The spatha was a type of straight and long sword, measuring between 0.75 and 1 m (30 and 39 in), in use throughout first millennium AD Europe, and in the territory of the Roman Empire until about 600 AD. Later swords from 600 AD to 1000 AD are recognizable derivatives, though they are not spathae.
The spatha was used in war and in gladiatorial fights. The spatha of literature appears in the Roman Empire in the first century AD as a weapon used by presumably Germanic auxiliaries and gradually became a standard heavy infantry weapon, relegating the gladius to use as a light infantry weapon. The spatha apparently replaced the gladius in the front ranks, giving the infantry more reach when thrusting. While the infantry version had a long point, versions carried by the cavalry had a rounded tip that prevented accidental stabbing of the cavalryman's foot.