Developed in the early 16th century as a military side-arm, the Rapier is relatively long bladed and constructed with a protective hilt to shield the hand wielding the sword. Due to the much narrower blade the Rapier was designed to perform quick thrusting attacks, as opposed to simply cutting an object or opponent like the much larger and heaver longsword.
The hilt of the Rapier is quite distinctive to that that of previous swords of the era. While the longsword has a long cross-shaped (called a cruciform) hilt, Rapiers often have complex designs to protect the hand wielding the sword. Metal rings on a Rapier encircle the hilt providing significant protection to the wielder.