Arts. Association for Renaissance Martial Arts . Retrieved 23 January 2018. Many of these weapons [two-handed greatswords] have compound-hilts with side-rings and enlarged cross-guards of up to 12 inches. Most have small, pointed lugs or flanges protruding from their blades 4-8 inches below their guard. These parrierhaken or “parrying hooks” act almost as a secondary guard for the ricasso to catch and bind other weapons or prevent them from sliding down into the hands.
  7. Reid, Stuart (1987). Gunpowder Triumphant. Partizan Press. p. 11.
  8. Blackmore, Howard L. (1971). Hunting Weapons from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. Dover edition 2000: Dover Publications, Mineola, NY, pp. 6-11. ISBN   0486409619, ISBN   978-0486409610
  9. see: Estoque de toreo (Spanish)