Sabre and two handed sword history.

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Medicus Matt
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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Medicus Matt » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:48 pm

Tiddles wrote:But also it annoys me when people say something did not exists. When they can not 100% prove that something did not exist or did not happen.


Try this then.

We don't know for certain that there were no swords designed for two handed use in the 10th century, because we can't know everything.
However, as there's no evidence of their existence, either archaeologically or pictorially and the style of fighting of the period indicates that anyone in a shieldwall not using a shield in conjunction with their sword would find themselves killed by spearmen very quickly, it's probably unreasonable to attempt to portray someone of the period as using one in anything other than a fantasy context.


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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby PaulMurphy » Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:17 pm

Tiddles wrote:Certainly in later Medieval armies there was modified tools used as weapons. Take the archers hammer, used to bang in defencive stakes but also re-enforced for hitting people. And the pole axe or halberd developed from tools.


Hmm. I'm no expert on the later part of the period, but my impression was that cheap and dirty weapons like falchions were made specifically for use as a secondary weapon by those who had neither the skill nor the money to have a sword, which is especially the case for archers. When you have loosed your allocated one-to-five hundred arrows or the army has run out of them (so that's about 10-30 minutes worth...), you need something more than a mallet to make an impact on men at arms who are closing you down with a menacing look because you just killed their horse/brother/father/friend.

If you'd said that WotR bills developed from tools, I'd quibble a bit but not be too fussed either way, but the pole axe is a direct development of the Danish Axe, which was still in regular use amongst the Irish galloglas in the intervening period, and the halberd seems to have been a cross between a spear and an axe from the earliest period of its existence, which in turn led to the bill via a spot of tree surgery, so basically none of them developed directly from a tool unless you class the Danish Axe as being a development of a woodcutters axe, which is a bit of a stretch.

One historian sees a wooden mallet with an iron plate over the face, and says that clearly it was added to allow it to be used as a weapon against armoured men. Another says that it made the mallet last a lot longer. A third points out that the 28" of sharpened blade the person was paid to be carrying according to the muster rolls and wage bills was much more likely to be a weapon. To some, the first is an idiot and the others are showing common sense. To others, the first is a professor of ancient history and the others are MA students who have no publications, so they must be wrong and the Prof must be right. Despite his knowledge being of a period 1000 years before the item in question... My historian is better than your historian, nah nah na na nah :crazy:

I'm not known for personal attacks, so this is all to try to nudge you in the right direction. If you don't take the hint, I just go off in a huff and give up trying.


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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Tiddles » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:51 pm

No need to give up in a huff.

I value your opinion.

From my understanding the Saxons seamed to be almost identically equipped. But I think the Vikings had a verity of equipment between individuals. Based on what the individual acquired through trade and conquest. Common sense says they would have only used what would keep themselves and there companions alive.

I like WorkMonkey3,s ideas of axe or knife.

My background is 14C so the injury was not a problem as I used two handed swords. The only single handed sword I used was a short falchion that was tailor made for me by Iron Head. Plus I relied on my armour to compensate for my lack of wrist/hand strength.

I do have a Chinese sword that I use with Pirating. That is single handed but weighs of almost nothing. The design goes back to 10C China but think it would be silly to try and explain its presence in Viking hands.

Its straight sword that give me the problem. There is no problem with curved blades.

As for the Russ comment. My kit will have Russ taste to it as it explains how I met my wife of Asian decent.

On a different thought what other pole-arms where available to Saxons or Vikings apart from spear or axe?

Thanks.

John.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby WorkMonkey3 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:29 pm

Tiddles wrote:On a different thought what other pole-arms where available to Saxons or Vikings apart from spear or axe?


Spear and axe.

I guess you could tie your eating spoon to a stick as well... :twisted:



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Tiddles » Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:01 pm

WorkMonkey3 wrote:
Tiddles wrote:On a different thought what other pole-arms where available to Saxons or Vikings apart from spear or axe?


Spear and axe.

I guess you could tie your eating spoon to a stick as well... :twisted:


Ok I asked for that :D
Could go better with a feather duster to tickle the enemy :P

What should have said is what styles/shapes of spear heads and axe heads where used?
I know the axe/halberd pics I posted are latter examples but would similar design be around in the 10thC?
Like I said I am new to this Viking stuff so am having to learn very quickly.

Tiddles.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby WorkMonkey3 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:50 pm

No they wouldn't be around in the 10th C, we've already discussed that halberds didn't exist in the 10th C.

