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Oakeshott's Typology of the Medieval Sword
A Summary

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Ewart Oakeshott (1916 - 2002) is widely regarded as the preeminent scholar of the Medieval sword. His contribution to our understanding of the different types and their time-periods was groundbreaking.

Picking up where Jan Petersen's typology of the Viking Sword left off, Oakeshott classified the Medieval sword into "types" which shared the same basic blade profile and other characteristics related to its function. Coupled with his classification of hilt components, it is possible to approximate the time period of a particular sword.

To make this more understandable, and in order to be able to explain Oakeshott's typology to people unfamiliar with swords, we have broken it down into these 9 basic characteristics: Profile; Cross Section; Average Blade Length; Fuller; Point; Grip; Average Weight; Primary Purpose; and Period.

The source of the data represented here is not only from Oakeshott's published sources, but also from Peter Johnsson's hands-on documentation of period originals and the studies of other craftsmen here at Albion.

Please keep in mind that this typology is a modern construct and would have been quite foreign to blademakers and cutlers of the period. Not all swords fit neatly into a given "type" -- something that Oakeshott freely admitted. The typology should be regarded as a tool to enhance your understanding of the Medieval sword and its intended function, not a final authority.


Type X
Profile: broad and medium length

Cross-section: lenticular

Average Blade Length: 31 inches

Fuller: wide fuller runs almost the entire length of the blade, fades out about an inch before the point

Point: can be acute, but is usually rounded
Grip: single-hand, usually 3.75" (9-10mm)

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting

Period: common during the Viking age (9th - 10th c.), and well into the 12th c

Sub-Type Xa
Profile: same as Type X, a little longer than average Type X

Cross-section: lenticular

Average Blade Length: around 31 inches

Fuller: sames as Type X, fuller more narrow

Point: can be acute, but is usually rounded
Grip: single-hand, usually 3.75" (9-10mm)

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting

Period: in use from 11th c to 14th c

Type XI
Profile: longer, more narrow than Type X

Cross-section: lenticular

Average Blade Length: 37"

Fuller: narrow fuller

Point: often acute
Grip: single-hand, usually 3.75" (9-10mm)

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting

Period: early to late 12th c

Sub-Type XIa
Profile: broader and shorter blade than typical Type XI

Cross-section: lenticular

Average Blade Length: 30"

Fuller: narrow fuller

Point: often acute
Grip: single-hand, usually 3.75" (9-10mm)

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting

Period: early to late 12th c

Type XII
Profile: broad, flat and evenly tapering

Cross-section: lenticular

Average Blade Length: around 32"

Fuller: 2/3's of the length of the blade

Point: acute
Grip: single-hand, usually 3.75" (9-10mm)

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting

Period: 13th and 14th c.

Sub-Type XIIa
Profile: broad, flat and evenly tapering

Cross-section: lenticular

Average Blade Length: 35"

Fuller: 2/3's of the length of the blade

Point: acute
Grip: hand-and-half to two-hand length, 6" to 10"

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting

Period: Great Sword or War Sword, in use during much of the High Medieval period, 13th and 14th c

Type XIII
Profile: broad, flat and parallel edges

Cross-section: lenticular

Average Blade Length: 35"

Fuller: 1/2 of the length of the blade, can be multiple

Point: rounded
Grip: longer than usual, single-hand to hand and a half

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting

Period: middle of the 13th c to the latter half of the 14th c

Sub-Type XIIIa
Profile: broad, flat and parallel edges

Cross-section: lenticular

Average Blade Length: 32" - 40"

Fuller: 1/2 of the length of the blade, can be multiple

Point: rounded
Grip: hand-and-half to two hand length, 6" to 10"

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting

Period: Great Sword or War Sword, in use from middle of the 13th c to the latter half of the 14th

Sub-Type XIIIb
Profile: broad, flat and parallel edges

Cross-section: lenticular

Average Blade Length:
35"

Fuller: 1/2 of the length of the blade, can be multiple

Point:
rounded
Grip: single-hand, usually 4" (10mm)

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting

Period: mid 13th c to latter half of the 14th c

Type XIV
Profile: broad, flat and sharply tapering

Cross-section: lenticular

Average Blade Length: 30"

Fuller: 3/4 of the length of the blade, can be multiple

Point: acute
Grip: single-hand, usually 3.5" (8-9mm)

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cut and thrust

Period: late 13th c to mid 14th c

Type XV
Profile: strongly tapered

Cross-section: flat diamond, some hollow ground and some with a reinforced triangular midrib

Average Blade Length: 31"

Fuller: none

Point: acute
Grip: single-hand

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: thrusting

Period: end of the 13th c, more widely used in the 14th and 15th c, ending in the early 16th c

Sub-Type XVa
Profile: strongly tapered, more narrow and slender than
Type XV

Cross-section: flattened diamond, some hollow-ground

Average Blade Length: 33"

Fuller: none

Point: acute
Grip: hand and a half, from 7" to 9" (10" in a few cases)

