Deal of the days
With the more widespread use of gunpowder on the battlefields of Europe in the 16th century, a decline in the wearing of armour eventually resulted. It was becoming less practical to wear armour strong enough to stop a musketball and by the early 17th century armour use was being restricted to the protection for key areas such as the torso and head, in favour of greater mobility in battle.
Military swords had developed over the centuries to be effective against armour, but now as an armoured opponent was less frequently encountered on the battle field,
swords began to become lighter.
The rapier or 'espada ropera', a long bladed thrusting weapon with a guard composed of rings and bars makes its appearance in the late 16th century. Although capable of cutting, the swept hilt rapier was primarily a thrusting sword and indeed the Italians taught swordsmen the art of “the fence” which became highly popular throughout Europe in the renaissance period.
Using a left hand dagger to parry an opponents blade and the swept hilt rapier in the right to thrust, it was found that the sword hand was still vulnerable to injury if an incoming blade were to slip through the gaps between the protective bars on the hilt of a swept hilt rapier. One solution to this problem was to incorporate a plate or shell at either side of the hilt to protect the fingers.