Did rapiers have much of a cutting edge, or were they only made for thrusting?
I couldn’t come up with a definitive statement that they didn’t have an edge, but every reference I checked said they were primarily thrusting weapons, due to the methods taught by the masters who made the weapons popular. They had some sort of edge on them, and if you smack somebody with a 3’ long piece of steel, even if it’s only as sharp as a table knife it’s gonna leave a mark, but the general concensus seems to be that if somebody attacks you with a rapier, the least thing you have to worry about is slashing, unless you’re standing next to a tapestry held up by a single rope, in which case you’re screwed.
The term rapier as we know it is really rather modern and could describe a variety of blade geometries, lengths, and fittings. So the answer to your question will vary depending on the type of rapier, AND also by what you mean exactly with: “Can it cut”.
Rapiers are foigning weapons. Their method of use emphasizes the point most of the time with cuts being employed in a more harassing role. That right there tells you a lot.
I’d summarize the rapier’s ability to cut as follows: the earlier types were double edged and had a broader blade. These could do some serious damage with the cut, specially when delivered to vulnerable areas of the body, yet the point remained the master’s advice in how to seek the kill. Later styles sported triangular cross sections, and sometimes had no discernable edges. I doubt you could do more than cause a nasty bruise with these. In either case, a rapier was certainly not made with the cut in mind and you wouldn’t see people losing limbs or heads to rapiers as you sometimes see portrayed in films. Specialized cutting weapons such as the earlier longsword, or the military cut & Thrust sword would certainly do a better job at that.
could a rapier cut?