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Michael Pikula
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Location: Madison, WI
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jan, 2009 8:51 pm    Post subject: Looking for info on this blade, not Rugger (messer)         Reply with quote

I thought that this subject would be better suited in a separate tread so as not to take attention away from the original thread which is about Hammer Head daggers.

I was checking out the thread, here is the link to it, http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=15355, and the sword caught my eye as slightly unusual so I started digging for more information and trying to see what I could find on it. The best I could do is conclude that it is a messer, more specifically a Rugger. Ruggers being messers that are more suited for thrusting then other types of messers. Also I found out that messers in general seem to be a later form of the evolution of the seax.

I just wanted to run this by everyone and see if I am on the right track and where I can look up more information on Ruggers, Messers, and about the evolution from the seax into late medieval/early renaissance swords.

Here are two cropped images of the sword I am looking at:



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rugger2.jpg


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rugger1.jpg



Last edited by Michael Pikula on Sun 25 Jan, 2009 9:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jan, 2009 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The weapon shown in the first post is not a messer, but is a sword. I wouldn't believe rugger to be an appropriate term for it, either, since a rugger is a specific form of long knife and not related to this sword type.

The type is discussed briefly in Mazansky's British Basket-Hilted Swords: A Typology of Basket-Type Sword Hilts. Several samples are shown including the well-known ones from the Royal Armouries, Leeds. Mazansky calls these hilt types as prototypes of the fully-formed basket-hilts and places them in the developmental evolution of the British basket-hilt.

One excerpt (referencing an item documented in the book):

Quote:
These examples of the precursors of basket-hilt types lack both a true main knuckle-guard and side-guards. However, the long recurved front quillon in both and the lug or short bar on the outside of the hilt at the blade end in type A2, probably represent these morphologically and certainly functionality.


The two common swords found at the Royal Armouries in Leeds are documented in several books but I've not seen any long discussion of them.

Check out This Discussion Topic that also touches upon this type.

Also, I don't believe there is any evidence to conclude that the European messer is of any evolutionary development of the seax. I suspect it's just speculation by people given that both are single-edged. I know of no academic materials that make such a claim but would be eager to learn of such things.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jan, 2009 9:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You might also find this Spotlight Topic to be of interest:

The Difference Between a Messer and a Falchion?

(Like any discussion topic on a forum, it is not to be considered an academic source, but it's certainly an interesting discussion)

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Michael Pikula
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Location: Madison, WI
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Posts: 411

PostPosted: Sat 24 Jan, 2009 10:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just did more looking and since there are no holes in the tang, scales couldn't have been used which basically means this isn't what I thought it might be.

The things that lead me to start thinking in this direction was a small "nub" that comes off the side of the guard which is similar to what I have seen on single handed messers, also the pommel seemed like an exaggerated version of what we see on messers.

The blade is highly unique for a sword since it basically follows the form of a broke back seax. There is little change in width from shoulders to where the spine "breaks" then the tip falls slightly to the center.

I know I haven't seen every type of sword, but it seems like this blade type doesn't come close to fitting Oakeshotts typology. Also it is a little difficult for me to tell what is going on since two pictures really can't tell the whole story here.

Does anyone have a picture of a Rugger? I have found plenty of Messer pictures but either can't tell, or don't know, which ones are Ruggers.

Lastly me saying that they are the progression from the seax was more drawn from looking at the blade, thinking about what the dynamics would be, and also there are several threads where others have brought up if there was a possible connection between the two.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jan, 2009 10:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Pikula wrote:
The things that lead me to start thinking in this direction was a small "nub" that comes off the side of the guard which is similar to what I have seen on single handed messers, also the pommel seemed like an exaggerated version of what we see on messers.


I believe the "nub" is known as a nagel.

Quote:
I know I haven't seen every type of sword, but it seems like this blade type doesn't come close to fitting Oakeshotts typology. Also it is a little difficult for me to tell what is going on since two pictures really can't tell the whole story here.


Oakeshott's typology covers only a small slice of European blade types. Nowhere in there are messers, falchions, backswords, all the different types of later-period blades found on rapiers and sabers, etc, etc. A typology like Oakeshott's isn't intended to classify every single type of sword. in fact, it's only in place to provide a common language for discussing the types of swords that it does cover.

Think about it as a palette of paint: every palette is limited in that it can only represent colors contained in it and the mixtures of those colors. A paint palette cannot create every single piece of artwork imaginable by man and isn't intended to do so. Our article on Oakeshott's typology describes the intention of the typology and its limitations -- both intentional and inherent -- pretty well.

Quote:
Does anyone have a picture of a Rugger? I have found plenty of Messer pictures but either can't tell, or don't know, which ones are Ruggers.


I don't know the origin of the term rugger. Is it medieval or later? Isn't a rugger basically a bauernwehr (or hauswehr) knife? I believe the bauernwehr is strictly civilian in nature, whereas messers (grossemessers, not simply "knives" as it could be translated, but the forms we're used to discussing on this site) are weapons of combat. Maybe... or maybe it's just a matter of length.

Attached is a photo copyrighted by Arma Bohemia. Please see This Post by Peter Johnsson for other photos and a discussion of the term.

I don't believe anything we call a grossemesser (not just a "knife" but the weapon) are correctly termed rugger. However, because a rugger is a knife, then it could be called a messer since that simply translates to "knife" in German. (confused yet?)

Quote:
Lastly me saying that they are the progression from the seax was more drawn from looking at the blade, thinking about what the dynamics would be, and also there are several threads where others have brought up if there was a possible connection between the two.


I would caution anyone from making any conclusions about evolutionary development of weapon forms based solely on shape or form. One has to study the history of these weapons and trace them back to see common areas of development, common uses, overlapping areas of use, etc, to make any theory on the matter. We have to consider archeology, art, written records, and all of those sorts of things to even get a glimpse of context, let alone the big picture or the final conclusion.

Without this, we could say that a letter opener is a descendant of a gladius and that would be silly, except when looked in the broadest of ways. Happy



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dg24v2.jpg
Bauernwehr knife in the collection of Arma Bohemia beside their reproduction

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Michael Pikula
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Location: Madison, WI
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Posts: 411

PostPosted: Sun 25 Jan, 2009 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the information and help Nathan, I see where you are coming from on this.

I suppose drawing some kind of a parallel seemed logical to me since I am mainly looking at blade shape and use, I am starting to try form a time line of where all the pieces that interests me fall, but I haven't payed too much attention to reigon yet. I know to get a full understanding all points need to be considered and trust me I'm working on it, I just need to make small steps forward and grow my knowledge.

All of that said, we know that this blade is English in origin, dated to around 1500. What else do we know about this style blade? Was it used for hunting? combat? guard duty? Are there other examples of this type of blade either in the UK or other parts of Europe?

At least to me this blade seems like it was made with thrusting in mind, probably a stiff spine and a sturdy tip, but still a good cutter. The cross section being triangular....
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Hunter B.




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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jan, 2009 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You know, your picture jogged my memory, I'd seen a similar picture somewhere.

Turns out, it was Tod's stuff:



While the blade profiles appear to be different, and Tod's lacks a pommel, the construction seems to be similar. Maybe he can point you in the right direction, although he has this to say about it:

Quote:
These are based on the ones in Breughel paintings and to be honest I can’t find what they are really called so the closest name I can find is messer. A mini sword with a 12” – 14” blade with a scale tang and a knuckle bow. I have given a date of circa 1500 because of Breughel, but the form suggests about 1400-1550

“It is the loose ends with which men hang themselves.”
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