These Legendary Fighters Wielded the Fiercest Swords in History

These Legendary Fighters Wielded the Fiercest Swords in History

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Master sword fighters are a recurring motif in fiction, but there were also several historical figures who were renowned for their ability to wield a blade with deadly precision. From soldiers and samurai to duelists and expert fencers, take a look back at the adventures of six legendary swordsmen.

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1. Miyamoto Musashi—Japan’s Sword Saint

The life of Japanese samurai Miyamoto Musashi is obscured by myth and legend, but this “sword saint” reportedly survived 60 duels—the first of which was fought when he was just 13 years old. While he occasionally served as a soldier, Musashi spent much of his career wandering the Japanese countryside and doing battle with any warrior who dared challenge him. He is said to have perfected a two-blade fighting technique, but he was so accomplished that he often engaged in single combat armed with only a wooden sword, or “bokken.” One such duel came in 1612, when he squared off against a rival samurai named Sasaki Kojiro using a sword carved from the oar of a boat. Kojiro was known as one of Japan’s greatest swordsmen, yet Musashi easily dodged his attacks and delivered a fatal blow with his wooden weapon. Having never been bested in battle, Musashi later retired from dueling and became an acclaimed ink painter and writer. His Book of Five Rings is now considered a landmark text on martial arts and strategy.

2. Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges—The Gentleman Fencer

The mixed-race son of a white nobleman and an African slave woman, the Chevalier Saint-Georges came of age in late-18th century France and received a gentleman’s education that included violin lessons and training with a renowned fencing master. By his teenage years, he was already an accomplished swordsman, having bested a fellow master who made a disparaging remark about his race. The multitalented aristocrat later became one of the most celebrated fencers in France, often participating in matches attended by European royalty. The Chevalier’s varied life also included stints as a military man—he led an all-black regiment during the French Revolution—but he is most famous today for his exploits as a musician and composer. Among other accomplishments, he served for a time as director of the Concert des Amateurs, one of the top orchestras in France.

3. Donald McBane—The Scottish Duelist Extraordinaire

Donald McBane’s colorful career included side jobs as a tavern-keeper and brothel owner, but he is best remembered as one of the 18th century’s most accomplished swordsmen. A professional soldier by trade, this Scottish highlander was a born brawler who claimed to have participated in at least 100 duels, including a few in which he crossed steel with several different opponents in succession. Along the way, he also opened a fencing school and developed a sword-fighting technique that combined graceful movement with swift and deadly lunges. One signature move, the “Boar’s Thrust,” called for the fighter to drop to one knee while simultaneously jabbing his sword upward in a vicious uppercut blow. Despite suffering some two-dozen wounds from musket balls, bayonets and grenades during his military career, McBane continued dueling well into his old age and even worked as a prizefighter in his sixties. Shortly before his death in 1732, he summed up his experiences in a raucous autobiography and fencing manual titled The Expert Sword-Man’s Companion.

4. Achille Marozzo—The Renaissance Fencing Master

The oldest known European fencing manuals date to the 1400s, but the most important early treatise didn’t arrive until the mid-16th century and the work of the Italian master swordsman Achille Marozzo. His book Opera Nova (A New Work) is a compendium of Renaissance-era swordplay that boasts detailed outlines of fighting stances, parrying techniques and even instructions for how to defeat left-handed opponents. “You must never attack without defending, nor defend without attacking,” he writes in one of the manual’s early chapters, “and if you do this you shall not fail.” Little is known about Marozzo’s life, but he is believed to have come of age in Bologna and later made his name as the operator of one of the city’s top fencing academies. One contemporary wrote that the Italian was “a most perfect master” in the art of sword fighting and “had trained an immense number of valiant disciples.”

