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Rodolfo Martínez




Location: Argentina
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jan, 2008 6:49 pm    Post subject: Crusader´s weapons         Reply with quote

Hello people!

Have you seen that movie ¨City of Heavens¨ or something like that, about crusaders (With Orlando Broom)?
I was haveing some doubts about its accuracy, but i don´t know nothing about the crusaders.

Do you know if they used Longswords?

About their surcoats, Is it true that they used surcoats with sleeves?

Is there any contemporary art depicting they carrying such swords or surcoats?

Thanks guys!

P.D.
Do you know, if there is any Saint Michael (Of contemporary art) dressed like a crusaders? (Like in Byzantine art, in wich he is shown wearing lamellar armour)

¨Sólo me desenvainarás por honor y nunca me envainarás sin gloria¨
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jan, 2008 7:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Swords of hand and a half proportions (called great swords in period) were in use during that time, and according to more recent research, as far back as the Viking Age. Were they common before the 13th century? Probably not, based on the small number of surivign examples and how often they are (not) depicted in period art.

Here's a thread with some info: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=8309

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Doug Lester




Location: Decatur, IL
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jan, 2008 7:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The movie is Kingdom of Heaven and it is heavily fictionized. I have the movie on DVD and part of it has historical commentary on it. One of the comments was that the period was too early for the two handed sword techniques that were shown in the movie. The museum cruator stated that it was single handed sword and shield then. The curved Arab swords, I understand, were also too early. They were using straight bladed swords also. If I were interested in weapons and clothing of this era, I'd go to history books. If a movie gets things right it tends to be by accident. Their purpose is to entertain, not educate with few exceptions.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jan, 2008 7:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doug Lester wrote:
The movie is Kingdom of Heaven and it is heavily fictionized. I have the movie on DVD and part of it has historical commentary on it. One of the comments was that the period was too early for the two handed sword techniques that were shown in the movie. The museum cruator stated that it was single handed sword and shield then. The curved Arab swords, I understand, were also too early. They were using straight bladed swords also. If I were interested in weapons and clothing of this era, I'd go to history books. If a movie gets things right it tends to be by accident. Their purpose is to entertain, not educate with few exceptions.


I would disagree with parts of this. As I posted above, swords of that size did exist that early and even earlier. What they did get wrong is how popular or common it probably was at the time (not very). They were not as popular as the movie made it seem.

We know the weapon could have existed, so why not techniques for its use? Happy They did use terms in the movie that we know from a later longsword treatise (Fiore). However, we don't know if Fiore invented the terms in that treatise (or the method itself for that matter). It's possible that the terms existed during the Crusade era, but we don't know for sure.

Sometimes we assume that the authors of fencing treatises created their methods from scratch and were the sole holders of the intellectual property the treatise contained. I'd be surprised if that was always the case. If I had to guess, I'd say they refined and added to systems that were already in place more often than not, but that's my own theory, with no evidence either way to back it up. So we don't know if Fiore or his followers actually created the term or technique referenced in the movie (posta de falcone or something) or if they wrote down what had been invented and/or coined earlier.

Hollywood obviously gets more wrong than right. No one disagrees there. But the notion that there were no hand and a half or two handed swords prior to the 13th century is no longer accurate. We have research that says otherwise. We can therefore surmise that techniques/systems of training were used with it. Whether the techniques and names referenced were in use during that time period is debateable. We have no evidence either way. You could say it's plausible at best. A stretch or unnecessary risk at worst. Happy

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Rodolfo Martínez




Location: Argentina
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jan, 2008 8:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies!
Chad:
Could those swords be very rare, bacause it could be better to wield a shield and single sword when wearing ring mail?

¨Sólo me desenvainarás por honor y nunca me envainarás sin gloria¨
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Sean Smith





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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jan, 2008 6:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Firstly, there is no such thing as "Ringmail" or "chainmail". Those were invented in the Victorian era, when the suffix -mail was used to describe all types of armour. Maille, in a historical context, only refers to little rings woven together for defensive purposes (essentially what people think of as chain-mail).

Maille has several advantages and weaknesses, when it is used as a primary armour. It is highly flexible, and prevents cutting and slicing actions remarkably well. It also has the ability when draped, or free-hanging, to bind a weapon swung at it (try punching at a sheet a friend is holding up to get an idea of what I am talking about). However, the biggest disadvantage of maille is its lack of stopping percussive force. Example: If someone swings a sword at you, and hits maille, you wont be cut. However, you may have broken bones or a concussion.

My particular viewpoint: Maille was used as a system of last defense, and was not relied on to stop several blows in a row. That is why they carried shields. Someone would have to be incredibly strong, stupid, or just crazy to rely on a two handed sword in battle. You are essentially giving up every conceivable defensive advantage, for all out offense. So did they exist? Yes, as we found them. Were they common? No, I would hazard they were used by the Billy Bad-A$$es of the times.

