The longsword is the first weapon that most members of Kron are introduced to.  While the longsword is iconic, and is the most well-represented weapon in our historical source manuscripts, it was never popular as a war weapon.  It’s too short to be a primary war weapon; foot soldiers would prefer a spear or pike, and cavalry a lance.  It’s also too *long* to be comfortably worn at the belt as a secondary weapon.  What the longsword excelled at was being a personal weapon.  It was used for civilian self defense, and was important for judicial duels (you don’t get a lawyer; you get a longsword).

The longsword is something of a Swiss army knife of medieval weapons.  It’s not the best cutter, but it cuts well.  It’s not the best against armor, but it’s serviceable against armor.  It can be used like a polearm to keep enemies at a distance, but not as well as a spear.  The longsword would be a good choice among medieval weapons if you knew you had to fight, but you didn’t know who you had to fight, or in what setting or conditions.

Longsword sections in our historical manuscripts sources — our fechtbucher (“fightbooks”) — are clearly separated into armored and unarmored fighting styles.  Unarmored fighting — blossfechten (“openfighting” or “nakedfighting”) — is most commonly represented and is emphasized in Kron.  In the movies you see people swinging swords against armor the same way they would against someone without armor, but this doesn’t make sense.  Everything you’re most likely used to thinking about a sword doing is blossfechten — effective against unarmored opponents.  Cutting through plate armor just isn’t practical for *any* type of sword, so armored fighting — harnischfechten — involves holding the sword in different positions and using it much more like a lever or hammer to bring an armored opponent to the ground where a dagger would most likely complete the work.

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One of the first people to research longsword shapes and designs was Ewart Oakeshott, who was both historian and an illustrator.  In 1960 he released The Archeology of Weapons: Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry, which contains what is known as the “Oakeshott Typology”. The Oakeshott Typology exhibits the most common shapes and designs of longswords found throughout history.

*Image credits*

Image of sword at top is courtesy of Albion swords, accessed at http://www.albion-swords.com/images/swords/albion/maestro/liechtenauer-sm.jpg on 10/8/12

Image of parts of the sword is courtesy of wikipedia, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASword_Parts.jpg, licensed under Nathan Robinson at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Typology of longsword accesed at http://www.oakeshott.org/images/Typomaster.jpg on 10/8/12