Collection: Roman Swords

Gladius was one Latin word for sword, and is used to represent the primary sword of Ancient Roman foot soldiers. Early ancient Roman swords were similar to those of the Greeks, called xiphos. From the 3rd century BC, however, the Romans adopted swords similar to those used by the Celtiberians and others during the early part of the conquest of Hispania. This sword was known as the gladius hispaniensis, or "Hispanic sword".
The word gladius acquired a general meaning as any type of sword. Gladii were two-edged for cutting and had a tapered point for stabbing during thrusting.
Several different designs were used; among collectors and historical reenactors, the three primary kinds are known as the Mainz gladius, the Fulham gladius, and the Pompeii gladius (these names refer to where or how the canonical example was found).

Mainz gladius
Mainz was founded as the Roman permanent camp of Moguntiacum probably in 13 BC. The Mainz variety is characterized by a slight waist running the length of the blade and a long point.

Fulham gladius (Mainz-Fulham gladius)
The sword that gave the name to the type was dredged from the Thames near Fulham, and must therefore date to after the Roman occupation of Britain began. The blade is slightly narrower than the Mainz variety. The main difference is the triangular tip.

Pompeii gladius
The Pompeii gladius was named by modern historians after the Roman town of Pompeii, this gladius was by far the most popular one. Four instances of the sword type were found in Pompeii, with others turning up elsewhere. The sword has parallel cutting edges and a triangular tip. This is the shortest of the gladii. It is often confused with the spatha, which was a longer, slashing weapon used initially by mounted auxilia. Over the years, the Pompeii got longer, and these later versions are called as semi-spathas.

The spatha was a type of straight and long sword, in use in the territory of the Roman Empire during the 1st to 6th centuries AD. The spatha of literature appears in the Roman Empire in the 1st century AD as a weapon used by presumably Germanic auxiliaries and gradually became a standard heavy infantry weapon, relegating the gladius to use as a light infantry weapon. The spatha apparently replaced the gladius in the front ranks, giving the infantry more reach when thrusting. While the infantry version had a long point, versions carried by the cavalry had a rounded tip that prevented accidental stabbing of the cavalryman's own foot or horse.  The spatha remained popular throughout the Migration Period. It evolved into the knightly sword of the High Middle Ages by the 12th century.

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  • Authentic replica - Spatha "Straubing-Nydam" (Late Roman sword)
    Authentic replica - Spatha
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