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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Italian "Landesknechts" and "Zweihanders" Reply to topic
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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Sat 05 Dec, 2009 4:49 pm    Post subject: Italian "Landesknechts" and "Zweihanders"         Reply with quote

Friends,
We know from surviving examples (eg. in the Metropolitan Museum of Art) that 16thc. northern Italians made large two-handed swords similar to those of contemporary Germans. Some of us will be familiar with the two reproduced by Del Tin Armi Antiche:

http://deltin.it/2162.htm
http://deltin.it/5167.htm

However, I don't believe I've ever seen discussed the appearance of the Italian swordsmen who used these swords. Did they look like German Landesknecht swordsmen (Doppelsoldner)? I ask now, after having seen these two Italian paintings in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

http://forensicfashion.com/1525GermanInfantryContextPeriod.html

Do these images depict native Italians, or Germans in Italy during the Italian Wars? Any help settling this question would be appreciated.

Thanks, ruel
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Craig Shira




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Dec, 2009 10:09 pm    Post subject: From My Understanding         Reply with quote

.

From what I have gathered, there was no such thing as "Italian" back then. There was Florentine, Venetian, Roman, but there was no Italy. Pretty much modern-day northern Italy was part of the Holy Roman Empire (Germany) until around World War One .

Because these areas were in fluctuation, the "Italians" looked like the "Germans" who looked like the Swiss. And these styles were copied by the English. During the 1500s, the "Landsknecht" style was popular all over and was not isolated to just the Germanic peoples. One of the few ways to distinguish Swiss from German is that the Swiss had a cross of St. George (looks like a plus sign + ) and the Germans had a cross of St. Andrew (looks like an x ). The Italian peoples had their own regional styles too, I'm sure, but it's difficult to distinguish.

Similarly, two handed weapons with parrying hooks or lugs above the ricasso would be used across cultures as they all influenced each other.

Trying to attach modern ideas of nationality to a time when those ideas didn't exist can get tricky.

.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Dec, 2009 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And the lack of them can be confusing at times Big Grin

Perhaps the originals were manufactured for the export market? People lust for Italian cars now, and Italian armor at at least one point in the middle ages.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sun 06 Dec, 2009 5:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You may want to look into Achilles Marozzo's work on fencing (there are two editions that were published in the 16th century). There is a section on the two handed sword. The Order of the Seven Hearts has a nice PDF that shows all of the guards, and the illustrations may give at least some idea of the clothing:

http://www.salvatorfabris.com/SpadoneGuardie.pdf

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Sun 06 Dec, 2009 5:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks friends! Bill, those Marozzo illustrations are especially helpful, and do look very similar to the figures in the NGA's Italian paintings. I don't normally associate Marozzo with large two-handed swords, so didn't think to look there. The sword he illustrates looks remarkably similar in shape and proportion to an example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Stone Gallery of Arms and Armor, and to the DT5167 .

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Maurizio D'Angelo




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Dec, 2009 6:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

some clarification on the unification of Italy - 1861
here a picture: Giovanni da Pordenone - 1521 - Verona
Ciao
Maurizio



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Maurizio D'Angelo




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Dec, 2009 6:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

perhaps one that has inspired Mr. Del Tin
northern Italy - Veneto - 1520



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Diviccaro Roberto





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PostPosted: Mon 07 Dec, 2009 7:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Please!!! see better

http://www.wga.hu/art/p/pordenon/golgothb.jpg

Author: Giovanni Antonio Pordenone
title: Crucifixion or Golgotha
1520 Cremona (Italy) Cathedral

bye
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Mon 07 Dec, 2009 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ruel A. Macaraeg wrote:
Bill, those Marozzo illustrations are especially helpful, and do look very similar to the figures in the NGA's Italian paintings. I don't normally associate Marozzo with large two-handed swords, so didn't think to look there.


The spadone/spada due mani seems to have been a commonly practiced weapon throughout Italy. Many of the Italian fencing treatises mention it, even if they don't explicitly show it. Marozzo and Di Grassi are the two main existing Italian sources for its use, though you will see it in several rapier treatises. For example, the rapier work of Giganti shows an illustration of him holding one in the introduction. The rapier treatis of Alfieri has a small section on the spadone as well.

As for who used it, the English edition of Digrassi says this:

Quote:
Therefore in the wars, it is used to be place near unto the Ensign or Ancient, for the defense thereof, because, being of itself able to contend with many, it may the better safeguard the same. And it is accustomed to be carried in the City, as well by night as by day, when it so chances that a few are constrained to withstand a great many.


I strongly suspect that when he says it is carried in the cities that he means by town guards, not by ordinary civilians. Nonetheless, we do know that it was used in judicial duels as well as practiced in fencing halls, so it clearly was used for these non-military roles.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Mon 07 Dec, 2009 8:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Bill,

Do we know how late these were used in duels, and where?

Cheers,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
Order of Selohaar

Freelance Academy Press: Books on Western Martial Arts and Historical Swordsmanship

Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Mon 07 Dec, 2009 9:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian Henry Tobler wrote:
Hey Bill,

Do we know how late these were used in duels, and where?

