top of page

Medieval sword & armament of the knight

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

An almost intact medieval sword was found in Northern France!

Iron sword discovered in Amiens in June 2022 and exhibited at the Museum of Picardy.
© FD. Musée de Picardie

In June 2022, a complete and exceptionally well-preserved sword was found in Amiens. Manufactured between 1325 and 1355, it measures 98 cm (3.5 inches) and weighs 820 g (1.8 pounds). Archaeologists will be able to conduct various tests to learn more about the weapon itself, its production, its usage, and the era it comes from! For more information, here's the source article: Medieval Sword - France 3 Régions.

GIF illustrating a cavalry charge in LotRT

As LotRT is a game centered around chivalry, the history of military armament particularly captivates us. Today, the sword appears as the iconic and inseparable weapon of the knight. However, during the golden age of chivalry (11th-13th century), the preferred weapon of this elite warrior class was rather the lance, wielded from the back of their mount. Indeed, the horse, a costly and noble animal by essence, allowed for devastating charges.

The kinetic force of a lance with the weight of the charging horse is equivalent to that of a modern rifle bullet! This made it an essential and distinctive element of the infantry, which, in contrast, moves on foot. That's why, in LotRT, we emphasize mounted combat with lances. However, you can also fight on horseback with a sword, or on foot with a sword or a spear. The axe and the mace will also become part of the knight's equipment. In any case, the knight always carries a shield in the other hand for protection.

Moreover, the evolution of the sword teaches us a lot. In the 13th century, the sword used by knights was adapted for mounted combat: it's the "saddle sword." It's long, with a rounded tip, designed to be held with one hand and equipped with a wrist strap to prevent losing it while on horseback. The sword has a fuller to lighten it. Weight was prioritized, as chainmail armor is less difficult to pierce than the metal plates that would come later. When fighting on foot, knights use a shorter and pointed sword, the "thrusting sword," which they generally hold with one hand.

Illustration from Viollet-le-Duc's Medieval Encyclopedia detailing the different parts of a sword and its scabbard

To switch weapons in our game, a squire challenge is required. Even though it's not represented by a character on the battlefield, the squire plays a very important role consistent with the reality of medieval combat. One of their functions was to provide the knight with the weapon they needed at the right moment.

History has left us with several fencing manuals, mainly from the 15th-16th centuries. Unfortunately, these combat styles are later than the ones we've chosen to represent. Ancient chroniclers like Jean de Joinville tell us much more about the types of weapons and their usage during the 12th-13th centuries.

For the combat animations in LotRT, we consulted fencing masters Jean-François Gagnon from Concordia University and Jérôme Vigeant from the Medieval Company. Videos from various historical reenactment groups also greatly assisted us.

Medieval fencing lesson with The Medieval Compagny

For example, "De Gueules et d'Argent" in Savoie specializes in reenactments of combat and military maneuvers from the 13th century. Their approach is highly historical and close to experimental archaeology, with the motto: "Nothing is left to chance: clothing, military equipment, accessories, everything must be justified by the sources."

To reconstruct combat practices, they rely on historical sources: written documents, archaeological artifacts, sculptures, illuminations, stained glass windows. But before the techniques, there's the equipment they sometimes have to create themselves! Then, observation and experimentation, always based on sources, allow them to reproduce the knights' postures, different gestures, and ways of delivering blows.

If you want to learn more (it's truly fascinating!), we recommend the articles from the "De Gueules et d'Argent" association.

We hope you enjoyed this article exploring blades of old and see you soon!

Clélia & the Artifice Studio team


bottom of page