A quick google for viking axe
Image
The mammen axe

Image

Image


Image


Image



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Benedict » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:14 pm

[quote="Tiddles"]From my understanding the Saxons seamed to be almost identically equipped. But I think the Vikings had a verity of equipment between individuals. Based on what the individual acquired through trade and conquest. Common sense says they would have only used what would keep themselves and there companions alive.[quote]

Choice of weapon is much more influenced by social class than "race". For a start, "viking" is a job description (ie "pirate" or "raider"), and viking armies were made up of a mix of Scandinavians and freebooters they'd picked up on their travels. The main items of wargear in use across the early medieval west were (in rough order of ubiquity): spear (inc javelins), shield; and then (for higher status) sword, horse, helmet, mail shirt; axes appear fairly often in Scandinavian contexts; bows aren't all that common - but slings are probably vastly underrepresented; and everyone carries a knife.

Wargear was expensive and not something that any old person had access to. Metal requires quite a bit of work and isn't cheap. Possessing wargear automatically marks you out as being a person of status - whether as a free man (as opposed to the many who weren't free) or as a Very Important Person.

Wargear was frequently given by one's lord, underlining relationships of service and loyalty. I give you this sword, and in return you swear to use it in my service, protecting my body and avenging me if I die. That's pretty powerful stuff. Everybody (ie *everybody*) has a lord to whom they owe service, even a king (directly responsible to God). When an English thegn died, his weapons were returned to his lord (the 'heriot' payment), and presumably then handed to his heir together with associated land. The same thing happens in 'Beowulf' and you can trace the same relationships in viking sagas (though I'm less familiar with the evidence).

I would be very cautious about suggesting that English armies were identically equipped. Yes, lots of spears and a good number of swords, but we're not in an era of standarised weaponry. Look at Wheeler's typology of swords - there are a lot of different styles of hilt-fittings; blades may be imported, but the fittings are done locally to suit local tastes.

Earlier (ninth-century) viking armies may have had a bit more variety in equipment (mixture of spears, axes and swords), but in the tenth century "viking" armies in Britain were a mixture of local and foreign (and intermingled) populations, whether "Hiberno-Norse" or "Anglo-Scandinavian". In the eleventh century you have major royal-led expeditions from Denmark and Norway, where I would expect to see a much greater proportion of spear-and-shield troops raised through ship-service systems.

[quote="Tiddles"]My background is 14C so the injury was not a problem as I used two handed swords. The only single handed sword I used was a short falchion that was tailor made for me by Iron Head. Plus I relied on my armour to compensate for my lack of wrist/hand strength.
I do have a Chinese sword that I use with Pirating. That is single handed but weighs of almost nothing. The design goes back to 10C China but think it would be silly to try and explain its presence in Viking hands.
Its straight sword that give me the problem. There is no problem with curved blades. [quote]

At risk of being a bit of a numpty, you're looking to use a curved sword because you're struggling to use a single-handed straight sword safely? Or have I missed something?

If so, there is a simple, one-word answer: training.

There are some very good, very light "normal" swords out there (try Paul Binns or Armour Class) which will dance around your opponent's shield like Strictly Come Viking. Yes, it may mean learning a slightly different style, but there's nothing wrong with a challenge :-) You *will* need to learn to pull your blows if you're covering the 10th-11th century (we're not clankies), but there is absolutely no reason you can't fight safely and competitively... provided you train.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Tiddles » Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:26 pm

Hi Benedict.

Thank you for the Viking organisation information and the stuff about weapons and style variations :D

No you are not being a numpty.
I am happy and safe with a "normal" sword for a few minuets then it gets uncomfortable so I stop.

I find the curved blades move in a much more fluid way. The balance moves as you swing (thats how it feels to me). So there is very little effort to keep the blade moving and it allows for quick changes of direction.

Straight swords are better for delivering a crushing blow. But a curved edge is better for slashing the softer (legal) targets and getting around shields. Also because the tip is often over the wrist it holds the guard against the thumb. Allowing you to use a loose two finger grip giving you the flexibility of a quick slick of the blade.

It is much easer to demonstrate this then explain it.

As for pulling blows. I started in a Dark Age group called "The Hounds of the Morigan". Sadly now disbanded but it ment I did not get the clankie bad habits. As I had learnt about pulling blows before I discovered the joys of armour.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Hobbitstomper » Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:32 am

Sounds like you are trying to cut with the sword. This is eaier wih a curved sword. Stop it!

Hit with the blade so that it chops, without moving along in a cut, and twist the bade to take the energy from the blow. This is easier with a straight blade. It is fast and looks devastating but is really a harmless way of fighting. It is probably possible to do this with a sharp sword and still not cut skin (my razor sharp non-reenactment sword fails to cut foam pool floats if I do it, but cutting properly by drawing the blade without the twist destroys them). A burred blade delivering a slash will cut where a blow that does not draw the blade does not. Cutting is bad in reenactment.

