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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Nov, 2007 1:40 pm    Post subject: usage of the Duke         Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I was lucky enough to pick up a second hand Duke and I am quite happy with it- especially as it is my first truly quality hand and a half example. I find myself wondering though, what kind of armor this sword is designed to deal with. I know that during the period 1275-1315 we see transitional armor with maille and some plate on the arms and legs. The great helm shows up at this time also.

So is the Duke and for that matter any broad bladed type XIIIa from this era designed to deal with lightly armed openents or with oppenents having state of the art armor. I can't imagine this blade doing much against plate, well even maille. The tip does not seem narrow enough to be used to pierce gaps in the armor like a type Xva or a XVIIIa.

Thanks,
Jeremy
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Nov, 2007 3:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jeremy,

Congratulations, the Duke is a fine sword.

The short answer is that no one knows for sure, but there are many theories.

The theory I like the most is that swords like the Duke are designed to cut down those people without mail (which depending on which part of Europe and what year you are talking about could be most combatants), who wore some sort of textile armor (gambeson, etc.) as a stand alone defense.

The Duke is certainly capable of cutting through such defenses. Its tip, however, would have a hard time with even such light fabric armor and is designed more for tip cuts to extend the sword's range as well as for thrusts into unprotected flesh.

A XIIIa is also powerful enough to deliver substantial blunt impact force to a mailed opponent, sufficient to break a collar bone or cause other injuries, though I would tend to see that as a fall back rather than the Duke's intended use.

As I said, this is one of several theories and I'm sure someone else will give you a different point of view.

One thing is certain...you have an excellent sword on your hands. Enjoy it!

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Last edited by Michael Edelson on Tue 06 Nov, 2007 4:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Nov, 2007 3:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have yet to try test cutting on horseback, but have to agree with this sites statement in the Oakshotte typology description of it that such a sword would be devastating for slashing attacks from horseback. They have reasonable but considerable mass, and the grip would permit as long a reach as was possible with the majority of other sword styles in that situation. Even on foot, against opponents in armour (12th through 14th century), trauma from bludgeoning might still make this a versatile weapon.
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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S. Mighton





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PostPosted: Tue 06 Nov, 2007 5:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The Duke is certainly capable of cutting through such defenses. Its tip, however, would have a hard time with even such light fabric armor and is designed more for tip cuts to extend the sword's range as well as for thrusts into unprotected flesh.


A little while ago a guy on here posted a pretty good and very picture-heavy series of tests of different sword types versus different types of armour a while ago. While by no means definitive, these tests did indicate that very sharp spatulate-tipped blades did quite well in thrusting against multi-layer quilted defences - slightly better even than the marginally less sharp but more acutely pointed blades. The same tests indicated that the type XIIIa blades were much poorer at penetrating mail than the type XV blades.

Swords like the Duke were extremely popular in certain areas, and I think they could be used in a variety of ways: inflicting blunt trauma against mail+padding, cleaving soft armour and unarmoured flesh, or thrusting through soft armour or flesh if needed.
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Nov, 2007 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

S. Mighton wrote:
Quote:
The Duke is certainly capable of cutting through such defenses. Its tip, however, would have a hard time with even such light fabric armor and is designed more for tip cuts to extend the sword's range as well as for thrusts into unprotected flesh.


A little while ago a guy on here posted a pretty good and very picture-heavy series of tests of different sword types versus different types of armour a while ago. While by no means definitive, these tests did indicate that very sharp spatulate-tipped blades did quite well in thrusting against multi-layer quilted defences - slightly better even than the marginally less sharp but more acutely pointed blades. The same tests indicated that the type XIIIa blades were much poorer at penetrating mail than the type XV blades.

Swords like the Duke were extremely popular in certain areas, and I think they could be used in a variety of ways: inflicting blunt trauma against mail+padding, cleaving soft armour and unarmoured flesh, or thrusting through soft armour or flesh if needed.


If you're referring to the the jack and mail tests, which included a bow, various swords and a poleaxe, that guy was me. Happy

The "spatulate" tip in that test was still quite pointy, much more so than that of the duke. It was more like the tip of a pointy XII or one of the few XVIII's that were either re-profiled after breakage or made with a less acute point (you can see one or two in Sword in the Age of Chivalry). I have no doubt that the Duke would not be able to penetrate a jack with its tip (maybe the 10 layer...maybe), and even less doubt that it would cut through the jack...possibly even the 30 layer.