5. Julie d’Aubigny—The Ferocious Lady Sword Fighter

During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Julie d’Aubigny fascinated the French public with her outsized personality, heavenly singing voice and deadly sword skill. The daughter of a court nobleman of King Louis XIV, d’Aubigny was a fencing prodigy who bested male opponents from a young age. After fleeing a loveless marriage during her teen years, she began an affair with a fencing master and made her living staging sword-fighting exhibitions in taverns. Despite having no vocal training, she later found fame as a contralto opera singer and spent several years performing under the name “Mademoiselle de Maupin,” or “La Maupin.”D’Aubigny also took part in numerous sword duels, including one against a nobleman who initially mistook her for a man. In another famous incident from 1695, she scandalized the guests at a masked ball by kissing a young woman on the mouth and then fighting—and defeating—three different swordsmen who tried to defend the lady’s honor. D’Aubigny continued her remarkable career as a singer and duelist until her early thirties, when she abruptly hung up her sword and entered a convent. She would remain there until her death a few years later in 1707.

6. Tsukahara Bokuden—The Wandering Swordsman

There is perhaps no better example of the “wandering swordsman” than Tsukahara Bokuden. Born around 1488, this Japanese samurai left home at age 17 to test his skills against other warriors. Over the next several years, he won numerous duels with live blades, including one against a man who wielded a 6-foot-long pike. As his fame grew, he began to travel with a large entourage of followers and founded his own school of swordsmanship. Bokuden went undefeated in dozens of duels and is said to have killed some 200 men both in single combat and in military engagements. Yet as he grew older, he no longer wished to prove himself against other swordsmen. In one legendary incident later imitated in the Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon, Bokuden was supposedly challenged to a duel by an arrogant young samurai. The elderly master agreed and rowed with the man to an island, but when his opponent hopped out of the boat and drew his sword, Bokuden simply pushed away from shore and left him stranded.

10 Mysterious Swords From Legend And History

Swords of renown are the seeds of legend. Fueled by tales of bloodshed and conquest, there have been swords throughout history that have grown to mythical proportions, blending fact and fiction until the two are all but inseparable. We&rsquove found swords that might in fact be legends brought to life others have tales so bizarre we have to question their truth. There will never be another weapon that has left a greater impact on history as the sword&ndash&ndashsome more than others.

10 Famous Gladiators From Ancient Rome

Gladiators were the athletic superstars of Ancient Rome. Their battles in the arena drew thousands of fans, often including the most important men of the day. Traditionally purchased as slaves, successful gladiators gained thousands of supporters, enjoyed lavish gifts, and could even be awarded freedom if they&rsquod tallied up enough victories. Described below are ten gladiators who all experienced glory and fame&mdashboth in and out of the arena&mdashin Ancient Rome.

Originally discovered through graffiti found in Pompeii in 1817, Tetraites was documented for his spirited victory over Prudes. Fighting in the murmillones style, he wielded a sword, a rectangle shield, a helmet, arm guards, and shin guards. The extent of his fame was not fully comprehended until the late Twentieth Century, when pottery was found as far away as France and England which depicted Tetraites&rsquo victories.

Not much is known about these two rivals, although their final fight was well-documented. The battle between Priscus and Verus in the First Century AD was the first gladiator fight in the famous Flavian Amphitheatre. After a spirited battle which dragged on for hours, the two gladiators conceded to each other at the same time, putting down their swords out of respect for one another. The crowd roared in approval, and the Emperor Titus awarded both combatants with the rudis , a small wooden sword given to gladiators upon their retirement. Both left the theater side by side as free men.

Spiculus, another renowned gladiator of the First Century AD, enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the (reportedly) evil Emperor Nero. Following Spiculus&rsquo numerous victories, Nero awarded him with palaces, slaves, and riches beyond imagination. When Nero was overthrown in AD 68, he urged his aides to find Spiculus, as he wanted to die at the hands of the famous gladiator. But Spiculus couldn&rsquot be found, and Nero was forced to take his own life.

Though a Roman citizen by birth, Attilius chose to enter gladiator school in an attempt to absolve the heavy debts he had incurred during his life. In his first battle he defeated Hilarus, a gladiator owned by Nero, who had won thirteen times in a row. Attilius then went on to defeat Raecius Felix, who had won twelve battles in a row. His feats were narrated in mosaics and graffiti discovered in 2007.

