Most swords are intended for use either one or two hands. One-handed swords are shorter and lighter, but they allow the user to wield a second weapon or shield. Two-handed swords, on the other hand, are long and heavy, making them particularly effective at dealing critical blows. However, a third type is a hand-and-a-half sword. So, what exactly is a hand-and-a-half sword?
Overview of the Hand-and-a-Half-Sword
The term "hand-and-a-half sword" refers to a sword with a moderate-length blade that can be used with either one hand or two. It's not technically intended to be used with one and a half hands -- that doesn't make sense. Rather, it's intended to be used with either one hand or both, depending on the user's preferences and the circumstances in which he or she is using it.
A longsword typically features a blade with a length of approximately 33 to 41 inches (85 to 110 cm). In comparison, a shortsword's blade is about 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 cm). A hand-and-a-half sword, however, falls somewhere between these two, with an average blade length of about 22 to 30 inches.
Origins of the Hand-and-a-Half-Sword
According to the book titled "Exhibition of the Royal House of Tudo," hand-and-a-half sword is a relatively new term that just recently appeared beginning in the latter half of the 19th century. In the years to follow, however, the sword later became known as a "bastard sword." Today, the two terms are used interchangeably, with some people referring to as a hand-and-a-half sword and others calling it a bastard sword. Regardless, the sword's defining characteristics remain the same: it can be used with either one hand or both hands.
Benefits of Using a Hand-and-a-Half-Sword
So, what benefits (if any) does a hand-and-a-half sword offer? Well, the most notable benefit of this sword type is the ability to use it with another weapon or shield. If a warrior was facing archers, for instance, he may wield the hand-and-a-half sword with one hand while using his other hand to hold a shield. But if that same warrior encountered an enemy on an open battlefield, he may switch to using two hands for greater strength and stopping power.
The hand-and-a-half sword is particularly versatile in this regard. Rather than restricting its use to either one or two hands, it allows for both types of wielding. As such, warriors using the hand-and-a-half sword were given more options. And this is why it remains a popular sword type even after all of those years.