Page 1 of 2

Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:38 pm
by Will.S
Hi guys, just joined the forum and thought I'd stick up a hello message. If this is the wrong place, and I should post it somewhere else or move it, let me know!

My name's Will, I'm 25 and I'm from Bournemouth, Dorset. I'm a full time Guitar teacher, but in my down time I make medieval warbows and arrows using only period tools. I work mainly with Yew and Ash, and create bows from around 80lbs up to 120ish.

I've recently joined the EWBS, but as yet I've not met anybody from any re-enactment society or anything of the sort and can't wait to dig in and get involved!

I do have one question, and it's regarding building up a kit based on archers from the 100 years war, as that is my main interest. My question is, what type of sword would a standard archer carry? I've seen lots of "archer's swords" from various manufacturers but none of them look particularly traditional or practical - more an imagination of the sword smiths rather than historically accurate. If anybody knows what type of one-handed sword would be carried during this period that would be ace, and if there are any good manufacturers who build quality examples of these swords I'd love to know so I can have a look!

Cheers folks!

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:20 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
100 years is a long time to discuss. can you narrow it down first of all.
For instance swords were quite common sidearms for soldiers in the 1450's but much rarer in the 1350's.
There is, as you have already worked out, no such thing as a "archers sword". That was not the way a medieval army was raised or equipped and has more to do with our own beliefs that there must have been a TOE.
When Italian condottorie were raised the request is just for a sword, however later sources, such as the French and Burgundian Ordinances state that the sword must be two handed, long and suitable for thrusting (which is generally taken to mean some form of longsword).
Some re-enactors claim that grossemesser, falchion, hanger type blades were the preserve of archers, I don't.
I don't know why archers can't use spears like everyone else to be honest, they are no more difficult to carry then a bow and would explain where the "billmen" come from.
I like Albion blades, but however good they are they still are lumps of sword shaped metal rather than the real thing. Get a dagger, everyone needs a dagger.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 7:20 pm
by John Waller
And don't forget the maul along with the dagger.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:40 pm
by Will.S
Cheers for the quick replies guys. I guess (without meaning to pile headfirst into a cliche) the Agincourt period is for me, as an archer and bowyer, the most interesting but anywhere in the 15th C would be a good starting point before I try and get too specific.

I love the Albion lines, but my lord they're pricey. For something that will get whacked a lot and dropped and so on, justifying 900 quid or so seems extreme. Who are the leading/respected sword makers in the UK? Part of it is also down to me liking swords in general, so while daggers, polearms and mauls are excellent options and will be looked into, the big kid in me wants a shiny blade. A historically accurate, grown up shiny blade of course...

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:57 am
by Fox
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Some re-enactors claim that grossemesser, falchion, hanger type blades were the preserve of archers, I don't.
I don't know why archers can't use spears like everyone else to be honest.
Because the descriptions from the 100 Years War talk about archers with axes and mauls?
Because the Welsh archers are specifically described as having long knives?
Because there are records of cheap swords being shipped to France by the barrel?

I'm not aware of a description of archers with spears.

I'm not saying that your wrong, Marcus; I'm saying that re-enactors say those things because that's what the most well known descriptions say.
I don't know whether the extrapolation to single edged swords has any evidence, or whether that is a pure re-enactorism.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:31 am
by Simon Atford
Marcus Woodhouse wrote: There is, as you have already worked out, no such thing as a "archers sword". That was not the way a medieval army was raised or equipped and has more to do with our own beliefs that there must have been a TOE.
There is probably no such thing as a standard archer's close combat weapon "sidearm" at all. If you are an archer your main weapon is your bow and anything else you carried came down to personal preference or availability. Some would carry daggers only, others swords, axes etc. The same would apply to spear or bill men.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:19 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
You are right Fox. I was thinking "outside of the box" which is a foolish thing to do.
There are no descriptions of archers with spears at all. In fact the only time I have come across the two being mentioned together is in the Ordinance that explains that archers and spearmen should be trained to work together.
I am happy to stand corrected.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:05 pm
by Will.S
Interesting stuff! So what do you guys think would pop up most often in say early 1400s as a cheap, accessible sidearm if you wanted a sword over a different weapon? Would a specific Oakeshott type be found more often than others, and what about quillon and pommel styles in that period?

