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Joshua Connolly




Location: Massachusetts, USA
Joined: 28 Sep 2006

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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jul, 2008 2:13 am    Post subject: Last Longswordsmen?         Reply with quote

I'm working on a story for either a screenplay or simply a novel that's sort of a post antiquity "Odyssey". Now, I've got a lot of good ideas, and I'm already quite familiar with the actual Longsword style, but there's something else I've been trying to figure out. I'm trying to figure out a decent 'date' for the setting, and I've been wandering from 1400 all the way to the late 1600s. One character though, who is the main part of my question, is probably going to 'set' the date. This character is going to be one of the last Fencers in the "Knightly" German Longsword tradition, or at the earliest when that style starts to fade out. So naturally I have a few questions.

At what point would you see the Longsword, armored or unarmored, start to wane in popularity? Would there be a point where the main Tradition is no longer Combat Ready(As in, detrimentally sportive)? Likewise, when would you see it finally 'disappear', and not expect to see any people trained in the use of the Longsword? At what point would this same trend 'break' your suspension of disbelief? Also, does anyone know what the size and shape of these later era longswords would look like? Would their use differ significantly from those of the late 1400s and early 1500s? Oh yes, the character is also supposed to be somewhat "prideful", so could any of you gentle persons please inform me if there were any conflicts during these later periods, such as between a more 'traditional' style and a more 'sportive' one? This would really help me out a great deal.


Thank you very much in advance!

P.S.: Yes, I am willing to pick up a Reading List to "get it right".
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jul, 2008 6:32 am    Post subject: Time Frames         Reply with quote

Hi Joshua

This would be a tough date to nail down as it would vary from place to place and may run quite late compared to what might be first thought. The tradition would still be there well past Meyer and Sutor. There are some interesting groups that where social organizations well into the 1800's that kept some of this material in use well into the 1800's. Now if you are looking for the last time some used the system in combat with the mind set and equipment of knight that would be earlier. The traditions of the Caucasus excepted as they may still be there to some degree. Traditions like this do not really end at a point they morph and evolve. The core of what worked is usually still there but the attitude and style of the user has altered. As it says in MS 3227a (Doebringer) There is but one art of the sword.

Best
Craig
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jul, 2008 8:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I tend to think of ca. 1500 as a zenith of the medieval German knight, with mass formations of mercenary infantry dominating after that and the role of heavy cavalry declining. I don't know that this is a very accurate impression, and certainly the rise of infantry was under way earlier. But with the proliferation of firearms in the 16th c. it just seems to me that this period would suit your character. I can imagine a talented longswordsman of the period lamenting the obvious trends toward guns and anonymous masses of mercs.

I think it'd be interesting to set your work against the backdrop of the German Peasant War
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peasants%27_War ), which could add some drama and help you make the point about changing social orders. Maybe your character is one of the "free lance" men employed to crush the rebellion, and that's what informs his realization that his age is almost over. You'd have great visual references for period details in Dürer's woodcuts and there's a decent Osprey book on the subject of th Peasant War.

For sword inspiration, see the Bayerisches XVIIIb and compare to the short infantry swords and messers of the period. The XVIIIb form is of this period, and some are of the opinion that it's the ultimate longsword. That's a good weapon for what you have in mind. There's rich material there, not only in describing the elegance of the XVIIIb but in imagining what your man thinks of the elevation of the peasant knife to the status of standard infantry sidearm.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Thu 24 Jul, 2008 9:00 am; edited 3 times in total
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jul, 2008 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You could also include the Knight's Revolt of 1522:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights%27_Revolt

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jul, 2008 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Believe it or not, you might want to consult with a literary teacher to see what contemporary views recorded around late 16h and very early 17th century. Although late era tournaments, possibly some duels, or some schools may have still been around, in period literary character choice of the longsword at that time was something of a device for depicting a fool, or hopeless anachronistic idealist. I would guess that common European citizens considered the old style knight to be a thing of the past by the end of the 16th century.

Shakespeare referenced the longsword in humorous situations (considered an out of style weapon called for when characters were acting in jest or played the part of fools) in plays set at the end of the 16th century. This was done more than once (Romeo and Juliet jest about a duel, others I would have to check on.) Falstaff is not a simple case, as the real John Fastolf actually did utilize a longsword in the 100 years wars.

Cervantes Don Quixote (circa 1605) would be another fair example.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jul, 2008 3:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, the Scots seemed to have used claymoors, the two handed kind, fairly late and I guess some longsword techniques would have been used with these ? Up to the 18th century or a bit later ???
You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Christopher Gregg




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jul, 2008 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe by the 18th century, Scots were almost exclusively using the basket-hilted Claymore and targe, along with musketry, and only poorer warriors armed themselves with outdated weaponry. Sure, it's possible that a few twa' handit swords were pressed into service at Dundee's rising in the late 1600's, but by the '15 and '45, the tactic was the Highland charge with broadswords and dirks after an initial volley of lead. Eek! Razz
Christopher Gregg

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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Jul, 2008 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Joshua

An abstract that might be useful or of interest for an author to consider is the story of Peter Franciso during the American Revolution. Although, the sword is not much more than described as six feet long and has not been recovered (to my knowledge). The imagination can certainly be egged on by such a story.
http://www.historynet.com/peter-francisco-ame...r-hero.htm

While his life was certainly a different plot than what you project, there may be some parallels for use.

Cheers

GC
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Jul, 2008 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
Shakespeare referenced the longsword in humorous situations (considered an out of style weapon called for when characters were acting in jest or played the part of fools) in plays set at the end of the 16th century. This was done more than once (Romeo and Juliet jest about a duel, others I would have to check on.)


CAPULET
What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!

LADY CAPULET
A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?

Wink

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Jul, 2008 8:00 am    Post subject: Peter Francisco         Reply with quote

Thanks Glen

That was a great article. I had never come across him before.

Craig
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Anders Nilsson




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Jul, 2008 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

During the Swedish Danish wars during the reign och Charles X there where longswords used.
A danish admirale (I think it was). His ship was boarded by the Swedish. He stepped uot of his cabin with a longsword an started to swing. He cleared the back of the boat himself and the Swedish soldiers refused to attack him. They brought forward some muskets and shoot him.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Fri 25 Jul, 2008 3:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Peter Francisco         Reply with quote

Craig Johnson wrote:
Thanks Glen

That was a great article. I had never come across him before.

Craig


You are quite welcome Craig. A lot of the (pretty well documented) stories of the period are somewhat unbelievable (sic) in today's perspective. I have lost track of some old threads that were a pretty good read. Usually related in other lost sword threads and some large sword threads. One quite involved one at NetSword, iirc and it would likely have been around 2000, or a bit before. Scott Bubar (rip) was fond of those disccussions. I don't recall that any one has found a good description for the sword and with the term broadsword meaning diffrent things to diffrent pepole even then, kind of hard to be certain what it was really like. With a foot of hilt, we can probably rule out a basket Big Grin Maybe a grail of a research project, in and of itself. Determining the smith would be a start mebbe.

Cheers

GC
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