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I'm writing a short story set in a medieval world. My main inspiration was the videogames of the soul series - so, there is magic, dark themes, and a lot of variance in weapons and armors. As you imagine realism isn't the main focus, but still it may be nice to be consistent.

Now, the problem is: I gave a secondary character - the head of palace guards - an estoc - wiki - as weapon of choice. My beta reader made me notice that estocs were mostly used against plate mail armor, and by horseback. Now, how realistic is that the head of a palace guard - who mainly stays inside the palace - is armed with such a weapon?

On a more general side, what is the realistic weapon of choice for the head of a palace guard?


More details ahead.

The head of the palace guard in question is a woman (for religious reasons, in my world women are considered better than men in most aspects). I wanted to give her an estoc, or another sword that favors the thrusts over the cut, mainly for aesthetic reasons; it may be perceived as more "elegant" rather than your average sword. Her subordinates are common guards, and are mainly armed with swords, halberds and crossbows.

Another important point is that, in my setting, those guards aren't supposed to see much action. The people who live in the palace they guard are religious authorities, so attacking them would be the highest form of heresy. The world they live in is a very tightly knitted one, with only one reign and no other religions around. Of course there are criminal and thieves, but the palace should be a target too risky for them.

pontiffEstoc

I've realized that the estoc might be used as a symbolic weapon, entrusted to the head of the guard as a sign of her position (e.g., the Pope used to gift heavily decorated estocs like the one in the picture).

Edit: she might be carrying a regular sword with her, too, if it makes sense (mainly if the estoc is cerimonial).


Second edit: I'm having trouble accepting just one an answer to this, since there are a lot of good insights around. There's enough material in this discussion to get a story focussed only on the captain of the guard. I'd like to thank everyone for contributing.

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  • $\begingroup$ Are the other guards also females? How the head is elected? Is she picked from among the other guards? Is she proficient in finesse combat? If she is originally Crossbow user, for example, the estoc might only be a symbolic weapon. $\endgroup$ – Vylix Sep 8 '17 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ Are they ceremonial? If I'm not mistaken the pope is still protected by cosplayers $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Sep 8 '17 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Vylix the other guards aren't necessarily female. The head is picked from the other guards or other similar jobs (might have been a city guard, before). It might be a position granted to lesser daughters of noble families with a martial background, for example. $\endgroup$ – Reinstate Monica. Sep 8 '17 at 8:22
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    $\begingroup$ Estocs are massive and long. Unless your head guard has a stature of Brienne, she would have some trouble carrying estoc in her scabbard. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 8 '17 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Liquid: You can justify anything by calling it ceremonial, no matter how ridiculous. Of course, that does immediately raise the question of origins, but you don't need to answer it straight away (or ever, if the whole thing is just for narrative flavor). Maybe the head of the guard occupies an office that used to be mounted cavalry, but morphed into an infantry role? $\endgroup$ – Kevin Sep 10 '17 at 5:10

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No - Choose a Rapier

My belief here rests on three primary pieces of information:

  1. In your world, women tend to have positions like that of the head guard
  2. The weapon of your head guard seems to be a standard for the role, not just something selected by the individual
  3. Assuming you are using humans as we know them, on average women have 50% of the upper body strength of men.
  4. The Estoc is a long, heavy weapon primarily used for thrusting against armored opponents

Given all that, here are the issues with the Estoc:

Women wouldn't elect to pick a heavy, unwieldly weapon if they had a better alternative.

Even if some women have the necessary strength to use it correctly, they are the significant minority since this is a tool designed for sturdier men. Especially if the position goes to well-born individuals your available pool shrinks considerably, to the point where suitable candidates are not likely to be available.

Even ceremonially it would make very little sense for a woman to wield an estoc.

Better alternatives are everywhere.

The Estoc is an awful weapon for indoor combat, particularly as is a very long weapon (that could replace a lance if need be). A dagger would be a better option - and that's saying something.

