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Late 15th century Spanish specimen

The French estoc or English "tuck" was a type of European sword in use from the 14th to 17th centuries.[1] Characterized as having a cruciform hilt with a grip for two handed use and a straight, edgeless but sharply pointed blade of around 0.91 metres (36 in) to 1.32 metres (52 in) long.


The estoc was a variation of the longsword designed for fighting against mail or plate armour.[2] It was long, straight and stiff with no cutting edge, just a point. Examples from Poland are more than 1.57 metres (62 in) long, with a blade of 1.32 metres (52 in); however, others showed a more manageable 1.17 metres (46 in), with a 0.91 metres (36 in) blade. Such swords averaged about 4 pounds (2 kg) with no specimen weighing more than 6 pounds.[3] The size seems to have been made-to-order.

Blade cross-sections can be triangular, square, rhomboid or flat hexagonal.[1] This geometry left hardly any cutting capability as a sharpened edge could simply not be ground, but allowed the weapon to become lengthy, stiff, and very acutely pointed.[4]

Early on, the estoc was hung from the saddle when on horseback and simply hung from the belt when the soldier took to the ground. As the weapon developed, however, infantrymen using it began to wear it in a scabbard.[5] Most varieties of estoc provided a long grip like that of a greatsword, though others mimicked the zweihänder in providing a long ricasso with a secondary guard of parrierhaken. As on the two-hander, this extended grip gave the wielder the advantage of extra leverage with which to more accurately and powerfully thrust the long weapon. Some other forms provided finger rings, curved quillons, or other forms of a compound hilt.[2] Few, however, developed anything close to a full basket hilt.


As armour improved, so did the methods of attacking the armour. It was quickly realized that cutting weapons were losing their effectiveness, so crushing weapons such as maces and axes were utilized. Thrusting weapons that could split the rings of mail, or find the joints and crevices of plate armour, were also employed. Long tapered swords could also be used as a lance once the lance was splintered. Thus was the estoc developed. The French word estoc translates to thrust.[4] Tuck is the abbreviated Anglicized version of the word. Many consider the estoc a forerunner of the rapier, but more likely it is a merging of the espada ropera, a civilian sword, with the effective, and lighter estoc, that produced the rapier.[citation needed] The long, straight blade was very rigid and could be thrust with one hand, or the second hand could be used to deliver an even more powerful thrust.

While there is nothing to stop an estoc being one-handed, most were two-handed, being used half-sword or two hands on the grip.

In addition to being popular for use as a cavalry weapon, the estoc was frequently used during dismounted hand-to-hand combat at tournaments, its lack of a sharp edge reducing the risk of unintentional injury. It was also widely employed as a hunting sword in the late 15th century, usually for hunting wild boar, bear and stag, typically from horseback. Although hunting with a sword is less ideal than using a lance or spear, the added element of danger added to the thrill of the hunt, since using a sword brought the hunter in closer proximity to dangerous animals, as well as bringing more perceived glory onto the hunter. The estoc was useful for this purpose, being a long sword with a strong blade, able to take the shock of meeting with an animal without breaking, while also giving the necessary reach to attack from horseback. However, it also had a very thin, sharp point, designed for penetrating chain mail. This thin point had little immediate terminal wounding effect on a wild boar or bear, unless one was very careful to hit a vital organ, requiring a second man to stand by with a spear to finish the wounded animal off (typically, mastiffs were also brought to chase and hold the animal while the hunter dispatched it). It was also very easy to overpenetrate, bringing the wielder into danger from the animals claws and teeth. Around 1500 A.D., a solution was reached by replacing the thin point of the estoc with a standard leaf-shaped boar-spear head, in essence creating a one-handed short spear. To prevent the blade from overpenetrating, most were fitted with a cross-shaft above the blade. To allow the blade to fit into a scabbard, these were typically simple removable pegs of wood or bone, but some examples had spring-loaded shafts that automatically deployed when the blade was drawn. An early image of these "boar spear swords" shows Emperor Maximilian I in a triumphal procession after a successful boar-hunt, the riders proudly carrying their spear-pointed swords upright. These weapons quickly became widely popular all over Europe, and examples can be found in numerous illustrations and descriptions of the time.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Loades, Mike (2010). Swords and Swordsmen. Great Britain: Pen & Sword Books. ISBN 978-1-84884-133-8. 
  2. ^ a b Tarassuk, Leonid; Blair, Claude (1982). The Complete Encyclopedia of Arms & Weapons: The Most Comprehensive Reference Work Ever Published on Arms and Armor from Prehistoric Times to the Present - with Over 1,200 Illustrations. Simon & Schuster. p. 491. 
  3. ^ Clements, J. (2003). "What Did Historical Swords Weigh?". ARMA. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  4. ^ a b Clements, John. "Medieval & Renaissance Sword Forms and Companion Implements". Definitions & Study Terminology. Association for Renaissance Martial Arts. 
  5. ^ Stone, George Cameron (1961). A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armour. Jack Brussel. p. 223.