As an asside:
The movement of a sword should be minimal and there should be no need to keep a sword moving. One blow, dellivered in the right place, at the right distance and time, using the correct strategy (beyond your opponent's strategy) should be enough. You should study thus hard glasshopper. This is the result of 2000 hours of martial arts tuition. In the spirit of livinghistory criticism, I enthusiastically await the correction/input of someone who has done 3000 hours+. Hijack this thread and I might learn something.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Benedict » Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:54 pm

Tiddles wrote:I find the curved blades move in a much more fluid way. The balance moves as you swing (thats how it feels to me). So there is very little effort to keep the blade moving and it allows for quick changes of direction.

Straight swords are better for delivering a crushing blow. But a curved edge is better for slashing the softer (legal) targets and getting around shields. Also because the tip is often over the wrist it holds the guard against the thumb. Allowing you to use a loose two finger grip giving you the flexibility of a quick slick of the blade.


Hmmm. It sounds as though the early medieval blades you've tried aren't properly balanced. If so, it's a fault with a particular sword rather than a whole type. There are some seriously point-heavy swords out there which are doubtless terribly authentic but a b**ger to fight competitively and safely with unless you're blummin' good (which I'm not).

I'd have a play with a lot of different weapons. Some swords balance (Armour Class, Paul Binns), others don't (typically the cheaper ones). Axes can be fun as you can vary the length of the weapon. Seaxes and langseaxes are worth looking - usually a bit shorter, but very nippy. And if you're thinking of the eastern-influenced viking, single-edged swords were very popular in Norway and have a curve on the back. My better half has one which is seriously light and fast. But do remember that early medieval swords were designed for slashing. Stabbing is something you do with a spear or the point of a knife.

Without setting off a creative writing contest (narrate your preferred fighting style in under 150 words, without recourse to YouTube) I've generally found that my arm does the telegraphing of a blow, and the wrist pulls it, rather as Hobbitstomper suggests. Having heard considerable debate around 'tappy' shots over the last few years, a quick flick with the wrist may be a valid hit, but you might want to follow it with something a bit more likely to gut the other chap.

If you're worried about control, something I found very helpful was putting in training shots against a mailed warrior, ie running through and landing the eights (no, not the head!). That gives a sense of how hard you should hit, and what you're aiming a blow to do (ie go from shoulder to thigh or waist to waist). Control and display all in one!



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Nigel » Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:30 pm

control

whats that then i THOUGHT YOU JUST CLOBBERED THE OTHER GUY


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Tiddles » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:18 pm

Benedict wrote:And if you're thinking of the eastern-influenced viking, single-edged swords were very popular in Norway and have a curve on the back. My better half has one which is seriously light and fast.


Hi Benedict.

Please tell us more about you misses sword. Could be just what the doctor ordered.
Do you have pictures.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby strumpet_hunter » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:40 am

how about this picture, take a look at the second longsax it has a hug tang.
would strike me odd if it didn't had a 2h grip....

Image


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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Medicus Matt » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:49 am

strumpet_hunter wrote:how about this picture, take a look at the second longsax it has a hug tang.
would strike me odd if it didn't had a 2h grip..


Or belonged to a giant...look at the size of that shield boss! :o
HPIM2183.jpg


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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Benedict » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:28 pm

Out of interest, where is this from - and are those complete weapon-sets, or just displayed together? Given that the edge of the caption appears to be in German, is that a hint? :-)

I ask because I've seen a suggestion that there are a lot of seaxes/langseaxes with very worn blades buried on the Continent in contexts which don't scream "warrior". The impression was that they were used for pruning (eg vines) rather than fighting. Two-handed pruning knife? Possibly. Or just blummin' long-handled langseax.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Hobbitstomper » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:42 pm

Like a Yorkshire billhook without being a billhook?
Or a tool used for splitting timber with a strong, long handle so it can be wiggled free if it gets stuck.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby strumpet_hunter » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:14 pm

it's a picture from Landesmuseum Württemberg http://www.landesmuseum-stuttgart.de/de ... /index.htm i haven't been there.
so i don't know who and where it was found precisely
but i got the picture from a friend because i want to reshape a langsax grip
that now has a viking style grip.


I shatter Swords and splinter spears,

None stands to Shieldbreaker;

My point's the fount of orphan's tears,

My edge the widowmaker

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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Tiddles » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:31 pm

Benedict wrote:Out of interest, where is this from - and are those complete weapon-sets, or just displayed together? Given that the edge of the caption appears to be in German, is that a hint? :-)

I ask because I've seen a suggestion that there are a lot of seaxes/langseaxes with very worn blades buried on the Continent in contexts which don't scream "warrior". The impression was that they were used for pruning (eg vines) rather than fighting. Two-handed pruning knife? Possibly. Or just blummin' long-handled langseax.


