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The Cutlass (Pirate Weapons)

The Cutlass  (Pirate Weapons)

Pirate Weapons: The Cutlass The Sword of the Seas 17th to the 19th century One of the most famous swords was the cutlass, used by navalmen for centuries, but made famous by pirates. The overall build of the cutlass made it extremely popular among seafarers in the 17th to 18th centuries. As a short broadsword, generally about 28 inches in length, the cutlass was ideal for use on ships where space was limited. In comparison, a longer sword may get tangled in the ship’s rigging or be difficult to swing below deck during the battle. The straight or curved single edged blade was extremely rugged and sturdy, making it appealing to pirates not only as a weapon, but for also hacking through thick ropes, canvas and wood. Something that a different type of sword would break from if done regularly. Additionally, a large guard specific to the cutlass allowed for sailors and pirates to keep a grip on their swords while climbing or swinging from ropes while simultaneously also serving as a protector for the swordsman’s hand. The cutlass sword became associated with pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy, which ran during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Of great importance to these men the cutlass sword meant for slashing didn’t require lengthy periods of training, and was fairly inexpensive. Unlike other swords popular in the era for thrusting attacks, such as the rapier, its features were well-liked by vicious pirate-folk, for it was so cheap and easy to use as a shipboard weapon. The cutlass was especially attractive compared to other options for pirates at that time. Among the best examples are fliplock hand-guns. Such guns often let down seafarers as it only released only one shot at a time and were painstakingly slow to reload. Additionally, they became even more undesirable for pirates as the oceanic environment constantly proved damaging, as gunpowder became damp, and guns became water-logged. It is also said that the cold-hearted nature of many pirates made the cutlass all the more attractive as the broad, flat side of the blade could be utilized to beat a prisoner during an interrogation without ruining the risk of killing them in doing so. Among those known to favor the cutlass was the Gentleman Captain Stede Bonnet and his pirate crew aboard his ship, The Revenge. Although known for his gentlemanly status, Captain Stede Bonnet wrecked havoc off the coast of Virginia and South Carolina and in the Caribbean by plundering numerous ships. Sources document that the cutlass was the favorite weapon by his pirate crew in hand-to-hand combat. The cutlass was so well-suited to naval life that its design was made considerably consistent over its more than 400 year history. During the use of the cutlass by pirates, the sword was adopted by military powers. For example, in the 18th century, the British Royal Navy produced a slightly updated version, the Military Hanger Sword, which was essentially a cutlass with a lengthened blade. The French Navy too sought to alter the cutlass for its own means by equipping a cupped-hilt as well as thickening the blade and including a distinct curve towards the end. It proved so useful that the United States Navy adopted this version in the American Civil War, as well as the Spanish-American War. In fact, the cutlass has proved so timeless, that it was used by the British Royal Navy and US Navy well into the 20th century. Subscribe and click the notification bell for more history videos. Hey guys, check out this Simple History Merch on teespring! There’s T-shirts, mugs, stickers, phone cases and much more. Link in the description below.

Reader Comments

  1. I know the cutlass is used too by infantry division and factions along side pirates.

  2. While it’s all useful and stuff, it’s recommended you buy the Heavy Cavalry Sword for Aveline de Grandpré as early as possible

  3. Idea For A Vid
    Simple History I Saw This On A Video When A BF. 109 Spared A B-17 Bomber
    If You Do This I Will Watch It!
    Like So Simple History Can See!

  4. Please do a video on the Hungarian Revolution. I feel that it is a very underrepresented part of history that is very interesting.

  5. Arr matey! You best be talkin' like a pirate when discussin' pirate things, you hear? If ya don't, I'll make you walk the plank to Davy Jones' locker!

    (pirates of carribean theme)
    Japanese Empayer:ahemm….excuse you
    (battotai march theme)

  7. arrghhh were ye be one eyed willy's gold? can u do a video about the indian war and how the whites got scalped by the native indians ?

  8. Can you please make a Video about Martial Law in the Philippines, I'm tired of people saying Marcos is a Hero, NO HE IS NOT GODDAMIT!!!!!

    Also I want true Information, not bias goddamit!

  9. Who agrees with this comment like it! Do you think simple history should do a face reveal? I mean his subscriber count would increase probably if he did that. Everyone is curious..

  10. AFAIK, it evolved from the hanger/hunting sword, which was more of a backup weapon that could be carried without being as unwieldy as a full-sized sword and was also used as a tool. That weapon, in turn, originated from the messer/falchion family, which dates back the entire middle ages and may have even a pre-medieval ancestor in the sax (the blade that gave the Saxons their name, like the Franziska gave it tot he Franks.).

  11. Do a video about the Irish U.N soldiers in Jadotville in the 60's….the movie "the siege of jodotville" is based on it

  12. Sir could you make one documentary for dhan-ryan-bayot- young filipino soldier who sacrifice his life for his country

  13. I believe that the design could have come from the falchion, they are rather similar if you take it into consideration:
    The shape is similar
    It was cheaper to many other swords
    Designed for slashing
    Widespread use for defence

  14. Sorry I I break your bubble, but pirate life is not so fascinating and thrilling as portrayed in many movies. The living condition is terrible with all kind of diseases and the lack of hygiene. The food ? Only hardtack (ship biscuit), meat jerky that is closer to a strip of leather than a piece of meat and water, some low quality liquor.
    And no, there won't be any flashy battle where you swing from rope to rope and have saber duels. When the pirate ship attacks a merchant's ship, most of the time, those merchants will surrender immediately. Or if they don't, the pirates will kill 1 of them brutally to make an example.

  15. you would never use your sword for tasks like cutting rope canvas and wood, you would have knives or specialist tools for these tasks. also cutless's were equally capable of thrusting, and required just as much skill to use efectivly as any other sword of the period, a touch misleading if you ask me.

  16. this channel needs way more subs and likes it's simple animation non clickbait and well narrated the infographics show is like it but I feel it has less quality and they clickbait every now and then your channel is amazing keep up the good work and take it easy!

  17. Me:watching animal jam live stream
    Brother: hey bitter! (He said my name not bitter) search "simple history"
    Me: searches. Ok!
    Bother: now click a video u like
    Me: clicks sword
    My head: heheheheee
    Me: am I supposed to sub?
    Brother: yes his vids r awesome
    Me: ok!
    Me:stays up till 4 am. Watching simple history

    Mom: what r u ding awake!?

    Watching history.

  18. Shiver me timbers ya scurvy dogs! There be a new video of our cutlesses! There she be on YouTubes lads!
    Batten down the hatches and raise the sails!
    Pull up yer chair and lets take a gander at what ye be sayin about!
    Yarg! Arg arg arg!

  19. I’m am happy to say that I own one of these beauties and every time the mail man comes by my quarters. He has to deal with me screaming FIFTEEN MEN ON A DEADMANS CHEST

  20. This sword is commonly referred to as a "cutlass" but a short sabre like weapon used during the 17th-18th century were really called "hanger" the cutlass wouldn't appear until the early 19th century. But this is just nomenclature.

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