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Christopher Kemp





Joined: 07 Dec 2011

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed 07 Dec, 2011 12:54 pm    Post subject: Question from Author         Reply with quote

Hi Weapons Specialists!

I'm new here and really excited by what I'm finding. Great stuff!

I had a very general question but one that I hope will generate some discussion. So, I'm an author and a scientist. I have a book coming out in May, 2012 about something completely unrelated. It's a natural history book. Now I'm at a loose end, I'm interested in researching new topics that interest me. I'm finding myself drawn to the world of historic arms and the people who collect them. I'm very impressed by how scholarly and knowledgeable you all are.

I'm wondering, as someone new to this world, if there is a long lost weapon that has achieved legendary status to the folks who inhabit it. Is there a sword, or a suit of armor, or a dagger, or SOMETHING that you all reverentially talk about, wondering where it is and what happened to it? Maybe something with an interesting history attached to it, which has disappeared ... and which might provide a really interesting backdrop for a magazine article about the world of historic arms collecting?

I'd be really interested to hear suggestions. Any suggestions at all!!

Best,

--ck
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

Posts: 629

PostPosted: Wed 07 Dec, 2011 8:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Question from Author         Reply with quote

The only thing that comes to mind for me is Kusanagi no Tsurugi, the sword that makes up a third of the Japanese Imperial regalia. It's not exactly long lost, though, rather the other way around.

According to legend, Kusanagi originally belonged to the god Susano'o but fell into the hands of the legendary warrior Yamato Takeru around the first century AD. It was said to have mystical powers, like allowing the owner to control the wind. It then became part of the imperial regalia, but was moved to the Atsuta Shrine in 688 because its power was said to have made the emperor ill. But here's the thing; the Japanese claim they still have the damn thing enshrined. And they bring it´out whenever a new emperor is crowned but nobody ever gets to see it.

For comparisson, this is kinda like if the Church of England claimed to still have the actual, genuine Excalibur locked away in a vault somewhere, but wouldn't let anyone look at it.

If it's really the original sword, even if it's not actually divine it would still be a 1900 year-old sword that has been kept in a maintained state for all that time. And that's pretty interesting.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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Christopher Kemp





Joined: 07 Dec 2011

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 6:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's super interesting. I love that. I'd really like to hear other stories and anecdotes like this.
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David Lewis Smith




Location: NC
Joined: 26 Aug 2003
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Posts: 484

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 7:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The nine swords of the Muhammad (peace be upon him) come to mind

then the sword of Ali, Zulfqar, supposedly Ali was so strong that he broke swords, the angle Gabriel delivered him the sword after Muhammad prayed that God grand Ali a worth weapon.

The sword of Goliath that David took from the temple, there is quite the debate about it on Sword Forum.

Peter had a sword in the Garden and cut off the ear of one of those sent to arrest Jesus. There were actually
two swords there, so I wounder what happened to those (Luke 22:36 22:38)

Please do not let this be taken as a religious slant,

personally I want the sword of either Roland or Eric the Red.

David L Smith
MSG (RET)
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Christopher Kemp





Joined: 07 Dec 2011

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also great. How about famous suits of armour? Any long lost legendary suits of armour that once were located and then disappeared? Or anything from Arthurian legend? All these suggestions are great though!
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

Posts: 629

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 7:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Lewis Smith wrote:

Peter had a sword in the Garden and cut off the ear of one of those sent to arrest Jesus. There were actually
two swords there, so I wounder what happened to those (Luke 22:36 22:38)


This reminds me, there's also the Spear of Destiny, aka the Lance of Longinus, said to be the spear that pierces the side of Christ during the Crucifixion.

There are three or four major artifacts that lay claim to be the holy lance: one in the Vatican (notably, the Catholic Church does not actually claim it's authentic) one in Armenia, one if Vienna (claimed to have belonged to Constantin the Great and incorporating a nail from the Crucifixion) and possibly one in Poland.

The interesting thing about the Vienna lance is that recent metalurgical experiments concluded it dates from 7th century A.D, but that an iron pin hammered into the blade is consistent in shape with a 1st century A.D. Roman nail.

