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Aaron G Larsen




Location: Harrisburg, PA
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb, 2010 9:38 am    Post subject: English Swords 1550-1600         Reply with quote

I'm new to the forum here, and, having read the article on English swords 1600-1650, I was curious if any of y'all could recomend a good article that covers the period immediately before this...

Additionally, the article left me with a couple of questions:

1. What is the difference between a rapier and a riding sword?

2. What is the difference between a hunting sword and a hangar? (...seeing as the article lumped them together)

3. Where can I learn more about backswords? The article talked about their hilts but said little about their blades... and I've always associated backswords with later highland basket hilts, not the hilts displayed or the time period covered.

Thanks, and my apologies if these are dumb questions...

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David Lohnes




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PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb, 2010 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Welcome aboard!

I'm not an expert in the era you're asking about, but I would recommend the article on Forms of European Edged Weaponry in the featured content section as a good place to go next. It will help define some of the terms you mentioned.
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb, 2010 1:02 pm    Post subject: Re: English Swords 1550-1600         Reply with quote

Aaron G Larsen wrote:
I'm new to the forum here, and, having read the article on English swords 1600-1650, I was curious if any of y'all could recomend a good article that covers the period immediately before this...

Additionally, the article left me with a couple of questions:

1. What is the difference between a rapier and a riding sword?

2. What is the difference between a hunting sword and a hangar? (...seeing as the article lumped them together)

3. Where can I learn more about backswords? The article talked about their hilts but said little about their blades... and I've always associated backswords with later highland basket hilts, not the hilts displayed or the time period covered.

Thanks, and my apologies if these are dumb questions...


I'm not an expert, but as this is pretty close to my period of interest, I'll answer the best I can.

1. A Rapier is a long thin sword, usually without much (if any) of an edge. A riding sword (as I understand it) is a decendent of the arming or "knightly" sword, a single handed, relatively light weapon meant for both cutting and thrusting.

2. Hangers are short, usually curved, single edged swords meant to be carried as a sidearm by a soldier with a gun. Hunting swords are short, usually curved, single edged swords meant to be carried as a sidearm by someone while hunting. They were basically the same thing. The only real difference if that hunting swords were civilian, and Hangers were military. Though I'm sure civilian ones were used by soldiers and military ones were used by civilians (probably ex-military) at times. They were basically the same as cutlasses, though they usually have less hand protection.

3. Now Backswords I don't know as much about. Backswords probably didn't get used very widely in the Highlands until nearer to 1700, and even then there were still a lot of Broadswords. I've heard Sword and Blades of the American Revolution recommended by a lot of people, it should come close to covering the period you're looking for. But as I've not gotten a copy yet, I can't say for sure.


Anyway, hope that helps! I'm sure others on here can give you more information.



[Edit] Perhaps this should be moved to the Historical Arms Talk forum? That seems a more appropriate forum for this thread, and it might get more answers.

Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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Gottfried P. Doerler




Location: Tyrol, Austria
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 1:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hm, i`m a newbee, but there are my 5 cents (or was it 10 cents ? always having difficulties with english phrases)

1. i think, the difference between rapier and riding sword is the blade. a riding sword has a rapier`s hilt, but a massive blade.

2. i`m consistent with a.spanjer, a slightly difference might be, that hunting swords often were decorated with hunting scenes or hilts of antlers.

3. i always thought, the backsword, was only one-edged, with a flatened back, whereas "real" basket-hilts are double-edged.
although there are also english backswords without basket-hilt, that rather look like riding swords. a bit confusing.

mfg
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 7:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gottfried P. Doerler wrote:
hm, i`m a newbee, but there are my 5 cents (or was it 10 cents ? always having difficulties with english phrases)

1. i think, the difference between rapier and riding sword is the blade. a riding sword has a rapier`s hilt, but a massive blade.

2. i`m consistent with a.spanjer, a slightly difference might be, that hunting swords often were decorated with hunting scenes or hilts of antlers.

3. i always thought, the backsword, was only one-edged, with a flatened back, whereas "real" basket-hilts are double-edged.
although there are also english backswords without basket-hilt, that rather look like riding swords. a bit confusing.

mfg


1. I believe what you're thinking of is a side-sword, not a riding sword. Happy

2. I might also, add that hunting swords often had grips made of antler.

3. Whether a sword is a basket-hilt or not depends on the hilt, not the blade. There were basket-hilted sabers, backswords and broadswords. Probably other blade types too.

Anyway, I'm really a newbie too, just keep reading everything you can get your hands on!

Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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Justin King
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Backsword-style blades appeared on many English and Continental hilt styles from about 1600 to 1750. They were particularly common on mortuary hilts of the ECW period, but examples can be seen on a huge variety of hilt styles, so the term "backsword" usually refers to the blade only.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've moved this topic to the Historical Arms Talk forum.

Even though this topic is referencing an article on this site, since the actual discussion is about swords that are not in the article, I felt it was better placed here.

