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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Dec, 2009 6:24 am    Post subject: The Claymore on the battlefield         Reply with quote

So it's the tail end of the middle ages and the claymore is in use by the Scots. We have this Scottish army, with their spears and pikes that (from what I've heard) they're famed for. But who's got the claymores? Nobles on foot? Nobles on horse? Specialist troops in a nobleman's house?

Are they deployed in a group along the line (or behind it), or do you see one claymoreman every so often in a pike group?

M.

EDIT: I mean the large two handed ones, not the basket hilted swords (which are nice, but not what I'm talking about).

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Last edited by M. Eversberg II on Sat 05 Dec, 2009 8:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Dec, 2009 7:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M: Can you define exactly what you mean by 'claymore' before another terminology argument starts?

Assuming you mean the big two handed swords, I have been wondering the same thing. I once heard a speculative account about how they were used that was obviously ridiculous so I will not repeat it here.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Dec, 2009 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What you describe, spears, pikes and that, that's lowland army. Highland warfare is different, less tight formations... And lowland two handers like Hanwei's, they were probably used as any other two hander in Landsknecht formations... Just guessing here of course...
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Dec, 2009 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
M: Can you define exactly what you mean by 'claymore' before another terminology argument starts?

Assuming you mean the big two handed swords, I have been wondering the same thing. I once heard a speculative account about how they were used that was obviously ridiculous so I will not repeat it here.


Oops, I meant to include I mean the large two handed one, not the basket hilted one.

M.

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Christopher Gregg




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Dec, 2009 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And let us not forget that the two handed Claidheamh da Laimh was a battle weapon, NOT a daily dress item. It's just too large to be worn about all the time (just ask any ren faire patron who carries one of these behemoths about all day). Scots, both Highland and lowland, would carry a sloping-quillon or Continental-style side sword, depending on time period and personal taste, IF they went about armed at all (daggers, dudgeons, ballocks and dirks aside). Only the warrior class in the Highlands would be likely to wear larger weaponry on a regular basis anyway - farmers, drovers, and other laborers would be too encumbered by full sized swords to be able to perform their daily jobs.

I think we might consider the Gallowglass warriors as the ones to utilize the two handers, but I would hazard a guess that they used them similarly to the way other large two handed swords would be used. It would also greatly depend on one's adversary, too. Just my thoughts. Happy

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Dec, 2009 12:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At Flodden, where there was a deliberate change to Swiss-style pike tactics, (i.e., changing from the schiltron, which had not been entirely successful since Bannockburn; other changes included all the armour that could be had for pikemen, knights and the King fighting in the front pike ranks) they were deployed on the flanks of the pike blocks. Supposedly in deliberate imitation of the Swiss, with Highlanders with two-handed claymores the closest match for Swiss two-hander armed men. With a possible exception of discipline.

There were also separate Highland units on the battlefield, fighting in their own style, under their own officers and commanders.

(I don't know how much of this is reconstruction/interpretation - I've not seen this level of tactical detail in orginal sources on Flodden (but haven't looked for it either). Above from Sadler, "Border Fury", filtered through memory.)

Not the usual deployment of claymores, since the deployment of a large Scottish national army, as at Flodden, was not a usual event.
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Vincent C




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PostPosted: Sat 12 Dec, 2009 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Perhaps, like the Iberian Montante, it was more commonly used by non-formation fighting troops?

The Portuguese had a soldier type called an advanturer that basically ran missions ahead of the regular army. It would make sense that this troop type was used in places other than Portugal.

Also, I agree with what Timo said about the highland units, from what I've read (don't remember the source) the highlanders would just form a general mass and do a charge, every man using whatever he brought as a weapon.

Hope that helped some.

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 4:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I have gathered, the scottish two handers where rare, even in their day, and used mainly as signs of status by clan leaders.
The sterotypical highlander, as described "in the day" carried a broadsword and targe, acompanied by a musket and as many pistols as he could get his hands on.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Peter Molotov




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 6:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"The term "Claymore" is scientifically incorrect for a two-handed sword. In the historical written documents we know, the word "Claymore" appears in the 1700s for the first time and is used for the basket-hilted broadswords like the ones that we see in this video.
The two-handed ones were called "Claimh-du-laim"s, as far as we know."

All I got.