Sorry if this goes outside of Historical Arms and into Armour.
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Rodolfo Martínez




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jan, 2008 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Smith wrote:
Firstly, there is no such thing as "Ringmail" or "chainmail". Those were invented in the Victorian era, when the suffix -mail was used to describe all types of armour. Maille, in a historical context, only refers to little rings woven together for defensive purposes (essentially what people think of as chain-mail).

Maille has several advantages and weaknesses, when it is used as a primary armour. It is highly flexible, and prevents cutting and slicing actions remarkably well. It also has the ability when draped, or free-hanging, to bind a weapon swung at it (try punching at a sheet a friend is holding up to get an idea of what I am talking about). However, the biggest disadvantage of maille is its lack of stopping percussive force. Example: If someone swings a sword at you, and hits maille, you wont be cut. However, you may have broken bones or a concussion.

My particular viewpoint: Maille was used as a system of last defense, and was not relied on to stop several blows in a row. That is why they carried shields. Someone would have to be incredibly strong, stupid, or just crazy to rely on a two handed sword in battle. You are essentially giving up every conceivable defensive advantage, for all out offense. So did they exist? Yes, as we found them. Were they common? No, I would hazard they were used by the Billy Bad-A$$es of the times.

Sorry if this goes outside of Historical Arms and into Armour.
---->Not at all, it sounds logic. Thanks for the correction, in spanish it is called cota de malla, or simply malla, but i didn´t know its english (Or French?) name.

About surcoats, Do you know of Surcoats with sleeves? (Thare are sleeved surcoats in XVI century, but not sure if during crusades...)

¨Sólo me desenvainarás por honor y nunca me envainarás sin gloria¨
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jan, 2008 2:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also have the DVD of the movie and enjoy the film purely for entertainment enough that I have watched it several times. I noticed that when the optional "historical commentary" feature is in use, one of the comments made is that swords were very heavy (I believe they dragged out the old "weighing as much as 20 lbs" thing.) I have been skeptical of the validity of the movies comments as well as the period appropriateness of many details. It is still an entertaining movie in my opinion, and I think they succeeded in creating much of the feel of cavalry charges and battle mayhem of the era.
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Sa'ar Nudel




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PostPosted: Thu 31 Jan, 2008 6:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmm, my formal education is 2nd degree medieval archaeology, well into crusader period arms & armor. I'm aware of plenty of period sources and probably have seen all the weapon pieces that had been found during official excavations in Israel. Crusader period here dates to 1099-1291. Not a single longsword ever been found here nor seen in manuscripts. I am aware, however, that early type hand-and-a-half swords were already in use during the late 13th century. I would be very happy to see new researches with proofs for the exitence of the very early longswords. The era of the movie, 1st kingdom, as seen by the ruling monarch of Jerusalem, Baldwin IV (the "Leper King") and most of the characters that are historic and true (mind the brutal role of Raynald de Chatillon, who was also infamous pirate on the Red Sea); arms & armor of that period were of the 2nd-3rd crusade. This is just before the defeat at the Horns of Hattin (1187). Muslem sword at that period were straight and not unlike European swords besides some hilt dissimilarities (of course, not mentioning metallurgy). Curved swords arrived with the Seljuks across the Asian steppes (after close encounters with the Mongols who in turn had imported the curved sabers from the Chinese) at about the 1st half of the 13th century.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 31 Jan, 2008 7:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sa'ar Nudel wrote:
I would be very happy to see new researches with proofs for the exitence of the very early longswords.


The research than confirms this has been discussed here before. Some of this is in the thread I linked to. Dr. Jorma Leppäaho has found great swords (larger than single-hand, cut-oriented swords) in Viking graves. That Sotheby's sword I showed in that post is another example.

You are correct that there aren't many finds, and I haven't heard of much (if any) dateable period art that confirms it. But there are Leppäaho's finds, Oakeshott's thoughts and his redating of other swords in light of Leppäaho's work.

No one has suggested it was common or typical. But it was plausible given these finds (made in the 20th century).

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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Thu 31 Jan, 2008 7:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
I also have the DVD of the movie and enjoy the film purely for entertainment enough that I have watched it several times. I noticed that when the optional "historical commentary" feature is in use, one of the comments made is that swords were very heavy (I believe they dragged out the old "weighing as much as 20 lbs" thing.) I have been skeptical of the validity of the movies comments as well as the period appropriateness of many details.


If you are referring to the "Pilgrim's Guide" commentary, it also mentioned that men of the cloth, like bishops, wielded clubs and maces rather then swords because they "did not draw blood," which is, frankly, ridiculous.

EDIT: As a matter of fact, it claims that the mace, and I quote: "could crush a skull without spilling a drop of blood." Madness, I say!

Furthermore, it claims -completely seriously- that the Muslim Damascus swords were hardened by thrusting the red hot blade through the body of a slave.

Obviously, I'd take any claims from that source with a considerably grain of salt.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

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Sa'ar Nudel




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PostPosted: Thu 31 Jan, 2008 8:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Sa'ar Nudel wrote:
I would be very happy to see new researches with proofs for the exitence of the very early longswords.


