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Paul Watson




Location: Upper Hutt, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Apr, 2008 9:32 pm    Post subject: XVIIIc images and information         Reply with quote

A search of the site has yielded little information on this type of sword. Does anyone have any images, references or information they could impart that is not already included here?

Was this type quite rare?

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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Michael S. Rivet





Joined: 12 Apr 2006

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PostPosted: Thu 10 Apr, 2008 7:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know that the type was rare (especially since it wasn't a "type" at the time), so much as just that Oakeshott doesn't give us a lot of help on that one. The types XVIIIb-XVIIIe are described in Sword in the Age of Chivalry, but with very few examples. In another thread, I requested museum pictures of items that Oakeshott described as XVIIIc and XVIIId but didn't picture. You can find that thread here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=12788. The wider-bladed swords pictured might be the swords Oakeshott was thinking of as XVIIIc.

Later, in Records of the Medieval Sword, Oakeshott doesn't mention the XVIIIc at all and moves swords that were clearly XVIIIb before into the XVIIIa category, which makes me wonder if he was deliberately cleaning up the XVIII subtypes and had given up on the idea of XVIIIc as a separate category.
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Apr, 2008 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've thought that the Schloss Erbach sword was an example of an XVIIIc (see the Arms & Armor replica of it below). Others have disagreed, saying that the type is tied to specific hilt furniture different from that of this example.


 Attachment: 5.79 KB
schloss full.jpg
A&A Schloss Erbach repro
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Michael S. Rivet





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Apr, 2008 12:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

He does mention some specifics about hilt furniture. A "thin ribbon" of steel for the guard and a wheel pommel, for instance. I'll happily post the exact verbage tonight if I get a chance (not near the book). If I'm not mistaken, he also gives some blade specs (length, width) and specifies a hand-and-a-half grip with a swelling.
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Michael S. Rivet





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Apr, 2008 3:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, I'm at home with the book, now. Here we go:

Quote:
SUB-TYPE XVIIIC CHARACTERISTICS
A broad, heavy blade, of "flattened diamond" section, the faces nearly always flat or slightly convex, generally about 34" long. The grip is long, rather like those grips of some type XVIII swords with a sharp swelling in the middle. As these big swords are hand-and-a-half weapons, the swelling is nearer to the cross than to the pommel. The pommel is generally of one of the wheel forms. The cross is often of flat ribbon-like section (style 5) but horizontally curved into a flat S shape.

General Remarks
This seems to be a characteristically Italian style of the type, corresponding to the German XVIIIb. Survivors are rare. There is a fine one in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and a very similar one in my own collection.


The other thread to which I posted a link shows some swords from the Met that may or may not be the one to which he refers. I find it interesting that he refers to them as "big swords" but a 34" blade is not exceptionally long. As for the type being "tied to hilt furniture," since Oakeshott uses qualifying language like "generally" and "often" I think we have to assume the existence of exceptions. Part of the problem in isolating this type may be that the description doesn't give anything that keeps its members from being dropped instead into type XVIIIa.
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Paul Watson




Location: Upper Hutt, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Apr, 2008 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The difference may primarily be the broad blade.
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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Michael S. Rivet





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Apr, 2008 6:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, but since he doesn't quantify how broad is "broad" we are still left with a bit of a quandary.
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Apr, 2008 11:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a few XVIIIc blades that were kept in the Alexandria Armoury; you know the ones that have arabic script engraved in them stating the date they were added and some advice not to remove them from the collection.

The light and slim XIX with a finger ring is one famous example of these swords.

In the Royal Armouries in Leeds there is one XVIIIc from this group and in the Met (?) there is another. Both these swords are rather similar in outline, even if details differ.
Both have thin and wide guards that are hexagonal in section with abruptly down turned ends (not the ribbon type that Oakeshott says is the typical, and I am not sure I agree that the S-ribbon would be the most typical guard for these swords) and wheel pommels.
Blades are not exceptionally long but the swords still give an impression of being big simply because they are exceptionally broad. When you meet them in person, they have a powerful personality.

