Akin to the European saber, a scimitar is a single-edged, curved sword hailing from West Asia that takes on a myriad of forms depending on its cultural origin.
The Turkish kilij, for instance, bears a distinctive blade which is only slightly curved for the first half or third of the blade from the hilt before rearing back radically at the last half. A little further from the point of the shift, at around the last third towards the tip, the blade widens suddenly, such that it appears to "flare" outwards. This spontaneous change in degree of curvature along with the flaring tip is a trademark of the kilij, a Turkish type of scimitar.
Other varieties of scimitars are more conventional. The blades of Syrian Sabres are moderately curved throughout their entire length. The profile of their blades alongside the simple guard at the grip makes it quite similar to the much later European saber. Unlike the kilij, Persian scimitars are less uniform in design; the Persian Shamshir common throughout Italy during the Renaissance boasted an exceedingly broad blade while other Persian scimitars bore slender or tapering blades.
Scimitars were also diverse in terms of performance. In some cases, aged swords such as the powerful Syrian Sabre even decayed in efficacy over the centuries. However, given scimitars' common design feature as single-edged, curved swords, cutting power is a universal quality. Slashing techniques is a specialty of scimitars at the expense of piercing power.
As a ubiquitous type of sword in the Middle East, the scimitar was widespread among Saracen forces during the Crusades. In the Third Crusade, they were employed by not only Saracen guards but the Levantine Brotherhood of Assassins as well. In 1190, the Assassin Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad utilized two distinct types of scimitars during his mission to recover the Chalice. They were the most powerful weapons he had in possession until he was given a special sword by his lover Adha, the Chalice. The next year, he no longer bore any of the swords he had utilized in that prior mission. Master Assassins, such as he, were entitled to the prestigious Syrian Sabre, among the deadliest in the Levantine Brotherhood's armory at the time.
Aside from their brief foray into Italy during the Renaissance, scimitars remained a rarity in Europe. European armies of the 18th century developed their own single-edged, curved swords commonly known as sabers. Despite this, scimitars were popular among European pirates who roamed the West Indies during the early 18th century. They remained rare in France at the time of the French Revolution, but some scimitars still found their ways into Parisian markets.