A Resource for Historic Arms and Armour Collectors
Angus Trim AT1592 Fullered Danish Two-Handed Longsword
A hands-on review by Bill Grandy
Combat is, and has always been, a chaotic thing. Many things can happen in a fight, and the medieval battlefield was no exception. Soldiers generally carried more than one weapon to be able to cope with the sudden changes of enemy tactics, as well as dealing with different ranges. Long weapons were very effective at keeping the enemy at a safe reach. Should the opponent get too close, however, the long weapon was harder to maneuver, often necessitating a switch to something shorter. The 15th century fencing master, Sigmund Ringeck, advised that an armored combatant should be armed with a spear, sword and dagger, illustrating how important it was for a combatant to be able to vary fighting styles when the distances change.
While multiple weapons were the general choice for soldiers, often there wasn't time in the midst of battle to swap your weapons. Many techniques exist that allow longer weapons to be used as a shorter one, such as half swording, where one grabs the middle of the sword blade to fight with it as a short spear. There are some cases where weapons were made to be able to somewhat adapt to these changes without having to immediately go to another weapon. The Oakeshott Type XVIIIe is a very peculiar variant of the Type XVIII family, and seems to be particular to the Danish. It is characterized by a narrow, diamond sectioned blade, much like the typical Type XVIII, but with a long ricasso that is usually narrower than the rest of the blade. Swords like this have with very long two-handed grips as well, and have pear-shaped pommels.
These large swords provide ample distance to keep foes at bay, but the long ricasso allows the blade to be gripped, which shortens the reach of the sword while improving maneuverability in close quarters. A fighter can start with a very large sword and turn it into a more "standard" sized sword, and can further shorten it with techniques such as half swording as well.
The AT1592 "Fullered Danish Two-Handed Longsword", an example of a Type XVIIIe, is made by Angus "Gus" Trim. This particular model has a narrow fuller, and comes with a leather over cord wrapped grip. The particular sword being reviewed was the prototype of the currently available model and has a very minor variance in the fuller (which is almost undetectable). Aside from this, I have been assured that it is no different from the currently sold model.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Angus Trim Swords of The Pacific Northwest.
This is a deceptive sword. It's big, and one expects a fair amount of heft, even under the knowledge that large swords aren't necessarily heavy. When picked up, the sword is surprisingly light and agile. The long blade really changes the dynamic of a typical longsword fight: If your opponents manage to defend against your attack, it forces them to be much more aggressive in order to land a successful counterattack due to range.
The long grip really helps to control the long blade. A large sword will typically be slower than a shorter one, due to the fact that the further away the tip is from the center of rotation, the slower it moves. Having a longer grip allows the user to balance this out better, and leads to a very quick blade despite its size.
Cutting drills were performed against light targets, including soaked tatami mats and pumpkins. The sword is a very precise cutter. When shortened by grasping the ricasso, it does not cut as well (as mentioned earlier, the grip becomes too long to make large cuts), but it still managed to make large slices and gashes very well. Cuts into pumpkins in this manner revealed that even if one did not dismember an opponent, the wounds would be grievous enough to stop the opposing fighter from continuing.
Fit and Finish
The leather wrap is very tight and well done, with two bands in the center of the grip. The seam is nearly invisible.
The AT1592 is a surprising sword on different levels. It is surprising to see produced, for one, because it is such a rare type. It is surprising to hold because it is so light for its size. It is surprising to grip the ricasso because it feels so comfortable in that position. Angus "Gus" Trim has been recently creating more "long" longswords recently, and if the AT1592 is a good example at all, then this is a welcome addition to the sword market. This is a sword that really breaks the misconception of the slow and awkward two-hander.
About the Author
Bill Grandy is an instructor of Historical European Swordsmanship and sport fencing at the Virginia Academy of Fencing. He has held a strong passion (obsession?) for swords and swordsmanship for as long as he can remember. He admits that this passion comes from a youth spent playing Dungeons and Dragons, but he'll only admit that if there are no girls around.
Photographer: Nathan Robinson