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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Federschwert Scabbards Reply to topic
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Bill Love





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Aug, 2008 9:55 am    Post subject: Federschwert Scabbards         Reply with quote

Does anyone know if Medieval Federschwerts had scabbards like regular swords, and if so, what they looked like?
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Aug, 2008 1:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've never seen any evidence to suggest that this was common practice, if done at all. There aren't that many surviving examples of practice swords, and to my knowlwedge none of them have scabbards, nor have I seen anything in period literature or fencing treatises to suggest them.

Just so you know, the term "federschwert" is not a period term. I know I'm being a little pedantic in bringing that up, but its kind of like saying "platemail" or using the term broadsword to describe Viking weapons, etc, which are incorrect terms.

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Bill Love





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Aug, 2008 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What was the type called?
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Aug, 2008 2:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Love wrote:
What was the type called?


Well, they were just called practice swords. Happy The term "federschwert" means "feather sword", and it appears to be a 19th century term.

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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 3:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...triumpfzug

The second picture shows fencers with their swords sheated.
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Jonathan Blair




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 4:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Werner Stiegler wrote:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=13201&highlight=triumpfzug

The second picture shows fencers with their swords sheated.


I respectfully disagree. That picture looks more as if they have the bare blades over their shoulders. The central ridge is the attempt by the artist to show the spine, while the crescent shaped tip is the attempt to show the thickened and blunted tip.

Edited to change hollow grind to spine.

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Last edited by Jonathan Blair on Tue 19 Aug, 2008 10:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 5:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Jonathon that those do not look like they have scabbards to me. In fact, if you look at the first picture in the link, you will see swords with the same appearance on the blade, but with the leather covered ricasso. If they were scabbarded, it would mean that the leather on the ricasso was outside of the scabbard.

Where is the quote "fencers with their swords sheathed" from?

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Allen W





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 8:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to back up Stiegler. Those are scabbards with seams and chapes on both the federschwerter and two-handers. Federschwerter don't have spines and aren't hollow ground as this would thin the edges and stiffen the the blades making them far more dangerous to practice with while simultaneously shortening their working lives. In the case of the two-handers I think they are scabbarded up to the leather covered ricassos without extending under the leather. Since the swords are only being carried over the shoulder and not worn such would be adequate.
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 8:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the first photo in the link, at least a few of those appear to be scabbards, since it looks like there are some clearly defined chapes on the second and third blades from the right.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 8:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen W wrote:
Federschwerter don't have spines and aren't hollow ground as this would thin the edges and stiffen the the blades making them far more dangerous to practice with while simultaneously shortening their working lives.


While I have never seen any practice swords with a spine, they are sometimes illustrated this way. The images in Goliath show this:



As do the images in the Peter Falkner manuscript (which I don't have an online source to link to, sorry). I know I've seen others, but I'd have to search through my books (I'm not at home at the moment).

Further, I don't think those are chapes at the points: Those appear to be points that are forged to be thicker for safety. This is commonly seen on surviving swords of this type. The Hanwei "Federschwert" reproduces the same feature.

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 9:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ed Toton wrote:
In the first photo in the link, at least a few of those appear to be scabbards, since it looks like there are some clearly defined chapes on the second and third blades from the right.


I see what you mean, on the figures on the right, though I was referring to the person on the left of the image, who doesn't appear to have a scabbard on his sword, unless if the ricasso covering actually goes over it.

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Greg Mele
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To me, if you look at the first plate, the figures look like they are carrying scabbarded swords (and that does seem like chapes), but nothing tells us that those are longsword foils, nor do they look like it.

The second image clearly has longsword foils being carried, and they also seem to be clearly sans any scabbard.

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Allen W





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 10:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well Bill you have me on the spines of the federschwerter although those in the "Triumph" appear wider than on the page you displayed. The "Triumph" blades also show marks along the blade and near the hilt that suggest tooling to me and in some cases possibly stitching. I also see very simple chapes like this occasionally depicted on katzbalger scabbards.
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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:

Where is the quote "fencers with their swords sheathed" from?
From the contract between Maximlilian and the artist who made these woodcuts. He actually ordered "Funf personnen mit swertern in den Schaidten vber die Achseln." - "Five men with swords in sheats (carried) above the armpit." That leaves little doubt as to what is being displayed.