Edit: Issues Even as a Ceremonial Weapon

The Estoc is a long and heavy weapon. It is not meant to be held all day, and it would be expected to be rested (in fact, you would HAVE to rest it). The challenge though is that if you want to show it off to make a point, you need to have it bared - which means you're putting it point-down and resting your hands on top of it. That's something you would never do to a piercing instrument in a room with a hard floor, least of all if it's highly decorated.

This is compounded by the issue brought up earlier regarding sexual dimorphism of strength amongst humans, wherein women would be more likely to find holding this all day a struggle.

Added to this is the fact that as a long weapon it is out of place indoors.

Taken together, the visual impact is more silly than intimidating or impressive. It would be like saying that extremely fancy daggers are a good ceremonial weapon for the head of a mounted unit. It may not be clearly spotted today in a movie, but at the time it would be a source of ridicule at the expense of the royal family.

Thus the Rapier

enter image description here (OK - not the best depiction really, but who doesn't love the Legend of Zelda?)

It is still point, but not ridiculously long. It is light. It has a cutting edge. And it can still be rather pretty, and even paired with another weapon if desired.

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  • $\begingroup$ A rapier is a better weapon than an estoc for a weaker wielder, but still only effective at thrusting, and still a long blade. If I were a woman I'd pick a small defensive buckler, possibly with a metal point in the center to maximize bashing blow damage, and a dirk or similar-length edged blade in my primary hand. A dirk would still let you thrust, but also carry an edge for slashing. $\endgroup$ – TylerH Sep 8 '17 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ @TylerH - I agree regarding efficacy. My purpose in suggesting the rapier was to find a feasible weapon that was stylistically somewhat similar to an estoc to meet the OP's needs (I believe the estoc is an unfeasible weapon for their situation). I will say though that depending on the rapier design, it can be used for slashing as well, though that is definitely not the strong suit and still doesn't make it a brilliant weapon for close-quarters. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 8 '17 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Thucydides - Per Wikipedia, women would use a "ko-naginata", which is "smaller than the male warrior's ō-naginata in order to compensate for the lesser height and upper-body strength of a woman". That is consistent with my statement; people with less strength need to use lighter weapons. And the estoc simply isn't a lighter weapon. If scaled down (as the ko-naginata was) it really does begin to resemble a rapier without a guard (at which point history shows that the inclusion of a guard makes sense). $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 8 '17 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ The ko-naginita is still a pole arm, which is rather larger and heavier than a sword or dagger. The main point here is women can handle larger weapons if properly trained, and there are cultural examples of larger weapons for women, so we can't just accept or dismiss the idea out of hand. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 9 '17 at 2:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Thucydides - It isn't about proper training, it is simply a statement regarding average body strength. Weapons like a full-size naginita - and the estoc - were not designed for use by a group that has lower body strength. Could they use one? Sure. Is it the best or even a good weapon for them? No. There are weapons designed for people with lower body mass, and this simply isn't one of them. Added to it the fact that you can easily rest a pole-arm on the ground most of the day but you can't with an estoc, it just makes the case that it is an inappropriate item. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 9 '17 at 13:58
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What is the realistic weapon of choice for the head of a palace guard?

A rapier

enter image description here

Reasons:

  • The same age as the stoc (1500s, Reinassance). It required advanced knowledge of metallurgy.
  • Very elegant, it can be given as a ceremonial weapon and as a symbol of status
  • Lighter than a stoc, but still heavy enough (as much as an arming sword, a "knight's sword") to damage an opponent.
  • It gives very good protection to the hand, which is important if your head of the guard isn't wearing armor always. And she probably uses leather gloves over a brigandine.
  • Although it is a cut-and-thrust weapon, it favors the thrust as you wanted, due to a stiff long blade. But it is very versatile.

