Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Sword pommels used as clubs Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Christopher Finneman




Location: Sartell Minnesota
Joined: 20 Mar 2006

Posts: 159

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 4:31 pm    Post subject: Sword pommels used as clubs         Reply with quote

Hello there

Ok this may or may not have been true. But somewhere I heard that Pommels of sowrds were sometimes used as small make shift maces or clubs. Is this tru or pure make believe?
If it is true I know a few swords I have would fair well if need came to hit or whack (like your pounding your fist on a table) a person if you couldnt get a clean swing in.
But what I want to know I guess is if they did serve as such on a rare occasion why not have a very small stud or spike to incapasitate your opponent or kill them easily.?
Sorry I cant say this more clearly but I think you get my idea of this.
And ideas or suggestions on if the did this and why they didnt make pommels a bit more deadly
Thanks
Christopher

Proudly it stands until the worlds end. The victorious banner of love.
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Yahoo Messenger
Hugh Knight




Location: San Bernardino, CA
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Reading list: 34 books

Posts: 739

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 5:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Sword pommels used as clubs         Reply with quote

Christopher Finneman wrote:
Hello there

Ok this may or may not have been true. But somewhere I heard that Pommels of sowrds were sometimes used as small make shift maces or clubs. Is this tru or pure make believe?
If it is true I know a few swords I have would fair well if need came to hit or whack (like your pounding your fist on a table) a person if you couldnt get a clean swing in.
But what I want to know I guess is if they did serve as such on a rare occasion why not have a very small stud or spike to incapasitate your opponent or kill them easily.?
Sorry I cant say this more clearly but I think you get my idea of this.
And ideas or suggestions on if the did this and why they didnt make pommels a bit more deadly
Thanks
Christopher


Hello Christopher,

If the Fechtbücher are to be believed, then pommel strikes were quite common. The pommel could be used both to thrust and to strike. Here's a picture from Talhoffer's 1449 Ambraser Codex showing a pommel strike being displaced:


And here's a picture showing a pommel thrust from Talhoffer 1467:
http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0002/...l?seite=71

Such attacks were useful because armor was so protective that it was impossible to cut someone through it, but parts were vulnerable to smashing blows. Such blows would have been unlikely to actually penetrate the armor (although they were almost certainly used to damage the armor to keep it from functioning properly), but you can stun someone with a head blow or crush fingers through gauntlets. Master Sigmund Ringeck told us to strike the extremities:
"If you want to strike with the Schlachenden Ort [the "battering point"--his term for a pommel strike], you are to direct it particularly to his forward extremities. If you want to strike, hold your sword in the guard over the head and do it in such a way as if you want to thrust him in the face. Then release the sword with your right hand and seize the blade with it beside the left. Strike with the pommel to his lead foot or his forward hand, where he holds the sword at the blade." (Ringeck fol. 109v)

Other sources (e.g., Gladiatoria) suggested striking to the elbows or knees, but I believe that such blows were intended to damage the articulation of the couters and poleyns since real-world personal experience has taught me that blows to those targets are not very damaging in good armor.

As for adding spikes to pommels for this period, I don't believe it was done because none are extant, nor have I found any mention of them in non-Fechtbuch chronicles. We can't be certain of that, however, because some Fechtbücher do show such weapons, such as in this picture from Mair's De Arte Athletica II:
http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/bsb00...?seite=530
So I suspect (but can't prove) that these kinds of weapons were one of those "military engineering" things Fechtmeister liked to show prospective patrons. They are certainly possible, however, as we see them in several different sources.

I hope this helps.

Regards,
Hugh
www.schlachtschule.org
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
James Head





Joined: 09 Mar 2008

Posts: 127

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also believe the term 'pummel' comes from the practice of smashing someone in the face with your sword's pommel.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Craig Shackleton




Location: Ottawa, Canada
Joined: 20 Apr 2004
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 307

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 8:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know this isn't exactly what you were asking, but I feel it is important to point out that the Gladiatoria fechtbucher also instruct you to unscrew your pommel and throw it at your opponent, if you want to finish the fight quickly.


 Attachment: 165.15 KB
[ Download ]
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 8:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am, as always, no expert, but I would imagine that our ancesters chose not to put spikes and such on pommels for two major reasons:

1. So as not to injure the wielder. While it is debated whether or not one should grip the pommel for some strikes (I do it all the time with my hand-and-a-half), there is a good chance that the pommel will come in contact with some portion of your body in a fight. It is the end closest to you after all. This is completely ignoring any possible injury due to just carrying it around.

