South German, C.1580. Landsknechts, as the name implies were foot soldiers, mercenaries skilled in hand to hand combat earning great recognition for their skill in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. In the second half of the 16th century, the Reformation polarized Europe with old territorial and political disputes resurfacing. Wars broke out throughout France and the Netherlands and the Landsknechts were employed to reinforce less skilled local armies. The two hand sword was used by soldiers of exceptional stature to cleave openings in infantry ranks which broke the formation initiating the melee in which individuals fought hand to hand, the specialty of the Landsknechts. This example ranks with the largest at 71" total length. The 50" flamboyant (wavy) blade incorporates two blade catcher side lugs, each with a shield shaped maker's or owner's mark. Many South German and Swiss town arsenals included two hand swords in their stock. Notable examples are Graz and Zurich where those swords remain today.