Originating in Spain in the 1500's when a new fighting style (fencing) became vogue, the rapier was thrust into the European spotlight. One of the hardest swords to master because of it's long, thin, almost needle-like blade, the sword had little military use. It soon became known as the "sword of civilians with standing". Unlike earlier forms of combat, where a single good cut would end the fight, a rapier thrust is not immediately disabling and combat often resulted in both parties taking injuries. Due to the gun shot-like wound and primitive medicine of the time, death frequently occurred from blood loss or infection, hours or days later, rather than immediately from the actual wounds.
Contrary to popular belief, rapier combat was not a gentleman's affair. Kicks and punches were common and it frequently ended in grappling with both combatants drawing their daggers and stabbing each other to death. Historically, rapiers were often used in combination with a buckler or a dagger in the off hand. These bucklers often feature a prominent spike and come in a wider variety of shapes than the older bucklers used with a single-handed sword.
Despite this, I will gladly use the fan-shaped shield!!