2. The use of the pommel is intended as a last ditch effort to pummel someone who is too heavily armored for the blade. Not sure that a spike on a relatively small pommel (it is no mace or warhammer) will do much of anything.
View user's profile Send private message
Craig Shackleton




Location: Ottawa, Canada
Joined: 20 Apr 2004
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 307

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 9:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to respectfully disagree. While I do think it seems like you'd risk hurting yourself with a sharpened pummel or quillons, I know that these things are illustrated in Talhoffer 1459, Vadi, and Gladiatoria, just off the top of my head. I don't know of any surviving examples, and my bet is that it was only done for ritual combat where either your armour would protect you from damaging yourself, or the chance of hurting yourself was part of the intentional design of the weapon. That's just speculation of course, but the frequency and diversity of the source information for sharpened or spiked pommels makes me believe they were real.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Hugh Knight




Location: San Bernardino, CA
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Reading list: 34 books

Posts: 739

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 9:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Colt Reeves wrote:
2. The use of the pommel is intended as a last ditch effort to pummel someone who is too heavily armored for the blade. Not sure that a spike on a relatively small pommel (it is no mace or warhammer) will do much of anything.


There's no indication it's a last ditch anything. All armor is too much for a blade to cut, so it's not something for "special situations", it's just one more tool in your toolbox.

However, I agree spikes will do little; that's one reason I suspect they were never actually used. On the other hand, as with the pommel thrust I showed from Talhoffer 1467, there's evidence pommels were used to attack the face, and the spike would be effective there.

Again, in all probablility, this is just one more case where fight masters wanted to show the cool secrets they could teach, just like the unworkable war machines in so many Renaissance artists portfolios. Until we find evidence such things were actually used, that's the best way to guess, I think.

Regards,
Hugh
www.schlachtschule.org
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
Hugh Knight




Location: San Bernardino, CA
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Reading list: 34 books

Posts: 739

PostPosted: Tue 16 Feb, 2010 9:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Shackleton wrote:
I have to respectfully disagree. While I do think it seems like you'd risk hurting yourself with a sharpened pummel or quillons, I know that these things are illustrated in Talhoffer 1459, Vadi, and Gladiatoria, just off the top of my head. I don't know of any surviving examples, and my bet is that it was only done for ritual combat where either your armour would protect you from damaging yourself, or the chance of hurting yourself was part of the intentional design of the weapon. That's just speculation of course, but the frequency and diversity of the source information for sharpened or spiked pommels makes me believe they were real.


I think what's remarkable is how *rarely* these type of weapons are shown, not how common they were. They're in a handful of books, and some of those are copies of other books. And, if they were used in a specific kind of duel, why don't we have any evidence for that, as we do in the case of the Frankish and Swabian longshield duels? I won't argue this point much, because we really don't have enough evidence, but those are some things to consider.

One point, however: in spite of seeing sharp crosses (the term "quillons" doesn't show up until well after the medieval period), I can't find a single technique in *any* source showing or describing an attack with the cross, and several sources are quite clear that only the pommel is used for striking. Do you know of a source that shows an attack with the cross?

Regards,
Hugh
www.schlachtschule.org
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
Craig Shackleton




Location: Ottawa, Canada
Joined: 20 Apr 2004
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 307

PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2010 5:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good points Hugh, so to speak, regarding the cross. My rapier roots come out sometimes, and no, I don't know offhand of any techniques specifically using the cross to attack, and you have far more knowledge of attacks with the pommel than I do. I do have a vague recollection of seeing someone getting injured by a pointed cross during a throw technique somewhere in Talhoffer, but I could be misremembering, and I'm pretty sure it was just a secondary effect of the throw, and possibly just an opportunity to show some blood!

However, Vadi specifies in his description of the sword to be used in armour that "the hilt should be as long as the handle, and it should be pointed on each side; and in the same way the pommel should be pointed, so that it is possible to strike with each of these parts." (translation Luca Porzio & Gregory Mele).

Talhoffer of course shows all kinds of pointed weapons, and I understand your point about the military engineering, since he also shows underwater breathing apparatus and all kinds of weird things, but the pointy swords he show being used, which is the real difference for me. I categorize these swords with the crazy dueling shields we also see in multiple sources, and which Talhoffer also illustrates in his military engineering, and which I also gather we have no surviving physical examples. I believe that they were rare, and mostly used for judicial trials or some other formalized ritual combat.

