The history of the sword is the history of humanity.
Sir Richard F. Burton - The Book of the Sword (1884)
Preeminent hand weapon through a long period of history,
consisting of a metal blade varying in length, breadth, and configuration, but
longer than a dagger, and fitted with a handle or
hilt usually equipped with a guard. The sword became differentiated from the
dagger during the Bronze Age (c. 3000 BC), when copper and bronze weapons were
produced with long, leaf-shaped blades and with hilts consisting of an
extension of the blade in handle form. By Roman times the hilt was distinct
from the short, flat blade, and by the European Middle Ages the weapon had
acquired its main basic forms. The heavy sword of medieval chivalry had a
large hilt, often designed to be gripped in both hands, with a large
protective guard or pommel at the top. The blade was straight, double-edged,
and pointed; it was fabricated by repeated firing and hammering, a process
that converted the iron into mild steel by the addition of a small amount of
carbon. Blades were also made of laminated strips of iron, which were hammered
together. Damascus was a renowned center of the craft.
Toledan steel and particularly swords have long been famous, being mentioned as early as the 1st century BC in the Cynegetica of Grattius "Faliscus." There is an important National Factory of Arms and workshops for damask and engraving, which produce metalwork decorated in the Mudéjar tradition.
The changes in warfare associated with the introduction of
firearms did not eliminate the sword but rather proliferated its types. The
discarding of body armour made it necessary for the swordsman to be able to
parry with his weapon, and the thrust-and-parry rapier came into use.
The advantage of a curved blade for cutting was early appreciated in Asia, where it was long used by the Indians, Persians, and others before its introduction to Europe by the Turks. The Turkish scimitar was modified in the West to the cavalry saber. At the other extreme of Asia, the Japanese developed a long-bladed, slightly curved version with a two-handed grip, with which an elaborate dueling cult, as well as ancestor worship, became associated.
Ewart Oakeshott is considered by many to be the World expert on the Medieval sword. He is the author of some of the standard texts on the subject. He has developed a typology for classifying Medieval swords. Here is a a link to a page that does a fine job of summarizing Here is a a link to a page that does a fine job of summarizing Oakeshott's typology.