Combined with a parrying dagger, your head of the guard is stylishly armed but ready to fight assaliants.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the parrying dagger. If you're going to fight indoors you want a shorter weapon at hand. $\endgroup$ – Draconis Sep 8 '17 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ Nate Silver's sword fighting system used a small sword and dagger, and many Italian fighting systems used rapiers and daggers as well. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 9 '17 at 3:00
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    $\begingroup$ The parrying dagger could be a 'long dagger' giving more options to her actions. Basically a dagger with a long blade but not as heavy or slow as a short sword. $\endgroup$ – dcy665 Sep 9 '17 at 3:22
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    $\begingroup$ @dcy665 Yes, I think a main-gauche would give her the best defense and offense. $\endgroup$ – Alberto Yagos Sep 9 '17 at 8:24
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    $\begingroup$ My mistake. I was referring to George Silver, the Elizabethan swordmaster, not Nate Silver, the Statistics master...... $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 9 '17 at 21:03
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Ceremonial or Practical?

Consider the Swiss Guards who are carrying halberds on duty (they also have assault rifles and pistols these days). Notably, those who are escorting the flag carry greatswords.

Guards with Naked Steel

Picture a guard standing somewhere with an unsheathed sword, point resting on the floor, hands folded on the pommel. That guard might be able to ready the sword much faster than another guard who carries a sheathed sword on the belt. To rest your hands on a sword pommel, it has to be long enough.

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    $\begingroup$ It is indeed not practical. I like the naked steel insight, nice point. $\endgroup$ – Reinstate Monica. Sep 8 '17 at 8:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Liquid, the naked steel would be to get into action faster, so it becomes a "real" weapon. Or that's how the tradition started, and the sword is no longer practical. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Sep 8 '17 at 10:32
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    $\begingroup$ It's a bad idea to rest the pointy bit of a thrusting weapon on the ground. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Sep 8 '17 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings well, if it is a greatsword, it's hardly a thrusting weapon anymore. But yeah, don't do that to the thing your life might depend on $\endgroup$ – Doomed Mind Sep 8 '17 at 12:20
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    $\begingroup$ Point resting on the floor = dull point. Really, the guards carrying halberd and greatswords is bringing a weapon of war to a civilian context. It's like a tank guarding the DMV- you know they're serious about protection, so you're going to behave because they clearly have superior force. $\endgroup$ – PipperChip Sep 8 '17 at 16:24
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There's a lot of rapier love here, and they're not wrong. Considering: a woman's frame; possible cramped quarters; and lack of plate mail for most foes, the rapier may be more practical.

That said, may I nominate also the humble gladius? It's larger than a dagger, but small enough that you could get it in play in stairwells and really tight spaces.

The visuals and intimidation factor of the estoc are not without value, however. Perhaps wear the estoc over the shoulder and a rapier or gladius at the belt?

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  • $\begingroup$ Drawing a weapon "over the shoulder" is impractical, and doubly so with a long weapon like an Estoc. Carrying a Gladius or a Spatha is much more sensible. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 8 '17 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Thucydides I guess there's a reason our guard captain is called Katie One-Ear, yes? $\endgroup$ – akaioi Sep 9 '17 at 2:03
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    $\begingroup$ "Katie One-Ear" ;-) $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 9 '17 at 3:02
  • $\begingroup$ But Gladius is meant to be used with a shield as a warfare weapon. It doesnt make for a good 1v1/many choice especially on its own - any opponent with better reach will have a significant advantage. $\endgroup$ – Nick Dzink Sep 9 '17 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ @NickDzink appreciate the note on the gladius' regular home. I'm thinking about the gladius as a good weapon for extremely cramped secret passages and the like... $\endgroup$ – akaioi Sep 10 '17 at 4:20
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Crowd control

I could imagine that it might fall to the head of the guard to clear a path through the citizenry when her charges moved through the city. Maybe citizens want to get close and touch these esteemed personages for luck. She would not want to kill adoring citizens outright. She does not want to wrestle them. She needs a nonlethal weapon to whack them back out of the way.

