Books Features

New Medieval Books: A Cultural History of the Medieval Sword

A Cultural History of the Medieval Sword: Power, Piety and Play

By Robert W. Jones

Boydell Press
ISBN: 978 1 83765 036 1

A look at how later medieval society viewed swords as an important item and symbol. it was not just nobles and knights who wanted to wield this weapon; there were many others who held the sword in high regard, and wanted to carry it and be trained in how to use it.


In this book I have sought to offer a broader understanding of the sword in the high Middle Ages, arguing for three interconnected, but distinctive ‘cultures’. Whilst recognising the importance and complexity of the noble culture of the sword, I have sought to get away from the modern preconceptions of them as purely high-status rarities; magical symbols of royal or knightly power, instead offering an alternative culture that places the sword in the hands of the middle classes. They used the weapon as a symbol of their aspirations for noble status, and their desire to participate in the masculine world, but where swordsmanship was, perhaps, as much an intellectual as it was a martial pursuit. Finally, I have argued that our own attempts to represent, interpret and understand the place and use of the medieval sword have resulted in a third ‘culture’ of the medieval sword, one that is played out on the movie and television screens, or at Renaissance fairs and historical fencing salles, where the need to get it ‘right’ is tempered by the desire for it to look or feel right, and the underlying fear that, in recreating medieval combat, someone might actually get hurt.


Who is this book for?

The material culture of the sword has been a subject getting more attention in recent years, and there are other books that cover some of the topics written about here. However, this book offers some new insights into how the non-noble medieval society embraced this weapon. Historians of medieval culture and military history will want to read this book, and especially those interested in Historical European Martial Arts.

The author:

Dr Robert Jones is the Alumni Association Coordinator at Advanced Studies in England, located in Bath. He specializes in the socio-cultural history of medieval warfare and warriors. Click here to view his personal website or follow Robert on Twitter/X @RobJonesHistory


You can learn more about the book from the publisher’s website

You can also buy this book on | |