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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 7:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

History of the Highlands and Gaelic Scotland by Mitchell (1900),Feuds of the Clans, by Reverand A MacGregor (1907), and Clan Warfare in the Scottish Highlands by David MacKay (1922) are all good books describing clan warfare from the 15th-17th centuries. Mitchell's book describes battles from Clachnaharry (1454) through Mulroy (1688) and has a good bibliography for books pre-1900. If you read the battle accounts, you get the sense that these battles - involving a few hundred men at a time -had a bit of a free for all character as there are a number of accounts of clan nobles suddenly finding themselves cut-off and surrounded during the course of battle. The large two-handed great swords were just one part of a panoply of weapons that were used which included bows, crossbows, sword and shield, axes, bills, etc. They seemed to have been used by the more "professional" clan noble retainers, what we would call today bodyguards, or "mercenaries". At Clachnaharry though the leader of the Munro party went head to head with a Mackintosh wielding two handed swords and was severely wounded above the elbow, which resulted in an amputation and earned him the name Iain Baclamhach

At the larger scale at the battle of Knockdoe in Ireland in 1504, which involved possibly up to 10,000 combatants - the Earl of Kildare had galloglass in his army, most of whom were from Ulster families loyal to him, About a third of them had two hand "gret swerdes" and about two thirds had large "sparths" or two handed axes. The Earl placed them on the flanks. His army had his infantry in the center, archers on both sides of the infantry, and the galloglass on the far flanks to protect the archers from Burke's mounted men at arms and to keep the Burke cavalry from running around his flank. When the battle turned into a multi-hour melee, the galloglass came into the main battle line which helped turned the battle in the Earl's favour but allowed Burke's mounted men to run around the flank and pillage the rear and the baggage and camp followers. tr


Last edited by Thom R. on Thu 17 Dec, 2009 10:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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Christopher H





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PostPosted: Sun 13 Dec, 2009 9:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Molotov wrote:
"The term "Claymore" is scientifically incorrect for a two-handed sword. In the historical written documents we know, the word "Claymore" appears in the 1700s for the first time and is used for the basket-hilted broadswords like the ones that we see in this video.
The two-handed ones were called "Claimh-du-laim"s, as far as we know."

All I got.

Better to call it historically inaccurate if that was in fact true. Scientifically incorrect doesn't actually mean much (I don't suppose you'd care to provide an accepted definition? I might start bandying it around against some of the training advice I see on the sword forums...) and using it in terms of a social science which isn't always named a science is reaching a bit.

English speaking people have been using the term claymore for hundreds of years therefore it is actually accurate historical usage.
I notice people don't start getting upset when 劍 or keris' aren't written according to their native language?
There's actually a nice little review here: http://www.myArmoury.com/review_alb_chief.html and if you want to get all technical, it actually seems to first be a warcry and not the name for a sword.
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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Mon 14 Dec, 2009 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hit re-play button......................

mor is a ubiquitous word in gaelic, that is, it occurs in the same form in p and q gaelic, Welsh and Isle of Mann. and is normally translated as "great" because "mor", like "great", has multiple meanings including big/large as well as super/terrific/outstanding. so this whole terminology thing as to when the term was first used and exactly how it should be used, is rather silly imo. tr
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Mon 14 Dec, 2009 1:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Getting back to the question (how were they used?) - there is some relevant information in this similar parallel thread:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=18335
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B.J. Reynolds




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Dec, 2009 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am new to the forums, so please don't mind me....just figured I'd throw my two cents in.

There are various types of Claidheamh; which is litterally translated "Sword". All definitions are translated from Scottish Gaelic:

-da laimh, meaning "Two Hands". This is the one you're speaking of, more on that in a moment.

-leathann, meaning "Broad". This is the broadsword, which meant it has two cutting edges.

-cuil, meaning "Niche", "Corner" or "Angle". This is the backsword, and has only one cutting edge. I've seen the 'Black Watch' use this sword, but I'd imagine both calvery and infantry would use this.

-crom, meaning "Bend". This is the sabre which was curved with one cutting edge. Calvery sword.

-caol, meaning "Strait", "Slender" or "Narrow". This is the rapier. Obviously for fencing.

-cutach, meaning "Short". This is roughly the size of the gladius, and was used in a similar fashion to a cutlass...mostly aboard ships.

Not all the Claidheahm had basket hilts. Even the leathann was seen with the quillons that are seen on the da laimh.
The term 'mor' is translated "Big", "Bulky", "Grand", "Great", "Large", "Marked", and "Tall". In Scotland the locals call the two-hander a "Claymore" and the broadsword a "Basket Hilt Broadsword". I honestly believe that 'Mor' historically refers to both the da laimh as well as the leathann because Great, Grand and Marked can be used as an alternative to esteemed, though it's litteral sense simply gives the same idea as the Great Sword and Zwiehander.

