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Alain D.





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PostPosted: Thu 19 Mar, 2009 4:30 pm    Post subject: Historic Sword Training Methods         Reply with quote

I've read a lot about sword training and training manuals like I.33, but how often were these actually used historically? I find it hard to believe that every soldier with a sword in, for example, the Battle of Hastings, or Agincourt was trained with a sword (at least under a "master"). How did average soldiers train themselves during the Middle Ages for sword fighting (or any weapons use for that matter)? Did they have instructors train them? Did they use texts to train themselves? I've heard that it's very difficult to learn sword fighting alone, but is there any way to do this in a somewhat historically accurate way?

Also, when oiling a sword, is it necessary to pour oil down between the fuller / blade and the guard?

Thanks

Alain
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Mar, 2009 6:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is an oversimplification, but, the fechtbooks were probably between masters and teachers, not common soldiers.

Many soldiers were illiterate. Clerical skills were taught to some squires and knightly class. We have as an example, the fact that William Marshall could not write. (He was multi-lingual and highly skilled in many regards, however.)

I suspect the usual training was instilled by a drill sergeant, who was already battle proven.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Mar, 2009 8:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith's points are all good.

The manuals hint that the information within them is intended for a select audience. I have read two interpretations of Liechtenauer that state outright that the information was not meant for the common men at arms.

"he has written all of this art in hidden and secret words"

"written with concealed and considered words so that his art will not be made open or common"

From my own experience I find that the techniques within Liechtenauer and various other masters work well when matched against the same weapons as shown in the manuals within the context of a "list" or dueling area. The context of a duel does introduce a number of restrictions that would not otherwise be present on a battlefield. This is not to say that the techniques within the manuals would not be useful to have in your repertoire going into a battle. More is always better.

On a battlefield the weapons and the number of men fighting are never matched up evenly. There are horses, archers, spears, halberds, shields and war machines involved. The armor that the men wear is not uniform either. The armor was covered so that colors were more visible. It was often not possible to know who had how much armor on.


I suspect that men coming into service in a time of need were trained first and foremost on keeping their place within the ranks. They were trained to fight with a specific weapon form within that unit. They would have been taught 3 or 4 basic attack and defense moves. If they lived beyond the first battle or two, the seasoned veterans around them would have probably invested more time in teaching them more things as personal relationships developed among the men.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Mar, 2009 9:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually the "more is always better" is not agreed upon. An old martial arts instructer of mine, who also instructed Police riot and S.W.A.T. teams had two "streams" for his MA, one for "instructors" one for "grunts" (my term, can't remember how he refered). His argument was that if you have a large body of men, then high proficiency in a limited number of techniques was preferable to a plethora of options, since in his experience that tended to slow reaction time. (tended to is the key term here). Obviously he didn't feel the relationship was a necissary one, since the instructor stream did have a lot of techniques, just that the level of training required to make them as "natural" was massively increassed when multiple options were introduced.
I imagine the same would go for medieval martial artists / levies with munition arms.
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Mar, 2009 10:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, I agree Nat. Less is better for beginners. That is what I suggested in my post for raw recruits. That is the most they will be able to handle because they will not be able to do much thinking in battle, just reacting. Its a different situation for seasoned fighters though. Time slows down a bit and they can process a lot more information a lot faster.
No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Mar, 2009 11:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Might also vary greatly depending on the culture: Some sort of arms training for collective defense must have been essential when the danger of the " barbarians " over the hill might attack at any time, so militias seem to have been common for most places and times in history, but there would be a great deal of difference between a warrior or a non-warrior culture in the skill level of the " average " person.

In a " Warrior Culture " arms training would be an important factor in one's social standing and most would be motivated to learn to be good fighters. The would also be a pool of veteran older fighters who would at least train their own sons and relatives. Just about every male in a warrior culture would have some competence in fighting unless handicapped, cowardly, to young or too old to fight. The cowardly would generally be shunned or would find a socially acceptable " out " by becoming a priest or a monk or become a skilled artisan valued enough to avoid having fighting as their primary function.

