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David Lohnes




Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Joined: 31 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Feb, 2010 8:15 am    Post subject: Arming swords & side swords. I.33 & Dardi         Reply with quote

As I try to wrap my head around the historical flow of European single-handed sword use from generation to generation, I'm coming to the following conclusions, and I'd like everyone to fact check for me.

Preliminaries:

1) In the middle-ages, the sword was often not the dominant weapon on the battlefield, and became even less important as time passed. In the Norman and Crusader era, the spear and lance were primary weapons; during the Hundred-Years War, pole-arms like halberds and pole axes also became primary; in the 15th century the pike, and then later the firearm became primary. The sword was always a factor, but never a sole, or even a dominant, factor.

2) From the Norman period forward, the use of a single sword by a person on foot was more characteristic of combat off the battlefield than on it.

3) The longsword never completely (or even mostly) displaced the single-handed arming or side sword either on the battlefield or in the street, even during it's heyday, which was in the 15th century.

- - - - - - - - - -

Major propositions:

1) Taking 1066 as a convenient point of origin (simply because I have to start somewhere because I can't know everything), the single-handed knightly arming sword (as a weapon) continued, with various generational developments well into the 18th century. That is to say, an Albion Knight, an Albion Potier, an Albion Doge, and a Scottish broad sword are essentially the same sword (as compared to messers, longswords, and katanas) with differences in appearance and use due to cultural and technological changes over the centuries.

2) Systems of combat designed for that weapon (we'll call it the arming side broad sword) evolved with the weapon (and with the wider evolution of arms, armor, and culture generally) but continued to share an organic relationship with the older systems of combat designed for the weapon until at least the beginning of the 18th century.

3) There are many reproduction swords and many martial systems which are most typical of a very specific time period (i.e. an Albion Sovereign and I.33; an Albion Doge and Dardi sword and buckler); but due to the generational relationship between high-Medieval arming swords and Renaissance side swords and their associated martial systems, they are sometimes closely related despite the centuries between them.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Conclusions:
1) We need a name for the single-handed, straight-bladed, double-edged, European cut and thrust sword (variously called by moderns the knightly arming sword, side sword, cut and thrust sword, or broad sword depending on the specific historical instance in view) that sets it apart from other swords (like messers, scimitars, longswords, and katanas) but recognizes the generational unity between the various incarnations of that sword through the centuries. I'm going to adopt the name "brand" for the rest of this post because it's been a good Anglo-Saxon word for sword since Beowulf and before and it's sadly neglected, and in many ways the sword we're talking about is the proto-typical European sword--the European "brand" of single-handed sword.

2) A modern HEMA practioner studying brand and buckler, whether in the Bolognese tradition, the Elizabethan tradition, or from I.33 could perform many or most of the same techniques whether using an Albion I.33, an A&A Scholar Sword, an Albion Sovereign, an Albion Doge, or an A&A Knightly Riding sword. As brands, all of these weapons have their own strengths and weaknesses and historical associations, but they're all brands, and so all would be functional (to a greater or lesser degree).

Thoughts?
(Don't hate me . . .)
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A. Spanjer




Location: USA
Joined: 26 Apr 2009

Posts: 242

PostPosted: Tue 23 Feb, 2010 9:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll have to read over your post a few more times, but my initial thought for what to call a European, single-handed, double-edged, straight bladed sword, is: Broadsword, maybe European Broadsword.

The problem of course being how overused and misused that word is.

Also, the Brand or Broadsword may appear essentially the same, but (correct me if I'm wrong) wouldn't the blade geometry have changed significantly? Along with several other factors? Enough to make the use and handling completely different?

Anyway the European, single-handed, double-edged, straight bladed sword is my favorite general sword type. Though I'm the most familiar with the 17th/18th century Scottish Broadsword. I look forward to the rest of this thread.

Na sir 's na seachain an cath.