While other gladiators on this list are known for their hand-to-hand combat against other humans, Carpophores was a famed Bestiarius. These gladiators fought exclusively against wild animals, and as such had very short-lived careers. Fighting at the initiation of the Flavian Amphitheatre, Carpophores famously defeated a bear, lion, and leopard in a single battle. In another battle that day, he slaughtered a rhinoceros with a spear. In total, it is said that he killed twenty wild animals that day alone, leading fans and fellow gladiators to compare Carpophorus to Hercules himself.

Crixus, a Gallic gladiator, was the right-hand man of the number one entry on this list. He enjoyed notable success in the ring, but resented his Lanista &mdashthe leader of the gladiator school and his &ldquoowner.&rdquo So after escaping from his gladiator school, he fought in a slave rebellion, helping to defeat large armies amassed by the Roman Senate with relative ease.

After a dispute with the rebellion leader, however, Crixus and his men split off from the main group, seeking to destroy Southern Italy. This maneuver diverted enemy military forces from the main group, giving them valuable time to escape. Unfortunately, the Roman legions struck Crixus down before he could exact his revenge on the people who had oppressed him for so long.

Flamma, a Syrian slave, died at the age of thirty&mdashhaving fought thirty-four times and having won twenty-one of those bouts. Nine battles ended in a draw, and he was defeated just four times. Most notably, Flamma was awarded the rudis a total of four times. When the rudis was given to a gladiator, he was usually freed from his shackles, and allowed to live normally among the Roman citizens. But Flamma refused the rudis , opting instead to continue fighting.

Famously played by Joaquin Phoenix in the 2000 film Gladiator , Commodus was an Emperor who enjoyed battling gladiators as often as possible. A narcissistic egomaniac, Commodus saw himself as the greatest and most important man in the world. He believed himself to be Hercules&mdasheven going so far as to don a leopard skin like that famously worn by the mythological hero. But in the arena, Commodus usually fought against gladiators who were armed with wooden swords, and slaughtered wild animals that were tethered or injured.

As you could guess, most Romans therefore did not support Commodus. His antics in the arena were seen as disrespectful, and his predictable victories made for a poor show. In some instances, he captured disabled Roman citizens, and slaughtered them in the arena. As a testament to his narcissism, Commodus charged one million sesterces for every appearance&mdashalthough he was never exactly &ldquoinvited&rdquo to appear in the arena. Commodus was assassinated in AD 192, and it is believed that his actions as a &ldquogladiator&rdquo encouraged his inner-circle to carry out the assassination.

By far the most famous gladiator in history, Spartacus was a Thracian soldier who had been captured and sold into slavery. Lentulus Batiatus of Capua must have recognized his potential, for he purchased him with the intention of turning him into a gladiator. But a warrior&rsquos fierce independence is not easily given up: in 73 BC, Spartacus persuaded seventy of his fellow gladiators&mdashCrixus included&mdashto rebel against Batiatus. This revolt left their former owner murdered in the process, and the gladiators escaped to the slopes of nearby Mount Vesuvius. While in transit, the group set free many other slaves&mdashthereby amassing a large and powerful following.

The gladiators spent the winter of 72 BC training the newly freed slaves in preparation for what is now known as the Third Serville War, as their ranks swelled to as many as 70,000 individuals. Whole legions were sent to kill Spartacus, but these were easily defeated by the fighting spirit and experience of the gladiators. In 71 BC, Marcus Licinius Crassus amassed 50,000 well-trained Roman soldiers to pursue and defeat Spartacus. Crassus trapped Spartacus in Southern Italy, routing his forces, and killing Spartacus in the process. Six thousand of his followers were captured and crucified, their bodies made to line the road from Capua to Rome.

Some kinds of swords are still commonly used today as weapons, often as a side arm for military infantry.

Hadhafang is the sword invented for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, where it was wielded by Arwen. The name is derived from Tolkien’s etymological word list written in the 1930s here Tolkien provides the word hadhathang (dissimilated: havathang, hadhafang), which he translates as “throng-cleaver”.

The Estoc sword, Medieval Europe

Estoc swords were long, needle-like blades with a very focused purpose- to get through chain mail and plate armor with deadly efficiency. Often two-handed they could puncture and separate any armor with a strong thrust. You could grip the weapon solidly and put all your weight behind it for maximum effect. If it didn’t kill on the first thrust, you could count on it to maim and disable. So effective were these blades that they were adapted for and very popular in hunting. Far riskier than using other means to hunt bears, boars, and deer, it allowed the hunter to get up-close to a wild beast and kill it with a single thrust proving his skill and bravery.