In a " Warrior Culture " being a fighter is one's first vocation and anything else like farming a secondary activity.

Some warrior culture don't expect every male to be a fighter and have a dedicated warrior class instead: In such a case the level of skill difference of the warrior class versus the trained militia might be great with the militia being trained in simple group tactics and only training part time. The warriors would have noting else to do but train and fight !

So maybe with non warrior cultures only specialists warriors would get sophisticated training while the militias would only learn very basic moves.

Some might pick up some notions of fighting techniques by seeing fights or duels between trained fighters but not be able to apply those techniques properly themselves while not being completely unaware of these techniques.

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Gabriele Becattini





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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 1:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

i agree with Vassilis and Nat, a good comparison can be made taking a look at some 19th and early 20th

century manual for military sabre or cutlass, they explain very basic attack and defenses that can be readily

assimilated by a raw recruit in a reasonably short time, if you have to train hundreds of man you don't have the time

to make everyone a master, your main goal should be to make a man battle ready in the shortest time possible,

experiance of battle and constant practice will do the rest.

i strongly believe that this principle was valid for ancient and medieval times too.

cheers

Gabriele
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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 3:23 am    Post subject: Re: Historic Sword Training Methods         Reply with quote

Alain D. wrote:
I've read a lot about sword training and training manuals like I.33, but how often were these actually used historically? I find it hard to believe that every soldier with a sword in, for example, the Battle of Hastings, or Agincourt was trained with a sword (at least under a "master"). How did average soldiers train themselves during the Middle Ages for sword fighting (or any weapons use for that matter)? Did they have instructors train them? Did they use texts to train themselves? I've heard that it's very difficult to learn sword fighting alone, but is there any way to do this in a somewhat historically accurate way?
King's Mirrors of the time simply state that one should grab somebody and fence with him every day. No word about fencing manuals or masters.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 7:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
I have read two interpretations of Liechtenauer that state outright that the information was not meant for the common men at arms.


It could have been meant for common men-at-arms! Remember that men-at-arms were the elite, and were therefore already a "select audience;" the fechtbuchs were probably written for people of their social standing in the first place. But your sentence would have been quite correct if you had said "common soldiers" instead.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The manuals like I.33, those in the Lichtenauer tradition and etc. did not spring up out of thin air. They were reflections, maybe refinements, of martial arts traditions that went back aeons in Europe. Exactly like the traditions of what we know today as Kung Fu, Karate, Silat etc. in various parts of Asia. I know this is hard for a lot of people to understand today, but that is what the manuals reflect.

These martial arts traditions and explicit training for them, are not exactly a huge mystery. To this day there are numerous, myriad European martial arts kind of hiding in plain sight. Apparently if they don't show up regularly on TV nobody can imagine they exist. The most glaring example is arguably our modern form of 'Graeco -Roman' wrestling was an ancient tradition going back to the pre-history of the Greeks, who practiced a kind of Mixed Martial Art they called Pankration.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pankration

In Medieval Japan, the equivalent of this was Jujitsu. In Medieval Europe, the equivalent was called Ringen or Kampfringen, and when used with a weapon, Rignen Am Schwert. There may be a direct link to the earlier Mediterranean systems, some of the most famous masters of Ringen were Jews, such as Ott Jud and Jud Lew.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kampfringen

Many of the underlying skills for fighting were also made into various sports. The sports which made up the original olympic games, the javelin, wrestling (pankration), boxing, the discus, running, jumping etc. were directly related to martial arts, as were the famous and usually somewhat caricatured Medieval Tournament of the knightly aristocracy. Fewer people are aware of the many similar traditions among the common classes. The Bridge Fighting in Italian Cities such as Venice, wherin people from the various neighborhoods would stage pitched battles with sticks etc. are just one example, traditions like this exist in hundreds of towns around Europe, in some cases evolving into comedic events popular with tourists like tomato wars in Spain.