The same qualities that make the estoc a good sparring weapon (as stated in the link in the OP) make it good for crowd control. An estoc is essentially a baton. Batons are great for crowd control. These Chinese police carry batons that might as well be swords.

from https://www.scoopnest.com/user/PDChina/756605589174751232 chinese police with long batons in scabbards chinese police with long swordlike batons

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a good point. I didn't think that being unable to cut could be actually a pro of the weapon. $\endgroup$ – Reinstate Monica. Sep 9 '17 at 8:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Liquid Good pommels also could be used for bashing. A buckler could also fit your head of the guard. $\endgroup$ – Alberto Yagos Sep 9 '17 at 9:37
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    $\begingroup$ Also you could put some sort of sigil on the buckler so it left a specific shaped mark on the bashed. Which some, perversely, also come to consider good luck. Much to the chagrin of the head of the guard. $\endgroup$ – Willk Sep 9 '17 at 16:29
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Sure, why not. I think it's fine.

First, weapons do not need to make sense as long as they provide a certain level of intimidation. Consider present day police patrolling cities, train stations, and airports -- wearing machine pistols. A machine pistol fires many rounds in rapid sequence, and not very accurately. This is exactly not the kind of weapon that is applicable for areas with hundreds of unarmed, innocent civilians. It's a great weapon for a drive-by shooting, for a bank robbery, or for a terror attack. Only just, it's not in any way a great weapon for police. Anyone cares? No.

Second, an estoc is not at all a bad weapon. It's none less effective than a mace, including the ability to subdue a suspect without killing him and without requiring the blood-stained walls to be cleaned afterwards, and it has better effectiveness against the odd intruder that might carry armour. In addition, other than a mace, an estoc looks cool, having that knightly something of a sword-alike.
Seeing how you do not expect your guards to have a lot of regular action, the part about looking cool may be an important selling point.

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    $\begingroup$ upvoted for mentioning the non-lethal option. That's a useful point, depending on culture. $\endgroup$ – Peter Cordes Sep 9 '17 at 8:08
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A large weapon serves a couple of useful purposes. Intimidation and range.

A palace guards main duty is to protect the head of the palace, king queen etc,. Not himself/herself. So a long weapon can help keep foes at a further distance and just holding one is a warning to all and sundry. With smaller sidearms worn for close quarters.

Imagine a scenario where the guard is holding assailants back while archers shoot them. If he/she is too close the archers may hit him/her or be more reluctant to fire at all trying to get a shot in. Also the stopping power of a large heavy weapon would have an effect on all who witnessed it used.

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    $\begingroup$ No downvote, but I disagree with this. While cinematography might suggest a person with a thrusted weapon could keep more than one assailant at bay, it just wouldn't. One missed thrust and the weapon is useless and its holder dead. It's fairly straightforward to make that happen with two people. Even in a 1-on-1 scenario, the estoc was only used because of efficacy against chain- or plate-mail; if the assailant isn't using that, the estoc-wielder is sorely disadvantaged by their choice of weapon. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 8 '17 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ You're not going to be visiting a king visibly armed, you'd be disarmed before the audience and there would be several other guards with bared weapons. Your dance around thrusting weapons wouldn't get you anywhere. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Sep 8 '17 at 13:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Killisi - You're assuming an expert spear-wielder against bumbling-sounding attackers. If long thrusting were that effective, they would have been used regularly in warfare for one-on-one combat (in situations other than specifically against chain/plate mail) - and they are certainly never used indoors. A long line of history and experience suggests that they are not superior weapons. Your guard would do a more effective job at holding them at bay using weapons more suited to the type of assailants (unarmored, likely) and location (indoors). $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 8 '17 at 13:17
  • $\begingroup$ @GrinningX I'm not assuming, ANY weapon in the hands of a trained, elite warrior is superior to unarmed assailants, especially when he's just the head guard and there are others in close attendance all ready and waiting for action. They'd probably never even reach him/her, if they did he/she only has to take one swing to hold them back. We're not talking about spear against sword and shield etc, it's spear against hands. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Sep 8 '17 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Killisi - Yes, that is true. What if the assailant is also skilled though? Who has the advantage - one with a weapon that is appropriate for the situation and location, or one with a weapon that is not? And if your guard could be an expert with this weapon, could they not also be an expert with a more appropriate weapon? Further, if they were an expert with this weapon, wouldn't they be aware that it is not the best weapon for the situation and thus choose to train in a more suitable alternative? If not, your expert would seem to have some serious shortcomings. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 8 '17 at 13:24
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A sword with no cutting edge is useless in a palace. There will be no cavalry trying to assault inside the room, and waving a long item in a potentially cramped space like a room is going to be highly ineffective.

