Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > 2 handed swords and scabbards - any ideas? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Leo Todeschini
Industry Professional



Location: Oxford, UK
Joined: 12 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,550

PostPosted: Wed 01 Dec, 2010 12:22 pm    Post subject: 2 handed swords and scabbards - any ideas?         Reply with quote

Hi All,

2 handed swords are too long to wear and still draw the sword, so I guess the scabbard was more of a 'safe transport case' than anything else. I have a few questions around this subject and was wondering if anyone can help.

Were they worn or slung for transport or just carried in the hand.
Were scabbards fitted with carry straps for lashing down.
has anyone seen any artwork or period pieces that show how they were moved about and the role the scabbard played.

In a nutshell what is the story with 2 handed swords and scabbards?

Any help would be very welcome?

Regards


Tod

www.todsworkshop.com
www.todcutler.com
www.instagram.com/todsworkshop
www.facebook.com/TodTodeschini
www.youtube.com/user/todsstuff1
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Christopher Domanski




Location: Ireland
Joined: 22 Feb 2010

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed 01 Dec, 2010 1:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Historical artwork suggests that they were carried on one's shoulder, like sledgehammers or shovels or rifles during a parade Wink , with a single hand on the handle and the blade resting on the shoulder, at least by German landsknechts and doppelsoldners. Other evidence points out that during particularly long marches or for general transport they were just thrown onto a cart pulled by horses. No archeological or iconographical evidence known to me portrays or describes any kind of suspension or scabbards used with two handed swords, and for a good reason - they would be quite impossible to draw without grabbing the blade halfway through. However, it would be rather logical that they had some way of preserving their weapons against the elements in form of leather or canvas 'sacks', but I have no hard evidence to support that theory. Maybe they just oiled and cleaned their blades a lot.

Could I read your question as evidence that you're working ona a two-hander, Mr. Todeschini? Happy
View user's profile Send private message
Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,493

PostPosted: Wed 01 Dec, 2010 1:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've not seen any scabbards for the "standard" European two-hander; they're just carried bare-bladed on the shoulder, as one would carry a halberd if it had a very short handle and a very long blade. So, I can't say anything about that kind of two-hander.

I've seen it written, in a number of books (which may well get it from each other) that the Scottish two-handed claymore differed from the continental (and English, and Lowland?) two-handers in that they often had scabbards. I haven't seen one. Perhaps a claymore-phile can contribute more?

The Japanese two-hander (odachi, nodachi) had a scabbard. Where I can see scabbard mounts, it's a two-point tachi style suspension (as, e.g., on the Hanwei odachi). Sometimes the scabbarded sword is slung over the shoulder, with what looks like a rope sling. I don't recall seeing a picture showing how the rope is tied to the scabbard - the pics are usually from the front, and show the rope, bottom of scabbard, and handle and very top of scabbard. When the sword is being wielded, the scabbard isn't worn. So looks like it's unslung, drawn, and discarded. Supposedly the sword is drawn with the help of an assistant who holds the scabbard. This works, and is the only way that I've ever drawn an odachi. But I think you could start the draw, then shake the scabbard off.

I have a Chinese two-hander with basically a giant jian scabbard, two-point belt suspension. I don't know whether this would have been a historical solution. Easier to carry than to wear.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Russ Ellis
Industry Professional




Joined: 20 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Posts: 2,607

PostPosted: Wed 01 Dec, 2010 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is the only reasonable period picture I've ever seen. I've made a few for customers, although perhpas not strictly speaking historically accurate the ones I did had a strap similar to a rifle sling for convenience in carrying.


 Attachment: 73.58 KB
greatswordsmen7sxsmall.jpg


TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
View user's profile Send private message
Mark T




PostPosted: Thu 02 Dec, 2010 1:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Tod (and Russ!),

Do you have JR Hale's Artists and warfare of the renaissance? It contains many images similar to the one Russ posted above, of soldiers marching, baggage trains, encampments, and so on, including images of two-handers.

I'm not sure if it will have exactly what you're after, but it's a great sourcebook nonetheless. I'll copy what I posted about it on the thread about Ben van Koert's new sallet:

Mark T wrote:
Artists and warfare in the renaissanace, J.R. Hale (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1990). This book was given as a source in Gerry Embleton's Medieval military costume recreated in colour photographs (Ramsbury, Crowood Press, 2000).

The book contains 345 images from the mid-15th to mid-16th centuries, and focusses on Germanic and Italian sources, and goes into a lot of detail about the differences between each. Gerry listed it as a source under 'soldiers' rather than 'arms and armour', and that makes sense: the book contains some familiar images seen in armour contexts, but the content is much broader, and contains details about dress, custom, and fashion that I think Sean, Ben, and others here will love ... a great resource!

Chief Librarian/Curator, Isaac Leibowitz Librarmoury

Schallern sind sehr sexy!
View user's profile Send private message
Russ Ellis
Industry Professional




Joined: 20 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Posts: 2,607

PostPosted: Thu 02 Dec, 2010 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Mark,

I have to admit I'd never heard of that book... but I have now and will look into it. Thank you sir!

TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
View user's profile Send private message
Leo Todeschini
Industry Professional



Location: Oxford, UK
Joined: 12 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,550

PostPosted: Thu 02 Dec, 2010 11:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the response guys, thats prettty much as I assumed amd thanks for the book tip Mark.

Christopher Domanski wrote
Quote:
Could I read your question as evidence that you're working ona a two-hander, Mr. Todeschini?


Alas just a scabbard for now.

Tod

www.todsworkshop.com
www.todcutler.com
www.instagram.com/todsworkshop
www.facebook.com/TodTodeschini
www.youtube.com/user/todsstuff1
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Radovan Geist




Location: Slovakia
Joined: 19 Aug 2010
Likes: 5 pages

Posts: 358

PostPosted: Sun 01 Nov, 2015 10:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Recently I have visited Tallinn and discovered one of its symbols: the copper statute of Old Thomas (originally a weather-vane from the City Hall) from 1530, depicting a landsknecht soldier / city guard from the first half of the 15th century. His sword looks like a two-hander with S-curved quillons (of course, it could be a one-hander, but the handle is too long and the pommel looks more typical for 2-hand variety). It hangs on a belt, in some kind of a scabbard of plain, simple design.
Just an interesting curiosity, that I thought could be related to this topic...

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/VanaToomas1530.jpg
View user's profile Send private message
Theo Squires





Joined: 23 Jul 2012

Posts: 64

PostPosted: Mon 02 Nov, 2015 1:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Radovan Geist wrote:
Recently I have visited Tallinn and discovered one of its symbols: the copper statute of Old Thomas (originally a weather-vane from the City Hall) from 1530, depicting a landsknecht soldier / city guard from the first half of the 15th century. His sword looks like a two-hander with S-curved quillons (of course, it could be a one-hander, but the handle is too long and the pommel looks more typical for 2-hand variety). It hangs on a belt, in some kind of a scabbard of plain, simple design.
Just an interesting curiosity, that I thought could be related to this topic...

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/VanaToomas1530.jpg


Cool find, but the proportions of that statue are too whacked to know if that's a single handed sword, a long sword or a proper two-hander.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Neil Melville




Location: Scotland
Joined: 27 Oct 2009

Posts: 183

PostPosted: Mon 02 Nov, 2015 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Tod,
There were lots of 2-hander scabbards originally. The inventories of several German and Swiss arsenals refer to them in considerable numbers and even complain about those which are missing, and these references do apply to the late 16th century- early 17th "beidenhander", as they were called at the time. There are also illustrations of 2-handers being carried scabbarded in the Swiss chronicles, these are 15th-early 16th century, though. Belts are mentioned as well though it is not clear how they were worn or how the scabbards were attached to them. This is the major problem in trying to understand their use.
I know of 3 actual examples in Scotland, several in Schloss Erbach in Germany, one in the Old Arsenal in Solothurn and one in a private collection in the Netherlands. I assume that the paucity of surviving examples is due to their being lost or abandoned on the battlefield. Doesn't help you in re-creating one. Sorry.
Neil

N Melville
View user's profile Send private message
Tyler Jordan





Joined: 15 Mar 2004

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Mon 02 Nov, 2015 5:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Neil Melville wrote:
Hi Tod,
There were lots of 2-hander scabbards originally. The inventories of several German and Swiss arsenals refer to them in considerable numbers and even complain about those which are missing, and these references do apply to the late 16th century- early 17th "beidenhander", as they were called at the time. There are also illustrations of 2-handers being carried scabbarded in the Swiss chronicles, these are 15th-early 16th century, though. Belts are mentioned as well though it is not clear how they were worn or how the scabbards were attached to them. This is the major problem in trying to understand their use.
Neil


That does though reinforce the idea that 2-h scabbards were effectively just protective covers and not made to aid in carrying in any way -- if they were helpful in that, then the loss rate probably wouldn't have been so high, but with no evidence that they were ever carried slung, then why would they be belted at all?
View user's profile Send private message
M. Curk




Location: Slovenia
Joined: 21 Dec 2011
Likes: 3 pages

Posts: 35

PostPosted: Tue 03 Nov, 2015 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, what Tyler is saying seems to make sense to me - until needed you keep your sword protected in a scabbard. When it's time to fight you would take it off and leave it in the baggage train or on the floor. I guess you wouldn't carry it around when fighting, because you need two hands for using a zweihander and suspending it from somewhere off your body wouldn't be very practical. Leaving scabbard somewhere and not having it near you could make a chance for losing it quite significant.

I've also read somewhere that knights who fought on horseback had their two-handed swords in scabbards that were suspended from their saddles. Doing so might give you some extra distance to be able to draw it, but it doesn't apply to the landesknecht example..

