8 Most Famous German Swords in History

  1. The Sword of Attila
  2. The Zweihander
  3. The Landsknecht Sword
  4. The Saxon Sword
  5. The Flamberge
  6. The Katzbalger
  7. The Executioner’s Sword
  8. The Saber

German Swords is renowned for its exceptional craftsmanship in sword-making. Throughout history, German swords have been highly coveted and admired for their durability, precision, and beauty. From ancient times to modern times, Germany has produced some of the world’s most famous swords that have left a significant impact on the history of warfare. In this article, we will take a closer look at the most famous German swords in history.

German swords have been used for centuries, and their craftsmanship has been refined over time. Many of the swords made in Germany were highly valued due to their sharpness, durability, and aesthetic appeal. These swords were often used in combat and were considered to be a symbol of power and authority.

List of German Medieval Weapons

Attila Hun király
Attila Hun király, Lanzmar Ferenc via Wikimedia Commons

The Sword of Attila, also known as the Sword of Mars, holds a legendary place in the annals of history. As the fearsome leader of the Huns in the 5th century, Attila the Hun wielded a sword that struck terror into the hearts of his enemies. However, the exact nature and details of this sword remain subjects of speculation and myth.

According to accounts, the Sword of Attila was described as a remarkable weapon, believed to possess supernatural powers and bring victory to its bearer. It was said to be a massive, two-handed sword with a gleaming blade and ornate hilt.

While the sword’s specific characteristics and fate remain uncertain, its symbolic significance endures. The Sword of Attila represents the power, authority, and legendary status of one of history’s most feared conquerors. Its association with Attila evokes images of barbarian might and the age of the Hunnic Empire. Though shrouded in mystery, the Sword of Attila continues to capture the imagination and fascination of historians and enthusiasts alike, forever entwined with the enigmatic figure of Attila the Hun.

The Zweihander, meaning “two-hander” in German, was a fearsome and imposing sword that originated in the late 15th century. This colossal weapon is renowned for its exceptional size and weight, making it one of the largest swords ever wielded. The Zweihander featured an elongated blade, often measuring over five feet in length, with a distinctive two-handed grip. Weighing around 6 to 8 pounds, this massive sword required immense strength and skill to wield effectively.

The primary purpose of the Zweihander was to disrupt and cleave through enemy formations. Its long reach allowed the wielder to strike from a distance, providing a significant advantage on the battlefield. The sheer weight and size of the Zweihander enabled devastating cuts and strikes, capable of incapacitating multiple adversaries with a single blow.

The Zweihander became a symbol of power and prestige, favored by elite infantry units and mercenaries. Its formidable presence and reputation struck fear into the hearts of foes, making it an iconic weapon of the Renaissance period. The legacy of the Zweihander endures as a testament to the immense strength, skill, and innovation of the craftsmen who forged these mighty blades.

Landsknecht with his Wife, Daniel Hopfer via Wikimedia Commons

The Landsknecht Sword, synonymous with the famous German mercenary soldiers known as Landsknechts, played a significant role during the Renaissance period. These swords were renowned for their distinct and flamboyant appearance. With a single-edged blade, a complex hilt guard, and often a long, swept-forward quillon, the Landsknecht Sword was a unique fusion of functionality and artistic flair.

Measuring around 40 to 50 inches in length, the Landsknecht Sword offered excellent reach and versatility in combat. Its design allowed for powerful cuts, thrusts, and parries. Landsknecht mercenaries favored this weapon due to its effectiveness in the chaotic battlefields of the era.

The hilt of the Landsknecht Sword was often intricately decorated, showcasing the artistic sensibilities of the Renaissance period. It featured complex designs, knuckle guards, and decorative pommels, making it both a weapon and a status symbol.

The Saxon Sword, also known as the Saxon Seax, holds a significant place in the history of the Saxons, a Germanic tribe that inhabited parts of present-day Germany and England. This single-edged, long-bladed weapon was the primary sidearm of the Saxons during the Migration Period and the early medieval period.

The Saxon Sword typically featured a straight or slightly curved blade, ranging from 12 to 36 inches in length. It had a single cutting edge and a simple hilt, often made of wood or bone, with a tang that extended through the grip.

Used for both combat and utility purposes, the Saxon Sword was a versatile tool for the Saxons. It served as a formidable weapon in battle, capable of delivering devastating cuts and strikes. Outside of warfare, it functioned as a tool for hunting, farming, and everyday tasks.

The Flamberge Sword, also known as the Flammenschwert or Flame-bladed Sword, is a distinctive and unique weapon that originated in the late medieval period. Its defining feature is the wavy or flame-like pattern along the edges of its blade, giving it a striking and intimidating appearance.