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: thrusting

Period: end of the 13th c, more widely used in the 14th and 15th c, ending in the early 16th c

Type XVI
Profile: broad, flat and sharply tapering

Cross-section: flattened diamond

Average Blade Length: 28" to 32"

Fuller: 1/2+ of the blade

Point: acute
Grip: single-hand

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: thrusting while retaining good cutting ability

Period: early 14th c

Sub-Type XVIa
Profile: long and slowly tapering

Cross-section: flat hexagonal

Average Blade Length:
32"

Fuller: 1/3+ of the blade

Point: acute
Grip: hand and half 6" to 9"

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: thrusting while retaining good cutting ability

Period: early 14th c

Type XVII
Profile: long, slender and acutely tapering

Cross-section: narrow and stout hexagonal

Average Blade Length: 35"

Fuller: shallow, 1/4 of the blade

Point: acute
Grip: hand and half 7" to 9"

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: thrusting

Period: between c. mid 14th c. to early 15th c

Type XVIII
Profile: fairly broad (2"-2") at the hilt, and tapers gracefully to a sharp point

Cross-section: flattened diamond, often with pronounced mid-rib, some hollow-ground

Average Blade Length: 32"

Fuller: some have a narrow, short fuller

Point: acute
Grip: single-hand, 4"

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: between c. mid 14th c. to early 15th c

Sub-Type XVIIIa
Profile: somehwat slender and tapers gracefully to a sharp point

Cross-section: flattened diamond, often with pronounced
mid-rib, some hollow-ground

Average Blade Length: 36"- 42"

Fuller: some have a narrow, short fuller

Point: acute
Grip: single-hand to hand and a half, 5"+

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: between c. mid 14th c. to early 15th c

Sub-Type XVIIIb
Profile: long, slender and acutely pointed

Cross-section: flattened diamond, often with pronounced
mid-rib, some hollw-ground

Average Blade Length: 36"-42"

Fuller: none

Point: acute, usually reinforced
Grip: hand and a half, 10"-11", usually waisted

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: between c. mid 15th c. to early 16th c

Sub-Type XVIIIc
Profile: broad and acutely pointed

Cross-section: flattened diamond, often with pronounced
mid-rib, some hollw-ground

Average Blade Length: 34"

Fuller: some have a narrow, short fuller

Point: acute
Grip: hand and a half, 6"+

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: between c. mid 15th c. to early 16th c

Sub-Type XVIIId
Profile: long, slender and acutely pointed

Cross-section: flattened diamond, often with pronounced
mid-rib, some hollw-ground

Average Blade Length: 36"-42"

Fuller: none

Point: acute, usually reinforced
Grip: hand and a half, 10"-11", usually waisted

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: between c. mid 15th c. to early 16th c

Sub-Type XVIIIe
Profile: long and acutely pointed

Cross-section: flattened diamond, often with pronounced
mid-rib, some hollw-ground

Average Blade Length: 36"-42"

Fuller: narrow, short fuller in ricasso

Point: acute, usually reinforced
Grip: hand and a half to two-handed

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: between c. mid 15th c. to early 16th c

Type XIX
Profile: not always so broad, some are quite slim, but always a flat hexagonal sectiont

Cross-section: flat hexagonal with chamfered edges

Average Blade Length: 30"-38"

Fuller: ricasso with narrow fuller in upper 1/3rd of the blade

Point: sharp and spade shaped
Grip: single hand to hand and a half

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: mid 15th c.

Type XX
Profile: broad, almost parallel edges gracefully tapering to a point

Cross-section: lenticular or octagonal with shallow fullers

Average Blade Length: 30"-38"

Fuller: shallow central fuller 1/2 of the blade, with two shallow parallel fullers
in the upper 1/4, sometimes with a ricasso
Grip: hand and a half

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: 14th and 15th c.

Sub-Type XXa
Profile: tapers more acutely than Type XX and a more acute point

Cross-section: flat hexagonal

Average Blade Length: 30"-38"

Fuller: central fuller 1/2 of the blade, with two parallel fullers
in the upper 1/4, sometimes with a ricasso

Point: acute
Grip: hand and a half

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: 14th and 15th c.

Type XXI
Profile: broad, slowly tapering to an acute point

Cross-section: wide and flat with marked edge bevels and sometimes a shallow midrib, or it can be wide and hexagonal
On some blades the cross section is almost like a flat diamond section with the fullers cut out, leaving the midrib and the edge bevels

Average Blade Length: 30"

Fuller: 2 wide and shallow fullers in the upper part of the blade, or 2 fullers running almost the entire length

Point: acute
Grip: both long gripped and single hand. Some bigger ones are War Sword size

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: late 15th c.

Type XXII
Profile: broad, flat blade, slowly tapering gracefully to an
acute point

Cross-section: flat hexagonal

Average Blade Length: 30"

Fuller: 2 short, deep and narrow fullers

Point: acute
Grip: both long gripped and single hand. Some bigger ones border to true 2-handers

Average Weight:

Primary purpose: cutting and thrusting

Period: 14th and 15th c.


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