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Chase Gibson





Joined: 30 May 2010

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PostPosted: Sun 30 May, 2010 3:05 pm    Post subject: Cutlass vs Axe vs Katzbalger         Reply with quote

What do you think would be better for a naval boarding party, about the 1500's to mid 1500s? A Katzbalger, a Cutlass, or an Axe? What else do you think would have been good or optimal?
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Sun 30 May, 2010 6:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There was no such thing as a cutlass in the time period you have mentioned - they did not exist until a good bit later. A katzbalger existed, but I am not sure that your typical sailor could have afforded one or for that matter, would have carried it if he did have one. Given this, I'd have to go with the axe from your options. I am no expert in late medieval naval warfare, but I'd think that knives, axes, and belay pins played a much larger part in a boarding party than any type of sword would have early on.
J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
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"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sun 30 May, 2010 6:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As an alternative to a cutlass, how about a falchion?


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ATFALCHION2.jpg
One of the short-lived ATrim falchions
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 30 May, 2010 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Boarding pike (a.k.a. half-pike, a spear of about 6' in length) would be a good option. I don't know when they were first used, but they remained in use until well into the 19th century. They might have become more popular with the use of boarding nets (i.e., nets to stop boarders).

Also gun, bow, and crossbow.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Toke Krebs Niclasen




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PostPosted: Tue 01 Jun, 2010 1:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The earliest example of naval cutlass (Skibshuggert) I can find is from 1680.

It appears to be a secondary priority and often made from cut down army blades.

http://www.vaabenhistoriskselskab.dk/arma-dan...ditid1=186
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Jun, 2010 8:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This image is ca. 1470s, and shows both single-hand swords and bastard swords, approximately Oakeshott Types XV and/or XVIII. Short cutting polearms, daggers, javelins (from the masts) and, of course, archers. They are, by all appearances, amphibious infantry (marines) with less emphasis on polearms than suggested by contemporary depictions of land warfare.


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BattleofSluys.jpg


-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 01 Jun, 2010 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure there was no such thing as a cutlass depending how you define the weapon. Single-edged swords certainly existed, including some with knucklebows which look quite similar to what you might think of as a cutlass. The Bohemian Dussack for example was a curved single-edged sword with a built-in knucklebow. Similar weapons also existed in Italy and Flanders.

You can see an image of a Dussack from 1520 in this thread.

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=11462

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Daniel de Castro Caputo




Location: Brazil
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Jun, 2010 6:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a part of the 1580s epic poem "The Lusiads", by Luís de Camões, describing the great navigation of Vasco da Gama to India. In this part it´s listed the weapons that were used by the portuguese during the navigations.

"Se as armas queres ver, como tens dito,
Cumprido esse desejo te seria;
Como amigo as verás; porque eu me obrigo,
Que nunca as queiras ver como inimigo.

67

Isto dizendo, manda os diligentes
Ministros amostrar as armaduras:
Vêm arneses, e peitos reluzentes,
Malhas finas, e lâminas seguras,
Escudos de pinturas diferentes,
Pelouros, espingardas de aço puras,
Arcos, e sagitíferas aljavas,
Partazanas agudas, chuças bravas:

68

As bombas vêm de fogo, e juntamente
As panelas sulfúreas, tão danosas;
Porém aos de Vulcano não consente
Que dêem fogo às bombardas temerosas;
Porque o generoso ânimo e valente,
Entre gentes tão poucas e medrosas,
Não mostra quanto pode, e com razão,
Que é fraqueza entre ovelhas ser leão."