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


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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 10:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A. Spanjer wrote:

1. A Rapier is a long thin sword,


Except for the ones that aren't. Happy

Quote:
usually without much (if any) of an edge.


Except for the ones with. Happy

I say this jokingly, but the truth of the matter is that the only things we can really say about the historical use of the word "rapier" is that it was a single handed, double edged weapon that had a complex hilt for hand protection. The "classical" rapier that people tend to think of from the early 17th century is generally on the longer side and focuses far more on the thrust than the cut, but you will see the word used historically to describe shorter, wide bladed cutting swords (what modern people sometimes call a "side sword", though that term is completely made up), and you will also see the term historically used to describe smallswords.

The term "riding sword" tends to be even more generic, referring to some form of light weapon used for self defense while out and about (as opposed to a weapon of war). It can describe a rapier, a longsword, a simple hilted single hand sword, etc.

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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Aaron G Larsen




Location: Harrisburg, PA
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 9:08 pm    Post subject: Thanks for the clarifying ambiguities...         Reply with quote

Well, thanks, Bill. Not that it clears things up, but it is often helpful to understand the parameters of the vagueness that we're left with...

I read over the definitions in the "Forms of European Edged Weapons" article and found that it didn't really tell me much of anything that I didn't know, but rather confirmed what I thought I knew and left the answers to my questions just as unanswered. I guess the bottom line is that much of the terminological ambiguities derive from the simple fact that modern historians are trying to put categories around something that was constantly fluid so that we can talk intelligently about it... but sometimes reality has this pesky way of leaking out from around the confines of human-created paradigms like runny jello oozing from a jello mold...

You mention that "side sword" is basically a "made-up term." What about the term "arming sword?" Is that kind of the same concept, or is it something different?

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Aaron G Larsen




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2010 10:23 pm    Post subject: Oakeshott-style typology for complex-hilted swords?         Reply with quote

Is there such a thing as an Oakeshott-style typology for latter-style, complex-hilted swords? Or are complex-hilted swords, too, well, complex? If it doesn't exist and is possible, perhaps something should be created, if for no other reason, just to increase clarity of discussion among historians and enthusiasts?
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2010 5:24 am    Post subject: Re: Thanks for the clarifying ambiguities...         Reply with quote

Aaron G Larsen wrote:
You mention that "side sword" is basically a "made-up term." What about the term "arming sword?" Is that kind of the same concept, or is it something different?


The term "side sword" or "spada da lato" is a modern curator's term. From my understanding, the term was mistakenly taken from the fencing treatise of Marozzo (though I'm not 100% certain that's the source), where at some point it happened to mention a sword at the side, and this was mistakenly taken as the name of the sword. The term arming sword, on the other hand, is historical from the middle ages. Its another somewhat ambiguous term, though it typically refers to a single handed sword carried as a sidearm while in armour.

Quote:
Is there such a thing as an Oakeshott-style typology for latter-style, complex-hilted swords? Or are complex-hilted swords, too, well, complex?


Not for the blades at the moment. AVB Norman did a very detailed typology of hilts in his book Rapiers and Smallswords.

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


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William Goodwin




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2010 6:28 am    Post subject: Re: Oakeshott-style typology for complex-hilted swords?         Reply with quote

Aaron G Larsen wrote:
Is there such a thing as an Oakeshott-style typology for latter-style, complex-hilted swords? Or are complex-hilted swords, too, well, complex? If it doesn't exist and is possible, perhaps something should be created, if for no other reason, just to increase clarity of discussion among historians and enthusiasts?



another reference book out is Cyril Mazansky's - British Basket-hilted Swords, which covers a gambit of
Scottish baskets, English and Mortuary hilts and a few other.


cheers,

Roanoke Sword Guilde

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2010 7:28 am    Post subject: Re: Oakeshott-style typology for complex-hilted swords?         Reply with quote

William Goodwin wrote:
another reference book out is Cyril Mazansky's - British Basket-hilted Swords, which covers a gambit of Scottish baskets, English and Mortuary hilts and a few other.


Good call! I'd forgotten about that one!

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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William Goodwin




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2010 8:11 am    Post subject: Re: Oakeshott-style typology for complex-hilted swords?         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
William Goodwin wrote:
another reference book out is Cyril Mazansky's - British Basket-hilted Swords, which covers a gambit of Scottish baskets, English and Mortuary hilts and a few other.


Good call! I'd forgotten about that one!


thanks Bill....

Mazansky lays out a Typology for these types of hilts in this book , a real must for any basket head.

Roanoke Sword Guilde

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E.B. Erickson
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PostPosted: Mon 01 Mar, 2010 4:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In Oakeshott's "European Weapons and Armour" he has some very elemental typologies for German bastard hilts, Schiavona, some rapier hilts, and a few distinctly English hilt types. This book covers the period from ca. 1500 to 1800, and is fairly broad in coverage at the expense of depth.

--ElJay
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