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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2011 3:11 pm    Post subject: Long singlehander vs longsword used single handed?         Reply with quote

So, in the 12th and 13th century, when knightly mounted fighting was on its peak, two kind of swords were popular for mounted use, long bladed singlehanders like Xa, XI, XII, XIIIb, and early longswords/greatswords like XIIa, XIII (bastard version) and XIIIa. What is the advantage of a 3lb XIIIa with a 36" blade against a 3lb XII ( for example St. Maurice of Turin) also with 36" blade balanced similarly? Reach is same, balance is (let's say for the sake of an argument) same. Only difference is that the balance is achieved with short grip and bigger pommel or longer tang and smaller pommel (let's say the blade is the same, like for example Albion Ritter vs Albion Steward, same blade, just longer tang). What is better and more comfortable for one handed swing? I feel that short grip is better if you don't plan to use it two handed because pommel against your fingers gives you more leverage for better control. What do you guys who use both kind of swords for one handed cutting say?
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2011 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Luka!

Actually, a 36" single handed sword has greater reach than a 35" longsword. The reason: without the hands being coupled together, the right (sword) arm can extend further.

One of the things I show to students is that a 36" longsword has the same reach as a 33" single hander.

Yours,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2011 10:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Indeed, Christian is quite correct. If anything, the reach advantage can be even greater than 3". I myself am a big fan of long-blade single-handers and short grips, so I am somewhat biased, but I would say that the long single-hander has a tremendous advantage over the two-hander when it comes to single-hand use. One thing to keep in mind is that with identical blades the single-hander will have to be heavier because of the heavier pommel. So if both theoretical swords weigh the same, the single-hander would need a lighter blade.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2011 3:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have tried to use long handled sword in one hand on occation. I find that the handle interferes with wrist movement when doing wheels and turns, and gets a bit in the way some other occations.

As Scot points out, a long handle can be a way to improve balance without adding much more weight. On the other hand, the sword becomes slightly less responsive, since the longer handle ads a lever to the weight of the pommel.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2011 5:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian, I'm aware of that, that's why I wrote "if both are wielded single handed".
Scott and Eling, I totaly agree. But why are than XIIa and XIIIa regarded as an evolution of a cavalry sword of the high middleages? Do we interpret them wrong, are they really meant to be used two handed, not as a singlehander from a horse? Did knights dismount often enough in 13th century when these swords began their popularity so that they might be interpreted as a knight's weapon when dismounted?
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2011 6:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Swords intended for purely single handed use could be better balanced for it with less distance between pommel and hand and therefore less inertia to reisist rotation acceleration at the start of a swing. This is also felt even with the balance point centerred in the hand as some longswords have, it still throws off the start of a one handed swing making it feel weak. It's still quite possible to do but requires additional training to get right. The one-hander would also have no handle sticking out at the back of the hand to catch on things, something that would be more of an annoyance to some than others.
On the other hand the bastard type would have been popular because you could switch to two handed use when dismounted, with the advantages that gives in a stronger guard, probably stronger cuts as well as a more secure grip for improved accuracy and power in heavy thrusting. One could also slide down the handle to change reach and timing unexpectedly while on horseback. A long handle is most likely also better when the sword is used as an emegency lance.

If I was to humbly guess at the respective use of both sword types, I'd say one-handers could have been more common as specialised war equipment when a knight had the full arsenal of lance, sword, shield, mace and other weapons at their disposal, and the bastard/ longsword could be an all-rounder in peacetime that could double as all of those in a pinch. Then some of course would prefer these even in wartime if they felt more familiar, or if they felt a one hander even with rather heavy blade presence would not be enough to smite someone in full armour anyway.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2011 10:05 am    Post subject: Re: Long singlehander vs longsword used single handed?         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
balance is (let's say for the sake of an argument) same. Only difference is that the balance is achieved with short grip and bigger pommel or longer tang and smaller pommel (let's say the blade is the same, like for example Albion Ritter vs Albion Steward, same blade, just longer tang).

Ideally we'd need someone familiar with the swords you give as examples to chime in Happy Although they share the same basic blade I'm not sure the blade meant to be mounted with the long grip is not touched up beyond adding a longer tang.
I tend to think that the longer grip will generally give less blade presence even if the CoG was the same. If you look at the specs and reviews for your two examples this seems to be verified. In this case the CoG of the one-hander is also further away from the guard which amplifies that effect. Overall even with the same blade type and blade length I don't think your hypothesis that the balance would be the same holds... And it accounts for some of the differences that have been pointed out, in particular the fact that swords with longer grips feel a bit less responsive in one-handed use.