You would better go for a small sword or a cutlass, or even shorter blades. In most cases taking care of a menace without raising alarm (i.e. during a holy ceremony you don't want to jump on the scene waving a long sword around) is way more beneficial.

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    $\begingroup$ The estoc is a thrusting weapon though (no slashing edges). It's use from horse back was to stab infantry in the face, like a mini reusable lance. So the estoc shall not be waved arround. $\endgroup$ – PCSgtL Sep 8 '17 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ Short swords are 20% faster swings than long swords. Source: embarrassing personal history. $\endgroup$ – corsiKa Sep 8 '17 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ A sword with no cutting edge is far from useless in corridors as the thrust is nearly always the fastest and most deadly form of attack regardless. However you will definitely want to have a dagger or other shorter weapon as well for taking care of anyone who manages to get past your point. This is the reason why rapier/dagger tended to be more common than rapier/buckler, despite the buckler having better blocking capabilities. $\endgroup$ – Perkins Sep 8 '17 at 18:50
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Most people here are answering based on the effectiveness of the estoc, for a story this is the wrong line of thinking.

The estoc has a backstory

In Europe during the 1500s there were a few different groups of fighters; to simplify Nobility, levy and professional.

Nobility are trained because nobles were supposed to lead in war times. They would have knowledge of a wide range of weapons but master only a select few, think lances or longswords in France. The noble would not choose which they would get to master and would typically be pressured into learning what their parents thought were the best weapon.

Levy are the working poor who are given a weapon and told to line up when war is being called. Most times they would not be skilled with weapons and just have a boot camp before going off to fight. Their weapons would be crossbows, spears, and short swords in Europe.

Professionals is the final group, they are mercenaries, bandits, crusaders and anyone else who makes a living using violence. Most of the professions offer a large range of weapon choices and they can freely change between them based on what is needed. These mercenaries could be bought to guard your palaces in groups or as individuals. Their loyalties could even be earned for permanent skills soldiers, although most did go the other way

If you make your Palace Guard Captain a professional soldier that you earned the loyalty of there is no reason for her not to use whatever weapon she had used on the battle field.

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    $\begingroup$ No downvote, but I disagree. For one, because she would not have used the Estoc on the battlefield unless she was an uncommonly sturdy lass (but that's possible). The showstopper though is that it's a terrible weapon for indoors, and would look incredibly out of place. People would laugh about it, which in this context is the same as laughing at the king. It's not as obvious to us now because it's out of context, but it would be visually akin to showing up in a camo gillysuit for a parliamentary proceeding. $\endgroup$ – GrinningX Sep 8 '17 at 23:44
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Yes and no. The need to use a pike-sword would lie in the effect she (or her employer) would like to achieve. On one side this kind of sword is heavy and not designed to be used indoors. On the other it's a large piece of "fock you and everyone around you".

So the message to visitors is clear. The HoS is not there to act but to show the amount of retaliation that will fall on anyone trying something fishy in the castle.

IF they wanted something useful they would carry a mace, baton or a dagger. Not to kill the attacker but to immobilise him, knock him off and carry an investigation. So he would need to be able to answer some questions.

