Oakeshott Type XII swords are some of the most common single handed sword types historically, and were widely in use during the 13th and 14th centuries, though some transitional Viking style swords can be dated to as early as the 11th century some 200 years before their heyday. As such, they were in service for much longer than most other sword types, which needed to evolve rapidly from the 14th century onward to keep up with the increasing use of more effective armor types that rendered cutting swords largely ineffective.
While they are dedicated to the cut, the blades of Type XII swords tapered to an acute point making them better at thrusting than swords that preceded them. Another notable feature of this type of sword is a shorter fuller, which shifts the balance more towards the tip, giving it greater authority in the cut but also good control for a thrust.
While they could, and did, have any type of hilt design from the 13th to 14th century, a common configuration was a short, straight guard and octagonal pommel.
Oakeshott actually stated that the Type XII was the hardest to classify, and that many swords that could fit into this category could almost just as easily be a type X or a type XIV but had been sharpened so many times over the course of the swords lifetime that it took on the appearance of a Type XII.
However most modern sword enthusiasts find it to be a relatively easy to spot swords that can fit in this category, often grouping any lenticular one handed arming sword with a shorter fuller into this type and have the saying - "when in doubt, it is a type XII!" though it is rather tongue in cheek and not to be taken literally unless you are feeling particularly lazy..
As noted, Type XII swords were a very popular sword of the early to mid medieval period, and there are many extant examples in museums across the world. Consequently, there are many replicas that can be classified as Oakeshott Type XII currently on the sword market (especially when erring on the side of 'when in doubt, it is a type XII').
With so many to choose from as an example, we will list three of the best entry level type XII that strike what we feel is the perfect balance between historical accuracy and value for money.
MyArmory has an excellent in depth article on Type XII swords here which explains their history and lists some high end reproductions and images of actual antiques.
And of course, you can - and should - read more about these swords and all the others in the Oakeshott Typology in his book, Records of the Medieval Sword
You can also see an actual antique of a Type XII sold on the Bonhams auction website here for £3,125 (slightly over US$4,000).
I hope this information on Oakeshott Type XII swords has been helpful. To return to Oakeshott Typology Made Easy from Oakeshott Type XII Swords, click here