Updated: January 23, 2023Published: January 16, 2023
Spain has swords that have lived a memorable past. Wielded swords by Kings and great conquerors who have been protagonists in numerous battles and ceremonial acts.
After several victories and defeats throughout the long military history of Spain, the quality and resistance of each of the swords have been clearly seen. Spanish swords have left their mark not only in Spain but worldwide!
So let me tell you their history, why they were so famous and which were the most used. Also, I will tell you which are the best platforms to buy one of these relics in case you want to decorate a corner of your house or add them to your collection!
So let’s start exploring the world of Spanish swords that have undoubtedly starred the History of Spain throughout the centuries!
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History of the Spanish swords
The history of Spanish swords goes back thousands of years. Still, without a doubt, the epicenter of the forge where the best blades were created was in the heart of Spain, in the city of Toledo.
Toledo was known as the Spanish city of swords. More than 2,000 years ago, in the 5th century BC, the blacksmiths of the Peninsula were already making Toledo swords known as “falcatas.” It was a sword that had an iron blade inside and a unique design to improve the cut.
Toledo swords became very famous due to their excellent resistance and durability, so much so that they were chosen by Anibal for his army. Later, the Roman legions also became fond of these swords. Rumor has it that the success of the Romans was due to the quality of the blades made of Toledo steel.
The Muslims also adopted the same technique for creating weapons and passed it on from generation to generation.
Later, Toledan manufacturers began to produce the famous rapiers, which became tremendously popular and which were used by the great D’Artagnan and his fellow musketeers.
Kings worldwide began to forge their swords in Toledo; even the Japanese samurai also knew of their existence! Some of them went to Toledo to forge their katanas and wakizashi there. So basically, they crossed the whole world to get their swords forged in Spain!
We all know that in combat, there are two key factors, the personal skill of the fighter and the quality of his weapon.
The mystery of the manufacture of Toledo swords was a well-kept secret that was not revealed until the 20th century. The technique was to forge hard steel with high carbon content and soft steel at a very hot temperature. You will get the most perfect sword you have ever seen by combining the suitable raw materials with the right proportion in the blade and forging both types of steel at a temperature of 1454ºF for the exact time interval required.
To calculate the time the blade should remain inside the furnace, the blacksmiths recited prayers and psalms, keeping the same rhythm. This way, they always obtained the perfect result.
Other artisans from other parts of the world tried to imitate how Toledo swords were made, but they were unsuccessful and failed.
The Spaniards used all kinds of weapons, from crossbows, halberds, rifles, and cannons. Still, their swords marked a before and after and were never forgotten throughout history.
Nowadays, in Spain, swords are disappearing and are only present in some ceremonial acts, as decoration, or to practice the sport of fencing. Today they have been replaced by other types of weapons, such as pistols, shotguns, revolvers, or rifles, among many others.
Types of Spanish swords
This ancient and sharp sword was discovered on the Iberian Peninsula. It is a weapon that was used before pre-Roman times and was later used as part of the armor that the Romans would develop in the future.
The Falcata was, for years, part of the armor of the Iberian troops and cavalry in ancient Spain.
Despite its short size of about 60 cm, this sword had a reputation for being highly resistant, besides being quite heavy and having a strong curvature.
This sword is the one that the Spaniards used and still use today to practice fencing. During the XVII century, it was the fencing sword. However, sometimes it was used to fight in battles because if the combatant was skilled, the Rapier could overcome a standard sword.
The Rapier was used in the 16th and 17th centuries by Spanish civilians. Still, it became more common among court members, duels, and fashion over the years. The most common rapiers had a barred or cup hilt.
The Rapier is characterized by its thin and long steel blade, besides being very flexible. It ranges in size from 115 to 135 cm and is very light, making it easier to handle than the others.
It is not clear and it is always discussed if this sword is originally from Spain or Rome. But what is known is that it was first used by the Iberian tribes in Spain.
The Gladius Hispaniensis was the first blade size ranging from 16 to 27 inches long (42 to 70 cm).
During and after the Punic Wars, it became the main sword of the Roman legionaries from the 2nd century BC onwards.
The Gladius sword became very popular due to its short, double-edged blade perfect for cutting and close combat on the battlefield.
These swords served as a great help in expanding Roman territory across three continents.
The Gladius is undoubtedly the most popular sword known today.
In Spanish it is known as “Espada ropera”. This 16th century sword receives this name because the Spaniards carried it tied to one side of the waist. It was a sword used mainly in duels, with a total length of 80 to 100 cm.
