Swords in Elizabethan England

In Elizabethan England, swords were everywhere. Hanging on girdles, used in plays and depicted in paintings, they were an important marker of status and martial prowess. Swordplay was a popular martial art and pastime enjoyed by all rungs of Tudor society. But what would these swords have looked like? And how did Elizabethan gentlemen fight with them? 

In this episode of Not Just the Tudors, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb talks to Jacob H. Deacon, a doctoral student at the University of Leeds. Together they discuss the origins of swordplay and it’s relation to fencing, how it was regulated and performed by the mysterious Masters of Defence and, most importantly, how to distinguish your rapier from your backsword. 

This episode was edited by Joseph Knight and produced by Rob Weinberg 

For more Not Just The Tudors content, subscribe to our Tudor Tuesday newsletter here.

If you'd like to learn even more, we have hundreds of history documentaries, ad free podcasts and audiobooks at History Hit - subscribe today! To download, go to Android or Apple store