We all know that a swordsman is someone who practices martial art or any form of combat involving a sword. Various classes belong to this classification - samurai, fencers, and knights. They are all types of swordsmen, and there are more.
It is difficult to say who the most famous swordsmen in history were. Many of them are legendary for various reasons. Some because they were women, some because they were rebels, and others because they were great at what they did. Still, all of their names are known today.
Some of the most famous swordsmen of history have had hundreds of students. They never lost a duel, even against multiple people, or even with practice swords. Many of them had movies and TV shows made about them.
Here are some of the most famous swordsmen we all like to remember.
You cannot talk about the history of the Spanish city of Valencia and Spain without mentioning El Cid. We all know him as the man that united Muslims and Christians in the 11th century.
After his final defeat of the rebelling factions led by Ibn Jahhaf, he took control of Valencia from the chief magistrate of the city. El Cid was Castilian. He was and brought up in the court of King Ferdinand I. When he was young, he became the commander of the king's forces.
During his life, he served under King Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile. This would lead to El id helping him defeat the Almoravids and other Muslim insurgents that threatened his kingdom. However, the two went their separate ways. The king exiled El Cid, after which he became a mercenary for the Muslims.
He is one of the most famous swordsmen in history because he had a reputation for taking whole armies with his sword named Tizona. This sword is still on display at the Museum of Burgos, regarded as a national treasure of Spain.
Donald McBane is one of the best fencing masters in Europe of all time. He is one of the most famous swordsmen in history, not only due to his skill but also due to his eventful life.
He was born in Inverness in 1664. Donald ran away from home at the age of 23 and joined the British Army. His first organized battle rendezvous took place in 1688 at the Battle of Mulroy. In this battle, he fought alongside the Mackintoshes against the Macdonalds – two of the most powerful Scottish Highland clans of the time.
This was just the start for McBane. Later on, he would fight many battles for the British Army. These battles were not only in Scotland but across Europe, including the Nine Years War against France.
His career as a swordsman also included duels. After years of practice, he got so good that he soon challenged and defeated some of the most famous swordsmen in duels across Europe.
During his life, he opened many fencing schools, brothels, gambling dens, and other facilities across the continent. His autobiography from 1718 remains a bestseller to this day.
Everyone has heard the name of this legendary swordsman. Miyamoto Musashi is commonly regarded as one of the most famous swordsmen of all time.
Out of 60 duels in which he fought, he never lost one. His dues included fights against famed swordsmen such as Sasaki Kojiro. Miyamoto was remarkable for attacking with tact and intelligence and battling in a manner that no one had ever played before. It was not only to the sword skills that he earned the spot on the top of the most famous swordsmen in history.
He learned swordplay from his father at a young age and fought his first duel when he was 13 years old. All through his life, he fought a vast number of duels and never lost a single one. He earned the title of Unrivaled Under Heaven.
Chevalier De Saint-Georges
Georges was a master fencer From the 1700s to the 1800s. While his father was a wealthy painter, his mother was his father's slave. He was born in 1745 under these extraordinary family circumstances. Georges rose to become colonel of Europe's first all-black regiment during the French Revolution. He was serving on the side of the rebels.
Georges started fencing at the age of 13. His talent was so great that he quickly advanced and beat the best students by 15. He is among the most famous swordsmen due to developing the fastest pace imaginable in swordplay.
Even before he graduated his school, he beat one of the best swordsmen in the world. After graduation, Georges went on to become an officer of the king's bodyguard.
Earl of Pembroke, born in 1147, William Marshal the 1st, was commonly called The Marshal. He is perhaps one of the most famous swordsmen, jousters, and duelists of the Middle Ages.
He served under no less than five kings in his lifetime. During his glory years, he also joined the Crusade for reclaiming the Holy Land. Henry II, The Lionheart, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and John Lockland were all impressed by his prowess in European martial arts.
On his deathbed, he had said that he defeated the modest number of 500 knights! As a member of the holy order of Knights Templar, he was buried in the Temple Church in London, where his tomb can still be seen.
Minamoto No Yoshitsune
He was a general of the Minamoto clan and one of the most famous swordsmen in the world. Not only was he an expert swordsman, but he was a genius military general.
He famously defeated the legendary warrior monk known as Benkei in a duel. After Minamoto defeated Benkei, he took him on as his right-hand man. Later, Minamoto won countless battles for his clan.
Sadly, even though he accomplished so much for his clan, his brother eventually betrayed him. Being a cunning man, he managed to fake his death and escape. Some theories claim he went to live with his lover, who was a mysterious non-Japanese woman. However, there is a theory that claims he went on to become Genghis Khan.
A famous German fencing master Johannes Liechtenauer was one of the most famous swordsmen in history. He traveled to many different lands and learned from various people.
This way, he combined the art of swordplay in a way that was thorough and unique. He was a true master of the sword and with a significant influence on the German fencing tradition.
Even though he never wrote down his lessons, his students took it upon themselves to do so. They did so in a coded way to make sure that those who were not initiated into their club would not understand his teachings.
A name that most of us heard - Charlemagne or Charles the Great, is regarded as the father of Europe and of the French and German monarchies, as well as one of the most famous swordsmen in history. In his short span of ruling as a king of Franks and Lombards, he had managed to unite Western Europe to oppose the Muslim raids.
According to history, he had singlehandedly crushed the Muslims in the south of France. This forced them to fear the simple sight of the ax held high above in the midst of the carnage of battle. This was Charlemagne's signature sign – the ax chopping endlessly at his opponents.
Julie d'Aubigny or La Maupin was a 17th-century French opera-singing sword warrior. With her perky personality and witty remarks, she was known as one of history's greatest rascals and most famous swordsmen.
Apparently, she led a life so wild. It was filled with duels, grave-robbing, and flaming convents. However, she was so charming that she was forgiven twice by the King of France.
He is a well-known Japanese swordsman, regarded as one of the most famous swordsmen of all time. This comes from the stories of him beating three rivals at the same time with nothing more than a steel pole.
In his career, he was named chief of arms master of the Hosokawa fief north of Kyushu. During his lifetime, Kojiro beat many rivals, and his tactics became well-known in Japan. The swallow slash was his favorite swordsman technique, which was taught widely after this time.
This legendary female swordsman belonged to a class of samurai warriors called onna musha. She is one of the most famous swordsmen of all time, and references to her can be found all over Japan. She is spoken of in films, books, video games, poems, and the like.
Her chosen weapon was the katana, but she was also a capable archer. Sadly, we don't know much about her early life, except that she was born sometime in the 12th century as a concubine to the Minamoto clan.
She quickly demonstrated her abilities as a fighter and rose in the military ranks. Soon she commanded her own samurai units.
Tomoe fought with Yoshinaka during his rebellion against the ruling Taira clan in the 12th century. Some versions of this story say Tomoe was with Yoshinaka on the battlefield during the Battle of Awazu in 1184 during his last stand. However, others claim that Yoshinaka asked her to retreat before this, saving her life.