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There have been a lot of excellent answers up to now regarding the usage of such a large weapon for a purpose it has not been originally designed for and is unhandy, as it will be difficult to maneuver within the restricted walls and ceilings of a palace and hinder the guards under her command who she should cooperate with.

However, I would like to add that you may answer the question for the choice of weapon also from a character development and background perspective. Maybe the said head of the palace guard has not always been on duty within the restrained walls of a palace but oirginally served in the cavalry where she received enough merit (e.g. for protecting/saving the kingdom or religious leadership in a decisive battle) to be promoted and become head of the palace guard. Her weapn of choice would still be the one she used when fighting on horse back, even though a sword of such length is problematic within the restriction of walls and ceilings in a palace. The specific estoc she carries may even have been the reward for her heroic deed which earned her the promotion.

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    $\begingroup$ You could make the weapon tie in to the history of the position of Guard Captain, rather than the history of the character currently filling the office. Perhaps the Captain used to be selected from an elite order of knights (who might not exist any more) and an estoc was part of their equipment. If the weapon is now primarily a badge of office, it need not be at all practical. Even if some other weapon might be more effective, the history and symbolism behind it may be more important. And as long as it's not entirely decorative, a non-optimal weapon can still be deadly in skilled hands. $\endgroup$ – Blckknght Sep 10 '17 at 9:27
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Like most "what is the best weapon" questions, the answer actually depends on what you are fighting against. An estoc is designed for a specific combat environment, namely thrusting the very stiff blade through gaps in plate armour to drive the point into the hapless person inside. If that is the primary threat the palace guard face, then an estoc is a suitable choice (although in constrained spaces like hallways smashing weapons like hammers and maces might actually be more practical). As a note, the Estoc and Rapier were developed in the late Middle Ages/Early Renaissance to deal with full suits of articulated plate armour.

However, consider that inside the palace, the role of the Royal Guard is somewhat more symbolic. Anyone who actually gets into the palace and is ushered inside has to pass through the gates and by the outer guard, who are attired in armour and armed accordingly to the threat(s). The guardsmen inside the palace are more ceremonial, and indeed inside the reception hall might be truly ceremonial, wearing brightly coloured uniforms and stationed along the walls to provide a sense of scale and highlight the power and grander of the King, and possibly pageantry as they perform the changing of the guard, or carry out evolutions in the hall so they don't pass out from standing at attention too long.

In that environment, the bulk of the people inside the hall are wearing civilian clothes, and are either disarmed (as a prerequisite to entering), or carry largely ceremonial or symbolic weapons, like a Scottish Sgian dubh tucked in the sock, or a gentleman's small sword.

In that sort of environment, the guards are probably well off carrying small swords themselves, or if you want to ensure there is sufficient cutting power to hack through a concealed suit of mail or armour under the clothes, then perhaps a broadsword will do.

This brings us to the Officer of the Guard, and the Captain. As officers (both the duty officer in charge of the detail in the royal hall, and the Captain, who is the overall commander), they will be identified by both different uniforms (in the era being referenced, both finer clothing and a sash to denote rank), and a different weapon. Many posters have suggested a rapier, which is fine (being the cut and thrust cousin to the Estoc), but if the threat is a person wearing concealed light armour under their clothes, then a lighter version of the broadsword should be considered, like the Spadroon.

So define the threat better, and the proper sort of weapon to deal with the threat becomes clear.

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Yes actually an estoc is a reasonable weapon for a palace guard. Palaces are pretty big so there would be enough space to use specific combat systems that deal with handling these large types of swords. The advantage to a guard using this is that she would be able to very easily handle multiple opponents at choke points inside said palace, door ways and what not.

You might want to look into the montante too. It's another large sword like this that could have been used by palace guards. There's a method of using it in an alley that is pretty hard to fight against honestly. The main thing when choosing a weapon for a guard to use is to make sure that there's enough space for the combat system your guard will be using and to make sure that the weapon makes sense for your guard to have from a cultural standpoint. If those two things line up well, then your guard can use your weapon.

