Erm, the English Rennaisance started around 1520, and ended with the Tudor dynasty in 1603. Some place it slightly later, but most historians draw the line at the dawn of the Jacobean
Whoops. The '17th' was supposed to be '16th.' That'll teach me to pay closer attention to what my fingers are doing.
The point still stands that as a general statement 'The Renaissance' is useless as an era specifying term. Unless you preface it with whose Renaissance you're talking about at least ('you' as a general term, not you specifically).
and yes, the sword was just a sidearm.
I guess it depends on what you mean by 'sidearm.' Was the sword worn on the side? Yes. Was it used secondary in -some- cases? Yes. Was it only a 'back-up?' Not really. Run in with a lance, and fight most of the battle with a sword doesn't really make it a 'secondary' weapon. A knife is a sidearm in most cases. A sword, in my opinion, isn't. Likewise, claiming 'the sword was a sidearm' is incorrect because it ignores troops that had no other weapon. Sword-and-buckler troops. Early knights on foot, for whom the sword was a common weapon to use, as well as spear and other hafted weapons. Anglo-Saxon huscarles. Romans. Landsknecht swordsmen. Plenty of soldiers throughout history, or individual soldiers within a more general category, used the sword as their primary weapon, or as a weapon of equal importance to their primary weapon (such as with some knights and their lances).
Relegating it to 'sidearm' status is very misleading and factually incorrect.
Now, saying that "the sword as a group of similar weapons could defeat virtually any circumstance" implies that the sword as a group of familiar weapons is better than any other weapon in virtually any circumstance, and this is simply not the case.
But that isn't what I said -at all-.
Circumstances is a completely different word from 'other weapons.' Circumstances means - requires reach; lack of reach; needs to cut; needs to pierce; etc, ad nasuem. You could find a sword for virtually any -circumstance-. That doesn't mean 'Swords kill Pollaxes.' But it means that you can find a sword that will allow you to fight against one without being at a huge disadvantage. A sword for every circumstance. No weapon is inherently -better- than any other. Every weapon has its place, and there's a reason they all existed.
Do swords deserve their fame? Yes. Do they deserve to be called uber-weapons of doom that supercede all other weapons? Of course not. A healthy respect for their capabilities is not a fanboyish delusion of superiority. The two shouldn't be confused, but too often they are. I see it on other forums too. Some poor sap says "I do like katana" and is bombarded with a thousand reasons why they're inferior weapons that sucked donkey balls and killed small children and ate puppies and so on. I respect the sword as a field weapon and how it, as a grouping, had such a vast range of capabilities. But I certainly do not say or imply that it was a doom-slayer of the Old Gods or anything.