Small sword

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The Smallsword is a sword intermediate in historical period between the rapier and the classical épée, ancestor to the modern sporting épée.

Missing image
Smallsword_steel_ivory.jpg
Ivory, steel, smallsword wielded by Capt. John Paul Schott.
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Smallsword.jpg
Typical smallsword of the 1740s. It is around a metre long

For a variety of technical and social reasons the rapier became shorter and lighter during the late 17th Century, relying more and more on the thrust over the cut. Eventually, edges were abandoned altogether and the smallsword was born, initially in France it seems, but spreading across Europe reasonably quickly (though the Italians seem to have kept up the use of older weapons for a long time). The abandonment of the edge meant that strength of the blade could be increased by the adoption of a stiff triangular blade.

These were as much male jewellery as defensive weapon and typically had elaborately chased and engraved hilts. The fashion for wearing them rapidly declined at the end of the 18th Century and their use was subsequently restricted to certain formal functions, where they were known as court swords.

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