A spatha was a sword first developed among the Germanic tribes and later used by their Roman allies. Swords are expensive because of the metal and time involved in processing it. Kings and seasoned men generally possessed them, but the less experienced would not have had the money and would not have shown enough promise to be given one.
The sword was 71 to 81 cm (28 to 32 in.) in length and roughly 5 cm (2 in.) in width, with a tang of 10 to 13 (4 to 5 in.). They were normally tapered at the tip to prevent horsemen from stabbing themselves in the foot.
The spatha was longer than its predecessor, allowing for greater reach in combat. It was a product of better metallurgical technique.