The Rapier and the Sidesword
The rapier emerged during the Renaissance as a sidearm for civilian use – i.e. it was not a battlefield weapon though it saw use in battle from time to time. There is much debate as to whether the sidesword should be considered a different weapon or a heavier member of the rapier family; some use the term ‘military rapier’ for such weapons.
Both were very similar in basic form, though many different designs emerged over time. Both were long-bladed, straight swords designed for both cutting and thrusting, with quillions and fairly extensive hand protection. The sidesword generally had less elaborate hand protection; that of the rapier became ever more complex until a complete cup of metal replaced the bars and rings of the earlier swept hilt.