It is a sword easy to use and had a lot of prominence in medieval and renaissance times.
The Side Sword was also used in fencing, in fact some think it was the original fencing sword.
This is a very popular small sword that was used mainly by the Romans but which originally came from Spain.
In the first models that were made the blade was larger than the normal length. The maximum length of the ancient short sword is 28 cm.
Like the Gladius sword, the Pugio was widely used throughout the ancient world.
A fact that has surprised me and I had no idea, is that this type of Spanish sword was the one used to assassinate the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar!
Spanish Arming Sword
This powerful sword used to carry a crossguard and its manufacture had been greatly influenced by the shape of Viking swords, combined with Toledo steel.
This type of Spanish sword was widely used during the time of the Spanish Reconquest.
Most Famous Spanish swords
The sword of Hernán Cortés
The sword of Hernan Cortes is in the Real Armeria of Madrid.
It is the sword with which the Spanish general conquered Mexico putting an end to the Aztec empire and remaining under the dominion of the Crown of Castile.
This sword is made of steel iron with a blade of 1,010 meters long.
The sword of Ferdinand III the Saint
The sword of this king is called “Lobera” and today is considered a relic, kept in the Cathedral of Seville. This knightly Spanish sword is around 35 inches (90 cm long) and was made in Spain.
Every year, this sword is carried in procession to commemorate the reconquest of Seville in 1248 by this same king, Ferdinand III the Saint.
The sword of John of Austria
John of Austria was a Spanish military man, the illegitimate son of King Charles I of Spain and V of Germany.
His presence could be seen in several combats, such as when he was in command of the fight against the Berber pirates in the Mediterranean in 1568 or when he directed the repression of the uprising of the Moors of the kingdom of Granada in 1569.
His success led him to obtain the supreme command of the fleet of the Holy League formed by Spain, Venice, and the Papacy against the Turks (1570) and later to win the battle of Lepanto (1571).
The sword of the Cid Campeador
The Cid’s sword is known as “Tizona” and is currently on display in the Museum of Burgos.
In addition to the Tizona, the Cid also had in his possession the sword “Colada,” which he won in combat against the Count of Barcelona.
El Cid gave both swords to his sons-in-law, the Infantes de Carrión.
The sword of Francisco Pizarro
This is the sword he used to conquer Peru, which he carried with him when he became the founder on the banks of the Rimac River in Lima.
The sword of the Catholic Monarchs
This sword is one of the most important swords. It constitutes one of the most emblematic objects of the Royal Armory of Patrimonio Nacional.
It is a two-handed sword with a pommel, a field with four circles, and a straight border topped with crescent moons, all engraved and gilded.
The sword of the Great Captain
The Great Captain, also known as Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba and Enriquez de Aguilar, was a Castilian nobleman and military man who became the capital general of the armies of Castile and Aragon.
His sword was the protagonist in many of his battles, such as the War of Granada (1482-1492), the First Italian War (1494-1498), and the War of Naples (1501-1504). In fact, his merits in this last battle made him viceroy of Naples between 1504 and 1507.
Which of them would you like to have at home?
Use of Spanish swords today
The most significant use given to Spanish swords was for warfare, as Spain participated in many wars throughout its history.
Many of the swords have been protagonists of important battles. They have been in the hands of great conquerors in legendary moments in the history of our country.
However, nowadays, swords have a different use, and we can see them present on different occasions:
The high nobility ordered the manufacture of handmade Toledo swords for war and chivalrous acts, where they played a vital role.
Between the 18th and 19th centuries, the development of firearms gradually pushed swords aside. Today, in Spain, swords are still used in different ceremonial acts or as part of the uniform of the military corps.
Martial arts and fencing
Today, Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) events are held worldwide in which many participants use Spanish swords.
The rapier sword is especially popular at HEMA events because of its unique look and feel.
Decorative and LARP
Many people today are into collecting and using swords as decorative items.
Aside from that, there are many Spanish swords on the market that one could obtain for use in LARP activities. LARP stands for Live action role-playing game. For example, the gladius and rapier are especially popular in such events.
Where to buy Spanish swords?
If you are a lover and collector of swords or if you would simply like to have a sword as part of the decoration of your home, I leave you the links to the best websites to buy one of these relics:
Inigo Navarro is a seasoned travel writer with a deep understanding of Spain's cities, culture, people and language. Born and raised in Spain, he has spent years exploring the country and is currently one of the most-read Travel Bloggers about Spain. Inigo is also an experienced digital marketer, a father to 4 beautiful children and a huge Real Madrid Fan. ¡Hala Madrid!