10 Stories That Prove Gurkhas Are the Fiercest Fighters on the Planet

These warriors can take down tanks and fight battalions by themselves.

In 1815, the British Army tried to conquer Nepal, but it was easily defeated by Nepal's warriors: the Gurkhas. So the British officers decided that, if they couldn't beat them, they'd get the Gurkhas to join them. A peace agreement ceased all British conquest in Nepal, and the Gurkhas agreed to be recruited into the Crown's military.

You love military history. So do we. Let's nerd out over it together.

The Gurkhas have fought in several wars, including both world wars and the Falklands War. Known as some of the most skilled and fiercest warriors in the world, the Gurkhas have impressed (and terrified) everyone around them. Here are some of the bravest soldiers and stories to ever come out of the Gurkha ranks.

In Afghanistan in 2010, Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun single-handedly fought off 30 Taliban soldiers. As Pun was keeping guard on the roof of a checkpoint, the attackers came at the complex from all sides with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s.

It took less than an hour for Pun to kill them all. He went through all of his ammo&mdash400 rounds and 17 grenades, as well as a mine that detonated&mdashto defeat each attacker. When he ran out of ammo, a Taliban soldier climbed up to the roof, only to be hit with a machine-gun tripod that Pun threw at him.

Pun's valor was rewarded with a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross , the second highest British military decoration awarded for bravery.

The Gurkhas leave no man behind. When a squad of troops was ambushed out in the open in Afghanistan in 2008, one soldier, Yubraj Rai, was hit and fatally wounded. But Captain Gajendera Angdembe and Riflemen Dhan Gurung and Manju Gurung carried Rai across 325 feet of open ground under heavy fire. At one point, one of the soldiers resorted to using both his own rifle and Rai's rifle at the same time to return fire on the enemy.

In 1945, Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung was stationed in a trench with only two other men when over 200 Japanese soldiers opened fire. Gurung's comrades were severely wounded. As grenades flew in one after another, Gurung tried to throw each one back.

He was successful with the first two, but the third exploded in his right hand. His fingers were blown off and his face, body, and right arm and leg were badly wounded.

As the Japanese stormed the trench, Gurung used his left hand to wield his rifle, defeating 31 enemies and preventing the Japanese from advancing. Gurung survived, and was awarded with a Victoria Cross later that year.

Starting in a platoon of only 10 troops, Gurung came under heavy fire from machine guns, grenades, mortars, and a sniper. Gurung shot the sniper out of a tree, and then charged uphill alone. He threw grenades into a foxhole, where enemies were shooting from, and took another three foxholes with his bayonet.

Far ahead of his comrades, Gurung then charged the bunker with two smoke grenades and his kukri knife, the famed curved blade of the Gurkhas. He defeated two Japanese soldiers with the knife, and another one with a rock.

Gurung then held off a counterattack with three other men at the bunker, this time using a rifle.

In 1944, Agansing Rai led a platoon of Gurkhas up a Burmese ridge in an open field against machine guns and two anti-tank 37 mm guns. Despite suffering heavy casualties, Rai and his men eliminated all the men at each 37 mm gun emplacement, one of which was hidden in a nearby jungle. Rai was later awarded the Victoria Cross.

As gunfire flew above his head in Burma, Rifleman Ganju Lama withstood a broken left wrist and wounds to his right hand and leg to take on three Japanese tanks in World War II. He crawled in the middle of the battlefield, destroyed each tank one-by-one with anti-tank guns, and defeated the men fleeing from the tanks, allowing none of them to escape. Lama was then taken to a hospital on a stretcher and would earn a Victoria Cross.

In another battle against the Japanese on the Burmese front in 1943, Sergeant Gaje Ghale was assigned to take a position that the Gurkhas had twice failed to capture. He led his platoon through heavy fire and suffered injuries in his leg, arm, and torso. But disregarding the injuries, Ghale engaged in hand-to-hand combat with his adversaries, taking the position. He then held off a counterattack with his men before letting his wounds get cared for. Ghale was later awarded the Victoria Cross.

