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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Sun 24 Jun, 2012 10:21 am    Post subject: Bouting with scabbard?         Reply with quote

I just had a thought, in my SSG classes we never spare while wearing a scabbard. I fact, other than one exception, (Fiore's scabbard defense against dagger) I don't recall seeing any depictions in the flower of battle of anyone wearing a scabbard in combat.

This leads to two questions:

1) has anyone fought while wearing one, and how did it effect your sparing?

2) Any thoughts as to why we don't see it in the (at least Fiorean) texts.

And a little sub-question, are there scabbards pictured in the Germanic treatises?

"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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F Hynd




Location: Bristol
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PostPosted: Sun 24 Jun, 2012 3:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've sparred a few times wearing a scabbard. up until my latest version of my sword belt the scabbard will tend to get in the way and try and trip you. I have found that the best way to hang the scabbard is not canted as shown in latter illustrations but straight down the leg where it doesn't tend to flap about.

That said on the field at events as i tend to use a polearm if i carry a sword its normally with out scabbard and hung naked form a ring on my belt.
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Craig Shackleton




Location: Ottawa, Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 24 Jun, 2012 5:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have fought in the past with a scabbard, and my opinion is somewhat different. I prefer to have the scabbard almost horizontal, to keep it out of the way of my legs. Although all leather scabbards are better straight down the leg, since they generally won't support themselves anyways.

Back when I used to only teach rapier, we actually did training in walking, standing, sitting, etc. while wearing a sword in a scabbard.

Some of the German sources show scabbards, especially the Gladiatoria group, in which the combatants start with spears in hand and daggers and swords in scabbards. They also accumulate piles of lost/discarded/broken weapons at their feet as the plays progress.

There are a few other examples. Falkner for sure and maybe Talhoffer have plays drawing from the scabbard.

Ottawa Swordplay
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Sun 24 Jun, 2012 6:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In all art from circa 1350 to 1400 which I have seen, longsword scabbards had a single point of suspension, so the scabbard would get in the way while walking. A number of pictures show that when someone did have to walk with a cavalry sword, they often carried it sheathed in their hand (so Fiore teaches how to defend if attacked in such a situation). An unarmoured duellist or someone practicing fencing wouldn't wear their scabbard, and someone attacked by surprise on foot would be unlikely to be wearing a longsword, so that leaves some kinds of armoured combat. And so we see sheathed blades in the 6th, 8th, and 9th spear pictures in the Getty (with the newfangled two-point angled suspension on the sword scabbards). The PD has sheathed daggers in the spear, staff and dagger against spear, and two clubs against spear sections.

In addition, a scabbard would be an extraneous detail which Fiore's illuminators had no reason to include. Fiore's illuminators sometimes showed accessories like belts or pouches or fancy hats, but for the poste and plays they usually kept things simple (saving them time and ink and whoever commissioned each manuscript money).
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Josh Wilson




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Jun, 2012 7:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's plenty of scabbards hanging off folks who are fighting on horse and foot both in the Maciejowski Bible.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2012 8:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Josh Wilson wrote:
There's plenty of scabbards hanging off folks who are fighting on horse and foot both in the Maciejowski Bible.

Was the Macejowski Bible produced between 1350 and 1400? The usual origin one reads is “Paris c. 1250.” A better source is MS Francais 343 in the Bibliotheque Nationale, an Arthurian romance from Lombardy c. 1385. Its available through the Mandragore website and consistently shows the same one-point suspension which we see on effigies of the late 14th centruy.

A friend of mine both practices Fiore's art and reenacts a late 14th century English knight, so would be very happy for an excuse to wear a longsword with an angled suspension in late 14th century England. So far, he can`t find one.
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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2012 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is Manuscript Miniatures with 1350-1400 in their search engine: http://manuscriptminiatures.com/search/?year=...ew=gallery

As one can see, the scabbards in evidence mostly seem to feature a single point of attachment, though they appear to be hanging in an angled position as often as not. (They also often show such a position with the guy's hand on the hilt, but that doesn't count for obvious reasons.) There are a couple that make me wonder if I'm looking at something fancier, but we aren't exactly looking at photo-realism here.

Also, although I'm obviously speaking in general gut feeling here after looking over a few pages, it seems to me that it is the longer swords featuring an angled suspension, and the shorter swords are the ones more frequently straight up and down.


Edit: Something interesting here: http://manuscriptminiatures.com/le-pelerinage...1969/1619/

I'm guessing pilgrim's staff, though if that is a rondel, it is the mother of all rondels. Big Grin

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Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.
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Josh Wilson




Location: WV
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2012 11:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Josh Wilson wrote:
There's plenty of scabbards hanging off folks who are fighting on horse and foot both in the Maciejowski Bible.

Was the Macejowski Bible produced between 1350 and 1400? The usual origin one reads is “Paris c. 1250.” A better source is MS Francais 343 in the Bibliotheque Nationale, an Arthurian romance from Lombardy c. 1385. Its available through the Mandragore website and consistently shows the same one-point suspension which we see on effigies of the late 14th centruy.

