Learn the Historical swordsmanship of the British isles.
From the Renaissance and the age of Shakespeare, through the golden age of sail and piracy, and on to the reign of the British Empire, the swordsmanship of the British Isles is a rich and exciting tradition. Learn and explore the swordplay of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales at the Baltimore Academy of Defence.
Broadsword / Backsword
The basket-hilted “Highland” broadsword or backsword was generally used as a military sword, in contrast with the rapier, the slim civilian dueling sword also employed in the early period, although each did find use in both military and civilian contexts.
A (generally more modern) distinction is made between a broadsword which possesses a double-edged blade vs. the similarly wide-bladed Backsword with it’s single sharpened edge. Various forms of basket-hilt were mounted with both broadsword and backsword blades.
The rapier is a sword with a slender and sharply-pointed two-edged blade that was popular in Western Europe throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The rapier was primarily for civilian use (dueling and self-defense), although it did also see some military use as well.
The smallsword is a light one-handed sword specialized for thrusting which evolved from the longer and heavier rapier of the late Renaissance. The smallsword is thought to have first appeared in France and then spread quickly across the rest of Europe . The height of the small sword’s popularity was between mid 17th and late 18th century. The weapon was a popular choice for dueling as well as recreation and it eventually developed into Classical and then Olympic Foil and Épée fencing, both weapons find their origin in the smallsword.
Cutlass & Sabre
The sabre (early/British English) or saber (modern American English) typically refers to a type of single edged sword with a curved blade most often associated with the light cavalry of the Napoleonic period.
Primarily a cutting weapon, yet still very effective in the thrust, the traditional military saber is a much heavier weapon than modern fencing sabers, which have more in common with the Italian dueling saber popularized in the late 19th century.
A cutlass is a short (typically ~26″ blade), broad, saber or slashing sword most often used at sea. Cutlass’ typicaly have a straight or slightly curved blade, and a hilt often featuring a solid cupped or basket-shaped hand guard.