The rapier was the Renaissance swordsmith’s response to demand for a light, civilian weapon that could be used in tight alleys, urban streets and duels. Though commonly associated with nobles, the rapier was used by men of all classes. It is a blade design given almost wholly to thrusting attacks – ideal for tight spaces. Long and slender, the blade in conjunction with good thrusting technique had plenty of reach to keep the foe at bay. The thrusting attack, while creating wounds not as outwardly impressive as slashing weapons, were usually the more dangerous, and fatal of the two. Even a wound of a few inches was difficult to treat and critical organs lie not far beneath the skin.
These qualities further emphasized the swordsman’s need for timing and skillful strikes for little strength was needed to make a killing thrust to an unarmored enemy with the rapier – thus its contemporary swordsmanship schools emphasized these qualities. Rapier fighting however, was not just timing and distance control, for its manuals show ample evidence of more brutish grappling, kicking and hilt strikes.
This example, made by Windlass Steelcrafts, has a blade made of tempered 1095 high carbon steel with an oval cross section. The complex hilt of twisted metal fashionably protects the hand and matches the twisted wire inlaid into the similiarily twisted grip of horn. Lion and floral etchings adorn the thickened ricasso and the sword comes with a leather and steel accented scabbard.