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A. Gallo





Joined: 08 Jan 2011

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Tue 12 Apr, 2011 12:12 am    Post subject: Non-Viking 'Viking Swords"         Reply with quote

Hi,

It seems "Viking sword" has has become a de facto term for virtually all swords dated to the early middle ages, regardless of whether they were created/wielded by Vikings.

This is somewhat of an obstacle for anyone attempting to study post-Roman arms & armor within Southern Europe, Byzantium, and the Levant, which seemed to have swords extremely similar to "Viking swords" but without their own unique name. Everything I turn up is Scandinavian/Germanic.

I know records of Byzantine swords are extremely scarce, especially in available English resources. Considering the very long-term Greek/Byzantine presence in (what would become) Lebanon & Syria and the northern/ethnically non-Arabic regions of the Middle East, they all probably wielded similar swords. Unfortunately, I can't find any examples of those either! The oldest documented blades seem to be from the early crusades, not counting stuff from way back during the Punic Wars. Everything in between is barren. The group who seemed to leave the most evidence of their arms/armor behind are you guessed it; Varangians, essentially Vikings.

Now to southern Europe, where again vocabulary is a severe research obstacle. It seems even as swords in the decaying empire transformed to include metallic hilt components just like "Viking swords", they continued to be called "Spatha". I can't find any examples of Spatha from after 600 A.D. positively attributed to native southern European design, Germanic Spathae are plentiful, and couldn't have been too different from the native weapons given intermingling between Europeans at that point, but again not what I'm looking for, it's already very easy to find examples of Germanic swords from this era.

Are there any books, photographs, or resources of any type anyone can refer me to for information on swords from say, 600-900 A.D. which are positively attributed to Byzantium, Phoenicia, Syria, non-Germanic Roman/Italians, Greece, etc?

Patrick Barta has some swords in his lineup from the rough Viking period attributed to the Czech region, but I don't know if they're actually Czech swords or remnants of Viking contact?

There are enough mosaics and whatnot for us to see the Byzantine "Spatha" had a very short metallic guard just like the typical Viking sword but the details of the pommel (where most nationalistic personalization seems to take place, therefore my main point of interest) are lost in the graininess, covered by the wearers arm, etc. You only get a decent peak at stuff dated 1000+ A.D..
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
Likes: 5 pages

Posts: 683

PostPosted: Tue 12 Apr, 2011 11:53 am    Post subject: Re: Non-Viking 'Viking Swords"         Reply with quote

A. Gallo wrote:
It seems "Viking sword" has has become a de facto term for virtually all swords dated to the early middle ages, regardless of whether they were created/wielded by Vikings.

Correct. Actually, these swords, or at least the blades were usually made in the Rhineland by Frankish smiths, so a better description of these swords would be Carolingian or just Frankish. The design is common in large parts of Europe, which is logical considering the extent of the Frankish sphere of influence:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...814-en.svg

It's just that the Vikings are a beloved research study. Happy

A. Gallo wrote:
Patrick Barta has some swords in his lineup from the rough Viking period attributed to the Czech region, but I don't know if they're actually Czech swords or remnants of Viking contact?
These swords were made in Great Moravia, which was a fairly large and powerful kingdom in the 9th C.
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