Some of the British men who commanded the Gurkhas showed tremendous bravery as well. In 1943, Colonel Peter Jones led a battalion of Gurkhas against the Germans at the Battle of Enfidaville in Tunisia. As the Gurkhas charged the Germans with their kukri knives under fire from machine gun posts, Jones shot down the emplacements with a Bren gun. Jones was wounded in the neck but still joined the hand-to-hand fighting afterward, where he sustained additional injuries to his eye and thighs. He only accepted treatment after the battle was won. His effort was rewarded with a Distinguished Service Order decoration.

In 2011, 35-year-old retired Gurkha Bishnu Shrestha was riding a train in India when 40 robbers stopped the train and began stealing passengers' belongings. Still carrying his kukri knife, the Gurkha took on the robbers, themselves armed with knives, swords, and pistols. Shrestha managed to kill three robbers and injure eight others, which persuaded the other robbers to flee. The retired soldier also saved another passenger from rape.

During the Borneo confrontation in 1965, Captain Rambahadur Limbu made three trips into enemy territory. On the first trip, facing heavy gunfire, two of Limbu's men were shot&mdashone killed and another severely wounded. Before the enemy could advance, Limbu pushed them back with grenades. He then crawled 100 yards across the battlefield back into Gurkha territory to alert his comrades of what had happened.

Limbu then went back to the wounded soldier, still under fire, and carried the man back across the same 100 yards to safety. With the battle still raging, Limbu returned to the field a third time to retrieve his dead comrade. Limbu's heroics earned him a Victoria Cross. Of all the Gurkhas that have been awarded the Victoria Cross (and there were many), Limbu is the only one still surviving.

Frisians are a Unique Part of the Germanic Family

The history of small nations is often filled with strife. When large powers seek to subjugate you, to deny you your identity and independence, there is little that a proud nation can do. But for centuries, the Frisians fought hard to preserve their own unique identity, their name, and their language. And today, even though they lack their own independent country, these North Sea coast people give a distinctive flair to Germanic North Western Europe!

Top Image: The Frisians are historically recognized as brave warriors. Source: lassedesignen/Adobe Stock

One of the most notable instances of American imperialism was the annexation of Hawaii in 1898, which allowed the United States to gain possession and control of all ports, buildings, harbors, military equipment, and public property that had belonged to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands.

Saipan has more than nine-tenths of the commonwealth’s total population. Chamorro, related to Indonesian, is the principal language. Chamorro, Carolinian, and English are official languages Chinese and Filipino are also widely used. About nine-tenths of the population speaks a language other than English at home.

With that in mind, here are our top ten picks:CZ 75 SP-01 Tactical.Springfield XD MOD2.Colt 1911.Ruger 1707 GP100.Smith & Wesson M&P Shield.Sig Sauer MK25 P226.Gen 4 Glock 19.Beretta M9.More items…•Aug 4, 2019

The sword of St Galgano, said to have been plunged into a rock by a medieval Tuscan knight, has been authenticated, bolstering Italy’s version of the Excalibur legend. For centuries the sword was assumed to be a fake. …

Scottish Swords

There weren't a lot of them, but pound for pound, Scots were one of the most ferocious group of warriors in the world. Even without heavy armor or a lot of horses, these legendary fighting men took huge swaths of land away from the English, and could have continued to take land if not for internal strife and politics.

By now we've all heard of the famous warlord William Wallace, who led one of the greatest Scottish advances in history. Wallace was responsible for some of the greatest Scottish victories against the English, including the famous battle of Stirling Bridge. This battle cemented the Scots' reputation as fierce and unpredictable (although many of the english felt this battle proved that the Scots had no honor. The Scots retort that the english are sore losers).

The battle took place in Stirling, near and on the Forth River. The English, who for centuries practiced the art of mass suicide by forming neat little lines and marching honorably toward their enemies, began crossing the Stirling bridge in their usual fashion. They marched across in neat lines, with troops spreading back into formation as they crossed. It was expected of honorable enemies that they wait for the opposing army to set up before engaging in combat, and the English fully expected this from the Scots. Wallace made it seem as if they were doing just that, waiting until the English army was split on both sides of the bridge before finally giving the signal to attack.

