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The weapon combined the weight and power of an axe with the versatility of a sword. Falchions are found in different forms from around the 11th century up to and including the sixteenth century. In some versions the falchion looks rather like the scramasax and later the sabre, and in some versions the form is irregular or like a machete with a crossguard.
The blade designs of falchions varied widely across the continent and through the ages. They almost always included a single edge with a slight curve on the blade towards the point on the end and most were also affixed with a quilloned crossguard for the hilt in the manner of the contemporary arming swords. Unlike the double-edged swords of Europe, few actual swords of this type have survived to the present day; fewer than a dozen specimens are currently known. Two basic types can be identified
In addition, there are a group of 13th. and early 14th. century weapons sometimes identified with the falchion. These have a falchion-like blade mounted on a wooden haft 1–2 ft (30–61 cm) long, sometimes ending in a curve like an umbrella. These are seen in numerous illustration in the mid-13th. century Maciejowski Bible.
It's sometimes presumed that these swords had a lower-than-average quality and status than the longer, more expensive swords. It is also possible that some falchions were used as tools between wars and fights, since they were very practical pieces of equipment. However, while it is commonly thought that falchions were primarily a peasant's weapon this is certainly a misconception. The Conyers falchion clearly belonged to a landed family, and the weapon is commonly shown in illustrations of combat between mounted knights. Some later falchions were very ornate and used by the nobility. In particular, there is a very elaborately engraved and gold plated falchion from the 1560s in the Wallace Collection. This weapon is engraved with the personal coat of arms of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
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