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Nathan F




Location: ireland
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PostPosted: Wed 28 Oct, 2009 12:33 pm    Post subject: from seax to messer         Reply with quote

ok heres my mission i am a reenactor and i use a short seax is my favourite weapon yet i need a slightly longer blade. i have begun to study the messer techniques as the two weapons are very similar and it works very well. now what i need to know is what were the dimensions of a messer as size wise they look good for what i want and secondly and more importantly has anyone any evidence of a lang seax with a curved handle and crossgaurd like a messer?
i dont want to go into specifics right now but the curved handle is a must to keep the meeser shape even though its only a tiny curve at the hilt is nothing like a viking sword now i could use antler for this but then i cant add an x style crossgaurd which is an integral part of messer technique.
please tell me someone can help.

for here starts war carrion birds sing, and grey wolves howl
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 28 Oct, 2009 9:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Size wise I don't know what the average would be for a messer or how small or big one could get and still call it a messer rather than something else like " grossmesser " or a " kriegmesser " ? Maybe " messer " would be smaller or just a short version of the name ?

But this one by Albion which I assume from the research that Peter Johnsson puts into all the Albion designs must be of a typical size ?

http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...soldat.htm

So, a 24" blade I think would be a good place to start comparing to the seax ?

I think some seax could be quite small and some like a large Bowie knife. Some could be much longer until they start being good sword substitutes with the so called longseax or scramasax ?

Lack of any substantial guards on most seax(s), as far as we know, could affect use and what is safe to do with a guard could be risky without a guard.

Anyway, people with more knowledge of seax(s), messers and the styles of fighting with one or the other or both will probably chime in, I hope. Wink Big Grin

( Mostly, just Bumping the Topic but maybe not too helpful answering your question. Sad )

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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Oct, 2009 1:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Both saxes and messers vary quite a bit in length, so it's really difficult to be conclusive.

But I do get the impression that the messer generally portrayed in fencing manuals is a more "standardised" (if you will) weapon, which is slightly shorter than the "standard" singlehanded sword and features both a crossguard and a nagel. I have to say that I'm not really a student of messer fencing, so hopefully someone who is can chime in here.

What kind of sax are you using?
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Nathan F




Location: ireland
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Oct, 2009 4:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

yes sorry i really should have put in more detail in my post was very rushed doing it.
currently im using a scram seax with a 14inch blade and 6inch handle.
messers i have seen vary in shape but most seem to be of a "generic" sort of size.
the seax i know went from any size up to 14inches then from 20inches upwards a strange anomaly i know.
the scrams all i know of have been found without any guards or pommels while the langseax has the same range of hilts and pommels as most weapons of the era. i have found a suitable crossgaurd for this hybrib but not a suitable pommel.
sadly i do not now handle sizes of both of these weapons and i only really know a tiny amount about the messer as its not really my area of knowledge but the manuals regarding its use are wonderful.
so really its just getting the dimensions of the messer from someone who uses them and then pommel types or possible evidence of a seax with a curved handle similar to that of a messer all i need is some historical evidence and i will be happy and can continue on my work so if anyone can help please do.

for here starts war carrion birds sing, and grey wolves howl
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Audun Refsahl




Location: Norway
Joined: 15 Feb 2006

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PostPosted: Fri 30 Oct, 2009 6:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think you'll find evidence of what you want... there is a lot of years between the elements you want to combine, the long seax is typical for earlier viking era, the long crossguard came during the 11th century. then there is another couple of hundred years to wait for the messer. also, if you want a curve you will have to loose the pommel and then also the crossguard.
sounds like you have to reenact two different time periods:)

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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Oct, 2009 7:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan F wrote:
ok heres my mission i am a reenactor and i use a short seax is my favourite weapon yet i need a slightly longer blade. i have begun to study the messer techniques as the two weapons are very similar and it works very well. now what i need to know is what were the dimensions of a messer as size wise they look good for what i want and secondly and more importantly has anyone any evidence of a lang seax with a curved handle and crossgaurd like a messer?
i dont want to go into specifics right now but the curved handle is a must to keep the meeser shape even though its only a tiny curve at the hilt is nothing like a viking sword now i could use antler for this but then i cant add an x style crossgaurd which is an integral part of messer technique.
please tell me someone can help.

