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Spenser T.




Location: West coast, Canada
Joined: 14 Apr 2010
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Posts: 60

PostPosted: Sun 26 Feb, 2012 8:48 pm    Post subject: Historical grip lengths of single handed swords?         Reply with quote

From what I have found so far, 1h swords had grips ranging from about 3.75 inches to 4.5 inches... way shorter in the viking age and some got longer later on.
I want to ask the backyard cutters and the historical experts here, would the length of the sword's grip made an impact on the performance or ability of the (one-handed) sword?

Thank you for your time

-spen
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Aleksei Sosnovski





Joined: 04 Mar 2008

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Sun 26 Feb, 2012 10:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The longer the grip-the farther the pommel is from POB. A sword with long hilt will be lighter than a sword with same blade and same POB but shorter grip. Or (same thing but in other words) given the same blade, crossguard and pommel the longer the hilt the closer the POB will be to the handle. However a large mass (a pommel) far away from center of rotation makes a sword more difficult to stop. Think of a flywheel and you should understand why.

I don't think that hilt length has much to do with POB. It has probably more to do with gauntlets and different way of gripping a sword. After all, when used extensively (i.e. in a battle) sword tends to slip away from the hand. Longswords often had waisted grips to prevent this, but a one-handed sword would slip until it is stopped by a pommel. Though it could be a desired effect as well, having ones hand a little away from the crossguard reduces chances of finger injury.

Though some swords (messers come to mind first) seem to have very light pommels and compensate it with longer hilts. But messers were mostly civilian weapons (there were military ones as well, but fashion is not always the most logical and practical thing) an were not intended for *extensive* use so weapon slipping away from the hand was not a big issue.

Well, all the above-written is purely my opinion, I hope more experienced people will write theirs as well.
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

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Posts: 793

PostPosted: Mon 27 Feb, 2012 4:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Spenser!

Actually it's not as simple as one time period having short or long handles, there has always been both long and short handled swords around. In the viking age there were some swords with remarkably short handles, while others had what we'd call a normal hand width. Also some large seaxes had two hand grips.

As to why someone wants a long or short but still single hand handle, just like Aleksei says a gauntlet needs to fit for later ages and there's always personal preference and don't forget people have different width hands.

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





Joined: 14 Sep 2003
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Posts: 200

PostPosted: Mon 27 Feb, 2012 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:
and don't forget people have different width hands.


Indeed

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