It was in the cities where the best foot soldiers often emerged in Medieval Europe, because in much of the countryside the old European tribal traditions had been systematically eliminated with the rise of Christian Feudalism. Another of the traditions which kept martial arts alive were games like Hurling in Ireland, which goes back at least to the 4th century AD and was practiced all across Pagan Europe under various other names. Lacrosse played a similar role in many Native American cultures such as the Lakota and the Iroquois. In both cases 'games' were often like pitched battles lasting several days, in which people were not infrequently killed, and used to decide issues such as the boundaries between regions etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurling
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Hurling
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinty#History

Hurling is mentioned in the Táin Bó Cúailnge played by hero Cúchulainn, as well as the Fenian Cycle by Finn MaCool.

There was also a great deal of systematic training done. The Swiss, who had never been effectively Feudalized and therefore had retained their ancient Tribal martial traditions, drilled regularly. Like many tribal militias, the Swiss also developed new weapons like the Halberd and improved variations of the crossbow, and trained with their characteristic short sword (the baselard), the bastard sword, and later, the true two hander or zweihander. All this training proved very valuable when they went up against the armored Knights of the Austrian Hapsburgs, who they smashed. Each village or town district would report with their weapons, bearing arms gave you a vote, this is a tradition which continued in the Swiss district of Appenzel until the 1990s, and goes back to pre-historic times. It was known to the Medieval Scandinavians and Migration era Germans as a waepentake. It was the foundational component the Eidgenossenschaft or sworn brotherhood, which ultimately became basis of the Swiss confederacy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundred_(country...ther_terms
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eidgenossenschaft

But it goes back further than that. In the Irish Cycles for example, training is specificaly described in some detail, in the various stories heroes like CuCullain and Finn McCool trained, interestingly enough under the tutelage of women. The specific 'Feats' they learned to accomplish, such as running through a forest barefoot without snagging on a thorn, or standing in a pit and fending off javelins thrown by 5 men, were described in detail in the Cycles.

You mentioned the Battle of Hastings. The effective, if not victorious Saxon armies which took that field were created by systematic training. When the (still highly martial) Norse stormed into England in the 9th Century, they found easy pickings among the Feudalized Saxon peasants most of whom had been systematically disarmed and no longer retained their military skills (or had enough nutrition to really be fighting men) Alfred the Great had to revive the old militia and recreate the system of Burhs (forts) where the Saxons were encouraged to drill. This paid off great dividends which ultimately, at least for a time, kept the Vikings at bay.

Finally, professional soldiers groups, form the VikingLaegs, (sworn brotherhoods) to the Renaissance Landsknechts and Swiss all trained systematically, and included in their ranks fencing masters. In the increasingly literate Renaissance, we see documentation of fencing brotherhoods or fraternities which obsessively trained in period fencing techniques. The most famous of these were the MarxBruder (Brotherhood of St. Mark) of Germany and the Federfechter (Feather fighters of Free Fencers) of Prague.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brotherhood_of_St._Mark
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freifechter

These Fraternities were directly linked to the Masters and their Fechtbuchen, and included several of the Masters we know today as well as famous individuals such as Albrecht Durer, (who few people realize, was the author of a Fechtbuch himself)

In this period they trained in gymnaisums much like the Greeks in the Classical Era, and special buildings they called Fechtschules.





J

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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 10:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
I have read two interpretations of Liechtenauer that state outright that the information was not meant for the common men at arms.


It could have been meant for common men-at-arms! Remember that men-at-arms were the elite, and were therefore already a "select audience;" the fechtbuchs were probably written for people of their social standing in the first place. But your sentence would have been quite correct if you had said "common soldiers" instead.


I thought of using using "common soldiers" and that gets to the root of what I meant. I did not use it because I think it is somewhat limited in that it implies free men fighting for a wage. I do not think soldiers technically includes men fighting under feudal land/service obligations. Such obligation could have at times extended to peasants. The term soldier can be applied to common people fighting in a siege situation or otherwise are being invaded. These are also situations where it would be necessary to raise a militia and train them in basic attack and defense. I don't think temporary militia could be termed as soldiers either.

