The Swept-Hilt Rapier
The name of the rapiers refers only to the sword’s guard, handle, and pommel. For example, types of Renaissance sword hilts include: swept-hilt, shell, half-hilt, cup-hilt, dish-hilt, dueling-hilt, cavalier-hilt, Pappenheimer, mortuary-hilt, basket-hilt, etc.
Swept-hilt is an early Renaissance hilt form designed originally to protect the unarmored hand from cuts more than thrusts, they are made up of finger-rings, side-rings, knuckle-guard, and often a variety other protective bars (back-guards and counter-guards, etc), they are found on many cut & thrust swords and early rapiers The name is actually a Victorian era term and not a istorical one.
The rapier was the first civilian weapon, developing as the use of armor declined. A thrust and cut weapon, the rapier first appeared in the late 1400’s and had its heyday up to the 1600’s. The 1600’s saw the start of the transitional rapier as hilts became smaller and blades were designed more for thrusting and less for cutting.
The cup hilt rapier and Swept Hilt Rapier made their appearances in the early 1650’s in Spain, and enjoyed popularity in Spain and Southern Italy until the early 1700’s. The rapier was often used with a second defensive weapon; daggers, bucklers, and cloaks were the most popular.
While daggers were often decorated “en suite” with their companion rapier, it was by no means unusual to have a “mismatched” set of rapier and dagger. Much lighter than the broadsword of medieval times, the rapier brought about a whole new style of swordplay and a proliferation of fencing schools.