Bastard Sword vs Claymore: Design, History, and Combat Use
The bastard sword and claymore are famous European swords. The claymore is known for its sheer size and powerful slashes. The bastard sword’s unique name adds to its mystique. Both swords are popular in anime and games like Dark Souls and Elden Ring.
This article will compare the bastard sword and the claymore. We will examine their designs, explore their history, and discuss a battle between them.
Terms, Characteristics, and Design Differences
The bastard sword is often called the hand-and-a-half sword because it can be used with one or two hands. The word “bastard” comes from the French term épée bâtarde. This name may be because of the sword’s disputed origin or because it doesn’t fit into a sword category like a longsword or arming sword.
Claymore comes from the Scottish claidheamh mòr, meaning “great sword.” This term is used for various Scottish blades, such as the basket-hilted broadsword.
Today, claymore refers to the large two-handed sword from Scotland during the Renaissance in the 16th century.
Both blades are straight with two sharp edges. They are made of high-carbon steel, making them flexible and easily bendable.
The bastard sword’s blade varies in shape and size. Earlier designs had a broader blade that was good for cutting. Later versions were more tapered and designed to penetrate gaps in armor. The bastard sword also had a straight blade with either a fuller (groove) to lessen its weight or a reinforced diamond section for stronger thrusts.
Most claymores have a groove (fuller) in its center. Some have a blunt ricasso near the guard, often covered with leather for better gripping.
Both swords have straight hilts with a wooden core, usually wrapped in leather. This sits on top of the blade’s tang and is secured by a metal pommel at the bottom.
The bastard sword has a grip made for one hand, but its shape and length, along with the pommel, also allow for two-handed use. Some handles have a middle ridge for a stronger grip or may taper.
Bastard swords usually have a straight crossguard in a cruciform shape, which often narrows near the blade or has broad and rounded ends (quillon tips).
The claymore’s hilt design varies. The clamshell has a closed guard shaped like a clam. The lowland claymore features a long, straight crossguard, usually known as the highland claymore.
The highland claymore’s crossguard narrows toward the blade, ending in traditional quatrefoils at the quillon tips. It also has an unsharpened part (langet) for a more flexible grip.
The bastard sword was practical and adaptable due to its size. It was carried in a leather-wrapped scabbard, hung from the user’s left side.
The claymore was a large sword, often sheathed for protection against rust and other damage.
Due to its large size, it was usually carried over the shoulder. A cover was not used in battle.
Size and Weight
The main difference between the claymore and the bastard sword is the size and weight. The bastard sword is shorter and lighter. It is usually about 47 inches (120 cm) long and weighs around 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg).
The claymore is a type of greatsword. It is a massive sword, but not as big as television depicts. It can be between 51 and 71 inches (130 to 180 cm) long and weighs between 5.5 and 7.7 lbs (2.5 to 3.5 kg).
The bastard sword started in Europe during the 13th century. It was based on the shorter arming sword used by knights during the Crusades.
Bastard swords originally had the same blade length as an arming sword, with a slightly larger handle for using two hands. These were called longswords as they were larger than the swords used at the time.
These swords were replaced with proper two-handed handles and larger blades, leading to the 15th-century European longsword.
The longsword evolved into bigger, two-handed swords during the 16th century, such as the Italian spadone, Iberian montante, German zweihander, and the larger arsenal of Scottish swords, including the claymore.
The claymore was popular from the 16th through the 18th century and was associated with Scottish Highlanders and nobility. The claymore is often linked with Scotland’s national hero, William Wallace. However, this is incorrect. Today, the claymore is seen as Scotland’s national sword.
The bastard sword is versatile, used with one or both hands for slashing and thrusting. It is a great sword for fighting on foot or while on horseback. It works well with a shield or a larger two-handed weapon. It can also be half-gripped like a dagger.
Both foot soldiers and knights used the bastard sword alongside a spear or polearm. It was a reliable choice as either a main or secondary weapon.
The claymore was a main weapon of war due to its large size alone. Despite its portrayal in media as a heavy, slow weapon, it is quite fast and relies on the strength and skill of the user.
The claymore’s design allows quick, impactful strikes but takes longer to recover after impact. The wrapped ricasso (handle) adds versatility.
The weapon was used mainly by Scottish warriors for slashing, guerrilla warfare against unarmored opponents, or to take down calvary and break through enemy formations.
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