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Helm vs Sword
Helm
52%
 52%  [ 49 ]
Sword
47%
 47%  [ 44 ]
Total Votes : 93

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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 5:33 am    Post subject: Which would you buy first - sword or helm         Reply with quote

Hey guys, I've been doing a little reading lately about the Franks, and I came across an early 7th century legal text called les ripuaria. It gives the prices of items of military equipment: spear and shield at 2 solidI, sword and scabbard at 7 solidI, helm at 6 solidi, and mail shirt at 12 solidi. So I've been wondering, if I lived back in those times would I prefer to buy (after my spear and shield, and perhaps an axe or seax) a sword or a helm? On the one hand a sword would give you a useful secondary weapon if you were to loose you're spear, it's also an item which comes with much prestige. On the other hand, in a shield wall the added defence of a helm might be more useful than a sword which might never be drawn. So what do the rest of you guys think?
Éirinn go Brách


Last edited by Stephen Curtin on Fri 15 Jun, 2012 12:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 5:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To make a long story short, helm. Happy
Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
Host of Crash Course HEMA.
Founder of The Van Dieman's Land Stage Gladiators.
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Matthew P. Adams




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 5:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can only tell you what I would do, and why. I would get the helm, it's better to buy the thing you 'll use, and not thing you might need. Wearing the helm means its doing it's job of protecting your head, the sword in a scabbard at your hip, is just excess weight until certain circumstance allow its use.
"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jun, 2012 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would say helm too. Another weapon on top of an axe or seax and a spear seems somewhat superfluous while a helm is a real must-have.
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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2012 10:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

your head and neck are the most vulnerable and vital areas of your body bar none. so helm

unless i was a troop type that didnt really need one.. but eventally your going to be drawn into close qarters so a helm o some sort will help immensely. if nothing else itll stop every stray rock, blade or projectile from instantly laying open your forehead and blinding you ith blood in addition to weakenng you due to losing blood quickly.

and also a regular hatchet will function just fine in the scrum of a shield walljust as mch as any prpose built war axe for single handed use.
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Jun, 2012 12:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interestingly, in Frankish graves swords are much more common than helmets, which are quite rare.

The opinions seem to be a bit divided on what this means. Some people think that helmets were quite common, but for some reason were not commonly buried. Given the lack of significant price difference between helmet and sword, this does not seem logical to me.

Personally, I think it means that many Franks indeed preferred not to wear a helmet.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Jun, 2012 3:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would say that what is or is not buried is more about showing status and importance of the person buried than showing what one really wore in battle. And swords always had that status symbol meaning and helmets not really. So I think that is why they weren't buried with their owners as often.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Jun, 2012 4:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ha, simple, the guys without helmets ended up in graves, while those WITH helmets didn't die! Bwa ha ha...

Matthew
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Christopher Treichel




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Jun, 2012 4:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good weapon first then armor... I'd even settle for just a sharp stick before a helmet... Why... weapon in hand is a good start to a defense... helmet on your head and no weapons and your dead meat. you can't defend bo-didly with just a helmet. Something tells me most folks whove acutally been in a scrape would agree.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Jun, 2012 4:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, but the question was what would one buy after spear and shield, helmet or a sword... Spear and shield are the basics.
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Raman A




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Jun, 2012 11:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would get the helmet and the maille before I even thought about the sword.
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
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PostPosted: Thu 14 Jun, 2012 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
I would say that what is or is not buried is more about showing status and importance of the person buried than showing what one really wore in battle. And swords always had that status symbol meaning and helmets not really. So I think that is why they weren't buried with their owners as often.
I don't agree. For instance the famous decorated spangenhelms (e.g. Krefeld-Gellep, Morken etc.) were clearly high status objects. So high status that they are exclusively found in very rich graves and that not nearly all rich graves don't have them (or any other helmet).

It seems logical to assume that if those spangenhelms were important status symbols, a less decorated version would be without status.

Also, given the facts that:
1) wealth = status.
2) a "standard" helmet apparently counts for 6 solidi (= a significant amount of wealth).
3) Migration age warriors tended to display their wealth on their body, either as arms and armour or as jewelry.
it seems unlikely that someone who would be buried with their weapons (generally speaking: several spears, sword, sax, axe, shield) and with their jewelry, the helmet would somehow be omitted.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Jun, 2012 6:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Raman A wrote:
I would get the helmet and the maille before I even thought about the sword.


Well you can see in the OP that a mail shirt is the most expensive piece of kit (twice as much as a helm) so only a very wealthy person could afford this. The point of this thread was to discuss which would be the next piece of equipment one would buy after the basic sword and spear.

