Literally, »catfighter«; by implication, Katzbalgerschwert, »catfighting sword« — so named because it was a sidearm meant for scrapping in close quarters. One of the characteristic weapons of the Landsknechte, the notorious German mercenaries of the 16th century, it was carried by all of them — most of them were pikemen, some were crossbowmen, and the most ferocious, the Doppelsöldner, carried greatswords; each of these weapons in its own fashion has a minimum range of use, inside of which it is about as effective as being shackled to a post. In addition, they are all distinctly military weapons, which most cities of the Middle Ages and Renaissance regulated very strictly — they would typically be prohibited within city limits, on pain of various terrible mediæval censures. The katzbalger, on the other hand, could probably pass for a civilian's armament in most places.

The katzbalger is a broad-bladed, chopping sword, more similar perhaps to a basket-hilt broadsword than anything else; the blades on early specimens are typically repurposed ones, whereas later blades are forged especially. Most have a triple narrow fuller, often flanked by two further, much shorter fullers. The primary distinguishing characteristic of a katzbalger, however, is its entirely typical figure-8 crossguard, wrought from a single thin bar, which functions as a sort of prototypical basket; this is present in almost all extant specimens and an easy identifier. Pommels are usually various dual-lobed designs or a flared, flat-topped design similar to the capital of a column.


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