There's no saxes with curved hilts, nore with any with antler hilts. Like others have already mentioned, the sax and the messers are completely different weapons from different periods. I don't know if there is a direct lineage between the Viking single edged swords and later single edged swords, but there definately isn't between the Frankish and Saxon saxes and later single edged swords.

Nathan F wrote:
yes sorry i really should have put in more detail in my post was very rushed doing it.
currently im using a scram seax with a 14inch blade and 6inch handle.
messers i have seen vary in shape but most seem to be of a "generic" sort of size.
the seax i know went from any size up to 14inches then from 20inches upwards a strange anomaly i know.
The size depends highly on period, place and type of sax. Long saxes (most dating to the 8th century) usually have blades of 50cm (20inc), but I've seen much longer examples, with blades of 70cm (28inch).

Quote:
the scrams all i know of have been found without any guards or pommels while the langseax has the same range of hilts and pommels as most weapons of the era.
I think you may be confusing the single edged Viking sword with the lang sax? Long saxes almost never have any metal hilt components.

Quote:
i have found a suitable crossgaurd for this hybrib but not a suitable pommel.
sadly i do not now handle sizes of both of these weapons and i only really know a tiny amount about the messer as its not really my area of knowledge but the manuals regarding its use are wonderful.
so really its just getting the dimensions of the messer from someone who uses them and then pommel types or possible evidence of a seax with a curved handle similar to that of a messer all i need is some historical evidence and i will be happy and can continue on my work so if anyone can help please do.

Well, like I already mentioned saxes don't have curved handles. Saxes had straight, long hilts, frequently of 20-25cm and over (8-10 inch), particularly for broad, long and larger broken back saxes from the 7th century onwards. Also keep in mind that if you have a reproduction/reenactors sax, it's quite probably nothing like an original. Therefore you can't draw any conclusions on the functionality of saxes by using these.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
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- Zip-file with information about saxes
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Doug Lester




Location: Decatur, IL
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Oct, 2009 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeroen, not be be argumentative, just seeking to clarify matters. In Oakeshott's "The Archeology of Weapons" he shows an illustration of a single edged Norweagan sword hilted weapon and identifies it as a seax. Of course, this is the one book that I can't find and I have a nagging feeling that I didn't unpack it when I moved in to my new house. Do you feel that this description is inaccurate? I don't consider Oakeshott to be to be the final authority on swords so I'm not trying to defend any point of view.
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G Ezell
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Oct, 2009 10:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:


Well, like I already mentioned saxes don't have curved handles. Saxes had straight, long hilts, frequently of 20-25cm and over (8-10 inch), particularly for broad, long and larger broken back saxes from the 7th century onwards. Also keep in mind that if you have a reproduction/reenactors sax, it's quite probably nothing like an original. Therefore you can't draw any conclusions on the functionality of saxes by using these.


http://1501bc.com/files/saxes/Sax_Altheim_grave_85_Germany.jpg
I would not entirely rule out the possibility of curved handles on saxes, some seem to have been slightly curved, judging from the tangs. Straight tangs are much more common, however.

Edited to add: After some investigation, these curved tangs appear to be more rare than I first thought. In my reference material I can only find one other, and it could be damage, not deliberate.

A curved handle on a sax is about as atypical as a full tang on a sax, apparently...

" I have found that it is very often the case that if you state some absolute rule of history, there will be an example, however extremely unusual, to break it."
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Oct, 2009 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doug Lester wrote:
Jeroen, not be be argumentative, just seeking to clarify matters. In Oakeshott's "The Archeology of Weapons" he shows an illustration of a single edged Norweagan sword hilted weapon and identifies it as a seax. Of course, this is the one book that I can't find and I have a nagging feeling that I didn't unpack it when I moved in to my new house. Do you feel that this description is inaccurate? I don't consider Oakeshott to be to be the final authority on swords so I'm not trying to defend any point of view.


