Is "short sword" the standard medieval sword?


As I understand it, what the game calls “short sword” are in fact “standard sword” from Middle Age. Am I correct?
And “long sword” is a “longer standard sword, which is made for two hands even if you can use it one handed”?

Or is the longsword the standard sword and the short one “shorter standard”?
More than the gameplay of each one, I’m asking this question because I have trouble to identify clearly the dimension in-game. And as I’m trying to roleplay, I just want the “standard sword” during the period I do not exactly know to which Combat Style I will use.


A short-sword is the kind that can only be used with one hand, the medieval version of the Roman gladius you could say. In the middle-ages a short-sword was more for decorative purposes than for use because people could see that someone has a sword but it won’t get in the way much for the wearer. Thus it’s commonly linked to knights and nobility because they carried it when they didn’t intend to fight, but because of this link knights also used it for combat to show that they were knights. Free hand can also be used for a shield to show off your colours.
The sword that was mostly used for combat was the long sword because it offered better reach and could hit harder because of that. It’s the sword that’s most practical when used with two hands but can also be used with one hand though to less effect.

If you want to roleplay as a fancy knight or the kind of person who uses charisma and speech instead of combat you’ll want to use a short-sword, if you want to roleplay as a warrior (be it knight or common soldier) you’ll want the longsword (except in formations, because a lot of formations also use a shield).
If you want to roleplay as a peasant the axe would be interesting.

Thanks for this explanation!
I first go to the longsword in the game because I thought that short sword was a kind of “half sword” in lenght, more or less like Daggers… But found with a bit of search, that “Knight’s Sword” or “Knightly Sword” refering to one-handed sword.

So if I tied that to what you explain, I can imagine that the sword which is ported at left by Knights is most of the time a Short Sword, but in planned battle (= arena or war), they will go with the longsword?

About roleplay:
I manipulated a one-handed sword, which was not categorized “small” so I don’t know exactly if it can compare, and a “two handed sword” (= long sword?) IRL.
The Two-handed one was really heavy even with two hands, so it’s hard to think they are really used also one-handed. From what I can imagine, the fact that longsword can be used with one-hand is not the “normal way” to manipulate this type of sword, but just a “convenience” for certain poses and tactics, right?

P.S. : If I go to a combat style with a Shield:

  • is longsword with a shield is realistic at Middle-Age (I know that KCD avoid any comboS of a longsword with a Shield, but I don’t know if it’s a malus because Longsword + Shield is unrealistic or just a way to balance the game but a realistic choice in fact) ;
  • or Short Sword is usually the sword of choice for infantry with a Shield?

Yes, “short swords” in this game are simply one handed swords. “Long swords” appear to be hand-and-a-half swords (a modern term for long sword). Other swords are available, that use the “short sword” special moves, namely the falchion, sabre, and “hunting swords”.

Falchions were more of a specialty sword in the time. Sabres were not really used by European forces until later periods. The “hunting swords” appears to be “Langes Messer” (long knife), which started to come into fashion into the HRE around this time, though it was ordinarily a backup weapon for pikemen.

By this time, long swords were fairly popular among fully plate armored combatants. The sword and board approach became a bit of a liability with less reach. Half-swording techniques would also just make shields into one more thing to throw it’s user with. It was still a transitional period, however, and you would have found both styles on a battlefield. Primarily, however, people used polearms in this era. That and crossbows. Polearms aren’t fully implemented in the game, and crossbows aren’t implemented at all (yet). For tackling heavily armored opponents in single combat (and without polearms), the weapon of choice was the warhammer.

Using a longsword with one hand is possible depending on how long the sword is. In KCD they refer to them as “bastard swords” sometimes, which means it’s a one-and-a-half-hand-sword, those are generally used with two hands but can be used with one hand as well. I don’t think it’d prevent you from using “combos” irl if you use a bastard sword with one hand, but it’s definitely a bit more clumsy than with two hands. The actual longer swords are completely impractical to use with one hand.
Using a bastard sword with a shield would be possible, but it definitely would limit its use a bit. Removing combos is just the way the game does this.