Last edited by A. Spanjer on Tue 23 Feb, 2010 9:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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David E. Farrell




Location: Evanston, IL
Joined: 25 Jun 2007

Posts: 156

PostPosted: Tue 23 Feb, 2010 9:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd argue that proposition 1 is a gross oversimplification to the point of being almost meaningless. Sort of like saying a katana and a grosse messer are basically the same thing because they are single edged two handed weapons that can be used in one. Blade form affects useage (and usage informs blade form), surely. An oakeshott type XV is a cut and thrust blade but is notable more thrust than say a XIII. But given that:

and for conclusion 1 - why not just say 'sword' ? or 'single handed sword' ? it is a sword, and it is single handed. done. Context can make using 'single handed' unnecessary. In some ways using 'brand' would be akin to some armour scholars insisting that only the french terms be used (except that was less a decision than something that happened as a result of many years of momentum and some notable scholars using it in their works many years ago).

as for conclusion 2 - I'd tend to agree that due to the mechanical similarities between systems, that all things equal, ones weapon would mean that certain things need to be adapted rather than an entirely new system be used. For example, the complex hilt of a scottish broadsword or schiavonna would allow certain forms of parry that may be more dangerous with a simple cruciform sword. Or to put it more generally - after a time, a martial artist (swordsman, whatever) should be able to apply the principles of their system with varying weapons and remain effective (though they probably won't have the same level of expertise as someone who studied that specifically). Some systems (like Fiore Dei Liberi's MSs) demonstrate this very clearly in the context of one overarching tradition.


but perhaps I missed the point.

AKA: 'Sparky' (so I don't need to explain later Wink )

For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother
-- King Henry, Henry V, William Shakespeare

Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused... but on a higher level.
-- Enrico Fermi
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David Lohnes




Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Joined: 31 Oct 2006
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 42

PostPosted: Tue 23 Feb, 2010 1:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What I'm looking for in conclusion 1 is a technical term for the single-handed European, double-edged, straight sword that was used for both cutting and thrusting (to varying degrees). Using the term "sword" feels like calling every rifle a "gun."

We have the term revolver, and the term pistol, and the term shot gun, and the term rifle, and machine gun, and sub machine gun. Rifle's might be semi-automatic, bolt action, flint lock, and lever action. But they're all long guns with rifled barrels that fire bullets, not shot.

I feel like when it comes to Medieval one-handers in the Oakeshott typology X-XX that we've got all the sub-categories (bolt action, lever action, flint lock, percussion lock), but we're missing the overarching term: rifle.

A dagger is a dagger, although there are various types.
A rapier is a rapier.
A longsword is a longsword.
A katana is a katana.

There are all distinct categories that have various sub types.

I feel like I finally get it that an Oakeshott type XX in Bologna and an Oakeshott type XIV in Surrey are both sub types of the same general kind of sword: the single-handed European, etc. etc.

Look at highlanders with broadswords and targes. Look at Bolognese with side swords and brocchieri. Look at monks with arming swords and bucklers. They're all variations on a theme. And if you could put them all into the same room at the same time, they probably would all conceive of themselves of doing the same thing, just in slightly different ways. They didn't choose the differences between themselves; history enforced them by isolating them in time and place. I have no doubt that if given the opportunity, they would have been happy to bout with and learn from one another.

Up to this point, I've thought in terms like this: to practice I.33, one needs a Knight or Sovereign or Poitier. To study Bolognese fencing, one needs a Doge or Condottiere. But now I feel like I get it: if I like the looks of Albion's Kern, or of the Poitier, or of the Vigil, it's perfectly legitimate to get and use that.

Sure, there will be compromises. The Poitier will thrust better. The Vigil will cut better. But both can do both, as can the Kern. They're all single-handed, European, etc. etc.

I mean, it's not like A&A or Albion or whoever makes a Poitier trainer and a Vigil trainer and a Knight trainer and a Doge trainer. You've got only a few trainers to stand in for all these wide variety of Oakeshott types. That tells me something.

I'm blathering, I know, but I really feel like I've connected some dots here.

And of course, I'm speaking of brand and buckler in the abstract as a timeless art; I'm not speaking of living history or reenactment.
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Steven Reich




Location: Arlington, VA
Joined: 28 Oct 2003

Posts: 237

PostPosted: Tue 23 Feb, 2010 2:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Lohnes wrote:
What I'm looking for in conclusion 1 is a technical term for the single-handed European, double-edged, straight sword that was used for both cutting and thrusting (to varying degrees). Using the term "sword" feels like calling every rifle a "gun."

But that's what they did. That is, they'd call it a sword and only differentiate it if it was needed. For example, the Italians called pretty much everything a spada; if they needed you to see it as a specific version, then they would differentiate it by name. However, they didn't do this much and it was very general: Spadone, Spadino, Spada da Due Mani, and Sciabla (Great Sword, Smallsword, Sword for Two Hands, Sabre/Scimitar. Since then, the community has added a few more term: Side Sword, Arming Sword, Rapier, etc. Do we need to arbitrarily add more?