The research than confirms this has been discussed here before. Some of this is in the thread I linked to. Dr. Jorma Leppäaho has found great swords (larger than single-hand, cut-oriented swords) in Viking graves. That Sotheby's sword I showed in that post is another example.

You are correct that there aren't many finds, and I haven't heard of much (if any) dateable period art that confirms it. But there are Leppäaho's finds, Oakeshott's thoughts and his redating of other swords in light of Leppäaho's work.

No one has suggested it was common or typical. But it was plausible given these finds (made in the 20th century).


Thanks Chad. Petty I didn't see that thread on time. It appears I mix the term longsword with greatsword. Since I don't think in English I sometimes lack enough terminology. I believe I've red sometimes before about larger-than-life sword found in a viking grave, a very long slender one. Plus, very large swords had been recovered from Kurgans. There only a ahndfull and are connected to royal-like tombs, I think 4th or 5th c. CE. This is of course, off topic.

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Jean-Carle Hudon




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PostPosted: Thu 31 Jan, 2008 11:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In answer to Rodolfo"s question, in french we say '' cotte de mailles'', similar to the spanish. There is no mention of ''chain'', cotte is coat or garment, like your spanish cota, no need for redundancy as maille in this context is clearly referring to our beloved metal mesh.
Bon coeur et bon bras
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Rodolfo Martínez




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2008 4:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the answer.
About byzantine crusaders, do you know if they used lamellar during crusades?
What type of swords byzantine cavalry used?

¨Sólo me desenvainarás por honor y nunca me envainarás sin gloria¨
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2008 6:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For all practical purposes, longswords where not in use during the 12th century. They might have existed, but they would be so rare as to be insignificant.
There is plenty of 12th and 13th century artwork showing swords used in two hands. however, this is always a regular onehanded sword, held with both hands. So, if nothing else, the idea of specialiced two handed swords was not institutionalized by that time.
And even after longswords actually came into regular use in the late 13th c, we don't really know if they where USED towhanded, or as pure cavalry swords, until they start showing up in art and fighting manuals.

So, the use of longswords in Kingdom of Heaven is not representative of 12th c. swordsmanship.

As for the sleved surcotes, they ocationaly show up in art. However, they are far less common than the sleeveless variety.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Sean Smith





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PostPosted: Tue 12 Feb, 2008 7:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rodolfo Martínez wrote:

About byzantine crusaders, do you know if they used lamellar during crusades?
What type of swords byzantine cavalry used?


Byzantines were using using lamellar from about the 7th century or so onwards. All instances we have found show them to be metal, mostly a tombstone shape with what appears to be leather or cloth at the bottom of each row, and for some peculiar reason, 95% of the effigies show 3 rows for lamellar sleeves. The reason I think this is odd is that unless you change the size of the lamellar, people's upper arms are different lengths. But, it is what it is. Not sure what you mean about "Byzantine Crusaders". The curved scimitar type swords also do not appear until later. They are using a roughly cruciform shaped sword.

I would see if you could get David Nicolle's "Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era" through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). This might help to answer several of your questions.
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Sa'ar Nudel




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Feb, 2008 12:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The works of David Nicolle are of high academic value. He keeps updating. Make sure to use the 2nd edition from recent years. I may suggest to look also for Medieval Warfare Source Book and Companion to Medieval Arms and Armour.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Feb, 2008 5:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The byzantines actually picked up their sabres before the arabs, adopting them from the horseman tribes on their northern border as the Paramerion allready in the 9th century.
It did however remain far less common than the Spathion.

Armour wise, the byzantines used both lammelar, mail and gambesons, with lammellar being the most common form of metal armour.



 Attachment: 87.28 KB
l9-1.jpg
an 11th c. icon of st. George, with lammelar, kite, and Paramerion

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Rodolfo Martínez




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Feb, 2008 8:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello.
3 rows of sleeves? Do you know if those sleeves limited the arm´s movement?

Thanks for the tombstones! I was looking some Saint Michaels and i was told that at leas, Russian ones are not accurate because they are reconstructions.

So you say that i can rely in tombstones for historically accurate art?

Edited---
I found this guy weraing lamellar armour, he is wearing some king of pauldrons.

http://www.levantia.com.au/military/h_infantry.html

Have you evere seen those pauldrons in tombstones, or in art (After Saint Nestor)?

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Sean Smith





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PostPosted: Wed 13 Feb, 2008 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The forum ate my response, so here it goes again.

Yes, I have seen that design with the overly large pauldron and the lamellar attaching directly to that. It does not hinder motion terribly, as the attachment of the pauldron allows it to pivot with the motion of your arm. It is usually attached at the top, as opposed to the bottom edges.

I suspect what your problem with other effigies and such is not that they are reconstructions, per se, but that the person reconstructing it either took liberties with the assembly, or forced pieces to fit their personal vision. The same problem can be said about wall illuminations which have been "restored" and altered. I would ask about the provenance of the piece, and check with other knowledgeable about them on a case by case basis, as opposed to discounting certain types automatically.
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