Regards,

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2011 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, I pretty much agree with Johan. The main advantage of the XIIIa's and such is the greater speed and precision with which they can be used with two hands. So while the single-hander gives considerable advantage when used mounted and/or with a shield, the hand-and-a-half sword has greater versatility and can make strong, fast defenses and attacks at a more moderate range when it is the only weapon you have. Some of my own personal reasons for prefering long single-handers are A. I prefer to use a shield or buckler B. I really appreciate having a hilt that grips back C. a 36" blade on a long-gripped sword leaves an impression of "average" whereas the same blade on a single-hander looks and feels more "heroic" and I tend to personally prefer "monsters" (but not "monstrosities".) Taking a HT Great Sword and converting it into a single-hander turns it from something that feels light as a feather to something with a heft I can appreciate. Plus, I really like to strike first, so I like to be able to outrange my opponent.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jun, 2011 2:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Woodruff wrote:
Yes, I pretty much agree with Johan. The main advantage of the XIIIa's and such is the greater speed and precision with which they can be used with two hands. So while the single-hander gives considerable advantage when used mounted and/or with a shield, the hand-and-a-half sword has greater versatility and can make strong, fast defenses and attacks at a more moderate range when it is the only weapon you have. Some of my own personal reasons for prefering long single-handers are A. I prefer to use a shield or buckler B. I really appreciate having a hilt that grips back C. a 36" blade on a long-gripped sword leaves an impression of "average" whereas the same blade on a single-hander looks and feels more "heroic" and I tend to personally prefer "monsters" (but not "monstrosities".) Taking a HT Great Sword and converting it into a single-hander turns it from something that feels light as a feather to something with a heft I can appreciate. Plus, I really like to strike first, so I like to be able to outrange my opponent.


I also have a soft spot for the "heroic" singlehanders... I will replace my current Del Tin 2130 with the full sized version of that model, and I don't know if I want to customize my DT2142 warsword to be a really big and heroic singlehander or should I leave it as a greatsword with a hand and a half grip...
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jun, 2011 2:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my experience, a longsword does (at best) not have any advantage over sword and shield. It does however thrumph the single sword.
Consequenty, in order for the two handed sword to be attractive, you need to be in a context where you have both hands free anyway, like when fighting on horseback with your shield hanging from the guiges, or on foot using a two handed lance.

On horseback, where footwork is non existant, and the fighting is either single swings before the horses prance out of range, or close grapples or binds as the horses push toghether, the added power of the longsword could be apreciated. The other extreme in cavalry weapons are the short horseman's mace, for use in the later situation.

A long one handed sword would also have poor recovery rate after a hit; in the early to high middle ages, comparatively lightly armoured necks and shoulders made this this a worthwhile tradeof. By the last quarter of the 13th c, the greathelms have evolved to cover the neck all the way down to the shoulders, making single, powerfull swings less efficient. The solution is either to use the sword in both hands, or adopt a more thrust oriented sword like the type XIV or XV.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Jun, 2011 4:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian Henry Tobler wrote:
Actually, a 36" single handed sword has greater reach than a 35" longsword.


Except when used for a one-handed thrust as masters such as di Grassi and Silver recommend.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

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To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jun, 2011 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling, I coudn't have said it better myself. I absolutely think of my long one-hander as a sword to use with a shield against lightly armored opponents, either on foot or horseback. The way I prefer to fight, I find that under these circumstances the added range more than outweighs the slightly slower recovery time. If my opponent and I are both well-armored, I would trade in the single-handed sword and shield for my Albion type XVIa hand-and-a-half.

Luka, I say go for it! I am currently turning my HT Great War Sword into a heroic single hander and I love it. Such swords are quite impressive and greatly under-represented.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Jun, 2011 10:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Did knights dismount often enough in 13th century when these swords began their popularity so that they might be interpreted as a knight's weapon when dismounted?


I'm not sure about the impact on the usage of the sword, but it'd be hard to imagine knights and men-at-arms participating in assaults on fortified places without dismounting, so it'd take quite a stretch of imagination to suggest that they didn't dismount fairly often.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Jun, 2011 3:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You are right, sieges somehow didn't cross my mind... But I imagine shield would be a very welcome piece of equipment when attacking walls, more so than a two handed weapon...
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Andrew M.





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Jun, 2011 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
You are right, sieges somehow didn't cross my mind... But I imagine shield would be a very welcome piece of equipment when attacking walls, more so than a two handed weapon...

Not if you are wearing plate armour. . .
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jun, 2011 2:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew M. wrote:
Quote:
You are right, sieges somehow didn't cross my mind... But I imagine shield would be a very welcome piece of equipment when attacking walls, more so than a two handed weapon...

Not if you are wearing plate armour. . .


True, but we are talking about XIIa and XIIIa swords, that is still not the age of plate, just partial plate...
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