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:26 pm
by Fox
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:You are right Fox. I was thinking "outside of the box" which is a foolish thing to do.
There are no descriptions of archers with spears at all. In fact the only time I have come across the two being mentioned together is in the Ordinance that explains that archers and spearmen should be trained to work together.
I am happy to stand corrected.
I no longer know if you're being sarcastic.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:26 pm
by gregory23b
Standardisation is a hard one to claim for weapons, especially when there is no regular army at home or abroad. If you read accounts of English bands of brigands, descriptions of weapons vary, eg bill, glaive langedebouf, spear - all possibly related or simply variations on a theme or cultural preference. Ordinances require that the commissioned have the requisite kit for their status, not necessarily a standard, ie a type of word. We maybe should consider a range within the term "sword" or "bill". Your main consideration as an archer of the Agincourt period is your clothing, the early 15th century has quite distinct styling. Your bows are not any different as far as we might discern from those earlier or later, nor your arrows etc, your sidearms may be. Your shoes will be different as will your accessories - they will be far more indicative of the period you are aiming for. (Sorry for no paragraphs, for some reason this laptop wont let me return lines).WIll - find out how much the contracted archer was worth then match the kit accordingly, will he have a fancy sword or not, or will he have a perfectly functional simpler item, or indeed another weapon entirely. The era was not of regulated weapons as such, except for the bow. It would be nice to see a very good representation of an Agincourt archer, especially one with an aketon and possibly a lid, or not.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:10 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
No, I was agreeing with you Fox. No sarcasm at all.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:55 pm
by Phoenix Rising
To echo the posts above there was no real standardisation in many things in those eras, including swords. For myself I use an arming sword, a type of sword that I believe was quite common, mass produced, and seems to be quite suited to close quarter situations.

However I would say each to their own, as it no doubt was then - what would suit one archer would not have suited another, so it's down to the individual I think, as long as the type of sword chosen suits the period you're covering / portraying.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:03 pm
by Ayliffe's Steve
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:No, I was agreeing with you Fox. No sarcasm at all.
Now I can't tell if you are being sarcastic! :crazy:

:D

OP,

You would not go far wrong with straight(ish) quillions and a disc pommel if you want to be more detailed have a look at paintings etc about Agincourt and see if anything jumps out at you.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:04 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
No, really, I'm admitting I was wrong.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:20 pm
by Ghost
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:There are no descriptions of archers with spears at all. In fact the only time I have come across the two being mentioned together is in the Ordinance that explains that archers and spearmen should be trained to work together.
I am happy to stand corrected.

Members of the "ordinary" Calais garrison in the 1450's had to attend muster with a bow and a bill

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:11 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
I did not know that. Does that have any bearing on other roll calls that state men as being "Good with bow and bill"?

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:24 pm
by Simon Atford
Ghost wrote:
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:There are no descriptions of archers with spears at all. In fact the only time I have come across the two being mentioned together is in the Ordinance that explains that archers and spearmen should be trained to work together.
I am happy to stand corrected.

Members of the "ordinary" Calais garrison in the 1450's had to attend muster with a bow and a bill
Presumably this for the defense of the town. Not sure a soldier in a field would have carried both.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:30 pm
by Rchave
I'd go with what's been said above, mainly that there's no real standardisation. So we can't prove what's right or wrong, it's all speculation on this topic :)

However the mentions of "mauls" seem to have all been taken to mean blunt weapons. Considering how loosely medieval people defined items I reckon that could mean anything you can maul a person with... So there's nothing concrete to be made of that... But it's interesting to look this up and see how it could be used as a tool, to cut stakes and hammer them, and as a weapon (as described)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splitting_maul


And I wish i could remember the reference, but there was a Tudor chap who recommended an archers' weapon that he called a maul- described as a lead cored iron hammer, with blade and spike "so they may take the fight to the enemy with short handy strokes in the manner of our forefathers".

This seems like it could be a refinement of the same idea.

And basically, regardless of their strength, skill, or armour, I'd be most reluctant to fight anyone armed with anything that looks like a pollaxe. If a splitting maul had a spike on the tip I'd take use over a single handed sword any day, and even without a spike it's practical, cheap and nasty.

I wouldn't expect to see 100% of archers turned out with identical mauls but for some people to have them I think is a pretty plausible option.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 4:33 pm
by Alan E
Mauls? Well we all know what a mallet is surely? A little Ma(u)(l)! Loads of styles correspond, look in any old wood-working reference right back to medieval period. Splitting maul is just a maul that also splits (so is combined with an axe head).

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 3:33 pm
by Man from Coventry
"Members of the "ordinary" Calais garrison in the 1450's had to attend muster with a bow and a bill"

The City of Coventry in 1450 required all citizens to provide, Bows, Arrows, Body armour and Helmet and "oder stuff belonging" , presumably some form of unspecified side arm. However the City watch, again drawn from the citizenry were armed with bills & glaives. So presumably they were reasonably proficient with both.

The Scottish Archer guard of Louis XI are variously shown as being equpped with Bows, Glaives and swords. They are also recorded as having fought on horseback at the battle of Montlhery (1465).

Certainly my resarches suggest swords were less common in the 1340's and at the start of campaigns, when axes, mauls, daggers appear to be more promininent.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:52 pm
by Tomsk
Rchave wrote:And I wish i could remember the reference, but there was a Tudor chap who recommended an archers' weapon that he called a maul- described as a lead cored iron hammer, with blade and spike "so they may take the fight to the enemy with short handy strokes in the manner of our forefathers".
Not a Roger Ascham or George Silver quote?,it sounds like something they would say!