David Lohnes wrote:
Look at highlanders with broadswords and targes. Look at Bolognese with side swords and brocchieri. Look at monks with arming swords and bucklers. They're all variations on a theme. And if you could put them all into the same room at the same time, they probably would all conceive of themselves of doing the same thing, just in slightly different ways. They didn't choose the differences between themselves; history enforced them by isolating them in time and place. I have no doubt that if given the opportunity, they would have been happy to bout with and learn from one another.

Perhaps, but in the case of a sword for Bolognese (i.e. a Side sword), you have a weapon that could be as close (or closer) to being a rapier as it is to being an arming sword depending on the specific sword (so grouping it with an arming sword isn't necessarily any more or less correct than grouping it with a rapier).

David Lohnes wrote:
I mean, it's not like A&A or Albion or whoever makes a Poitier trainer and a Vigil trainer and a Knight trainer and a Doge trainer. You've got only a few trainers to stand in for all these wide variety of Oakeshott types. That tells me something.

However, you've got a Side sword trainer, a Rapier trainer, an Arming sword trainer, and a Longsword trainer.

Honestly, I don't see what you're getting at. We already have terminology that differentiates at a gross level: Arming Sword, Side Sword, etc., etc. If we need greater detail, then we can do that with blade types (Oakshott), or hilt types (AVB Norman). Beyond that, a sword is a sword. That is, you could certainly practice Bolognese with a backsword.

Steve

Founder of NoVA-Assalto, an affiliate of the HEMA Alliance
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David E. Farrell




Location: Evanston, IL
Joined: 25 Jun 2007

Posts: 156

PostPosted: Tue 23 Feb, 2010 3:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Lohnes wrote:
What I'm looking for in conclusion 1 is a technical term for the single-handed European, double-edged, straight sword that was used for both cutting and thrusting (to varying degrees). Using the term "sword" feels like calling every rifle a "gun."

We have the term revolver, and the term pistol, and the term shot gun, and the term rifle, and machine gun, and sub machine gun. Rifle's might be semi-automatic, bolt action, flint lock, and lever action. But they're all long guns with rifled barrels that fire bullets, not shot.

I feel like when it comes to Medieval one-handers in the Oakeshott typology X-XX that we've got all the sub-categories (bolt action, lever action, flint lock, percussion lock), but we're missing the overarching term: rifle.


I think it may be the mental analogy you are using to understand the system used by sword enthusiasts and scholars.

Take the Oakeshott typology - a typology that includes hilts, pommels and blade form (though most only use it for the blades). Discussing the differences between a type XV and a type XII blade isn't like talking about a bolt action rifle vs a flintlock rifle. Because those two weapons types could be largely intended for the same purpose. It would be more like (and I am getting onto shaky ground since I don't know much about firearms and I am not sure a reasonable analogy is actually possible) talking about the differences between an M16 and a bolt action hunting rifle. They are intended to fill different niches (most sword types overlap by a very wide margin in time as well), and their construction reflects that.

and as Steve and I both were getting at, saying rifle (instead of rifled gun) is not really any different than saying single-hander (instead of single handed sword). Additionally, you may see people just say something like 'typical type XVa' - why? because that is widely accepted and very specific terminology among scholars and enthusiasts.

AKA: 'Sparky' (so I don't need to explain later Wink )

For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother
-- King Henry, Henry V, William Shakespeare

Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused... but on a higher level.
-- Enrico Fermi
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Greg Mele
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Feb, 2010 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd also add that "arming sword" is an historical term, not a curatorial one....
Greg Mele
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Greg Coffman




Location: Lubbock, TX
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PostPosted: Tue 23 Feb, 2010 9:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Lohnes wrote:
Using the term "sword" feels like calling every rifle a "gun."
I feel like when it comes to Medieval one-handers in the Oakeshott typology X-XX that we've got all the sub-categories (bolt action, lever action, flint lock, percussion lock), but we're missing the overarching term: rifle.

A longsword is a longsword.


That's not quite right. The term "longsword" is one among many to describe a common sword: hand and a half, bastard sword, spadone, etc.

Likewise, the sword you are describing is know as: arming sword, one handed sword, single hander, cut & thrust, side sword, etc.

It is the same with the word "car." You can use it in the general sense to refer to automobiles, or you can use it to differentiate between cars and trucks, or use can use the more specific terms: sedan, coupe, roadster, etc. That is just how language works.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
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