In the case of proper "Men at Arms", yes it is possible that they might have had the funds to purchase the proper schooling. However, looking at the prologue translation of Fiore at Schola Gladiatoria's site, it seems that Fiore's students were a bit higher up in the food chain. His focus seems to have been more "great Signori, Princes, Dukes, Marquis', and Counts, Knights and Squires". I think squires being at the very bottom of the list would have been squires of great financial resources. From I can tell of Fiore's prologue, it seems that he was not only aiming for high net worth students as a means getting paid more, he seems to have been following a very typical practice of trying to get into aristocratic circles as a means of boosting his social standing.

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
The manuals like I.33, those in the Lichtenauer tradition and etc. did not spring up out of thin air. They were reflections, maybe refinements, of martial arts traditions that went back aeons in Europe. Exactly like the traditions of what we know today as Kung Fu, Karate, Silat etc. in various parts of Asia. I know this is hard for a lot of people to understand today, but that is what the manuals reflect.


Jean I very much agree with your post. Fiore and Lichtenauer would have pieced together their art from feedback gained from experienced fighting men. They would have refined it a little and made it more suitable to the "list". I believe that the source of knowledge would have flowed from the direction of the battlefield to the Master's classroom, not the other way around. For the pampered Aristocrat, classroom is the next best thing.

I suppose that the modern equivalent would be if I wanted to learn modern combat, I could enlist and learn it through the Army or I could go to one of those schools run my ex-military and learn through them. Either way the main source of knowledge is in combat, be it one step removed and refined in the school.

btw, great image posts.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com


Last edited by Bill Tsafa on Fri 20 Mar, 2009 11:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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Douglas S





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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 10:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing I'd like to add. We know something of techniques, but the training regime per se is not well described in most cases. But we have Vegetius' description of the training of Roman legionaries before the 4th century. In the 14th century Poem of the Pell describes identical training techniques (solitary training with a pell, and a double-weight shield and sword). It's obvious that either this Roman treatise was read and taken seriously throughout the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages, or it was maintained as an oral tradition through these times.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 11:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Douglas S wrote:
One thing I'd like to add. We know something of techniques, but the training regime per se is not well described in most cases. But we have Vegetius' description of the training of Roman legionaries before the 4th century. In the 14th century Poem of the Pell describes identical training techniques (solitary training with a pell, and a double-weight shield and sword). It's obvious that either this Roman treatise was read and taken seriously throughout the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages, or it was maintained as an oral tradition through these times.


As I pointed out above, the specific details of training are mentioned in insular literature such as the Icelandic Sagas and Irish Ulster Cycle etc. The problem is that before the Renaissance there were not many widely literate societies in Europe, so what we do know about training methods comes to us primarily in the form of epic poems and folk tales etc. Detailed fencing manuals don't make particularly rousing stories to be told at parties, so a lot of the details get glossed over, or embellished, or at the very least made a bit more lyrical, but in the examples that do survive for various reasons, we can clearly see.

The medieval traditions of Swiss, Icelandic and Breton wrestling for example, are still alive to this day (albiet tiny), as is Jogo Do Pao in Portugal, Trois-de-Bata stick-fighting in Ireland, etc. etc. There are equivalents in every part of Europe.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jogo_do_pau

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
I suppose that the modern equivalent would be if I wanted to learn modern combat, I could enlist and learn it through the Army or I could go to one of those schools run my ex-military and learn through them. Either way the main source of knowledge is in combat, be it one step removed and refined in the school.