The arming sword would have been the main sword of a knight before the longsword became widely used. And they were still quite common after the longsword.

the ‘short sword’ is the Arming Sword, which was (usually) a side arm, could be worn all the time, and in combination with a shield used on the battlefield, or as a back up weapon for a pole arm of some kind, the longsword was a battlefield sword, (originally) intended to give the sword the reach and power to be a credible main weapon, or as a better back up weapon. In either case the main weapon seems to have been two handed axes or war hammers with occasional use of two handed swords. Matt Easton of ScholaGladiatora on youtube goes into the various medieval weapons in detail, but the image of the knight with his sword appears to be like the cowboy and his pistol or samurai and his katana, iconic but not the main weapon of war (Which considering the game is not about field armies clashing makes sense)

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Actually, the sword was always intended as a backup weapon in the medieval period, but in the game you can’t really carry a halberd around everywhere you go.

I have seen debate on that point re: long swords and especially great swords, but I could be persuaded either way.

As I understand it, When soldiers fought in formation they used a shield and short sword or a pol arm. Only when they were spread out or alone did they use a long sword, which was not a preferred situation to be in.

You are generalizing about a 1000 year period.

For much of the period, swords was the main weapon for knights and men at arms.
But by the end of the period advances in armor did result in the development of weapons specifically designed to dealing with armour. Maces, poleaxes and similar.

ordinary soldiers did usuallyt have something else as their main weapon, crossbows or polearms.

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generalizing true, but as it applies to game iirc we are in the ‘swords as secondary weapon’ period at least for knights. EDIT: Actually had a thought…Spears most common weapon of the early medieval weren’t they?

Yes. Polearms, including spears, were the primary weapon throughout the vast majority of human history until the modern era. There were exceptions, like the Roman legion, but generally speaking armies were equipped with some form of long stick with something nasty on the end. Even the Norse, who everyone pictures as running around in horned hats with battle axes were mostly spear and shield warriors.

Your right, but the men in front with the shields would have a one handed weapon; ax, mace, or short sword. They were all very important.

Men in front? Most depictions show men in front using spears also…

+TginasAagaard That’s highly inaccurate. Swords were never the main weapon for knights or men at arms in any period. Polearms of various lengths and designs were, since they were better weapons than swords.

I have recently seen arguments for the Pilum being used as a melee weapon, with Marius modification to make them break on being thrown being mentioned because it was not normal, and hadn’t been adopted (why describe how something was done if it had become standard? Why have what looks an awful lot like a hand guard on a weapon that was only to be thrown? Along with mentions of them being used like that at Alessia, and examples of what look like wounds of a pilum used in melee from archaeological evidence and we have an idea to investigate) I would further suggest that the famous ‘dane axe’ was basically a polearm anyway.

and now you are taking the lasts part of the 14th and the 15th century and using that to talk about a about 500 year period.
Or you don’t know what a man-at-arms is. The term is used about the professional soldier who was trained and equipped to fight mounted during the period from mid 11th century and to the end of the medieval period.

Look at the 1200th century. swords was the main weapon (+ the lance when mounted) and the is still the case 200 years later. That is clear if one study frescoes, and other illustrations.

infantry used spears, peasant levies used spears… because it is cheap and can turn an untrained man into something useful if massed. Usefull on the rare medieval battlefield.

But large battles where rare. By far the most fighting a man-at-arms would do would be raiding, skirmishes and similar, where long pole arms is not that useful, since they require a closed order formation to work.

And the shorter specialized polearms are only relevant when armor get to a point where they are a clear advantage over a sword and shield. … when facing other similar armed opponents.

A polearm (other than a lance) is useless when mounted. And a men-at-arms is trained and equipped to fight mounted.
And we have the everyday wearing of swords.

Then as armor improve we start to see different types of short polearms in use by the professional men-at-arms… when fighting on foot.

yes, when we are talking all men on a battlefield… and not just the men-at-arms and knights.
I fully agree that a polarms (and/or ranged weapons ) was the most numerous.