If I find a specific attack with the cross, I'll come back and post it. But for now, I'll accept that there is no specific technique shown for that.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
James Head





Joined: 09 Mar 2008

Posts: 127

PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2010 6:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss all of the various instruments and machines found in Talhoffer's Thott manuscript. That whole section is a copy of the famous Bellafortis manual on siege warfare. It was considered one of the most important sources on siege weaponry and tactics. It also included recipes for various types of gunpowder and rockets. Many of those odd machines were certainly built and used in siege warfare. I've even heard that the leather diving suit was recently reconstructed and it was able to be submerged and receive air. (If anyone has more info about this let me know!)

Anyhow, I think it is a little short sighted to simply dismiss a whole section of a manuscript or certain aspects of what is presented by the author because it seems too silly or implausible to our minds. I'm sure there were some who initially rejected the idea of grabbing a sharp blade, even though it is found all over the various manuals. But now we know that many people have tested this and arrived at the conclusion that a sharp blade can be safely held in bare hands. So maybe we should put these various machines and odd weapon designs to the test before dismissing them as Talhoffer's grandiose pipe dream.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Christopher Finneman




Location: Sartell Minnesota
Joined: 20 Mar 2006

Posts: 159

PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2010 7:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well for spikes Im not talking about long spikes Im talking more like a good stud or point on the end of the pommel where the blade would be peened over. Just enough length to be used with a good downward blow if need be.
I can also see the use of the hilt or gaurd being used as a make shift weapon as well. Kinda like a knuckle duster or brass knuckle what ever you want to call them.

But yes doing some winter cutting brought this whole idea of using the hilt and pommel as a close quarter weapon in its own right. I know the cross hilt wouldnt need to be sharp at th edges at all to cause considerable damamge to armor or to a lightly armored man.

But yes thanks for all the info so far

Christopher

Proudly it stands until the worlds end. The victorious banner of love.
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Yahoo Messenger
Dan Sellars





Joined: 10 Jun 2008

Posts: 23

PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2010 7:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hugh Knight wrote:
...

One point, however: in spite of seeing sharp crosses (the term "quillons" doesn't show up until well after the medieval period), I can't find a single technique in *any* source showing or describing an attack with the cross, and several sources are quite clear that only the pommel is used for striking. Do you know of a source that shows an attack with the cross?


You don't think think this is attacking with the quillons (or what ever you want to call them)?


View user's profile Send private message
Hugh Knight




Location: San Bernardino, CA
Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Reading list: 34 books

Posts: 739

PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2010 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Sellars wrote:
Hugh Knight wrote:
...

One point, however: in spite of seeing sharp crosses (the term "quillons" doesn't show up until well after the medieval period), I can't find a single technique in *any* source showing or describing an attack with the cross, and several sources are quite clear that only the pommel is used for striking. Do you know of a source that shows an attack with the cross?


You don't think think this is attacking with the quillons (or what ever you want to call them)?


No, it's not. The books are very specific that it's a blow with the pommel. While this particular page isn't specific (the text merely says "Here he displaces the blow and turns the tip in the direction of the visor."), a previous page shows another such strike and it is clear in calling it a "mort schlag" (Plate 12 says "Da fürt er dem mort schlag." which translates as "Here he carries out the death blow."; Ambraser Codex pl. 12). Mordschlag is a term used in many Fechtbücher (similar terms are Schlachenden Ort and Tunrschlag), and it always refers to a blow with the pommel.

Von Danzig tells us this about attacks with a sword in Harnischfechten: "[W]ith all weapons you resort to in combat against an armored man you attack with the point when you would best win the openings and you should know to seek the openings rightly with the point. And there are four points with three weapons: The first weapon is the lance and it has one point; the second weapon is the dagger which also has one point; and third is the sword which has two points; one point is the tip the other is the pommel." (Goliath ff. 61r-61v)

And later he talks specifically about the Mordschlag and he says: "If he shoots with the Schlachenden Ort, meet without force, teach to twist the point with both hands to the eyes. Analysis: Mark that the striking point is the pommel.[empahsis mine--HTK] (Goliath fol. 70r; incidentally, note that this is exactly the same play as the one shown from Talhoffer's Ambraser Codex above--he strikes with a Mordschlag and you counter by displacing and thrusting with your point; cool, huh?)

Regards,
Hugh
www.schlachtschule.org
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
Dan Sellars





Joined: 10 Jun 2008

Posts: 23

PostPosted: Wed 17 Feb, 2010 11:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cool, thanks for the extra info It is useful to know.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Sword pommels used as clubs
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum