One of the most enduring tropes in books, television and movies are legendary swords wielded by intrepid heroes, who proceed to smite enemies with the fabled blade. Some legendary swords are renowned for their construction, containing Damascus steel or other special ores that give them additional strength. Other blades have been crafted by master swordsmiths, who fold metal with such precision and skill that the sword endures stress that would easily shatter lesser weapons. Of course, no list of legendary swords would be incomplete without mysterious powers, like the hidden ability to control wind and fire.
Part of the reason these swords retain their mythical status is due to the fact that many of them have been used in battle by famous figures before being passed down through history. Occasionally, these swords disappear for centuries before resurfacing. A few of them are rumored to be stolen or existing out of sight, protected by priests and other spiritual folk who consider them to be items of mystical importance.
Thankfully, many are still available to be witnessed by the general public, kept safe from thieves behind climate-controlled Plexiglas that also protects against the ravages of time, so their legend can continue to be passed down from generation to generation.
This legendary sword was rumored to contain a chip that was knocked out when King Bloeslaus slammed it against the Golden Gate of Kiev as he laid siege to the city during the 11th century. Even though the sword was said to be completed during the 12th century at the earliest, there’s a possibility that it was used to strike a gate during a siege at some point in history, which was a symbolic action performed by militaries at the time.
Szczerbiec was used as a coronation sword for hundreds of years before it was looted. Eventually, it returned to Poland, where it’s kept as the only surviving crown jewel of that era.
Passed down to Ali ibn Abi Talib by the Prophet Muhammad himself, the Zulfiqar is a sword with a curve that’s similar to a scimitar. However, unlike scimitars, after the bend the Zulfiqar turns into a double-bladed terror with a slight scissored opening that resembles a snake tongue.
Nicknamed by some as ‘The Spine-Splitter”, the Zulfiqar was apparently gifted to Ali because of his ability to destroy the armor of the mightiest combatants from the Mecca region. Impressed, Muhammad replaced the warrior’s broken sword.According to rumor and legend, the Zulfiqar currently belongs to the hidden Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is seen as the eventual savior of humankind and the final Imam, bringing peace to Earth and justice to all.
13. Tomoyuki Yamashita’s Sword
Forged by Fujiwara Kanenaga, master sword smith who created fine katanas during the 17th century, the sword of Tomoyuki Yamashita was created in the mid-1600s. A General within the Japanese armed forces, Tomoyuki, called “The Tiger of Malaysia”, made sure that this deadly, centuries-old relic was at his side throughout combat operations during WWII.
After the Allies finally forced Japan to surrender, General Yamashita gave up the sword along with his army. Incredibly, the blade was still in excellent condition – only the hilt needed to be fixed, which took place during the early 20th century. This legendary blade currently resides in the West Point Military Museum.
12. Sword of Osman
Osman I was the original Sultan and founder of the Ottoman Empire during the 14th century, responsible for launching one of the most successful empires in human history. The Sword of Osman was named after the creator of the Ottomans after his father-in-law, Sheik Edebali, passed along the weapon as a sword of Islam.
Sultans who succeeded Osman I followed this tradition, allowing the Sword of Osman to fall into the hands of some of the most powerful individuals the world has ever known, including Suleiman the Great. It took almost 500 years for the Ottomans to allow non-Muslims the privilege of witnessing the ceremony that passed the sword from one leader to the next.
11. Jewelled Sword of Offering
The Jewelled Sword of Offering was created in the early 19th century at a cost of just under six thousands pounds, which was a literal fortune in 1821. King George IV was directly involved with the design of this sword and paid for it through the King’s privy purse.
This sword of offering is passed down after each coronation and becomes property of the new person in power. After receiving a blessing from an Archbishop, the spiritually imbued sword is passed to the new monarch, who is charged with using the blade for the purposes of defending good and destroying evil.
10. Seven-Branched Sword
After archaeologists and historians studied the remarkable seven-branched sword, they found that the origins of the sword potentially date all the way back to the Jin Dynasty of the fourth century. This likely represented the peak of sword-smithing at the time, with the seven branches expressing a tree motif.
Various interpretations have been made of the text inscribed into this ancient, historical blade. The text suggests that the sword is made of steel hardened 100 times, resulting in an unprecedented weapon. Originally, it appears the sword was made for the King of Wa, but was eventually passed along as a gift to a Japanese empress, eventually ending up in the Isonokami Shrine where it’s hidden from view.
9. La Tizona
La Tizona is the legendary swords owned by famed warrior and military leader, El Cid. The blade followed one of the biggest heroes in Spanish history throughout his conquests on behalf of both Christian and Islamic armies. Controversy surrounds La Tizona as to whether or not it was one of two legendary swords wielded by El Cid. La Tizona was said to have been passed down over the years to King Ferdinand and family, until donated to the Madrid Military Museum.