Éirinn go Brách
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2012 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
I would say that what is or is not buried is more about showing status and importance of the person buried than showing what one really wore in battle. And swords always had that status symbol meaning and helmets not really. So I think that is why they weren't buried with their owners as often.
I don't agree. For instance the famous decorated spangenhelms (e.g. Krefeld-Gellep, Morken etc.) were clearly high status objects. So high status that they are exclusively found in very rich graves and that not nearly all rich graves don't have them (or any other helmet).

It seems logical to assume that if those spangenhelms were important status symbols, a less decorated version would be without status.

Also, given the facts that:
1) wealth = status.
2) a "standard" helmet apparently counts for 6 solidi (= a significant amount of wealth).
3) Migration age warriors tended to display their wealth on their body, either as arms and armour or as jewelry.
it seems unlikely that someone who would be buried with their weapons (generally speaking: several spears, sword, sax, axe, shield) and with their jewelry, the helmet would somehow be omitted.


I agree that helmet would be included if the owner would be so rich he can afford helmet as richly decorated as Vendel grave helmets. But if he could afford sword and helmet but not very expensive and decorated ones, than the sword might be enough to show what he was when he is buried and helmet as a more necessary piece of equipment might rather be passed on to his son or someone else from his family or maybe even his fighting companions...
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2012 12:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok so I should have done this to begin with, but I've edited my original post and added a poll. My vote is for the Helm.
Éirinn go Brách
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Mark A Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2012 12:46 pm    Post subject: Definitely the helm         Reply with quote

I go by my own byline:

"Nothing can hurt me as long as I have this bucket on my head..."

I'd get a helm before a sword any day (as long as I had that Shield and spear, sure!)

Mark

"...nothing can hurt me as long as I keep this bucket on my head."
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2012 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
I agree that helmet would be included if the owner would be so rich he can afford helmet as richly decorated as Vendel grave helmets. But if he could afford sword and helmet but not very expensive and decorated ones, than the sword might be enough to show what he was when he is buried and helmet as a more necessary piece of equipment might rather be passed on to his son or someone else from his family or maybe even his fighting companions...


We are talking about Franks and not about Vendels (or Anglo-Saxons) Big Grin

Like I said, in Frankish graves, even the richest ones, helmets are almost non-existent, with the exception of the decorated spangenhelms but these are probably a special case as they are likely either Byzantine or Ostrogothic in origin, rather than Frankish.

I just don't see why someone would be buried with everything from multiple spears and swords to golden coins and jewels to buckets and cooking utensils, but the helmet somehow seems the only thing worthy to hand down to someone else?

Edit: I get it! The bucket is the helmet!!! Big Grin Eek! Big Grin
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2012 7:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is Sidonius Apollinaris descibing Prince Sigismer and his allies. Shields, spears and swords, but no mention of helmets. Maybe helmets might be too much for a wedding, don't know.

"You take such pleasure in the sight of arms and those who wear them, that I can imagine your delight if you could have seen the young prince Sigismer on his way to the palace of his father-in-law in the guise of a bridegroom or suitor in all the pomp and bravery of the tribal fashion. His own steed with its caparisons, other steeds laden with flashing gems, paced before and after; but the conspicuous interest in the procession centred in the prince himself, as with a charming modesty he went afoot amid his bodyguard and footmen, in flame-red mantle, with much glint of ruddy gold, and gleam of snowy silken tunic, his fair hair, red cheeks and white skin according with the three hues of his equipment. But the chiefs and allies who bore him company were dread of aspect, even thus on peace intent. Their feet were laced in boots of bristly hide reaching to the heels; ankles and legs were exposed. They wore high tight tunics of varied colour hardly descending to their bare knees, the sleeves covering only the upper arm. Green mantles they had with crimson borders; baldrics supported swords hung from their shoulders, and pressed on sides covered with cloaks of skin secured by brooches. No small part of their adornment consisted of their arms; in their hands they grasped barbed spears and missile axes; their left sides were guarded by shields, which flashed with tawny golden bosses and snowy silver borders, betraying at once their wealth and their good taste. Though the business in hand was wedlock, Mars was no whit less prominent in all this pomp than Venus. Why need I say more? Only your presence was wanting to the full enjoyment of so fine a spectacle. For when I saw that you had missed the things you love to see, I longed to have you with me in all the impatience of your longing soul. Farewell."
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Harry Marinakis




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Aug, 2012 8:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, I did it. I bought a sword before a helmet. My first.

Now what? Find a period-appropriate helmet to match?

Albion Ritter
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Aug, 2012 8:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry,
By the time the Schloss Bei Dargen helm (originally pictured in your post, but now edited out) was in fashion, swords like the Ritter were going out of fashion. Would someone with the latest in head protection be using a sword more suited to 25 years (or more) earlier? Perhaps, but I find that's a stretch.

You might be better off with a less-developed great helm.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/


Last edited by Chad Arnow on Wed 22 Aug, 2012 6:02 am; edited 1 time in total
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