Everyone else seems to be suggesting that your guard use a rapier. rapiers are general purpose weapons. I would go as far as calling them general purpose self defense weapons. They're alright in every situation, but they're never fantastic.

Keep in mind the guards could also halfsword this weapon and wrestle with it. I personally think an estoc would be dumb because it has no edge. I would go with a montante or a claymore. That makes more sense to me, but this isn't my book. I also like it when things cut. It's more satisfying to me, even though it's usually hilariously unrealistic.

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I think the estoc is meant to be useful against armour (plate or mail), which resists edged weapons.

So it might be effective against armoured assailants?

Or it might be some kind of message if the rank-and-file palace guards are armoured (like, in more modern times, soldiers use heavy weapons while an officer carries an anti-soldier hand gun)?

Or maybe the palace receives visitors of state who bring their own armoured body-guards, and the head of the palace guard has the weapon to deter them?

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The answer to your question lies mostly in the "not expected to see much action" part of the scenario, especially for the captain.

Swords are heavy. Go grab a 3-4 pound dumbbell. Doesn't seem like much just picking it up (if you're a reasonably fit individual anyway). Now tie it to your left hip and go run up a flight of stairs. I bet you can feel the difference. Imagine carrying it around all day, every day.

If there's a fight, the captain's job is to coordinate the tactics of the guards under her, not to engage in the fray herself. If she has to draw blade and charge into combat things are going very badly. But running from vantage point to vantage point shouting orders and deploying reinforcements would not be unusual. So she wants an weapon that's reasonably effective, but not too heavy.

A number of people have suggested the rapier. That's not a bad choice. It gives a lot of reach and works quite well in narrow corridors. Definitely pair it with a dagger or dirk for dealing with anyone who manages to close to grappling distance.

At around 2-3 pounds, the rapier's still a bit on the heavy side though for someone who can reasonably expect to be well clear of the fighting unless something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. They're generally almost the same weight as a broadsword, just significantly longer.

Consider having her carry a smallsword instead. A smallsword is usually 1 to 1.5 pounds while still being a reasonably effective weapon for someone who can expect to have reinforcements with bigger blades within the sound of her voice.

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    $\begingroup$ "If there's a fight, the captain's job is to coordinate the tactics of the guards under her, not to engage in the fray herself. If she has to draw blade and charge into combat things are going very badly." Also, often the captain's job will be to be a more terrifying threat than the bad guys to encourage soldiers not to desert when things are going badly. The target is not necessarily the bad guys, it could be cowardly subordinates. A thrust in a friendly soldier's chest or back could provide encouragement without killing better than the slashing weapon. $\endgroup$ – ohwilleke Sep 9 '17 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ @ohwilleke A thrust is generally more likely to kill someone than a cut due to deeper penetration. It may not kill them quickly, but internal bleeding and infection are more difficult to treat than slices that just need stitching. The thin blade of a smallsword/foil does make an excellent switch for doling out Journey Quest style "encouragement" without leaving lasting injuries though... $\endgroup$ – Perkins Sep 9 '17 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ The notion was that you could poke the armor plating of friendlies as a threat, and between the armor plating of unfriendlies you wnt to kill. $\endgroup$ – ohwilleke Sep 9 '17 at 21:56
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Estoc stays, I say.

I believe it works, even if perhaps my bias against such an overly-typical choice of the Rapier is fogging my judgement. Here are a few points that I'd like to make less-so because of the weapon, but because of the environment:

-- Large Palace Size:

Huge structures (i.e. columns) and doorways that were large enough you could rotate in the middle of an entry-way with the Estoc extended out and not hit anything. Such a place might even regularly have horseback riding indoors, if not simply large enough for it to happen in an attack.

