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Nathan F




Location: ireland
Joined: 24 Dec 2008

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Posts: 141

PostPosted: Wed 08 Jul, 2009 12:22 pm    Post subject: the short sword         Reply with quote

hello all,
im currently writing up a manual on the use of the short sword. as i am a viking reenactor it is aimed at the use of the seax but i want it to be as broad and inclusive as i can make it to offer variety and fresh ideas.
it is for my use and i might use it to one day teach with for now im putting it together.
i have put in all of talhofers work with the messer in my own words and have an extensive shield piece ready to go in to it. as its a rough draft its very messy and all over the place.
basically i need help with the following:

getting more source material
i need material on all periods from as early as can be found to today
any training manuals and accounts of use
its use on and off the battlefield
use against armored and unarmored opponents
also i have mairs work on the dusack but does anyone have a tranlstion? before i do it myself.
i am very keen to see info on bronze age and roman use any sources.

any help at all i am gratelful for. any links or books you can recommend i am grateful for
thank you in advance for your advice and help.

for here starts war carrion birds sing, and grey wolves howl
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,306

PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 5:25 am    Post subject: Re: the short sword         Reply with quote

Hoo, you've got a lot of work ahead of you! I can only speak for the ancient eras, and there really isn't much to say. There are no surviving weapon training "manuals" from the Romans or Greeks, or from anything earlier that I know of. For the Romans, we have a couple vague references of how they prefered to use thrusts (notably Vegetius), making nice deadly stab wounds without unduly exposing the sword arm or using too much energy. Good for crowded situations, too, though Roman formations were supposed to give at least some elbow room. There are numerous depictions of Roman soldiers and gladiators in combat, though, and while they show a variety of poses and strikes, the basic "en garde" stance for sword and large shield is with the left leg forward, shield held close or even braced vertically against the shoulder, and sword held horizontally at about hip height.

It is clear, however, that the Romans would use cuts whenever necessary. And we must keep in mind that the gladius evolved quite a bit over time.

http://www.larp.com/legioxx/blades.gif

Note that this drawing only covers from 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD! Obviously some are better at thrusting, some at cutting.

There were Greek schools of swordsmanship, but we don't know much if anything about what they taught. Vase paintings will give a lot of possibilities, but it would take quite a bit of analysis by experienced martial artists to weed out actions or poses that are stylized or fantasized.

For the Bronze Age, artwork is all there is, aside from the weapons themselves. About the clearest depiction that I know of is this scene from Mycenaean Tiryns,

http://www.hartzler.org/cc307/mycenaean/images/62.jpg

But you'd want to find a photo of the original to find out how much of the scene has been restored from the fragments. Restorers get a little carried away, sometimes! The lack of shields is very puzzling...

From northern and western Europe, the artwork is mostly stone carvings, often not much more than stick figures with weapons. You probably won't be able to draw many firm conclusions from that, but who knows? I don't know if there is a single source that shows a lot of those images--usually they are scattered through a hundred books and articles.

Sorry, I know that's not much help! Thought you should know what you're up against, though. Oh, obviously I can't back this up with much in the way of documentation, but my impression of ancient sword use against armor is to hit the parts that are not armored! The odds of getting a sword *through* armor probably weren't worth betting your life on.

Good luck!

Matthew
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Nathan F




Location: ireland
Joined: 24 Dec 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 141

PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

thank you for your help. yes i was aware when i started of the lack of material for this period and am relying more on written accounts than anything else. some greek vase paintings are good to look at but their usefulness can be varied. the romans from what i have found tended to stab for the groin and throat as they were the most lacking in armour. although it is very easy to stab a hole through mail with a good sword.
if you ever stand with roman weapons you do gain a good idea of there use and from the experience i have its easy to apply what i know to their use.
i have been told the roman style was very rigid though mostly stabs and thrusts few cuts though.
i do wonder from this period which was better a bronze or iron short sword something that does puzzle me as to which is more suitable i have held both but never used a bronze sword in combat.
i know this sounds silly also but the film troy actually researched their combat scenes very well in regards to sword play from scenes on vases.
some is of no use but there is a large part of it which is good and useful.
i agree it will take many years i think but it will be my short sword bible by the end of it. but will be a mammoth task

i have no real idea of Renaissance short sword combat as i have no real knowledge of this period can anyone help with that????

thanks for the help and the encouragement

nathan

for here starts war carrion birds sing, and grey wolves howl
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,306

PostPosted: Thu 09 Jul, 2009 1:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan F wrote:
thank you for your help.


You're welcome!

Quote:
the romans from what i have found tended to stab for the groin and throat as they were the most lacking in armour.


Right, or the belly--avoid the bones. Most of Rome's opponents weren't armored in any case.

Quote:
although it is very easy to stab a hole through mail with a good sword.


Uh, not at all "easy", according to every respectable test I've seen! A little more likely than a cut, sure, but not really *likely*. But we shouldn't re-start the weapons-vs-mail debate, again--there are already a few threads on that, I believe.

Quote:
if you ever stand with roman weapons you do gain a good idea of there use and from the experience i have its easy to apply what i know to their use.