Translation:

"If the weapons thou want to see, as thou´ve said,
Accomplished this wish would´ve been;
As a friend thou shall see; because I oblige,
That thou never wants to see as an enemy

By saying this, he (the captain) orders the diligents
Officers to show their armours:
It comes harnesses and shining breastplates,
Thin mailles, and secure blades,
Shields of different paintings,
Pelouros*, arquebuses of pure steel,
Bows, arrow filled quivers,
Acute partisanes, brave pikes**:

It comes the fire bombs, and toguether
The sulfureous pans***, so harmfull;
Although, for the Valcano ones he doesn´t allow
To put fire on the temerous bombards;
Beacause the excessive power and bravery,
Between so few and frightened people,
He doesn´t shows, and with reason,
Beacause it´s weakness to be a lion between sheeps"

* - A stone cannon ball
** - The word chuça may reffer to the hawlspiess(or even another weapont, it´s a obscure archaic word...) instead of the pike, beacause the word pike already existed in portuguese as "pique".
*** - I don´t know what kind of weapon he may be referring as "sulfureous pans", may be some sort of mortar...

As you can see, no axes...

By that time the sword they were using were rapiers or one handed swords(espadas) with parrying daggers.

Daniel de Castro Caputo
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Jun, 2010 8:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looking at cutlass and old/middle French as well as English, it seems a variation of description for big knife, or short sword, the derivatives of this have been around since at least the end of the 16th century. One could certainly accept a katzbalger at that timeline as well.

Look to Rosalind in Shakespeare's As you LIke It right at the 1600 mark .One of several references for
Quote:
They carry, among other dangling fallals, a little axe in their belts, or strapped across their shoulders. But Rosalind's curtle-axe was merely a court-lasse, or cutlass, or, in plain English, a short sword, which she should wear as any soldierly young fellow of the day would wear his sword.

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/asu/stagerosalinds.html (more regarding that play and description not hard to find)

Another excuse
Quote:
It occurred to me recently to wonder about the derivation of the word "cutlass."

Turns out it's from Middle French "coutel," meaning knife, which ultimately derives from Latin "culter," meaning knife or plowshare. (! Had no idea that one word meant both things.)

And the "lass" part appears to be a Middle French augmentative suffix. So I gather that the Middle French "coutelas" basically meant "big knife."

Which made me wonder about another piratical term: "windlass." Which turns out to derive from Norse "vindāss," in which the "āss" part means "pole." So it's a winding-pole.

Kind of neat that the two lasses are etymologically distinct from each other as well as from the word "lass."

As well as, of course, from that third pirate-related lass, the spyglass.

Abstract from World Book Dictionary
Quote:
2 a large, heavy knife; machete. that has been pruned by cutting off shoots close [ < French coutelas < couteau, coutel < Latin to the main stem. ..


Indeed, from just about any dictionary one might pick up and had been my understanding during discussions of the differences between a hanger and a cutlass (amongst others).

Shrug? What's in a name?

Cheers

GC
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Bryan Robbins




Location: Austin
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Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed 02 Jun, 2010 7:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I belive that "cutlass" in french is saber
Question with boldness,

Speak without fear,

Hold to the truth.- Thomas Jefferson
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Jun, 2010 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bryan Robbins wrote:
I belive that "cutlass" in french is saber


False, but the term sabre has a somewhat similar type of evolution in terms. I guess there is nothing wrong with discounting what is available out there for information. It does though tend to make such insistence of absolutes and pure speculation rather tiring (to me) to debate or discuss further.

Cheers

GC
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Stephane Rabier




Location: Brittany
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Jun, 2010 11:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi,
"coutelas" in French is a big hunting knife, something like a Bauernwehr or a big Bowie knife.

The cutlass is not called "a coutelas" in French but generally "sabre d'abordage" (boarding saber) or more familiarly "cuillère à pot" ("pot spoon", ladle) due to its hilt shape.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Jun, 2010 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, I think there is also a similar Italian weapon from the 15th Century or thereabouts (maybe earlier?), called a Colatesso or something similar.

And Falchions in this era in Italy began getting shorter and gaining knucklebows or partial hand protection, like this one



Many miscelaneous cutlass like weapons were floating around in this era, all evolved from basic single edged peasant weapons or falchions, but gradually aquiring the kind of hand protection you associate with the modern idea of a cutlrass. Like this German one:



Also check out this beautiful Italian short sword I just blundered across while looking for images Happy



http://faganarms.com/arareitalianbroadswordc1550.aspx

...which I could see in the hands of a dashing pirate perhaps ...

Or maybe a Condottieri Captain.
J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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