Swords are much more than weapons.
No other instrument of warfare has evoked so much romance, mythology and honour than the sword. It is a symbol of authority, wealth and justice.
The Anglo-Saxons used them in their society as oaths of loyalty, in weddings and royal ceremonies. This tradition has continued today in Britain where five swords are used during the coronation of monarchs. Many royal swords are part of the Crown Jewels. The status of the sword has attracted the finest craftsmen from all over the world rendering the sword a magnificent work of art.
Swords developed from daggers during the Bronze Age when alloys such as steel were first used. This made the blade much stronger and therefore could be longer.
The Khopesh was a Bronze Age sword from Egypt, meaning 'sickle-sword'.Two of these swords were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Date of this one pictured goes back to 3,000 BC and the ancient civilisation of Sumer. (Photographs of Bronze Age swords by Dbachmann.)
The weapon we recognise today as a sword dates from around 1600 BC. Interesting, to me, is that the word 'sword' came from an Anglo-Saxon word 'sweord'. The golden age of swords was definitely the Medieval period in Europe, although the influence of China and the Middle East is not without significance.
The Anglo-Saxon and and Viking swords were based on the Roman spatha. They were improved as new technology became available and then the Normans introduced the crossguard. But the Dark Ages swords will always be my favourites. Look out for my posts on individual swords, such as the Cawood sword, Goujan, Joyeuse and fictional ones from Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones including my own design, Sunniva, Gulfyrian's sword.
The sword became a status symbol to many and thus they were subject to fashion trends and magnificent decoration. Even when their days of being the prime choice of weapon, swords continued to be made.