There's also a bunch of modern legends regarding Adolf Hitler either possesing the spear during WWII or just being obsessed with capturing it.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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Dan P




Location: Massachusetts, USA
Joined: 28 Jun 2007

Posts: 208

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 8:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz, also known as El Cid, is said to have acquired a pair of famous swords which he bestowed upon two of his bravest knights. These swords are named Tizon and Colada. Unlike other legendary swords such as Excalibur, Tizon and Colada are generally not given to being magical or supernatural in power. Instead they are simply described as so perfectly built that people facing them in duel tended to surrender. More importantly, Rodrigo Diaz was a real person, and his life in many ways paralleled the Cancion which elevates him to a legend.

So the swords might have existed as well. In fact, there is a pair of swords in museums on Spain which are claimed to be the Tizon and Colada... except that the hilts are about five hundred years out of date with the eleventh century. It wasn't uncommon for a blade to be re-hilted over many years and updated to the latest fashions, especially if it was of exceptional quality. Even if the blades are the real swords, however, we may never know what the originals looked like. Maybe they were ornate, inlaid, made for royalty, or perhaps they were simply ideal fighting weapons that looked like every other sword until held in the hand for battle.
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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
Joined: 16 Nov 2005
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Posts: 446

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 9:04 am    Post subject: Glas, Glessic and Clersag         Reply with quote

Glas, Glessig and Clersag, described as three grinding gashers. These were the swords of the three grandsons of Cleddyf Difwlch, who needed to be recruited by Kilhwch to hunt the Twrch Trwyth in the tale of Kilhwch & Olwen in the welsh Mabinogion. There is also a mention of the sword of the giant Gwrnach, which Kilhwch needs to possess to kill the giant. The giant can only die from his own sword.
Kilhwch gains admittance to the giants castle, and his companion Kai offers to clean and polish the giants' sword, which has rusted because of the scabbard. Kai also offers to repair the scabbard, to take out the wooden sides and put in new ones. Having burnished the sword, he cuts off the giant's head . The sword is brought to Arthur when they return to his court.

Bon coeur et bon bras
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Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

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PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lots of folks would be pleased if you could track down the notorious "viking halberd"--not a single weapon, but (supposedly) a class of weapons that is the subject of much debate.
-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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Christopher Kemp





Joined: 07 Dec 2011

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like that one too. Great ideas, people. Keep them coming!
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
Joined: 27 Nov 2004

Posts: 669

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Christopher,

Welcome to myArmoury! This is a great place to stop to discuss historic weaponry and armor. First off, there are some other valuable resource sites dealing with this enthusiasm we all share which you may be interested in checking out.

The Arms & Armour Forum, founded by Carlo Paggiarino, an excellent photographer whose high-profile, artistic books have caused a sensation in the community.

http://www.armsandarmourforum.com/forum/

The Armour Archive, which is greatly oriented towards SCA fighters, who practice competitive armored combat. This site is not really a place to go talking about weaponry - I'd stick to myArmoury for that, but in the case of armor, it's second to none. Historic armor aficionados are in no short supply there.

http://www.armourarchive.org/

Those are probably the two biggies to help you down your path, particularly mentioned because there are great resources dealing with armor at both, which is somewhat less intense at myArmoury.

As a student of history and enthusiast of historic arms and armor, ranging from the Ancient Near East into 17th century America, I must also stress a point that I think is very valid if you wish to pursue the study of legendary armament. Especially if you wish to write about the subject, it will be critical that you have at your fingertips (and in your brain) years worth of studied knowledge about the general evolution and application of arms and armor in warfare, as well as a detailed and objective understanding of the historical ideology that created the legends. What was the significance of the weapon, the character who wielded (or died by) it, and how did it play into the surrounding culture? What primary sources discuss these weapons in what light, and why did the story remain significant even over long periods of time, when society may have changed dramatically? There are many, many questions to be asked regarding each individual case that's been mentioned above.

Essentially, the general topic you've touched upon is one of the most mysterious and complex to study in the field of arms and armor, and will require a huge spectrum of knowledge to be drawn upon in order to create accurate historical narratives relating to the growth of the legends and possible nature of the real (or imagined) weapons. So, I would suggest that you start by collecting the mainstream books relating to the archaeology of weapons and armor, many of which can be viewed at the myArmoury.com bookstore reading list, linked below.

http://www.myArmoury.com/books/ourlist.php

Personally, I have collected and read nearly 200 books about arms and armor in the past 10 years, in addition to nearly completing my undergraduate education in Ancient and Medieval history. I also do a large amount of historic writing (typically academic in nature since I'm still in school). The overarching topic you are pursuing is so involved that I dare say I wouldn't touch it with a 39 and 1/2 foot pole for several more years, because I don't feel that I've acquired the knowledge necessary to do justice to such an intimate and profound subject. There are probably at least another 50-100 books I'd like to read about arms, armor and warfare, as well as dozens of titles related to historical mysteries. These are in no short supply! I'd do so in order to understand the process of creating such arguments and understanding their implications; which can often prove to be highly controversial in nature.