Its a bit bigger then my pruning knife :D

But that theory dues make sense as the blade is very short in relation to the handle length. I have seen smilier tools used in Threshing demonstrations at Steam shows.

I do have a Yorkshire billhook and a normal billhook. The longer handle of the Yorkshire makes it a much more versatile tool. Maybe the designer of the long handled Seax had a similar idea.

Tiddles.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Billhook » Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:10 pm

One point often overlooked is the differences in weaponry used by regular troops (castle guards, standing armies, viking or other freebooters who loved by raiding etc) and those used by the conscript who was drafted by his lord to fight for him... Apart from the English bowman, who as stated above, soon ran out of arrows and had to either run away or stand and fight, most would have supplied their own weapons... and the weapons that 95% of the working (mainly agricutural) population owned and used were the billhook or the axe....

Both are good for close quarter use against similarly armed opponents, but against armoured cavalry they are almost useless - so the billhook was given a few spikes and hooks, and a long handle and the forerunner of the pike or bill was born (note pre 1800 the term billhook was not used, the word bill was common instead - adding hand or hedge in front to differentiate between the various forms).. The billhook has existed in Britain since the Iron Age, and has been used continously ever since.....

In York museum there are some pole arms that are just ordinary bills fitted to a long shaft and with hooks and spikes forge welded on - probably by the local or edge-tool maker who also doubled as the armourer in times of war... As late as the Napoleonic Wars, Fussell of Mells, a Somerset edge tool maker, offered to supply the governement with 3000 pikes if they were needed (as the expected invasion didn't happen, I guess they never had to make them)....



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby WorkMonkey3 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:27 pm

Brilliant, 1300AD English Archers vs vikings.

When will the madness end.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Tiddles » Sun May 01, 2011 10:02 am

Hi Billhook.

Thank you for that 8-)

This treat is turning in to a rather nice general arms and armour discussion :)
I am certainly learning a lot from it :D

Tiddles.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Billhook » Thu May 05, 2011 12:30 pm

Even the experts get it wrong - I posted a message ref an American museum on the French Outils Anciens website - they have two 19th century Norman coupe marcs (used for cutting the residue of the cider presses) catalogued as 18th century vousges (weapons).... But weapons have much more commercial value than mere tools...

Link: http://outils-anciens.xooit.fr/t2510-Ou ... htm?q=marc

Note that in french vousge (also spelled vounge is some regions) is an alternative name for a croissant, what in english we call a slasher or staff hook - somewhat similar to the english pike (weapon).....



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Tiddles » Sun May 08, 2011 11:27 pm

They do look a lot like weapons. And if push came to shove probably could be used as such.

Translation can cause confusion particularly when one word can have two or three different meanings (Chinese). Or when the language is very old and there is little or no written text available (Old Norse).

I have certainly come across this problem when researching Asian culture or early European culture. The questionable Viking Halberd being a recent example for me of this (discussed further back in this thread).

Tiddles.



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Re: Sabre and two handed sword history.

Postby Billhook » Tue May 17, 2011 6:21 pm

Read the quotes from Richard Jeffries elsewhere in this forum, ref the use of a billhook as a weapon... viewtopic.php?f=18&t=25257&p=313121&hilit=billhook#p313121

Nomenclature is very difficult: many regional and dialect names exist in most countries for the billhook (and many other tools) - some can be found on my website, http://www.billhooks.co.uk ...

To make matters worse language dictionaries are often written by non specialists, so errors abound - look up billhook in an English/Spanish dictionary and you will almost certainly get podadora (the more common term in Spain is podòn or hocino) - look up podadora on the net and you will find anything from chainsaws to hedge trimmers - but hardly any billhooks.... In many languages the same word also has several meanings - in Polish (tasak) and Italian (mannaia) as well as in Dutch (hakbijl) and German (hackbeil) it can mean any sort of chopping tool - from a billhook to a meat cleaver or even a kitchen herb chopper....

Sometimes an supplementary adjective or two clears the air a little, e.g. a pruning billhook, or a meat chopper, or an adjectival phrase, e.g. a chopper for cutting firewood, or even the trade or tradesman associated with it, e.g. a vineyard pruning hook or a thatcher's spar hook - but often a single word is used which can have several alternative meanings... A billhook is part of the binding mechanism of a hay baler, as well as being a device for holding old bills and invoices ....And is it billhook, bill-hook or bill hook????

And when the experts get it wrong, we have no hope - in the Cambridge Ethnological Museum is an 'ocino' - a small Spanish pruning sickle or billhook - except it should be spelled hocino, the 'h' is silent - hocino is the diminutive of hoz (i.e. a sickle) - but the term is used loosely for any small pruning hook - I guess the person who collected wrote down the name phonetically.... And thus misinformation begins....




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