MC
View user's profile Send private message
Neil Melville




Location: Scotland
Joined: 27 Oct 2009

Posts: 183

PostPosted: Tue 03 Nov, 2015 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You are quite right, Tyler and MC, disposing of the scabbards before going into battle, like leaving them with the baggage, is obviously sensible and the practical thing to do. The problem persists, though, as out of the examples I quoted 2 of the scabbards in Scotland (both with their Scots 2-handed swords) and 3 in Schloss Erbach have belt hooks.
Perhaps the whole contraption, scabbard and belt/baldric, was removed before action. I just don't know. All the landsknecht engravings and woodcuts show the 2-hander being carried over the shoulder, usually with blades bare.
Neil

N Melville
View user's profile Send private message
Jasper B.




Location: Europe
Joined: 09 Dec 2014
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 48

PostPosted: Tue 03 Nov, 2015 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not a serious addition to the discussion, but a nice pic for the topic anyhow.

J.B.



 Attachment: 210.13 KB
scabbard.jpg

View user's profile Send private message
Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,682

PostPosted: Tue 03 Nov, 2015 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Neil Melville wrote:
You are quite right, Tyler and MC, disposing of the scabbards before going into battle, like leaving them with the baggage, is obviously sensible and the practical thing to do. The problem persists, though, as out of the examples I quoted 2 of the scabbards in Scotland (both with their Scots 2-handed swords) and 3 in Schloss Erbach have belt hooks.
Perhaps the whole contraption, scabbard and belt/baldric, was removed before action. I just don't know. All the landsknecht engravings and woodcuts show the 2-hander being carried over the shoulder, usually with blades bare.
Neil


You're assuming those hooks are for suspension from a waist belt. They could very well be for suspension from a saddle or some other mode of off body carry.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
View user's profile Send private message
Radovan Geist




Location: Slovakia
Joined: 19 Aug 2010
Likes: 5 pages

Posts: 358

PostPosted: Mon 09 Nov, 2015 10:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Theo, you´re probably right. It might be a long-sword, it´s hard to tell from the dimensions.
Recently I´ve remembered reading something on sheaths for two-handers in Alfieri´s "Lo Spadone" (translated by Ken Mondschein - a really useful book). I´ve checked it again, and it´s there.

In Chapter 5 on How One Ought to Hold the Spadone While Walking, Alfieri recommends holding the sword with left hand, leaning against the left arm / shoulder, with point up. In the last sentence of the chapter he concludes: "The gentleman standing in this position can go on his way, and assault one-to-one or against many, for he can speedily and without any time grip it with his right hand, unsheathe the sword, and put it to whatever use the occasion requires."

Unfortunately the accompanying illustration shows a spadone, which is already unsheathed. However, from the description one would assume that the sword was not worn on belt, when walking, so the sheath would probably be a simple one, without any hooks etc.

Of course, 1) this is just a speculation and I need to search for more info, including pictures, if possible; 2) Alfieri writes about use of a two-handed sword in a civilian context, so the relation to military use (especially in earlier periods) does not need to be straight-forward.
View user's profile Send private message
Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 1,265

PostPosted: Fri 13 Nov, 2015 4:24 am    Post subject: Re: 2 handed swords and scabbards - any ideas?         Reply with quote

Whoa! This one's wicked! A biker with a sword slung across his back! Eek!

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
View user's profile Send private message
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Thu 21 Jan, 2016 2:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think I got this image from an earlier thread/topic here, but I don't remember which. All I'm sure about is that it seems to have come from one of the Swiss Chronicles and it shows big swords being carried in their sheaths (unless the blade is made of some mysterious red metal).


 Attachment: 189.16 KB
switzerland2011_82_of_352_199.jpg

View user's profile Send private message
Alan E




Location: UK
Joined: 21 Jan 2016

Posts: 48

PostPosted: Thu 21 Jan, 2016 3:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Radovan Geist wrote:

In Chapter 5 on How One Ought to Hold the Spadone While Walking, Alfieri recommends holding the sword with left hand, leaning against the left arm / shoulder, with point up. In the last sentence of the chapter he concludes: "The gentleman standing in this position can go on his way, and assault one-to-one or against many, for he can speedily and without any time grip it with his right hand, unsheathe the sword, and put it to whatever use the occasion requires."

Unfortunately the accompanying illustration shows a spadone, which is already unsheathed. However, from the description one would assume that the sword was not worn on belt, when walking, so the sheath would probably be a simple one, without any hooks etc.

Of course, 1) this is just a speculation and I need to search for more info, including pictures, if possible; 2) Alfieri writes about use of a two-handed sword in a civilian context, so the relation to military use (especially in earlier periods) does not need to be straight-forward.

Fiore's Flower of Battles shows this in the Spada e Daga section. It's shown as a technique with a bastard sword, against attack by a dagger, play five shows the carry, play six the use of the scabbard to bind the dagger attack whilst unsheathing the sword. I can point you to an online copy to download if you wish.

Member of Exiles Medieval Martial Arts.
Currently teaching Fiore's art in Ceredigion
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,190

PostPosted: Thu 21 Jan, 2016 5:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few people have tried making back-scabbards for swords. The only method that seems even remotely practical is a simple two-ring setup with the ring at the top on a swivel so the blade can be drawn over the shoulder. As said above, historically, longer swords were either carried on the shoulder or tossed on a wagon with the other baggage.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > 2 handed swords and scabbards - any ideas?
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next 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