The Writer’s Guide to Medieval Swords: Part 2
I hope you enjoyed my last blog post on swords. If you have not read it you can find it here. Today we will be tackling three more common pieces of misinformation regarding swords. As in my first post I will be focusing on medieval European swords since most fantasy is inspired by this period and region.
As always, magic is the exception to the rules. Because magic.
Sword Through the Belt
I have seen this trope in multiple video games, movies, and television shows. If a sword is sharp the motion of putting it through the belt or pulling it out will likely cut through the belt, not to mention the high likelihood of the person cutting themselves. You can only get away with this if the sword is dull. Medieval swords were normally kept in a scabbard when not in use. The scabbard protected the blade from moisture and dulling of the edge. The scabbard was usually hung from the belt by a frog, which caused the sword to hang at the level of the hip and at the forward slant, making it easier to draw.
Cast Off (aka You’re Not Walking Off that Battlefield Clean)
If you’ve ever watched CSI or any other crime scene investigation show you already know that melee weapons are messy. After the first hit, any movement of the weapon will produce cast off. This means that anyone walking away from melee combat such as a battle will likely be quite grimy. Yet I’ve seen a number of medieval and fantasy movies and shows where the hero is spotless after a battle. Thankfully, several recent productions have tried to show how gruesome medieval melee combat can be, most notably “Game of Thrones” and Netflix’s “Outlaw King.”
Writer Tip: The grisly stain of battle can be an opening for your character to reflect on the brutality of war or the people they lost, especially as they literally clean the blood off their clothes and equipment.
Cleaning Your Sword
I admit it. I shudder every time I see a character finish up a battle and slide their sword back into their scabbard without cleaning it. The problem is that once debris has been introduced to the scabbard it’s pretty much impossible to get out. Also, if there is any moisture it will cause the blade to rust. If a sword is left in a contaminated scabbard too long it can actually “glue” the blade inside the scabbard, making it impossible to draw.
I hope this was helpful. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions by using the Contact Me form on my website or writing a comment. I post every Friday and would be grateful if you would share my content.
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Let’s get writing!
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