Yes, but it's important to remember that the line between professional warrior and civilian was often blurred in European context, particularly with common people and more and more the further back you go. The Vikings for example were not for the most part truly professional wariors, they were farmers and fisherman whose tribal society still included it's martial traditions. The Kieven Rus found it's greatest (defensive) strength in it's militias, as did many regions of Spain during the Reconquista in Spain. The famous Swiss mercenaries were actually militias of the various towns and cantons, to hire them one approached the local town council. The order of battle for famous clashes like Morgarten, Sempach or Grandson reads like a cross section of the Medieval civil economy: bakers guild, butchers guild, weavers guild etc. The Italian renaissance city-states were much the same way, the famous crossbowmen of the Genoese militia were hired from the town itself to fight for foreign armies and only later become mercenaries. The army that defeated the French nobility at Golden Spurs were militia, largely composed of artisans guilds.

http://www.liebaart.org/stadsm_e.htm

Again, this has a strong parallel even in ancient times, the Greek Hoplite or Peltast, the Athenian sailor or marine of the Persian wars were not for the most part professionals (except in the case of Sparta) but essentially town militia.

So in other words, while in some places with a very centralized government (like say, France) where Feudal traditions were strong enough to erase the old tribal society, you may have had a truly professional army. When you are talking about Medieval Europe, or even more so during the Migration Era (aka "Dark Ages") civilians often did their own training and kept up their own martial traditions independently. During the Renaissance this tradition largely migrated into the cities; their culture of martial arts within was an important part of how they were able to remain autonomous. It was in fact the regions where they kept this up the longest which eventually became some of the most important military powers of Renaissance Europe in the centuries to come.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

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Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 12:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Historic Sword Training Methods         Reply with quote

Alain D. wrote:
I've heard that it's very difficult to learn sword fighting alone, but is there any way to do this in a somewhat historically accurate way?


The short answer is yes, though it takes a lot of effort and serious dedication.

The long answer is yes you can actually, using the books themselves first and foremost. There are good translations available online now of 20 or 30 of them, so you have plenty to choose from. There are also many excellent videos online depicting specific techniques from the most basic to the most sophisticated, and forums of various groups where people can and will help you by answering your questions and linking you to resources. There are also good DvDs available as training resources from groups like Boars Tooth in the UK.

Some examples of a few good videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3DhjFUOG6Y&am...mp;index=5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWISsk0cy74&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38sVdx7nzhQ&feature=related

This seems to be an excerpt from an instructional DvD in German which looks very detailed, though I don't know who did it or how good the interpretation is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrrwby6Q1Kw&feature=related

If you want more specific information about learning HEMA or aquiring training gear, books or other resources PM me and I'll help you out.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Hugh Knight




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Vassilis Tsafatinos"][quote="Lafayette C Curtis"]
Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
I thought of using using "common soldiers" and that gets to the root of what I meant. I did not use it because I think it is somewhat limited in that it implies free men fighting for a wage. I do not think soldiers technically includes men fighting under feudal land/service obligations. Such obligation could have at times extended to peasants. The term soldier can be applied to common people fighting in a siege situation or otherwise are being invaded. These are also situations where it would be necessary to raise a militia and train them in basic attack and defense. I don't think temporary militia could be termed as soldiers either.


And yet common troops trained together all the time. Many medieval cultures, for example, met on festival days for drill; that's why the "village green" existed. As for whether commoners would be front-line battlefield troops (as opposed to mere hewers of wood and carryers of water), that depends upon the period and culture you're discussing. You can't make this kind of generalization. The Swiss cantons of the 14th and 15th centuries were almost entirely commoners; the front-line French troops during the HYW were almost entirely men at arms (except specialists like the Genoese crossbowmen). And see below for what "man at arms" really means.

Quote:
In the case of proper "Men at Arms", yes it is possible that they might have had the funds to purchase the proper schooling. However, looking at the prologue translation of Fiore at Schola Gladiatoria's site, it seems that Fiore's students were a bit higher up in the food chain. His focus seems to have been more "great Signori, Princes, Dukes, Marquis', and Counts, Knights and Squires". I think squires being at the very bottom of the list would have been squires of great financial resources. From I can tell of Fiore's prologue, it seems that he was not only aiming for high net worth students as a means getting paid more, he seems to have been following a very typical practice of trying to get into aristocratic circles as a means of boosting his social standing.