-- Unique, Locking floor-holsters:

Yes, the weight is ridiculous. I intend to use this mechanism in my own worlds, but think about holes in the palace floor that you may place a standardized Estoc fitting, which locks in place either straight down, or at a slight angle. The unlocking mechanism could be many things, I personally imagined a "key" shape in palace guards metal boots that they use. There may even be Estocs everywhere, ready to grasp and unlock at many locations without bringing your own.

-- Heavy/Massive Armor worn often in Palace:

It could be the absolute norm that travelling through the palace, especially by foreign visitors, one would wear a full set of armor. With the above idea of "floor-locked Estocs everywhere", this already offsets a so-called "strength issue" for women (which I disagree with, we are adaptable creatures. Averages in lazyland of today mean little.) as they rarely need to carry it for extended periods, but rather be very skilled in the burst of strength and endurance used for a short, "to-the-point", armor-bypassing thrust. This 2-30 second bout could be the core of their training, a perfected skill that is handled daily.

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First, a palace differs from a fort, a castle or a headquarters. It is a showpiece, designed to impress.

The head of a palace guard is not normally expected to engage in combat but rather to liaise between the court and the rank and file. Your position will have been an appointment, based almost solely upon your loyalty to the ruling entity and his (or her) confidence in your ability to protect them and you will be past martial age. Your duty involves being dressed and armed in a sufficiently ostentatious manner as to stoke the ego of the principal at court functions while providing an obvious reminder that immediate armed intervention is available if required, but you will have become a functionary at that point.

Section supervisors under you will carry standard weapons, albeit their uniforms and weaponry are usually more elaborate than the rank and file as befits their rank; but theirs must functional. Yours, not so much. If assailants get through the palace guard and the court bodyguards you have you have set in place, you have failed in your duty.

Your accoutrements may certainly be functional as well, but they are chosen to reflect the wealth and majesty of the patron, not your martial skills, and will therefore be more for show than go.

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You mention that an estoc was often used from horseback, which raises a point about palace guards - in some cultures they were drawn from the nobility, people who had a vested interest in preserving the state, people who could afford horses and whos training would have involved horseback fighting.

If the regent is travelling, its likely they would either be in a horse drawn carriage or perhaps even on horseback, so their bodyguards would likely also be mounted, heavily armored, and probably using swords rather than lances (their job isn't to charge, its to defend).

The estoc seems a likely candidate under these circumstances. She doesn't have to do most of the fighting in case of an actual attack, so I can envisage the common guards being equipped with polearms with a backup sidearm, and the captain being equipped with the primary weapon of her regiment.

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The Estoc is a specialised weapon for use by fully armored knights to kill other fully armored knights. Fully armored knights belong on the battlefield. They are no more appropriate for the courtroom than a horse or wagon or trebuchet -- in fact it's a mortal offense to bear arms in the (king's) presence at all.

This is how you get around that fact:

While the knight plays no practical role in the courtroom, they play a great symbolic role. The knight is the symbol of king's power and authority. Thus, as part of general pagentry, the king keeps a handful on a permanent peacetime basis. His train consists of eleven fully armored knights who parade behind him wherever he goes. They carry polaxes -- another knightly weapon for use on other knights. The twelfth knight is your guard captain. She carries a standard in one hand and thus needs a smaller weapon for the other hand. This is traditionally a mace or warhammer but on this occasion is an estoc.

While the processions is there purely for pagentry, they also play the de facto role of king's bodyguard. Most of the time they just work as a deterrant. Their weapons are specialised for anti-armor but consider who they're going up against: There are soldiers outside to prevent weapons being taken into the courtroom, so any attacker must use something small and easily concealable like a dagger. Such an attacker doesn't match up well against even a single unarmed knight.

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In the palace sure but you're going to have to have a practical weapon for those rare martial occasions outside the throne room too. Also it will depend on the individual because while a ceremonial weapon will do the job of looking impressive and sufficiently theatrical many warriors, however over the hill they are are going to want the real thing at their hip.

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