It's just a matter of terminology (the word "sax" now means scissors in Swedish...) but I think it can be safely said that the single edged sword (with sword-like hilt fittings) of the viking era is not really comparable with the generally knife-like weapons of the migration era. The shape, length, blade, hilt etc. are all completely different. So if we define the knife-like weapons of the migration era as "sax", then the single edged sword is not a sax.
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Sat 31 Oct, 2009 2:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Doug Lester wrote:
Jeroen, not be be argumentative, just seeking to clarify matters. In Oakeshott's "The Archeology of Weapons" he shows an illustration of a single edged Norweagan sword hilted weapon and identifies it as a seax. Of course, this is the one book that I can't find and I have a nagging feeling that I didn't unpack it when I moved in to my new house. Do you feel that this description is inaccurate? I don't consider Oakeshott to be to be the final authority on swords so I'm not trying to defend any point of view.


It's just a matter of terminology (the word "sax" now means scissors in Swedish...) but I think it can be safely said that the single edged sword (with sword-like hilt fittings) of the viking era is not really comparable with the generally knife-like weapons of the migration era. The shape, length, blade, hilt etc. are all completely different. So if we define the knife-like weapons of the migration era as "sax", then the single edged sword is not a sax.
Yup. What to call or not to call a sax is of course rather ambiguous. But for the sake of clarity, it's better to keep single edged swords and saxes named seperately, eventhough the single edged sword may be have evolved out of the Scandinavian saxes (I'm still not 100% certain on that, as I've not seen enough examples to see a direct line of evolution from the much shorter Vendel and Viking saxes).

N.b. Burton calls a bronze age knife a scramasax (see , http://www.jrbooksonline.com/HTML-docs/Book_of_the_Sword.htm), so don't automatically trust naming in literature Happy (although admittedly, that book is "slightly" outdated)

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes


Last edited by Jeroen Zuiderwijk on Sat 31 Oct, 2009 2:21 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Sat 31 Oct, 2009 2:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

G Ezell wrote:
Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:


Well, like I already mentioned saxes don't have curved handles. Saxes had straight, long hilts, frequently of 20-25cm and over (8-10 inch), particularly for broad, long and larger broken back saxes from the 7th century onwards. Also keep in mind that if you have a reproduction/reenactors sax, it's quite probably nothing like an original. Therefore you can't draw any conclusions on the functionality of saxes by using these.


http://1501bc.com/files/saxes/Sax_Altheim_grave_85_Germany.jpg
I would not entirely rule out the possibility of curved handles on saxes, some seem to have been slightly curved, judging from the tangs. Straight tangs are much more common, however.

Edited to add: After some investigation, these curved tangs appear to be more rare than I first thought. In my reference material I can only find one other, and it could be damage, not deliberate.

A curved handle on a sax is about as atypical as a full tang on a sax, apparently...
A few supposedly curved or angled tangs I've been able to see in real life appeared to be that way due to damage. So I'm rather sceptical if I see just one or two others amongst the thousands of straight ones. The chance of them being damage too, is much greater then them being designed that way IMO. Mind that on that broad sax, the first 3/5th of the tang seems pretty much straight.
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
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Andrew Maxwell




Location: New Zealand
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Nov, 2009 1:29 pm    Post subject: Re: from seax to messer         Reply with quote

Nathan F wrote:
i dont want to go into specifics right now but the curved handle is a must to keep the meeser shape even though its only a tiny curve at the hilt is nothing like a viking sword now i could use antler for this but then i cant add an x style crossgaurd which is an integral part of messer technique.
please tell me someone can help.


TBH I don't know that you need to worry too much about the cross. We have sparred at 80% speed with Messer techniques, using blunted machetes (which obviously have no cross) and had no hand injuries. Yes, you do need to be more precise with your lines, and a shock strike is more difficult without a cross to push against; but we've actually found this to be quite helpful. Everyone starts striking much more exactly when the only thing protecting your hand is a good line Wink You don't NEED a cross, though it is helpful Big Grin

The Messer techniques are very adaptable, you can use them for almost any single handed weapon. The only thing I would say is it is easier to learn to use a Messer first, then adapt to other weapons, than it is to start with another weapon and try to use a Messer style.
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