The term "man at arms" includes kings, princes, dukes, counts, knights and squires--anyone who could afford full harness and equipment. It does *not* refer to lower-class troops. That usage comes from modern pseudo-historical novels and role-playing games. A man at arms is almost always a member of the nobility or a very, very wealthy man (e.g., son of a very, very successful merchant) who's seeking to be elevated to the nobility. The term does *not* include common soldiers with scrounged gear as most people use it today.

You may fnd this article will shed some light on this question:
http://talhoffer.blogspot.com/2008/02/did-med...-with.html

Regards,
Hugh
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:

As I pointed out above, the specific details of training are mentioned in insular literature such as the Icelandic Sagas and Irish Ulster Cycle etc.


Would be able to expand on this?

Thanks,
Steven

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Douglas S





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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Indeed. If there are "details" regarding training in any of these works, I guess I've missed them.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll just add my meagre knowledge to this disscussion; I would assume that as a genral rule, mannuals were the realm of the select few, but not because a majority of people were illiterate (For example MS I.33 consists of mostly pictures, with little text), but because making a book in the first place was so tedious and prolonged that only those who had the money or influence would be allowed to use them.
Secondly: I'd also assume that (excluding warrior cultures i.e. Celts, Germans etc) your life as a plebian revolved more around making ends meet rather than fighting that group across the way, after all, isn't that what your leige promised to do, to protect you. Also, one was pressed into service, the chance of being given any weapon, lest a armoury(?) grade weapon was unlikely unless you were say a proven fighter, so a manual that focus' on spesific weapons would be of little use, after all, can one not chop down a man like a tree or beat him to death like threshing wheat?
And lastly: Don't forget that women also were "allowed" to fight if needs be, or in the case of Scáthach, to train younger boys to become warriors as mighty as Cúchulainn.

On a side note, what the hell is the 'Salmon leap' or whatever that attack/jump is called?

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Mar, 2009 10:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
I would assume that as a general rule, manuals were the realm of the select few, but not because a majority of people were illiterate


The number of surviving manuals is very small. That could be a clue. If they had been intended for large numbers, I would expect the the numbers of originals, copies, and number of remaining texts to be more numerous. I don't know what the comparative numbers of clergy versus military would be, but, there is no comparison in terms of numbers of surviving bibles, etc. The preface's in the texts themselves, and the known circumstances (apparently few numbers of copies) suggest to me that only a select few had access to the fechtbooks.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Sat 21 Mar, 2009 4:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:

There was also a great deal of systematic training done. The Swiss, who had never been effectively Feudalized and therefore had retained their ancient Tribal martial traditions, drilled regularly. Like many tribal militias, the Swiss also developed new weapons like the Halberd and improved variations of the crossbow, and trained with their characteristic short sword (the baselard), the bastard sword, and later, the true two hander or zweihander. All this training proved very valuable when they went up against the armored Knights of the Austrian Hapsburgs, who they smashed. Each village or town district would report with their weapons, bearing arms gave you a vote, this is a tradition which continued in the Swiss district of Appenzel until the 1990s, and goes back to pre-historic times. It was known to the Medieval Scandinavians and Migration era Germans as a waepentake. It was the foundational component the Eidgenossenschaft or sworn brotherhood, which ultimately became basis of the Swiss confederacy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundred_(country...ther_terms
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eidgenossenschaft
Interesting. I remember reading an old piece of pretty nationalistic general history that denied that any sort of training did happen in Switzerland. The author funnily explained the complex and sucessful maneuvering of the swiss gewalthaufen by drawing paralells between men and sheep, claiming that standing and moving in formation comes natural to people who would've spent most of their life herding and watching herd animals.

Do you happened to have any source that's more specific about what sort of training was common in switzerland?
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