The 5 Largest Swords in History
The technological face of warfare may have changed by leaps and bounds over the millennia, but one adage has remained a constant on the battlefield: Might makes right. Holding true for the swords of yore, brandishing a huge blade spelled the difference between victory and defeat, cutting through armor and the enemy’s morale with equal precession. So gird your loins and let loose the dogs of war with the five largest swords in history!
1) The Longsword
No doubt a familiar sight to tabletop and video game RPG aficionados, the longsword was the prime weapon of choice for medieval Europe’s swordsmen, seeing nearly two centuries of service between the 14th and 16th centuries (granted, various improvements were made in that time). By virtue of the blade’s length (measuring upwards of 40 inches), the wielder was required to hold the sword with two hands, necessitating the need for a long hilt. Uncommon among rank-and-file soldiers, longswords were primarily utilized by skilled knights following years of rigorous tutelage. Ideal for thrusting and flawless cutting, the longsword was powerful as it was intimidating.
2) The Ōdachi
The Eastern counterpart of the Western world’s longsword, the ōdachi was the sign of an experienced samurai during Japan’s Edo Period, sometimes measuring nearly six feet in length from the hilt to the blade’s tip. Though devastatingly effective—especially when combined with the height advantage given while on horseback—the ōdachi’s size made it a cumbersome instrument of war. Practical samurai were able to overcome this inconvenience by either slinging it over their back (as opposed to the waist) or holding it in their hand. Some swordsmen even hired caddies of sorts to remove the blade from its sheath.
3) The Seven-Branched Sword
The Seven-Branched Sword’s size may not compare to the other blades on this list, but the six protrusions adorning its sides—excluding the tip, the seventh “branch”—adds additional width and intrigue. Estimated to have been forged during the 4th century A.D., the Nihon Shoki (or The Chronicles of Japan) recounts an cordial exchange wherein the king of Baekje, an ancient Korean domain, presented the sword as a gift to Empress Jingū: A figure of Japanese lore straddling the line between history and myth. Archeologists and scholars work to validate the sword’s purported origins till this day, in addition to fully understanding the cryptic inscriptions running along the blade. The original Seven-Branched Sword is housed in Japan’s Isonokami Shrine, while replicas appear in various museums collections.
4) The Nam Phi Sword
The star attraction of Thailand’s Museum of Mythical Metal is the Nam Phi Sword. Named for the iron from which it was forged, the immense blade measures approximately 30 feet in length, weighs 992 pounds, and has a sheath and handle of Chrysantha cedar (each adorned with precious silver and mother-of-pearl). The Nam Phi Sword is purely a display piece, however, dedicated to the region’s rich history of exceptional craftsmanship.
5) The Al Saif Roundabout Sword
Earning a well-deserved place in the Guinness Book of World Records, the Al Saif Roundabout Sword in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates dwarfs the Nam Phi Sword at close to 49 feet long. The installation stands before the Fujairah Fort, home of the nation’s Al Saif Championship—a traditional sword dancing competition.
What’s your favorite sword from fiction or history?