Oh, I have--I've been running a Roman reenactment group for 18 years. We don't do competitive combat though, and I don't have any sword training myself, though I know folks who have.

Quote:
i have been told the roman style was very rigid though mostly stabs and thrusts few cuts though.


Well, I think it's Vegetius who talks of cuts being scorned, but he's a pretty late writer and not completely reliable for earlier stuff. An account of a battle against Macedonians in the 2nd century BC tells of Roman swords lopping off arms and heads, though this was in the era of the longer gladius hispaniensis (or possibly the accout might actually be referring to a cavalry attack?). Skeletons of British defenders of Maiden Castle, apparently killed by Romans during the invasion of 43 AD, show clear sword-cuts. Basically, I've learned not to think of the Romans as very "ridid" about most anything! Tendencies and rules of thumb, sure, and their soldiers were very well-trained, but that doesn't rule out cutting when there is an advantage in doing so.

Quote:
i do wonder from this period which was better a bronze or iron short sword something that does puzzle me as to which is more suitable i have held both but never used a bronze sword in combat.


Bronze swords can be extremely tough, and a high-tin bronze with work-hardened edges is harder than wrought iron. But not all swords had a high tin content, and in fact we see the lead content increasing and the overall quality of the metal decreasing towards the end of the Bronze Age. It's quite possible that a well-made bronze sword was superior in most ways to early iron swords, but the amount of work in making a bronze sword is enormous, and it's very time-consuming. And at almost any step of the process the piece can be ruined irreparably. Even when it's done and looks perfect, I think it's possible for there to be hidden flaws that could lead to a broken blade (but I'd have to check with the experts about that!).

Iron is simply far more forgiving to work, and vastly more available. A good smith can turn out a couple decent iron sword blades in less time that it takes to make a mold for one bronze sword. And I suspect that even if the ancients realized that good bronze blades could be better than iron, the iron was simply "good enough" for their purposes, or the disadvantages were outweighed by the advantages. The transition period from bronze swords to iron seems very short, and the first iron swords were slavish copies of bronze ones. But iron swords took over completely, with the only remaining bronze weapons being a few spearheads here and there. Mind you, plenty of bronze was still used for helmets, armor, shield parts, spear buttspikes, belts, jewelry, statuary, furniture, and tons of domestic items, so it didn't go out of use by any means! There was actually a lot more bronze produced in the Iron Age than had existed in the Bronze Age. Generally not weapons, is all.

Quote:
i know this sounds silly also but the film troy actually researched their combat scenes very well in regards to sword play from scenes on vases.
some is of no use but there is a large part of it which is good and useful.


Haven't seen it, but let's just say I'm skeptical. If the vase paintings are useful, there's no need to mention the movie at all, eh?

Homer mentions bronze swords breaking, for instance Menelaus busting his on Paris' helmet. Could be entirely plausible, could be poetic license (reflecting heroic strength, for instance). Neil Burridge in the UK has been making VERY accurate bronze swords, and has bent one over at right angles in a bench vise and straightened it up before it broke. Good bronze is tough!

Vale,

Matthew
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Nathan F




Location: ireland
Joined: 24 Dec 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 141

PostPosted: Sat 11 Jul, 2009 8:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

again thanks have posted this on a few forums so far and you have been the most helpful so far.
no i should not say easy with abythibg with mail yes easier is much more democratic.
its good to see your a reenactor Big Grin so am i. although of a later period.
i know a few roman ones and have asked there help yet strangely most dont fight i heard it was the cost of shileds being too high is that correct?
on the lopping off of limbs i think a big maybe you would need some tests on that but it "could" happen im sure its a sword after all.
i more so meant the system they imployed like there textbook style but im sure they did cut and so on when it was useful.
oh on your hidden flaws in bronze your 100% correct my father is a shipwright and i have seen the effort that goes into fixing bronze propellers eg if you weld even a tiny piece you must wrap it in blankets to let it heat slowly or it can crack is tempermental
i suppose thats why it wasnt popular then so hard to work with.
and to make and so on. just wondered which would be best really i suppose il try get one made and compare the two then il have my own ideas on it. then to test them really.
good idea lets not mention films the vases are useful and thats enough
on homer i would allow for the fact its a story but i know bronze does crack as does steel so im sure it is a possiblity.
again thanks
nathan

for here starts war carrion birds sing, and grey wolves howl
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M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
Joined: 07 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jul, 2009 12:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You should check out CGM 558; it mentions the use of the baselard, which might give you some good clues to start with.

M.

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James R.Fox




Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
Joined: 29 Feb 2008

Posts: 253

PostPosted: Thu 16 Jul, 2009 4:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan F- I recommend anything you can get on the Yatagan. The short sword version was standard issue to the Turkish Janissaries for centuries, and the nobles often carried it like the European knights carried riding swords. The Yatagan was also made as a regular longsword for calvary, but I think its ugly. You will see more of the short sword version Illustrate, and being in-wardly curved its almost as powerfull a cutting sword as the gladius, and is about the same length, 20-24 in but with a slimmer blade.
Ja68ms
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