The sword typical of the European High Middle Ages (sometimes called knightly sword or arming sword) was a straight, double-edged weapon with a single-handed cruciform hilt and a blade length of about 70 to 80 centimetres (28 to 31 in). The type is frequently depicted in period artwork, and numerous examples have been preserved archaeologically.

The high medieval sword of the Romanesque period (10th to 13th centuries) develops gradually from the Carolingian sword (spatha, “Viking sword”) of the 9th century. In the Late Medieval period (14th and 15th centuries), late forms of these swords continued to be used, but often as a sidearm, now called “arming sword” and contrasting with the two-handed, heavier longsword. Though the majority of late-medieval arming swords kept their blade properties from previous centuries, there are also surviving specimens from the 15th century that took the form of a late-medieval estoc, specialised for use against more heavily armoured opponents. After the end of the medieval period, the arming sword develops into several forms of early modern one-handed straight swords, such as the side-sword, the rapier, the cavalry-focused Reiterschwert and certain types of broadsword.