Tomsk

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:03 am
by Fox
I think it might be referring to Henry Barrett (1562)
….a maule of leade with a pyke of five inches longe, well stieled, sett in a staff of fyve foote of lengthe with a hooke at his gyrdell to take of and mayntayne the fighte as oure elders have donn, with handye stroaks
For what it's worth, Roger Ascham said the following:
And herein our archers of England far pass the Parthians, which for such a purpose, when they shall come to hand-strokes, hath ever ready, either at his back hanging, or else in his next fellow's hand, a leaden maul, or such-like weapon, to beat down his enemies withal.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:50 am
by Rchave
Fox wrote:I think it might be referring to Henry Barrett (1562)
That's the one, thanks :)

Any thoughts on that?
Described as a maul... but not just a blunt hammer... and implied that it's a similar weapon to what their forefathers used.

That, and the splitting maul, are what made me think a "maul" isn't necessarily just a hammer. Someone could be described as being 'mauled' by a bear, it doesn't just mean blunt force.

Also, I couldn't help but think it seemed ridiculous that archers would fight in a melee against armoured people with sharp weapons, armed only with an oversized mallet. But something like a crudely improvised pollaxe, that actually sounds plausible!

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:56 am
by Rchave
Actually, another way of thinking of it...

How many scraps of evidence (however tenuous) can we find to back up each of these possibilities of what a HYW archer would use in a melee?

1) Falchions

2) Any side arm they could get hold of, but presumably not issued in bulk

3) Bills, spears or similar

4) A mallet like what we pitch our tents with, but scaled up.

5) A crude pole weapon that you can maul people with.

I'm biased towards 2 and 5 from everything I've heard but I'd love to see the evidence for each.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:31 pm
by Fox
Rchave wrote:Also, I couldn't help but think it seemed ridiculous that archers would fight in a melee against armoured people with sharp weapons, armed only with an oversized mallet. But something like a crudely improvised pollaxe, that actually sounds plausible!
I don't see the item you describe in the Henry Barrett quote.
I read that as a leaded maul, with a five inch spike somewhere, probably on the top of shaft.

And "oversized mallet" seems like an excellent weapon against armoured men; I would have thought much more effective that most of the alternatives.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:50 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
He has a point.
I've seen plenty of people balk at being whacked by the tiny mallets that some of us carry in the Woodvilles. Pretty much everyone knows what it feels like to be hit by a hammer. I am not sure what difference there would be between being hit by a lead weighted maul and the mallet of a polaxe. Both use blunt force trauma to incapacitate the enemy.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:04 pm
by Rchave
The difference being whether it has a spike on top, and is made specifically as a weapon, or as a stake-driving tool that just happened to get used in a fight.

No spike = basically sledge hammer, not something I'd want to use on its own. Every shot is (comparatively) slow and telegraphed.

With spike = still a "maul" according to some sources, usable like a pollaxe. Lots of stabbing but potential for a big swing when needed.

As I understood it using a pollaxe was largely about using the sharp bits, not just the hammer. Long hammers (with no beak or spike) don't appear to be very common, which doesn't surprise me thinking about using one.

All I was trying to say is that a 'maul' might not just be a large hammer, there's far more useful sounding things that were still described as mauls.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:04 am
by Marcus Woodhouse
I mostly fight with the cue of my pollaxe.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:51 pm
by Rchave
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:I mostly fight with the cue of my pollaxe.
...Which is usually a butt-spike. I do the same.... Or the tip spike. Either way, it doesn't seem popular to use a weapon that is capable only of big, telegraphed swings.

All I'm trying to suggest is that a "maul" might be more like a pollaxe than a large hammer, which would not only fit a later description but be far more practical.

Re: Newbie saying hi, and a question!

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 3:31 pm
by Colin Middleton
Rchave wrote:
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:I mostly fight with the cue of my pollaxe.
...Which is usually a butt-spike. I do the same.... Or the tip spike. Either way, it doesn't seem popular to use a weapon that is capable only of big, telegraphed swings.

All I'm trying to suggest is that a "maul" might be more like a pollaxe than a large hammer, which would not only fit a later description but be far more practical.
It's possible, but I don't see a good explanation for it. We know that the archers had hammers to hand and it's not like they're duelling with the other guys. Also, I reckon that using a sledgehammer in a fight, I'd use it similar to a pole axe with quite effective results.

There seems to have been a search for some time for this magical backup weapon used by the archers, which is never pictured and only vaguely described. Personally, I think they're just using whatever comes to hand, or the normal backup weapons carried by everyone else. Why would archers have a specially made backup weapon, but not billmen?
Colin