Colichemarde is a special type of blade that was forged and considered a member of the family of small swords from the end of the 17th century to the beginning of the 18th century.


Due to a partial resemblance in shape the colichemarde is considered to be a descendant of the rapier. The shape of a colichemarde combines good parrying qualities with good thrusting abilities and the ability to fence faster. This was achieved thanks to a wide forte (often with several fullers) which then stepped down in width after the fullers ended. Since its invention, the blade has undergone many modifications, though it was one of the most popular types of small swords.

The result of this strange shape was a higher maneuverability of the sword: with the weight of the blade concentrated in one's hand it became possible to maneuver the blade at a greater speed and with a higher degree of control, allowing the fencer to place a precise thrust at his/her adversary.

The cross sections of some types of blades were hexagonal or diamond shaped.

Brief history

Colichemardes are widely thought to have been an invention of Graf von Königsmark, due to the similarity in pronunciation of their names. However, the first blades of this type dated from earlier than the Count's lifetime.

The blades appeared in 1680 and were popular during the next 40 years at the royal European courts. The colichemarde bladed swords had a special popularity with the officers of the French and Indian War period. Even George Washington had one.

The colichemarde descended from the so-called "transition rapier", which appeared because of a need for a lighter sword, better suited to parrying. It was not so heavy at its point; it was shorter and allowed a limited range of double time moves.

The colichemarde in turn appeared as a thrusting blade too and also with a good parrying level, hence the strange, yet successful shape of the blade.

This sword appeared at about the same time as the foil. However the foil was created for practicing fencing at court, while the colichemarde was created for dueling.

Since the colichemardes were considered relatives of the rapier, they were mostly used as dueling weapons. They were not widely used by the regular armies of Europe, and mostly used as a usual fencing sword among the civilians.

With the appearance of pocket pistols as a self-defense weapon, the colichemardes found an even more extensive use in dueling.

The decline of these blades started when people stopped using rapiers as their main weapon, whereby the need to parry also became obsolete. Lighter in weight, but more popular, the small sword found a wide usage and here the colichemarde was at a significant disadvantage: it was heavier and not as easy in use as the small sword. Thus took place the transformation of the colichemarde into the small sword.

Another descendant of the colichemarde is the épée, a modern fencing weapon.

See also


External links

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