I'll be adding a couple of more swords to that test soon, and one of them will be a XIII (Albion Tritonia). The other will be a Kriegsmesser.

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Nov, 2007 7:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of course the results of the test have to be viewed objectively...it was hardly definitive.

Most of what we know about how swords like the Duke were used is a mix of interpolation, conjecture and sporatdic evidence, but one look at the Duke tells you what it was meant to do...it was meant to cut. Since swords can't cut metal armor, that leaves us with textile, possibly leather (not much evidence of it) and no armor.

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S. Mighton





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PostPosted: Tue 06 Nov, 2007 8:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess I should have searched for the original tests and re-read them before quoting them... Ah well.

On another note, Michael, please post any further tests you do. I think that well-conducted tests like yours can have great value in interpreting the usage of these weapons, especially when used in conjuction with other forms of evidence and an ongoing examination/comparison/discussion process.
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Nov, 2007 9:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you Michael and everyone,

Yes, I was thinking that the Duke would be most effective against fabric and other lightly armored combatants. It is really a very nice sword and I find it quite well balanced and as albion says the handling belies the seeming mass of this sword.

I have handled an antique sword from the 16th c. with a blade that I would think of as a type XIIIa and that sword had a great deal more heft than the Duke. In my mind it had too much blade presence.

I would be very interested in seeing these tests MIchael, especially with the Tritonia. I know that Alexi Goranov found the Tritonia to be devestating against double and triple rolled tatami mats.

Jeremy
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Paul Watson




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Nov, 2007 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So even against chainmail armour would a sword like the Duke not be able to deliver such a blow that the rings may potentially break and therfore expose what is underneath?
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Nov, 2007 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Watson wrote:
So even against chainmail armour would a sword like the Duke not be able to deliver such a blow that the rings may potentially break and therfore expose what is underneath?

Properly made maille will ward off almost any sword blow. Maille is amazingly effective at stopping cuts from just about ANY sword. Now that is not to say that there won't be blunt trauma. A good blow from the Duke won't cut through maille, but could break a rib or collar bone beneath.

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Paul Watson




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Nov, 2007 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply, as you can tell my knowledge of armour is zero. I always had the impression that links could be broken in some circumstances with a strong percussive cut.
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Nov, 2007 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Watson wrote:
Thanks for the reply, as you can tell my knowledge of armour is zero. I always had the impression that links could be broken in some circumstances with a strong percussive cut.


Do a search (here in MA) on "rivetted maille and jack tests" or something like that. I did some tests on various types of armor. They're far from definitive, but you'll get a good idea.

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Nov, 2007 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I ran across something related today (actually searching for pattern welding articles.) A Frenchman wrote of an 18th century Damascus (really pattern welded) executioner's sword. He mentioned that a bluntly rounded tip helped prevent the executioner's sword from getting stuck in vertebrae. Similarly, I have run across claims that cavalry saber's were not supposed to be overly sharp as they would tend to stick into bone. At least in cutting performance, some seemed to have preferred more blunt tips and thinner - wider cross section type blades.
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Nov, 2007 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Indeed, experiments undertaken by the Royal Armouries in Leeds have shown that when chain armour is outfitted on a free-flowing dummy, effectively mimicking the human body in motion, as it would be in a military engagement, it is almost impossible to penetrate using any conventional medieval weapon. Sword slashes are deflected, with spear, sword and arrow thrusts effectively stopped by the ring defenses. Even bodkin arrows are unable to penetrate the chain armour in these experiments. When layers of leather, felt or even cloth undergarments are added to the chain armour, the protection is even better. The results of these experiments are confirmed by the injuries recorded on medieval skeletons which have been excavated near battlefields or in medieval cemetries. These skeletons almost exclusively have wounds only to the head or limbs, the torsos remaining protected by armour. Taken from Kelly DeVries, "Medieval Military Surgery", Medieval History Magazine, Vol 1 is 4, December 2003.
emphasis mine

From the wikipedia entry on mail.