Christopher Gregg: I find mentioning rennies in general funny. No offense meant to the rennies that actually do the research and act correctly; but every time I have been to a ren faire I have been hard pressed to find anything period.
I'd also like to note that our current military carry what? 90 pounds+ of gear? The knights carried more than that in full plate. Last number I heard that was 'typical' it was 110 pounds distributed over the entire body typically...then there was the weaponry which could be another 8-10 pounds. Scots might have been so lucky to wear maille if they could afford it, but would either have been in their basic clothes or in leather armours. Neither of those weigh too much, and you are speaking of a race of people who throw telephone poles for fun. A sword weighing 3 and 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds would be exausting to swing after a while, but carrying it in a back scabbard would be cake.

Back to the OP's question: The Highland Scots used a lot of guerilla tactics. Napoleonic lines were not often used. My best guess is that the da laimh was used like other two handed swords. Both anti-horse(for chopping through their front legs in one swing...remember that the first 3 inches of the sword are the most lethal and would have no issue doing that) and anti-personel. There are many period books on how to use a two handed sword, like the Great Sword..and I have no doubt those techniques apply. The 'Talhoffer fechtbuch' and other historical manuals can be obtained if you know where to look. So, imagine those techniques used with broken formations and you get the rough idea of what the tactics were like and how they were used.

Hope that helped a little.
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Dec, 2009 6:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

B.J. Reynolds wrote:
-leathann, meaning "Broad". This is the broadsword, which meant it has two cutting edges.


I believe the correct term for broadsword, would be Claidheamh mor. Which then became anglicized into "claymore."
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Christopher Gregg




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Dec, 2009 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The etymology of "Claymore" has recently been discussed here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=18273.

B.J., if you have never seen historically correct interpretations at a ren faire, then you have never been to the Bristol Faire in Wisconsin. The cast, especially the Queen's Court, and her Royal Guard, are quite good. They also do a period weapons display, complete with pikes, matchlocks, and cannon, plus they allow hands on inspection of several period antique swords. Cool

Welcome to our forums, BTW, and Happy Christmas! Big Grin

Christopher Gregg

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Josh Warren




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Dec, 2009 9:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

B.J. Reynolds wrote:

I'd also like to note that our current military carry what? 90 pounds+ of gear? The knights carried more than that in full plate. Last number I heard that was 'typical' it was 110 pounds distributed over the entire body typically...then there was the weaponry which could be another 8-10 pounds.

Can you offer support for your assertion that full plate armour 'typically' weighed 100 pounds? I am of the persuasion that it weighed rather substantially less than that...

Non Concedo
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B.J. Reynolds




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Dec, 2009 3:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A. Spanjer: My translations are from the Scottish Gaelic. That alone should say something.

Christopher Gregg: Yeah, I've been to several between Maine and Flordia. Never been to one where the cast members didn't speak broken Shakspearean english, make fun of couples holding hands or have 18th century garb when they are making a pretense of being from the 16th. I've lost interest in the Ren Faires...Highland games are fun though.
Thanks for the other thread. I'll check it out.

Josh Warren: During the 17th century when the 'Claymore' was supposed to be used, the knights were wearing plate armour. I don armour when I can help it, and try to reenact, 60-1600 AD is my favorite time in history

The 100 pounds is distributed along the entire body. I am not talking of jousting armour, but mounted knight armour.
I understand others believe it was between 60-80 pounds, but that's assuming that the gabbeson, chainmaille, plate and bits aren't all on. I'll tell you something. When I wore leather armour with a metal helm...it was still a 50 pound kit, and that was simply a roman leather lamellar model. The chest was roughly 25 pounds, helm was 10 pounds, plus the bits easilly took it to that amount. My current helm is 12 pounds, actually. I'll link it in another thread as that's off topic. So, I did mean plate armour....in case there's any confusion. Transitional weighed much less than that, and jousting weighed much more.

I think the OP was asking what tactics were used when wielding the da laimh...are we in agreement that the sword was used much like any other two handed sword...and the tactics were mainly guerilla warefare? If so, cool. If not...that's cool too. I am not under the assumption everyone has to agree Wink

Thanks for welcoming me to the forums, and Merry Christmas to you all as well.
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