Cheers,

Christian


Hi Christian,
I only know that Marozzo, from Bologna, discusses his treatise in the context of preparation for the judicial duel, and his treatise was first published in 1536, and the second edition was in 1568. About a century later we have Alfieri's treatise, which was primarily focused on the rapier, but had a brief section on duelling with the two handed sword, and that was published in 1640 in Padua.

Tom Leoni would be the best person the talk to about this, as he's far more knowledgable about the subject than I.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Maurizio D'Angelo




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Dec, 2009 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Diviccaro Roberto wrote:
Please!!! see better

http://www.wga.hu/art/p/pordenon/golgothb.jpg

Author: Giovanni Antonio Pordenone
title: Crucifixion or Golgotha
1520 Cremona (Italy) Cathedral

bye


Cremona, in the my book is written: for a mistake I wrote Verona.
Just the cathedral of Cremona. The date is written 1521-1522
I apologize for the error. Happy
Ciao
Maurizio
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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Mon 07 Dec, 2009 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
Quote:
I strongly suspect that when he says it is carried in the cities that he means by town guards, not by ordinary civilians. Nonetheless, we do know that it was used in judicial duels as well as practiced in fencing halls, so it clearly was used for these non-military roles.


Might they have been weapons of the Venetian and northern Italian bravi? From the brief notes I've taken on them, they seem perfect candidates for this scenario: Roving bands of armed swordsmen attached to local strongmen, engaged in vendettas and mercenary activity.
http://ForensicFashion.com/1560VenetianBravo.html

Also, here is a photo I took of the Metropolitan Museum's spadone. Label reads:
"Two-Hand Sword
Steel, chiseled and gilt; wood
Italian (Venice), about 1570"
http://forensicfashion.com/files/1560Venetian...eMet01.JPG

Compared with the images our Italian friends posted, Marozzo's illustration, Dossi's painting linked above, and the DT 5167, they look remarkably consistent in proportion and details. They also seem to be associated with areas within or adjacent to the Venetian Empire (Cremona, Bologna/Modena, Ferrara).
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Maurizio D'Angelo




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Dec, 2009 4:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Probably the name "bravo" comes from the Latin "pravus" which means "bad, evil"
The "bravo": men in the service of noble or powerful for which executing orders, even if against the law (1500-1600). Alessandro Manzoni mentions in his famous history book "I Promessi Sposi" as they were dressed.
The author of "I Promessi Sposi" environment of affairs in society Lombard 1600, during the period of Spanish domination. Were widespread throughout northern Italy.

"Are identifiable by clothing and a tuft of hair that protrudes from a hairnet that surrounds the rest of the hair. Wore a green hairnet, hair ending in a tassel, and his face was half covered by a tuft, to hide the scars...
A glossy leather belt, a knife handle sticking out of a pocket of the large and puffy pants, great sword, with a great guard in perforated sheets of brass, polished and shiny... "
Their manner was defiant.
Ciao
Maurizio

P.S.
Bravo now has the same meaning in Italian and English, used to express approval, especially of a performance.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Mon 07 Dec, 2009 8:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ruel A. Macaraeg wrote:
Might they have been weapons of the Venetian and northern Italian bravi? From the brief notes I've taken on them, they seem perfect candidates for this scenario: Roving bands of armed swordsmen attached to local strongmen, engaged in vendettas and mercenary activity.
http://ForensicFashion.com/1560VenetianBravo.html


Its an interesting thought, and I wouldn't put it out of the realm of possibility that some bravi may have used them on occassion. I don't think, however, that DiGrassi would have been praising criminals in his treatise, so I doubt that's what that particular passage means.

Quote:
Also, here is a photo I took of the Metropolitan Museum's spadone.


That happens to be one of my favorite two handed swords. Happy

By the way, for anyone interested, Arms and Armor makes a *fantastic* spadone trainer:
http://www.arms-n-armor.com/train234.html

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Tue 08 Dec, 2009 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bravi are described by Cesare Vecellio (XVI century, cousin of Titian) and Bonvesin de la Riva (XIV century, milanese chronichler).

Formerly known as gladiatori they became later identified as tajacantoni and bravi.

They were fighters for hire, eve looking for fight within a steccato (fence), they often were also pimps.

Tajacantoni means corner cutters in venetian, maybe it was a reference to their ability to jump from a side to the other of the fence or, according to the established traditions, they were famous for being waiting for people to assassinate at streets corners (cantoni).

In medieval times they were hired to represent rich people in judicial duels by non fighting classes.

Manzoni writes in the nineteenth century so he has also an anti-spanish slant, justifiable as their domination was poor and corrupt, but bravi/gladiatori had been existing for a long time.

Brescian people were popularly nicknamed tajacantoni by the venetians.
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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Dec, 2009 11:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From these descriptions, bravi seem to have been likely cosumers of the kind of manual that Marozzo and Di Grassi were publishing: Men who lived professionally as bodyguards, duellists, bandits, mercenaries, assassins, etc. would naturally be interested in improving their fencing skills.

In this, they seem unlike Landesknechts, yet similar to swordsmen in places like late Imperial China, which also produced commercially available sword manuals.

http://www.sevenstarstrading.com/html/articles/miaodao.html

Bruno, thank you for the etymologies -- they're fascinating and very revealing. Wink
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