A variety of tests performed on the sword confirmed the presence of Damascus steel, which is a fortified material that made many of the best swords for royalty, aristocrats and high-ranking military leaders.
8. Curtana – Sword of Mercy
Similar to Joyeuse and Durendal, Curtana is made out of a special steel that imbued the sword with an aura of might. Legend has it that one of the most storied knights, Tristan, who in lore broke the end of the sword off in the brain cavity of an evil Medieval man named Morholt.
The sword was rumored to have been adopted by Ogier the Dane, who shorted the sword and rechristen it Cortaine. After a healthy killing career, the sword ended up altered at the end to blunt its sharpness, earning another name: the Sword of Mercy. This version of Curtana makes appearances at various royal events of importance as a ceremonial item.
7. Curved Saber of San Martin
Belonging to Jose de San Martin, this curved saber was acquired in London before it made the journey to Spain and then South America. This weapon was by his side as he lead organized troops during conflicts such as the battle of San Lorenzo.
As San Martin was passing away, he decided to give the sword to a governor Juan Manuel De Rosas, stating that “the saber that has accompanied me throughout the War of Independence of South America will be handed to the General of the Argentine Republic”.
Eventually, the Curved Saber of San Martin was returned to the National History Museum in the capital, Buenos Aires, although it was stolen a couple of times by political youth groups, eventually requiring its own screened gazebo in the city.
Joyeuse is perhaps the most venerated and legendary sword among the French. This fabled weapon is rumored to have been forged using the same steel as Curtana and Durendal, including a pommel made with the remains of the Lance of Longinus.
This process resulted in a sword fit for Charlemagne, who wielded Joyeuse as he sliced through Europe as commander and eventual emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Joyeuse has been handed down through history, with experts suggesting that a replica replaced the original during the coronation of Napoleon. Currently, Joyeuse consists of a variety of parts added to a Medieval blade that dates back to the 10th century, complicating the legacy of Joyeuse.
Resting in the Tokyo National Museum, the Muramasa is a work of deadly art by the sword-smith Muramasa Sengo, who was famous for his lethal steel. Unfortunately, Mr. Sengo was also known to be as mad as he was brilliant. His brain was considered so unstable and violent that his swords contained a dark aura which caused the wielder to crave murder and suicide.
His swords were popular for quite a while but eventually fell out of favor when shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu forbade his samurai for using this type of sword, possibly because so many people he knew were killed by them with the shogun himself receiving a nasty wound from a muramasa sword in battle.
4. Honjo Masamune
The predecessor to the infamous Muramasa was the genius of Masamune, considered the greatest of all Japanese sword-smiths. Thankfully, he tempered his sword making prowess with wisdom instead of imbuing psychotic energy into his edged creations.
Of all the famed Masamune swords, the Honjo Masamune is perhaps the most legendary. The blade earned its status as the greatest sword ever fashioned by splitting the helm of Honjo Shigenaga, who captured the sword after nearly being killed by its brilliant sharpness. Despite nicks and cracks, it was still effective in battle. This legendary sword disappeared around 1946, when the Honjo Masamune was dropped off at a police station, never to be seen again.
Kusanagi is another one of Japan’s legendary swords. This particular blade is shrouded in plenty of mystery, as it appears to pop in and out of existence throughout the history of the nation. The latest location of Kusanagi is rumored to be well-protected by Shinto priests, hidden away from prying eyes.
In the ancient tome Kojiki, the origins of the sword was similar to a boss battle in Dark Souls, as a hero named Susanoo found the sword in the fourth tail of an eight headed serpent that the god was in the midst of defeating. The sword was eventually passed on to fabled warrior Yamato Takeru, who used the power of the sword to redirect a fire trap towards a warlord who attempted to burn Yamato alive.
2. Sword of Goujian
One of the most remarkable finds was the ancient tombs unearthed by China as they were working around the Zhang River Reservoir in 1965. They unearthed a large amount of ancient artifacts from the Chu State that dates as far back as 771 BC.
One of the artifacts was the Sword of Goujian, which was found wrapped tightly alongside a skeleton, untarnished despite thousands of years passing by. Incredibly, this bronze sword was still sharp enough to use when it was found. This legendary sword survived because of the high levels of copper in the blade. Being wrapped in an air-tight sheath further prevented oxidizing the metal. This artifact rests in the Hubei Provincial Museum in China.
1. Wallace Sword
The massive, mighty Claymore sword was the weapon of choice for William Wallace, who wielded one during the late 13th century as he fought the hated English during the Wars of Scottish Independence, as depicted by Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart.
After he was executed, the Wallace Sword was passed along to a governor before disappearing for a few centuries from record, eventually popping up again around 1825 when it was sent to receive repairs. Apparently, the repairs were needed to the hilt, which apparently was made with the dried skin of an English commander he defeated. The Wallace Sword now rests in the Wallace Monument as one of the most prized artifacts from Scottish history.
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