I have documented the one in Leeds, taking measurements.
In outline it is almost like an enlarged XVIII (one of those from the Castillion group): a very gentle and gradual curve of the edges from the base to the point. At first sight it can even give an impression of being a very broad XVa.
It is very thin and has a very shallow concave bevels.
Blade length is some 93 cm and it is 7.5+ cm wide at the base. At the base it is only 4 mm thick. You can imagine just how shallow the hollow of the bevels is...
The final edge is shaped on a thickness of less than a millimeter and is rather abrupt. Almost like a thin cold chisel for fine metalwork: it is ground as a secondary bevel: very narrow. This combines a fine cutting section with a robust sharpness.
Despite the thinness of the blade, the sword is not whippy in the hand.
Length of hilt, including pommel, is some 24 cm.
Total weight is 1,64 kilos.
It handles with a beautiful grace and responsiveness.

I am totally in awe of these swords.
It is interesting that very broad and rather thin blades became popular during the 15th C and especially towards the end of the century. It seems to me that this could coincide with new metallurgy. Perhaps it was possible to access finer steel that allowed for cross sections that became almost through hardened, and so allowed for superior flexibility (blades flexing, rather than taking a set) in wide, thin sections.
Such a cross section will give you very good cutting performance, as the wide body is rigid against deformation or flex in the plane of the edge.

Other swords would also be classified as XVIIIc swords, that are less wide in the body, but they tend to stand out among other long swords of the period.
I am not sure I would classify the Schloss Erbach sword as a type XVIIIc, to me it seems rather like an unusually broad XVIIIb.
I do not know if the type was rare at the time, but it is not a very common type in collections today.
You do see them depicted in art more frequently.
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Dan Dickinson
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PostPosted: Fri 11 Apr, 2008 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter, thanks for the great descriptions.
Do you have any pictures of the ones you mentioned?
Thanks,
Dan
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Fri 11 Apr, 2008 10:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a photo of the XVIIIc in the Met, from the gallery section at this site:
(The one in Leeds is extremely similar, only a bit longer in the blade)

http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/photo/420.html
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Dan Dickinson
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PostPosted: Fri 11 Apr, 2008 11:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Peter.....do these exhibit similar distal tapers as a similar sized XVa?
Thanks,
Dan
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Fri 11 Apr, 2008 11:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Dickinson wrote:
Thanks Peter.....do these exhibit similar distal tapers as a similar sized XVa?
Thanks,
Dan


I have never seen a similar sized XVa, nor do I know of any.
Saying that, Swords of similar size and similar outline would probably have similar distal tapers as well.

As you might expect swords of drastic taper in width from base to point, you generally have a rather subtle distal taper in thickness.
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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Fri 11 Apr, 2008 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter, I know I keep harping on my statement that studies of the metallurgy of the steel used in the blades of the high middle ages and early renaissance is the final frontier of study and the natural follow on to Oakeshott's work, but in this case I agree with you. I think the resurgence of big two hand swords of thin flattened diamond section in the 1500s had more to do with the improvements in the steel than other factors, say, changing preferences in armour and firearms etc. Not to discount the increasing role of firearms in the 1500s but I think a detailed study would find substantial changes in the metallurgy of knightly swords starting in the in the late 1400s and early 1500s which is what facilitated the making and use of these big type XVIII and XX blades. However this supposition is not supported by any data that I have seen, rather it is just my personal observations of the swords. I would love to see more detailed studies on metallurgy on the steels used in the 1300-1600 period. i suspect one would find regional variations as well as changes over time. tr
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Paul Watson




Location: Upper Hutt, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Sun 13 Apr, 2008 7:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter made an excellent XVIIIc as part of a trio for the Solingen show two years ago I think. Search Solingen (as in the show not the Albion Museum Line sword) in the myArmoury forum and you will see how impressive this type of sword is, which is why I voted for an XVIIIc to be the next sword that Albion produces in the poll that is currently running here.
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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