I can't quiet remember why I decided to call them "fencers", just disregard that.
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Bill Love





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you go to ARMA's website they have a fantastic collection of images in the their Renaissance web documentary, and quite a few of them show practice swords with obvious spines. Some of them may very well have started their lives as type XV or XVIII longswords that were later converted to trainers due to excessive or unrepairable wear or edge damage. This practice of re-purposing worn weapons is well documented historically and notable as late as World War II when shot-out Enfield SMLEs were converted to everything from drill pieces to grenade launchers. I personally know of at least one tent stake that began life as a cavalry saber, so stranger things have happened.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Execution swords often had scabbards, so there is at least a precedent for scabbards not meant to be worn.
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 2:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Werner Stiegler wrote:
Bill Grandy wrote:

Where is the quote "fencers with their swords sheathed" from?
From the contract between Maximlilian and the artist who made these woodcuts. He actually ordered "Funf personnen mit swertern in den Schaidten vber die Achseln." - "Five men with swords in sheats (carried) above the armpit." That leaves little doubt as to what is being displayed.

This is fascinating! Where can I find the contract between Maximillian and the artist? I've often wondered how this era's art was commissioned. Any info regarding this part of the transaction would be greatly appreciated!

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 8:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Werner Stiegler wrote:
Bill Grandy wrote:

Where is the quote "fencers with their swords sheathed" from?
From the contract between Maximlilian and the artist who made these woodcuts. He actually ordered "Funf personnen mit swertern in den Schaidten vber die Achseln." - "Five men with swords in sheats (carried) above the armpit." That leaves little doubt as to what is being displayed.


I'll definately accept that, then. Though I don't think its hard proof of scabbards on practice swords. I still will say that these look like standard practice swords without scabbards. I'm certainly willing to accept that I'm wrong about that, but it could just as easily be a case where the artist didn't illustrate exactly what was commissioned. *shrug*

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Aug, 2008 8:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen W wrote:
Well Bill you have me on the spines of the federschwerter although those in the "Triumph" appear wider than on the page you displayed. The "Triumph" blades also show marks along the blade and near the hilt that suggest tooling to me and in some cases possibly stitching. I also see very simple chapes like this occasionally depicted on katzbalger scabbards.


Even if these are scabbards, marks on the ricasso of these swords aren't unheard of. See attached.



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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:

This is fascinating! Where can I find the contract between Maximillian and the artist? I've often wondered how this era's art was commissioned. Any info regarding this part of the transaction would be greatly appreciated!
What Michael Baxandall wrote about artists contracts during the italian Renaissance seems to apply to the german states too - a sketch detailing form and contend of the woodcut/painting/object and a written contract detailing everything else. I've seen some of these contracts for monstranzen (containers for holy relics) recently and I know the sketch for the painting of Willibald Pirckheimers family by Hans Hohlbein with corrections and remarks added by Pirckheimer. At least I think it was Pirckheimers familiy. I'm unable to locate the picture right now.
Dürers sketches for the Triumpfzug are still around, I believe. The textual part of the contract was quiet often written on the backside of these, but I do not know whether that's the case with the Triumpfzug too.

Upon re-reading it appeared that, what I've posted is not the contract but the programm of the Triumpzug dictated by Maximilian to his secretary in 1512, decades before the woodcuts were completed. He called the part a "Vechterey", which is why I assumed that the people on the woodcut in question are indeed fencers with training swords. I'll just post the whole description, maybe there's somebody around who can make sense of it.

Quote:

Vechterey
Item darnach solle einer Reiten vnd beclaidt sein wie ain Vechtmaister lusstig vnd soll die Remtafel fueren.
Item Herr Hans Hollywars solle Vechtmaister sein vnd sein Reim auf die maynung gestelt werden:
Wie er hab nach adenlicher Art das gefecht aus des kaisers öffnung an seinem hof aufgericht.

Das frölich Ritterlich gefecht
hab Ich gemehrt, wie Ir dann secht,
in aller Ritterlicher Wehr
allain nach Kaiserlichen ger
nach Zettels art wie sichs gebürt
darin den rechten grundt man spürt.

Item das gefecht solt gestellt werden, vnnd albeg fünf personnen neben ainander in ordnung, wie hernach volgt, alle zu fueß.
Fünf personnen mit Tryschl. (flails)
Fünf personnen mit kurtzen stanngen.
Fünf personnen mit lanntzen
Fünf personnen mit helmpart
Fünf personnen mit streytaxt
Fünf personnen mit Pugkler, die sollen haben lanng degen plos in der hanndt.
Fünf personnen mit tärtschln, die sollen haben messer auch plos.
Fünf personnen mit pafeßen, die sollen haben vnngrisch koller.
Fünf personnen mit swertern in den Schaidten vber die Achseln.
Item die personen alle sollen die lobrenntzle aufhaben.
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