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Danny Grigg





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2008 11:54 pm    Post subject: Strange Italian Swords         Reply with quote

Does anyone have any information about the type of sword in the following link?
Has this type of sword been published in any books?

Its look like a Polearm head has been mounted onto a long handle so it can be used as a single handed weapon.
The head looks similar to a "Kriegsgertel", "English Bill", "Roncone" or "Kriegssense/War Scythe".


http://www.czernys.com/auctions_lot.php?oggetto=26689&asta=22


There's another similar sword at the following link.
It looks even stranger with a "Military Fork" type head combined with a "Bill head".

http://www.czernys.com/auctions_lot.php?oggetto=26687&asta=22



I know there have been discussions before about strange medieval European weapons and I've read through some of the posts, but I haven't come across anything like the above before.

If anyone has pictures of other similar swords please post.


Thanks

Danny


PS Pictures of Kriegsgertels can be found in the following books:

Europäische Hieb- und Stichwaffen by Hartmut Kolling & Heinrich Muller
The Halberd And Other European Polearms 1300-1650 by George Snook
A Glossary Of The Construction....Arms And Armor by George Cameron Stone
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D. Austin
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2008 12:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow. Thanks for alerting us to them. I love them. Both look much like agricultural bills to me, although obviously intended for a military application. The first looks like some scary torture implement and the second, well let's just say it's awesome! I want one. It appears as though the socket which holds the fork to the bill originally had something else attached to the base of it. There is a slot with holes either side of it, like part of a hinge. I'd love to know more. Hopefully someone can enlighten us.

I just pity the poor craftsman who's asked to create a scabbard for that fork/bill/sword.
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David E. Farrell




Location: Evanston, IL
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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2008 8:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

wow - those are pretty cool. Not actually the wierdest weapons from Italy that I have seen, but they are certainly up there.

The dates given with them seem to coincide pretty well with the period where all kinds of wacky polearms were being made for use by foot soldiers against heavily armoured cavalry (and each other). Things that combines aspects of the fork, the halberd, the partisan, spear, etc. Armi Bianchi Italiane (a rare book to find) has some other wacky examples - but none that look exactly like these - in particular the short handles on these pieces I find interesting. These are sort of like updates of the 'medieval chopper' like is seen in the Mac. Bible.

I'd definitely be interested to see others like these. It would be interesting to see what sort of makers marks are on there or what other information is available about them. in particular if there is evidence of modifications to allow a handle rather than a pole (though in the second example this seems to not be likely, in the first I would love to know if the handle is original... seems very well preserved for a 500 year old chunk of wood).

AKA: 'Sparky' (so I don't need to explain later Wink )

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2008 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Polearms in particular were subject to alteration over the decades because they had such a large and vulnerable wooden component (the haft) and because they became militarily obsolete long before they rotted and rusted away. They became largely ceremonial by 1600, though the process began much earlier. Some of them are very finely crafted, so there's a strong collectible aspect, but they're also a challenge to display in museums and private collections. All that adds up to lost, discarded or shortened and/or replaced hafts, and re-purposing as ceremonial objects and common tools.

Consider this Küse (aka, glaive, glefe, couteau de breche) from the bodygaurd of Maximilian I. That's a classic guard's polearm, but mounted on an ornate grip for ceremonial use (rendering it largely useless as a weapon,) probably after its service to Max. The Italian pieces in question have a similar treatment, and I would guess that they were rehafted in this manner somewhat later than the Küse, either for ceremonial use after the time when guards would be expected to actually use their weapons, or simply to satisfy a collector who had an unmounted but attractive polearm head. Notice that the second example is identified as being 17th c., long after such a thing would have been of use on the battlefield. I have no explanation for the elaborate mechanism at the top of the blade, but it might have been added when the haft was shortened, to create some kind of specialized tool.



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-Sean

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David E. Farrell




Location: Evanston, IL
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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2008 8:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

thanks for the clarification on the second piece Sean, I missed the date on that.
AKA: 'Sparky' (so I don't need to explain later Wink )

For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother
-- King Henry, Henry V, William Shakespeare

Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused... but on a higher level.
-- Enrico Fermi
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Marc Pengryffyn




Location: Canberra, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 05 Dec, 2008 7:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The fork on that second bill makes me think of a rest for a musket or arquebus, especially since its mounted transverse to the blade, again for ceremonial guard use perhaps. But at 124cm it's probably too short for that use. Unless the haft was originally longer. But there seems to be a square metal butt-plate/ pommel on the thing, and the haft looks like it might be riveted-slab construction. That makes me wonder if it was originally constructed to be this length, rather than being a repurposed pole-arm? None of this explains the slot with holes at the base of the fork attachment that D. Austin mentioned...

Just hoping to jog some more knowledgeable forumite's imagination! Fascinating items, thanks for posting them Danny!

Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 1:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Those re-hafted bills look like they'd make pretty nice pruning hooks if they had indeed been converted into tools....
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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2008 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs-Remember that many of the big Ita;ian city-states of east and south Italy were naval powers, Venice, Ravenna, Genoa, Naples, concerned with putting down piracy,(or comitting it).That first bill in particular looks to be just the thing for a marine trying to climb aboard another ship. You have a parrying and striking weapon at one go.
Ja68ms
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Marc Pengryffyn




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2008 2:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
Sirs-Remember that many of the big Ita;ian city-states of east and south Italy were naval powers, Venice, Ravenna, Genoa, Naples, concerned with putting down piracy,(or comitting it).That first bill in particular looks to be just the thing for a marine trying to climb aboard another ship. You have a parrying and striking weapon at one go.


A good point! And one that I, for one, had forgotten... But I do wonder- these weapons are obviously still meant to be used two-handed, and I would have thought that most maritime weapons would have been one-handed, allowing the other for holding onto things. But for repelling boarders, perhaps for an admiral's guard... Interesting thought!

Actually, that's given me another idea. Both weapons could be useful for defending a wall- short enough for use against storming troops, two-handed for powerful blows, and with attachments that could be utilized for pushing away seige-ladders or the troops climbing them. So, maybe for the guard of some important fortification? Just speculation of course, but interesting...

Marc

Tradition is the illusion of permanence.
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Ivo Malz




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2008 8:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Those re-hafted bills look like they'd make pretty nice pruning hooks if they had indeed been converted into tools....


Usually it went the other way around- agricultural implements went onto a long staff as makeshift polearms, and which developped into polearm styles in their own right.

Carters' hatchets like the "Doloire" variety, in auction catalofues often described as "important medieval battle axe" or the like, even including the stamped "eyelash" decorations, can be found on xylographies in 19th century tool catalogues.

Regards

Ivo
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2008 11:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ivo Malz wrote:

Usually it went the other way around- agricultural implements went onto a long staff as makeshift polearms, and which developped into polearm styles in their own right.


Is there any documentation of this? The people who waged war were, throughout the pre-modern period, normally people who could afford more than a farm implement on a stick. They were landholders who got paid rent by their tenants or professional craftsmen etc.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Jean-Carle Hudon




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2008 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If the provenance wasn't so clearly indicated as being italian, I would of thought that both these pieces resemble the tools used in Indias to ride elephants... The auction house describe them both as being gisarmes, which makes sense as the inside of the curved section would be sharp, used by infantry to cut tendons of horses, though guisarmes were apparently popular tools for defending and assaulting fortified positions.
Bon coeur et bon bras
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William Carew




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PostPosted: Thu 25 Dec, 2008 9:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is evidence for similar weapons from the medieval period. The choppers from the Maciejowski Bible spring to mind. And take a look at the weapon being held by the left hand figure in the enclosed image - very similar to the first item in the OP: http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/gallery2/main.p...temId=6397


 Attachment: 60.26 KB
Coutumes_de_Toulouse_French_13thC.jpg


Bill Carew
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Kjell Magnusson




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Dec, 2008 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marc Pengryffyn wrote:

A good point! And one that I, for one, had forgotten... But I do wonder- these weapons are obviously still meant to be used two-handed, and I would have thought that most maritime weapons would have been one-handed, allowing the other for holding onto things. But for repelling boarders, perhaps for an admiral's guard... Interesting thought!


The Swedish navy did at various points in history place orders for two-handed weapons, we see some greatswords in the 17th century, and at various times boarding-pikes (pollaxe sized spears, often with guard plates down towards the "user end", sometimes with heavy iron butts). There's also boarding axes which I suspect where largely meant to be used two-handed.

Whether or not these might have been more dedicated to defence than offence is largely beyond em though. But would the navy really have bothered to carry around melee weapons which couldn't serve reasonably well for both?
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Wed 31 Dec, 2008 5:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The catalogue says: Tirri collection, part One, Oriental weapons. Then Provenance : Italy , Epoch: 1500. On a lower note one has also Provenance: Malacrida collection.So it is not clear if they are part of an oriental weapons collection by a Mr Tirri, or by a Mr Malacrida. All the other weapons of this lot are oriental, anyway.
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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2009 12:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs- I found the first weapon It's a Venitian fauchard,cut down for one-hand use,probably for a Marine. It's lllustrated in George Cameron Stone's" Glossary of the,Construction Decoration and use of Arms and Armour" under Fauchard I've said before, don't leave home w/o this book.
Ja68ms
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William Carew




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2009 12:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
Sirs- I found the first weapon It's a Venitian fauchard,cut down for one-hand use,probably for a Marine. It's lllustrated in George Cameron Stone's" Glossary of the,Construction Decoration and use of Arms and Armour" under Fauchard I've said before, don't leave home w/o this book.


Thanks for the information on the item, James.

Strange that they suggest one-handed use, as the length of the handle (1/2 the weapon) as well as the likely handling of the item would support two-handed, close quarters use to me. For a similar comparison, compare it to the Maciejowski Bible choppers with similar blade to handle ratio - they are used two-handed too.

Cheers,

Bill Carew
Jogo do Pau Brisbane
COLLEGIUM IN ARMIS
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