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Gladius

Short Sword

Gladius

Short Sword

Detailing the development and operational history of the Gladius Short Sword.  Entry last updated on 4/8/2013.

Thanks to his ongoing campaigns against Hannibal across the Iberian Peninsula, the Roman general Scipio Africanus became very familiar with the Spanish short sword. Such respect was given to the processing power of this weapon of war that Scipio soon began issuing it to his own Roman Legionnaires and, with in time, the entire Roman Army fielded the short sword of Spanish origins as the Gladius.

The Gladius was constructed of tough Toledo steel instead of the more common iron or bronze workings consistent with the times. Toledo steel was forged in such a way as to make it virtually unbreakable and offered up edges for both stabbing and slashing actions as opposed to early designs that were made to accomplish one action or the other - but not both. In essence, the Galdius was basiclaly a two-sided chef's cleaver of sorts, though this particular culinary instrument with a pointed end for increased stabbing carnage. All this construction and inherent benefits came at the price of increased weight, however. Despite this, Roman ingenuity in warfare was always more concerned with more efficient ways to kill an enemy so the negatives were negotiable.

By the time these newly-armed Roman forces met the battle-hardened Macedonians, a melee of one-sided proportions ensued in favor of the Romans. This led to the ultimate destruction of the Macedonian troops in the form of severed arms, legs and heads all strewn about the battlefield. While the Gladius revolutionized the old throwing-and-stabbing nature of spear combat into the more "intimate" close-range form of sword fighting, the Gladius also allowed the empire to ensure that its reach would pervade throughout the known world.

An an interesting aside, a Roman soldier wore his Gladius along the right-hand side of his body in the style of the Ancient Greeks. Training in Roman sword fighting amounted to a daily routine, attacking human-size posts at least twice a day, this with a mockup sword weighing twice the weight of the actual sword to help build resistance in a combat-like setting. Endurance and strength training to the Roman soldier were everything and combat in the field would prove them among the best of the ancient armies.
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