This last point is probably most critical, because dealing with histories mysteries, as they've often been framed, is an extremely delicate and fascinating area of study, and requires expertise almost unlike any other general area of historical focus. This is primarily because background knowledge used for supposition, argument and conclusion has to come from other sources than just the mysteries themselves, due to the very nature of their being mysterious. Lots of rigorous comparative analysis is necessary to postulate a thesis regarding such topics!

I hope that some of this helps put some perspective on what you may be getting yourself into, here... Wink

Cheers!

-Gregory J. Liebau

(p.s. I should note that the intense amount of reading and knowledge I mention goes along with studying this as an overarching topic, perhaps if one wanted to write a book about "History's Legendary Weapons & Armor," or some such... Any single one of these topics, or series of them relating to the same culture (such as legendary Japanese weaponry, for example) would make an excellent short study to be presented in article form or as as presentation piece at an academic conference, and would obviously require far less knowledge than trying to put the whole series of myths and legends together in a single study.)
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Christopher Kemp





Joined: 07 Dec 2011

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Gregory,

I can't stress how useful your post is. I'll certainly check out the websites and forums you've listed. Thanks so much!

Also, I did want to address your other points. Firstly, as I said in my first post, I've just written a book, which will be published in May, 2012. It's unrelated to weaponry, but here's a link to its Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Floating-Gold-Natural-U...0226430367

It's about a rare and mysterious substance called ambergris, produced only by sperm whales, and used for a thousand years in perfumery. When I first heard of ambergris in 2008, I didn't know what it was ... and so began almost three years of research and writing and interviewing and travel. It was a great adventure. The end result is (hopefully) entertaining. It was very important to me to make sure the book could be read my a general audience, but is also a scholarly effort that is factually correct and addressing some complicated biology and chemistry. So, I don't take these things lightly. I'm a trained scientist, and I know how important accuracy is.

But at the same time, if I wrote a book about this sort of thing, it would be for a general audience. It would provide a carefully-researched window into the world of weaponry and the people who trade and collect it. It wouldn't be exhaustive. That book has to be written by someone else. My book would be more journalistic endeavor than textbook. I'm trying to think of a good analogy. Have you read the book COD by Mark Kurlansky? It was a huge bestseller. It mixed history and natural history, marine biology, travel, all sorts of genres. Kurlansky researched it very carefully and its an important work, but he's not an ichthyologist and he didn't need to know everything about cod to write it. Does that make sense?

If I need information on something arcane or specific, that's what forums like these are for. For my previous book, I interviewed ambergris traders in New Zealand, perfumers in France, organic chemists in Switzerland, fragrance manufacturers in England. People all over the place. That was part of the fun!

So, you sound like an expert Gregory. If this project ever gets off the ground, I'll be relying on you as a source and as someone to call on for information.

--ck
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
Joined: 27 Nov 2004

Posts: 669

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Replied via PM! Glad to be of help. Cheers, sir, and sirs!

-Gregory
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Matthew Kelty





Joined: 22 Jun 2004
Reading list: 61 books

Posts: 164

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christopher Kemp wrote:
It's about a rare and mysterious substance called ambergris, produced only by sperm whales, and used for a thousand years in perfumery. When I first heard of ambergris in 2008, I didn't know what it was ... and so began almost three years of research and writing and interviewing and travel. It was a great adventure. The end result is (hopefully) entertaining.