A friend of mine both practices Fiore's art and reenacts a late 14th century English knight, so would be very happy for an excuse to wear a longsword with an angled suspension in late 14th century England. So far, he can`t find one.


Yup France, about 1250. I didnt realize we were only discussing the 1350 to 1400 time frame...
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Robert S. Haile





Joined: 16 Dec 2007

Posts: 126

PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Josh Wilson wrote:
There's plenty of scabbards hanging off folks who are fighting on horse and foot both in the Maciejowski Bible.

Was the Macejowski Bible produced between 1350 and 1400? The usual origin one reads is “Paris c. 1250.” A better source is MS Francais 343 in the Bibliotheque Nationale, an Arthurian romance from Lombardy c. 1385. Its available through the Mandragore website and consistently shows the same one-point suspension which we see on effigies of the late 14th centruy.

A friend of mine both practices Fiore's art and reenacts a late 14th century English knight, so would be very happy for an excuse to wear a longsword with an angled suspension in late 14th century England. So far, he can`t find one.


I'm interested in portraying an English knight from the same period as your friend, and have also been concerned with scabbard suspension. I have found this contemporary depiction of the battle of poitiers featuring knights with scabbards suspended from multiple points (Not only that, but they're English men at arms as well). Wikipedia suggests the art dates from 1410, but it appears late 14th century to me. I would appreciate it if anyone can varify. Even if 1410 is an accurate date, most armor was largely in the same style as the late 14th century, and might be worth considering when thinking about scabbard suspension.

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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2012 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert S. Haile wrote:
Sean Manning wrote:
Josh Wilson wrote:
There's plenty of scabbards hanging off folks who are fighting on horse and foot both in the Maciejowski Bible.

Was the Macejowski Bible produced between 1350 and 1400? The usual origin one reads is “Paris c. 1250.” A better source is MS Francais 343 in the Bibliotheque Nationale, an Arthurian romance from Lombardy c. 1385. Its available through the Mandragore website and consistently shows the same one-point suspension which we see on effigies of the late 14th centruy.

A friend of mine both practices Fiore's art and reenacts a late 14th century English knight, so would be very happy for an excuse to wear a longsword with an angled suspension in late 14th century England. So far, he can`t find one.


I'm interested in portraying an English knight from the same period as your friend, and have also been concerned with scabbard suspension. I have found this contemporary depiction of the battle of poitiers featuring knights with scabbards suspended from multiple points (Not only that, but they're English men at arms as well). Wikipedia suggests the art dates from 1410, but it appears late 14th century to me. I would appreciate it if anyone can varify. Even if 1410 is an accurate date, most armor was largely in the same style as the late 14th century, and might be worth considering when thinking about scabbard suspension.


That scene is quite similar to the early 15th C depiction of (the much earlier) battle of Tenchebray



I would definitely say 1410 sounds right, as the art is quite similar to this piece and it is supposed to be early 15th.

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Robert S. Haile





Joined: 16 Dec 2007

Posts: 126

PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2012 7:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I see. Thanks for verifying that. It would certainly be nice to see some art from the late 14th century showing like depictions of scabbard suspension. It seems odd that this type of suspension would just show up one day separate from other major stylistic changes in armament (Given, the fellow in the center of the picture you posted seems to wear a form of Great Bascinet). Perhaps someone will come out of the woodwork with something.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jun, 2012 9:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Colt Reeves wrote:
Here is Manuscript Miniatures with 1350-1400 in their search engine: http://manuscriptminiatures.com/search/?year=...ew=gallery

As one can see, the scabbards in evidence mostly seem to feature a single point of attachment, though they appear to be hanging in an angled position as often as not. (They also often show such a position with the guy's hand on the hilt, but that doesn't count for obvious reasons.) There are a couple that make me wonder if I'm looking at something fancier, but we aren't exactly looking at photo-realism here.

Also, although I'm obviously speaking in general gut feeling here after looking over a few pages, it seems to me that it is the longer swords featuring an angled suspension, and the shorter swords are the ones more frequently straight up and down.


Edit: Something interesting here: http://manuscriptminiatures.com/le-pelerinage...1969/1619/

I'm guessing pilgrim's staff, though if that is a rondel, it is the mother of all rondels. Big Grin

Flipping through there, I can see one sword with a complicated suspension which isn't on a warrior who looks "pagan" or "Saracen" to me. Its a French chronicle from the 1380s or 1390s. The knight in the dull purple gambeson seems to have two straps descending from his hip belt to a single point on his sword. http://manuscriptminiatures.com/chroniques-de...-vii/1812/ That seems pretty strong evidence that most longsword scabbards were suspended vertically or at a slight angle in this period.

Explaining why a fashion was the way it was is always tricky, and I'm not comfortable speculating until I've spent some time wearing late 14th century clothes. All we can say is that the suspensions they used clearly worked for them!
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