The purpose of the Flamberge Sword’s wavy design was not primarily aesthetic but rather practical. The undulating edges created a saw-like effect, increasing the weapon’s effectiveness in combat. When the sword was thrust or drawn across an opponent’s armor, the jagged edges caused additional damage by increasing the likelihood of catching and tearing the armor or inflicting deeper wounds.

The Flamberge Sword typically featured a two-handed grip and a long blade, measuring around 4 to 5 feet in length. It was primarily used by skilled warriors, including knights and mercenaries, who valued its unique cutting abilities and its ability to disrupt enemy formations.

The Katzbalger Sword, originating in the 16th century, is a distinct and robust weapon associated with the Landsknecht mercenaries of Germany. Its name, “Katzbalger,” translates to “cat skinner” or “cat striker,” suggesting its potential use against feline adversaries.

The Katzbalger sword is characterized by its short, sturdy blade, typically measuring around 28 to 32 inches in length. Its broad and straight blade profile is designed for powerful cuts and thrusts, making it effective in close-quarter combat. The blade widens toward the tip, providing additional strength and allowing for powerful strikes.

The hilt of the Katzbalger features a distinctive S-shaped or figure-eight guard, which offers excellent hand protection. The grip is often made of wood, horn, or bone, providing a firm and comfortable hold.

The Katzbalger was favored by the Landsknecht mercenaries due to its versatility, durability, and effectiveness in the chaotic battlefield conditions of the time. Its short length made it suitable for use with a shield or in tight formations.

The Executioner’s Sword, as its name suggests, was a specialized weapon used by executioners throughout history. This distinctive sword was designed to carry out capital punishment, typically through decapitation.

The Executioner’s Sword featured a long, straight blade, often measuring around 36 to 48 inches in length. The blade was typically broad and thick, facilitating a clean and efficient cut. Its weight and balance were optimized for delivering a swift and powerful strike, ensuring a swift end to the condemned.

The hilt of the Executioner’s Sword was typically simple, with a basic grip and crossguard. Ornate decorations were generally avoided, emphasizing the utilitarian nature of the weapon. The sword represented the final act of justice or punishment, often evoking a sense of fear and awe in those who witnessed its grim purpose.

The Sabre, Musée national de la Marine via Wikimedia Commons

The Sabre, renowned for its curved blade and distinctive design, has a rich history spanning various cultures and periods. Its curved shape sets it apart from straight-bladed swords, offering unique advantages in combat.

The Sabre Sword’s curved blade allowed for more efficient slashing and cutting motions, making it particularly effective in cavalry warfare. Its design facilitated quick, sweeping strikes, enabling horse-mounted warriors to exploit their momentum and deliver devastating blows to their adversaries.

The hilt of the Sabre Sword typically featured a single-handed grip, providing a balanced and maneuverable weapon. It often included a protective handguard and a comfortable grip made of materials such as wood, bone, or leather.

History of German Swords

Germanic tribes utilized broad, straight double-edged swords during the early medieval period, reflecting the importance of these weapons in their warrior culture.

In what is now Germany, Viking Age swords were often pattern-welded, showcasing intricate blade patterns created through layered iron. The hilts were simple yet functional.

The evolution of the “knightly sword” with a longer, tapered blade and cruciform hilt characterized the High Medieval period. The late medieval period introduced the two-handed longsword, influenced by German schools of swordsmanship like the Liechtenauer tradition.

The Renaissance period saw the rise of the Zweihander, a massive two-handed sword used by the Landsknecht mercenaries. These swords were often ornate, reflecting the wealth and status of the wielder.

The 17th to 19th centuries witnessed the popularity of rapiers, smallswords, and court swords. The 19th century introduced military sabers, notably the Prussian and German cavalry sabers.

Swords continued as ceremonial items in the early 20th century, especially during World War I and World War II, even as their use on the battlefield diminished. Post-World War II, swords transitioned into artifacts for collectors, martial arts training, and historical reenactments.


German swords have played an essential role in the history of warfare. From the Sword of Attila to the Saber, German swords have been renowned for their exceptional craftsmanship, durability, and precision.

These swords have left a lasting impact on the history of warfare, and they continue to be admired and coveted by collectors and enthusiasts around the world.


Who made the Sword of Attila?

The Sword of Attila was said to have been made by Germanic tribes in the 5th century AD.

What was the Zweihander used for?

The Zweihander was primarily used as a weapon of war during the Renaissance period.

Who used the Landsknecht Sword?

The Landsknecht sword was used by German mercenaries known as Landsknechts in the 16th century.

What was the Katzbalger known for?

The Katzbalger was known for its ability to penetrate armor and its distinctive shape resembling a meat cleaver.

What was the Executioner’s Sword used for?

The Executioner’s Sword was used by executioners in Germany during the Middle Ages for swift and clean executions.