Wow, that must have been an adventure, and I can appreciate the humor you must have encountered... Happy

Can we say "Esoteric subject"? Happy Stinky stuff, a lot of people love it (I found it repulsive long before I knew it's origins... Happy and nobody would ever guess the bloodshed that has happened over millenia in the name of Intenstinal Cetaceal Secretia... Happy

For those unfamiliar, here's a great reprint of an article from 1933:
http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/picks-from-t...ating-gold
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Christopher Kemp





Joined: 07 Dec 2011

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 4:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, thanks Matthew. I really like the smell of some pieces of ambergris and dislike the smell of others. That's the amazing thing about it: no two pieces really smell the same, for various reasons (which, of course, I explain in the book). If a pieces washes ashore and then breaks into pieces, they will all smell the same ... but if a piece breaks apart in the ocean, each of those pieces will be swept away on oceanic currents, making landfall on a remote coastline somewhere, or trapped for decades in gyres, and each will experience different conditions, so will all smell quite different.

But, yeah, I traveled from New Zealand, to remote islands in the southern seas, to Cape Cod and Boston and back for the book. It's such an esoteric and strange subject. And I really feel like the world of historic weaponry might have a story waiting for me that's just as strange and fun and interesting and ... well, weird.
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James Arlen Gillaspie
Industry Professional



Location: upstate NY
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Posts: 528

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 6:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are many armour bits of tremendous value that have disappeared. How about the complete horse armours, such as the one made for Emperor Maximilian I? And I do mean complete - right down to the hoofs. There are a few parts around, but they look like victims of Napoleon's generals, who when several of them wanted a harness (that's what armour for human and horse was called back in the day, but now the word survives only in reference to horse tack), made it the judgement of Solomon gone wrong. Parts went in every direction.

I clean, repair, and restore antique armour and arms for a living. Just saying. Wink

jamesarlen.com
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
Joined: 27 Nov 2004

Posts: 669

PostPosted: Thu 08 Dec, 2011 6:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just to throw some pretty pictures your way, Christopher...

Here are two swords probably entirely unrelated, but connected by legend to one of history's most famous fellows.

This is the supposed "Sword of Charlemagne," the great Holy Roman Emperor of the Franks of the late 8th and early 9th century, and most prominent king of the Carolingians. I'm sure you've heard of him. This is in fact a sword most likely dated to the 12th or even 13th centuries, but rather than go on, I'll just throw the link up to the myArmoury.com featured article about the sword!

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_charlemagne.html



And the "saber of Charlemagne," which is housed in the Hofburg Treasury, is more precisely a saber of Hungarian origin (or the like) from the 9th-11th centuries, probably originally crafted for a very respectable noble or even member of a royal household. It's a beautiful sword, and I actually can't find a ton of information about it online. It has an engraved and gold plated spine on the blade and the scabbard and hilt have generous amounts of gilding as well. Very lovely.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mFPhEEBuX2M/TatXIBl...G_0265.JPG

Cheers!

-Gregory
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Christopher Kemp





Joined: 07 Dec 2011

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Tue 13 Dec, 2011 4:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't stop here! I love these suggestions ... but keep going!
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Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Tue 13 Dec, 2011 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:
And the "saber of Charlemagne," which is housed in the Hofburg Treasury, is more precisely a saber of Hungarian origin (or the like) from the 9th-11th centuries, probably originally crafted for a very respectable noble or even member of a royal household. It's a beautiful sword, and I actually can't find a ton of information about it online.


There's a little historical information on the antique in our review of a reproduction of it: http://www.myArmoury.com/review_casi_charlemagne.html

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
Joined: 27 Nov 2004

Posts: 669

PostPosted: Tue 13 Dec, 2011 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.chicagohungarians.com/radics/Origin2a.htm

That article points to the saber being attributed to Attila the Hun rather than Charlemagne - a story I've heard elsewhere. What does the actual display in Vienna discuss about it? I'd like to know with certainty which of the two it is supposedly connected to (although it's obviously not historic to either character).

Another one that has an actual sword to go along with the story is the purported sword of William Wallace, held in the Tower of London, if I remember correctly. There is also great debate about this sword - the fittings are apparently no earlier than the late-15th century, stylistically, and much of the history of the sword has been lost. Most of the details are contained on the Wikipedia entry for the sword, so I'll just link that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Sword

Lovely looking piece, though.

Christopher, are you interested particularly in stories of weapons that could feasibly have been historic realities... Or are you also enjoying the idea of entirely fanciful weapons? I know a couple in this category have been pointed out already, but the list is long. Off the top of my head, you can go back to Greco-Roman literary tradition and survey the armor of Achilles from the Iliad, or the shield of Aeneas from the Aeneid, or a great deal of other mythical weapons and armor from Norse sagas, Medieval Arthurian tales, etc...

-Gregory
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