They began hacking apart the men that had made it across, causing pandemonium among the English. English Knights rode onto the bridge, already crowded with soldiers, trying to help their dying countrymen, but the bridge proved to be overloaded and began falling apart. Soldiers on the bridge fell off in droves. Most of the armored soldiers that fell into the river drowned (armor and water don't mix boys and girls), and the rest of the soldiers became mired in a gridlock of solider's and knights.

They began hacking apart the men that had made it across, causing pandemonium among the English. English Knights rode onto the bridge, already crowded with soldiers, trying to help their dying countrymen, but the bridge proved to be overloaded and began falling apart. Soldiers on the bridge fell off in droves. Most of the armored soldiers that fell into the river drowned (armor and water don't mix boys and girls), and the rest of the soldiers became mired in a gridlock of solider's and knights.

The Scots overwhelmed the English troops that had made it across. In the meantime, a squad of Scots forded the Forth at a shallow spot down river and flanked the English. When the English army, in full route now, retreated (many swimming across the river or crossing in shallower spots) the Scots were waiting for them and finished them off on the opposite bank. It was a slaughter, and a decisive victory for Wallace.

Swords of the Scots
The Scots fought with a variety of swords and daggers, but the ones they are most famous for are listed and described below:

The Scottish Claymore ( Claidheamh Mòr)
The claymore was an awesome sword on the battlefield. The amazing reach (as much as 60 inches of overall length for standard claymores)made it extremely difficult for opponents to close with the wielder. The long ricasso allowed the bearer to switch to a more close-quarters style of combat if an opponent made it inside his distance. The claymore (or more accurately, "Claidheamh-mor" in Gaelic) was first reportedly used in the 13th century, and was used as recently as the 18th century. The twisted hilt claymore was the most recent of the claymores (c. 1500) and features the downward-angled crosses that end in small honeycomb patterns. The twisted wooden hilt was a better way to grip the sword (and the fact that it looks so damn cool probably had something to do with its broad acceptance among highlanders). Legend has it that a claymore was hurled into the field of battle, toward an opposing army before combat, to signify that the Scottish troops were ready to fight. No real evidence of this, but it’s cool and fits the highlander idiom, so we thought we’d pass it along.

The Scottish Baskethilt Claymore (Swordh a' Kick-Buttus (that may not be entirely accurate))
Scottish baskethilts are often referred to as "Claymores," which is a little confusing since the huge two-handed swords wielded by Scots are also called Claymores. There's no real evidence to suggest which is the real Claymore, but since these swords have a secondary name (basket-hilt) and the two-hander does not, Strongblade refers to these swords as Scottish basket-hilt swords and the large two-handers as Scottish claymores. just to confuse things a little, the M18 Claymore land mines used in modern warfare have nothing whatsoever to do with this article.

The gorgeous basket-hilts on these Scottish swords had a dual purpose. The first (and most important, really) was to protect the vulnerable hands of the swordsman. Highlanders rarely (if ever) wore gauntlets, so they needed the extra armor. The large baskets also added weight to the hilts, giving the sword a much better balance.

The blades on these swords were sometimes single-edged (also known as backswords), but more often than not they were double edged and capable of both slashing and thrusting. Occasionally, curved baskethilts were seen, but very occasionally. Highlanders would often use these swords in one hand while holding their dirks in the other.

The Scottish Dirk (Biodag)
Displayed proudly (unlike the much more subtle and always hidden Sgian Dubh), the dirk was both a warning and a means of identification. The craftsmanship that went into these items was astounding, if not necessarily surprising when considering the amount of pride the Scots dressed themselves with.

Long and crossless (sometimes as long as 14 inches in length), these slim daggers were usually edged on only one side and could be wielded with great dexterity against opponents. These knives in the hands of a skilled highlander were lethal. Worn on the right side of the body, dirks were considered part of the Scotsman’s honor and would never have been used for mundane tasks like gutting fish or skinning hunting prey.