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Nov, 2007 7:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
Quote:
Indeed, experiments undertaken by the Royal Armouries in Leeds have shown that when chain armour is outfitted on a free-flowing dummy, effectively mimicking the human body in motion, as it would be in a military engagement, it is almost impossible to penetrate using any conventional medieval weapon. Sword slashes are deflected, with spear, sword and arrow thrusts effectively stopped by the ring defenses. Even bodkin arrows are unable to penetrate the chain armour in these experiments. When layers of leather, felt or even cloth undergarments are added to the chain armour, the protection is even better. The results of these experiments are confirmed by the injuries recorded on medieval skeletons which have been excavated near battlefields or in medieval cemetries. These skeletons almost exclusively have wounds only to the head or limbs, the torsos remaining protected by armour. Taken from Kelly DeVries, "Medieval Military Surgery", Medieval History Magazine, Vol 1 is 4, December 2003.
emphasis mine

From the wikipedia entry on mail.


Hi Steven,

Those guys certainly know what they're doing, much more than I do, but as far as almost impossible to penetrate...

I don't know if I'd go that far. Happy

I've seen Royal Armoury tests before and they are usually pretty good about keeping things within context...so they probably used long range arrow velocity rather than point blank and only used weapons contemporary to the age of mail. However, even though a poleaxe was not used in the age of mail, it is strictly speaking a medieval weapon.

And it did this...



...to this...



...mounted on a free swinging padded pell (suspended on a chain).

The test was far from perfect, and certainly not as good as a Royal Armouries test, but you should have felt the ease with which that devastating weapon punched through that mail. It was a little frightening. Happy

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Steven H




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Nov, 2007 8:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael-

I'd forgotten about that part of your test. But it does provide a good demonstration of why such weapons were developed. When the only way to kill a guy in armour is by busting mail (and blunt trauma) you certainly want a point like that on your weapon and poleaxes and halberds just make sense. Big Grin

-Steven

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Nov, 2007 8:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
Michael-

I'd forgotten about that part of your test. But it does provide a good demonstration of why such weapons were developed. When the only way to kill a guy in armour is by busting mail (and blunt trauma) you certainly want a point like that on your weapon and poleaxes and halberds just make sense. Big Grin

-Steven


Or a Goedendag like A & A makes: Nice and pointy like the poleaxe and heavy enough for clubbing ( mace clubbing, not out on the town " clubbing " Razz Laughing Out Loud ). http://www.arms-n-armor.com/custom935.html

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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Nov, 2007 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
Michael-

I'd forgotten about that part of your test. But it does provide a good demonstration of why such weapons were developed. When the only way to kill a guy in armour is by busting mail (and blunt trauma) you certainly want a point like that on your weapon and poleaxes and halberds just make sense. Big Grin

-Steven


Steven

The following test cutting from 2001 also showed how easy some weapons penetrate chain mail.

http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/TestCutting/...Event2.htm


Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Nov, 2007 12:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
Steven H wrote:
Michael-

I'd forgotten about that part of your test. But it does provide a good demonstration of why such weapons were developed. When the only way to kill a guy in armour is by busting mail (and blunt trauma) you certainly want a point like that on your weapon and poleaxes and halberds just make sense. Big Grin

-Steven


Steven

The following test cutting from 2001 also showed how easy some weapons penetrate chain mail.

http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/TestCutting/...Event2.htm


Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW


Hi Randall,

The mail in that test is some of flimsiest and poorest quality riveted mail available to the public, and quality makes a huge difference.



Most of the penetrations you achieved on that mail would not have been achievable with quality mail.

To be fair, back in 2001 I don't think there was much else available, and I think you guys were among the first to perform such tests, so credit where credit is due.

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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Nov, 2007 12:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
The following test cutting from 2001 also showed how easy some weapons penetrate chain mail.

http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/TestCutting/...Event2.htm


Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW

Randall, I don't see exactly which ones you are talking about. Besides the hole from the warhammer, what else there faired well against the riveted maille? The damage displayed on the round-ring riveted maille is what I would consider quite minor. The two primary holes in the well-lit spot are the result of single links breaking, which is enough with a thrust to be threatening, but hardly dangerous if resulting from a cut. The butted maille faired poorly, but butted maille falls apart if you sneeze on it, and reveal nothing about the performance of riveted maille.
I don't know, maybe I am misinterpreting it, but personally I would say from what is shown there that the maille faired quite well against everything but the warhammer. It is designed to primarily protect from the cut, which it appears by the pictures to have done well at. The peircing blow of the warhammer looks more frightening, but preventing the piercing blows is most certainly not what maille excels at.
I am certainly not defending the Royal Armouy at Leeds assertation that maille is "almost impossible to penetrate using any conventional medieval weapon", as I do not personally believe that is correct. However, every test I have seen demonstrates that maille is superior protection against the cut, and although not great, still helpful against other attacks...

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