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Dustin Faulkner




Location: BOERNE, TX
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 11:48 am    Post subject: Questions about German "Zweihander" swords         Reply with quote

Hello Everybody:

I'd like to have a Germanic two-handed long sword called a "Zweihander" - zwei meaning "two" in German. Does anyone make an authentic replica of one of these without a wavy flamberge blade? I noticed one on the Kult of Athena web site by Cold Steel, but it is too short. I've also noticed a custom one was made by Arms & Armor, but I bet it cost a fortune. Museum Replicas shows an authentic one, but with that wavy flamberge blade. Does a company make one with a straight blade and appropriate length?

If I ever do get a custom one made, I'd like to ask about a Zweihander's anatomy. Most Zweihanders (if not all) have not only a crossguard with quillons in various decorative patterns (and ring guards), but there are also two shorter "wings" approximately 6 inches farther up the blade of slightly various sizes - usually crescent shaped. What are these "wings" called? In aviation parlance, I'd call them canards.

Is there any surviving literature about how a Zweihander was used? I have the impression it took a special kind of training to use a Zweihander. All I know is troops like the Landsknechts & Swiss used them and were paid more. Was it only used for chopping pike heads? Were they used in hand-to-hand combat or dueling? Were they an export weapon too? I noticed Warwick Castle in England has one in its Great Hall. Also, is there any relationship between the Zweihander and the Scottish "Lowlander" sword I've seen advertised. It seems like the "Lowlander" is a poor man's version of a Zweihander - simplified and not as fancy.

I'm a short guy so I don't know if I'd ever be able to physically handle a Zweihander properly, but it sure would look cool above a fireplace or hanging on the wall.

Thank you and have a nice weekend!

- Dustin Faulkner

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Del Tin makes a large one with side rings and parrying hooks but a strait blade that they call the Venetian Twohander.

http://www.deltin.net/home.htm

Specifically this one: http://www.deltin.net/2162.htm

Kult of Athena has Del Tin swords in stock but not this model currently you could e-mail Ryan and ask if he can get one for you faster an easier than ordering directly from Italy.

http://www.kultofathena.com/deltin.asp

This one is shorter than the Venetian and doesn't have side rings:
http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...nded+Sword

Note although called the " Venetian " Twohander it's very much of German style even if used in Italy and I think the name is mostly because the original is currently part of a museum collection in venice.

The sub-guard is called parrying hooks in English and are there mostly to protect the hand if one puts one hand between the main guard and the parrying hooks to better fight close up i.e. similar to shortening the blade by half swording.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Steven Reich




Location: Arlington, VA
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ironically, the only surviving material we have found for such weapons so far is not German, but Iberian and Italian. Marozzo has a moderate amount of material in his 1536 treatise--he refers to the weapon as the Spada da Due Mani or sword for two hands, although others refer to it as the Spadone (big sword). Additionally, The Anonimo Bolognese manuscript from the early 1500s also has some material. Alfieri also gives some details in his 1653 treatise, although his actions are more like exercises. There is also some material in Lovino (c. 1580), Altoni (c. 1550), Di Grassi (1570), and perhaps the Anonimo Riccardiano (c. 1560), although they are minor sources. There is also Iberian material for the weapon (which they call the Montante).

Unfortunately, not muchof the material is available in English. However, Eric Myers and Steve Hick have released a translation of Figueyredo's Montante treatise in English which is available (for free!) as a pdf document.

There might have differences or at least different tendencies as regarding the forms of the weapons from German, through Italy, to Iberia; however, I'd still consider it to be essentially the same weapon.

Steve

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan, 2010 1:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Questions about German "Zweihander" swords         Reply with quote

Dustin Faulkner wrote:
What are these "wings" called?


In German, Parierhaken; the English translation "parrying hooks" is often used. I've seen "secondary guard", "lugs", "wings" used, but Parierhaken/parrying hooks is usual.

Dustin Faulkner wrote:

Also, is there any relationship between the Zweihander and the Scottish "Lowlander" sword I've seen advertised. It seems like the "Lowlander" is a poor man's version of a Zweihander - simplified and not as fancy.


It's (almost) the same thing, but without Parierhaken. Examples of German/Swiss Zweihanders without Parierhaken are common enough, and IIRC without-Parierhaken is usual for non-German/Swiss/North Italian. If you include the twohanders that look like long overweight longswords (look at the Windlass "English two-hand sword" for an example), you have more non-Parierhaken examples as well.

The Hanwei Lowlander (and such swords in general) are often described as having guards and pommels that are "typically Scottish", but otherwise they're the same as a Parierhaken-less German one. (An English example with the same guard, except lacking siderings, and pommel was posted here; a sword posed with a Henry VIII tonlet armour has the same style grip and pommel, and a guard that looks like the Windlass English 2HS one.) The blades were often German.

Dustin Faulkner wrote:
Cold Steel, but it is too short.

Quote:
I'm a short guy


The Cold Steel one is short, but historically short, so I wouldn't call it "too short". See essay by John Clements for two tables of measurements. The CS fits comfortably among the short two-handers in the 1st table, and is shorter than anything in the 2nd table (but not ridiculously shorter than the shortest ones there).

It's relatively cheap, easily found, of reasonable quality. I think it's the best cheap German-style Zweihander available - my main criticism would be that the guard is modern in finish, and somewhat modern in style (but what else would you expect from Cold Steel?). But if length matters, and it's too short for you, it's too short.

The Hanwei Lowlander looks good, handles well (in the confined space of a shop; I don't have one). If you want size, and you don't mind it being non-German or without Parierhaken, you could get this. The main criticism I've seen has been concerning the durability of the tang.

Both are sharp; the CS comes with a scabbard. You could blunten either for safer display if you wanted.

What other choices are there? The Del Tin Italian Two Handed Sword is only the same length as the Cold Steel (twice the price, and more historical, but doesn't have the classic German Zweihander guard). The A&A 15th Century Two-handed Sword looks very nice, along the lines of the Windlass English 2HS already mentioned. Then there are (or will be) the Albion Zweihanders (without Parierhaken). Manning Imperial have 2 nice ones in their catalog - not cheap. Lutel have a whole range of them, at moderate prices.

Dustin Faulkner wrote:

Is there any surviving literature about how a Zweihander was used? I have the impression it took a special kind of training to use a Zweihander. All I know is troops like the Landsknechts & Swiss used them and were paid more. Was it only used for chopping pike heads? Were they used in hand-to-hand combat or dueling?


They're famous for being used by Landsknecht/Swiss double-pay men, but most double-pay men didn't use them - they were a minority weapon. It was known as a weapon useful for defending against many, and was used by bodyguards (on the battlefield) and for guarding the standard. We don't have much detail about their use on the battlefield. A little more on dueling and other non-battle use, including a specialised manual for the Montante, the Iberian version of the weapon.
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