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Herbert Schmidt




Location: Austria / Europe
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Mar, 2009 8:46 am    Post subject: Holes in the point         Reply with quote

Hello all,

We all know the executioners swords with three holes in the point. What were they for? Some say, they were for attaching a weight (which I don't believe ) some say to prevent from reusing the blade by putting a point on - which is rubbish.

But what about the holes...what was the idea behind it?

And what about this one:



Greetings

Herbert

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Historical European Martial Arts
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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

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PostPosted: Wed 25 Mar, 2009 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This has been brought up before, see here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ioner+hole

Basically we don't know. Some say weight, one person in the above thread muses about sound differences, etc, but no confirmed concrete reason that anyone seems to know about.
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Mar, 2009 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Herbert!

I can't help but wonder if these three holes are similar to those on Arms & Armor's 'Hungarian Axe', based on one in the Muzeum Wojska Polskiego; I believe the hole pattern is derived from the original.

Perhaps this is merely a decoration, one associated with a given maker or guild.

All the best,

Christian

PS. Your posts timing is quite ironic - we've been discussing holes near the blade's tip over on the Selohaar forum!

Christian Henry Tobler
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Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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Paul Watson




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Mar, 2009 12:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could the three holes represent the holy trinity?
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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David Rowe




Location: Fairfax, VA
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Mar, 2009 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are the 3 holes typical of most executioner's swords? I ask this because last weekend I attended the Baltimore Antique Arms show in Maryland (http://www.baltimoreshow.com/) with fellow myArmoury members Bill Grandy, Pamela Muir and Ed Toton, and there were two beautiful (though that sounds odd to say, considering their use Eek! ) executioners swords there, neither of which had the 3 holes in them. They were both quite amazing, and yet creepy nonetheless.

*edit* Sorry that this is slightly off-topic! *edit*
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Mar, 2009 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Watson wrote:
Could the three holes represent the holy trinity?


I've always believed this to be true -- and especially when seen on executioner swords.

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Herbert Schmidt




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 12:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian Henry Tobler wrote:


PS. Your posts timing is quite ironic - we've been discussing holes near the blade's tip over on the Selohaar forum!

Hi Christian,

And - any conclusion in your discussion?

greetings

Herbert

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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 7:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Herbert,

No, I'm afraid not - I linked this thread here, in fact. Bill Grandy and Ed Toton had mentioned, naturally, the three holes in some executioner swords.

Perhaps Craig Johnson might chime in here, as I wonder if any of the non-sword weapons have the holes like the Hungarian axe blade's.

All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 7:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok...I've been poking around a bit. Patterns of three holes appear on a number of polearms. Have a look at the catalogues here: http://www.thomasdelmar.com/

All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 10:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Trilobate crosses and groups of three piercings are pretty common in German halberds of the late 15th/early 16th c., and they don't appear to be makers' marks. Clover is a common symbol in religious painting of the period, too, due to its association with the Christian trinity. I'm inclined to think there is some religious meaning in these piercings, although I can't explain why these would be so stylized and pierced rather than stamped, etched or inlaid.
-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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Joel Minturn





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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Using three circles to represent the trinity seems to be common theme in the middle ages.
From the Trefoil and the related Borromean rings to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shield_of_the_Trinity.
A list of symbols http://www.holytrinityamblecote.org.uk/symbols.htm

Of course none of that explains why the circles are pierced or why they are at the tip.
I still like the theory that the holes are there to show that it is an executioners blade and the religious overtones is just a bonus. (one could sand/file off etchings but holes are harder to get rid of). Of course how likely was an executioners blade to be stolen or used for different purpose? Quick thought about Sumptuary laws. Forgive me if this has been debunked in the past. Could execution swords be owned or wielded by a person who was not allowed to carry a blade of that type, i.e. could have a messer but not a larger sword? By piercing the blade it was shown that the executioner could have that sword, for that purpose, even though he could not have a similar sword for personal use?

I know that Sumptuary laws are not uniform across Europe but not all executioner swords have those holes and maybe they where only used in places that cared about that kind of stuff.

Or maybe its just German thing. Other than that I am at loss.
Even if this theory is wrong I hope to learn something from this topic
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Herbert Schmidt




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for your answers - I think it might be a religious symbol as well.

By the way - this blade is NOT an executioners blade - it is the sword of the Bartlma Bon, a 2,60 m man in the service of the Archduke Ferdinand II. It is in Schloss Ambras in Innsbruck. Here you have the harness together with the sword of which I took the picture of the pierced tip.




greetings

Herbert

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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 12:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi folks,

I think we can dismiss the idea it's connected with execution: not all executioner swords have the pattern and plenty of other weapons, including the sword Herbert just cited, that have nothing to do with execution, feature the pattern.

I think the trinity symbolism is the most credible theory - the piercings occur across too many territorial boundaries (and therefore arms brands) to be explained as maker's marks.

This may be the cheap and quick way of creating the same symbolism as we see with trefoil cutouts on items like the Wallace poleaxe.

Best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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Joel Minturn





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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 12:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you. You have single handily destroyed my theory and everything I thought I knew about executioner swords Big Grin
But that is interesting to know that someone did that to their war sword.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 12:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Please have a look at this: Symbolism and the Blessed Trinity.

In particular, see this section: The Trefoil and Symbols of the Trinity.

is it relevant in this case? I don't know. It's interesting nonetheless.

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Mackenzie Cosens




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 1:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Herbert Schmidt wrote:
Thanks for your answers - I think it might be a religious symbol as well.

By the way - this blade is NOT an executioners blade - it is the sword of the Bartlma Bon, a 2,60 m man in the service of the Archduke Ferdinand II. It is in Schloss Ambras in Innsbruck. Here you have the harness together with the sword of which I took the picture of the pierced tip.
...
greetings

Herbert


Careful, two possible issues come to mind. First just because a sword is in a museum display does not mean that it belonged to the individual shown in the display. It may be there because it looked "right" to the person setting up the display. Second, is it possible that Bartima Bon was Archduke Ferdinand ii executioner?
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mackenzie Cosens wrote:
Second, is it possible that Bartima Bon was Archduke Ferdinand ii executioner?

Look at the sword in the photo above. It's not an executioner sword.

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Herbert Schmidt




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 3:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mackenzie Cosens wrote:


Careful, two possible issues come to mind. First just because a sword is in a museum display does not mean that it belonged to the individual shown in the display. It may be there because it looked "right" to the person setting up the display. Second, is it possible that Bartima Bon was Archduke Ferdinand ii executioner?

No...and No.
The sword and harness of Bartlmä Bon are obviously quite well documented and have been on display with the archduke since the time of the man - and has been numerously mentioned.

Second - he wasn't "his" executioner...I don't think that these people had an own executioner.
Anyway he surely wasn't that. He accompanied the archdukes nephews to a royal tournament to Vienna in 1560.

Herbert

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Andreas Auer




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Mar, 2009 2:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

there is one in the "Innsbrucker Zeughaus" (for Herbert: not much medieval stuff but one early medieval Sax and an Richtschwert16jhd.)

i dont have a photo ready (as im at work ..) but will post it later.

Andreas

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Herbert Schmidt




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Mar, 2009 8:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andreas Auer wrote:
there is one in the "Innsbrucker Zeughaus" (for Herbert: not much medieval stuff but one early medieval Sax and an Richtschwert16jhd.)

Hello Andreas,

One...what?

curious!

Herbert

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