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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2012 4:11 am    Post subject: Late 15th century Swiss two handers         Reply with quote

My fellow forumites, I need your help once again. I am thinking of having a custom made two hander, and I would like it to be appropriate for a late 15th century Swiss Reisläufer. My ideal period range for that sword would span from Swiss Burgundian War to early 16th century, but I'm not sure how two handers of that time evolved. I know how an early 16th century two hander looks, but I'm not sure if there is a difference between swords used by Swiss and others and what would a two hander from second half of the 15th century look like. In the thread "Two handed swords from Morges" there is a picture of Swiss soldiers dated to 1475-1500 and the swords they are holding look similar to Albion Tyrolean and Maximilian. That would mean such characteristic swords were used in later 15th century but I would like to see some more evidence. Pictures and real examples are both welcome. Btw, looking at these swords I would say two handers of that period are just a sized up hand and a halfs but I may be missing something... So, help me with this please. Wink
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Michael R. Mann




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PostPosted: Thu 26 Jul, 2012 4:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

AlI I know is that the Reisläufer used the usual two hander swords of the relevant era. The reason to use two hand swords was probably the pike square technique of the Reisläufer in fightings. See also more here: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reisl%C3%A4ufer

So a sword like the Maximilian Landsknecht Sword of the company could be possible too, although Landsknechte (which were never a member of the Reisläufer Regiments, but have had similar tasks in a battle like the Reisläufer) is an own chapter of the history. Members of the Reisläufer Regiments were always citizens of Switzerland.
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Daniel Wallace




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 1:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

oooo, two handers, also something i've been thinking about for a while now.

i think two handers can be broken into to divisions, now this is just personal ideas i've been backing up with data when i go into research mode in the winter months.

of the most popular i've seen there's the iberian two hander, and the german styled two hander. there is a slight difference on the blade dimensions. iberian two handers seem to have a taper in to the tip very nice and gradual and the parrying lugs if present are close to the hilt, the other style tapers out to the tip or does not taper at all. though there are many terms that document two hander - there seems to be one for every culture that saw its use and due to the expanse of trade, its hard for me to present an argument that there are to different types of two hander.

the Maximilian is a pretty big blade though i can't remember it's exact length but i remember thinking it was a bit short for two hander. i haven't looked it over too much it didn't spark my interest too much, but i have read on measurement that have some two handers in like you said above a large hand and half format.

most of the two handers i've been looking into date from about 1530 and later, they almost all have a grip over 12 inches + the pummel. but i have seen one or two in as small as 10 inches of grip + pummel.

i'd like to believe that parring lugs were a later development on the swords, but i could also be wrong about that, so far everything i've been looking at has them present.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am trying to find anything on the internet about Swiss and two handers and not much useful information is available. There is this quote easily found on several sites:

"Another Italian, Paolo Giovio, describes the critical moment in the battle of Fornovo, 1495, where Charles VIII of France with his Swiss mercenaries was opposed by Francesco Gonzaga at the head of an imperial army: "Suddenly, as the *sc. The Italian pikemen, javelin-throwers and crossbowmen) began to approach, about 300 picked young men who are called "the forlorn hope" issued forth from each flank of the infantry body and with their great swords which they wielded with both hands began to chop up those enormous pikes with such boldness that nearly all those pikemen, aghast, turned their backs in flight without waiting for the main body of the infantry to come up." "
It seems the 300 picked men with two handers were Swiss mercenaries but I'm not sure.


Than there is this quote from Neil H. T. Melville's article The Origins of the Two-Handed Sword:

It has been frequently assumed that the two-hander originated in Switzerland, but not only is there no documentary of this but other evidence bears against it. Switzerland had no iron ore or iron industry in the early Middle Ages and the Swiss had to import (or win as booty) arms and armour, as is clear from the great preponderance of German smiths' marks, from Passau, Solingen, Munich etc. Of 16 two-handers dating from before 1550 in the Swiss National Museum in Zurich, none is definitely Swiss, (though two might be), one is Italian and all the others are German. The smiths of southern Germany did have the expertise to forge long heavy blades in the techniqu3es that combined hardness and resilience, and while again there is not documentary proof that they were the first to make two-handed swords there is no evidence so far of anyone else doing so. Another blade in Vienna, dating to the late thirteenth century, is inlaid with the "wolf mark" of Passau. Interestingly there is a record of the city of Liege at the end of the fourteenth century giving tax advantages to foreign merchants, in return for their share of which the people of Nuremberg had to supply to the mayor of Liege "a great long two-handed sword", obviously regarded as a typical product of the German arms-manufacturing city.

Certainly the Swiss had adopted the two-hander by the fourteenth century, but so had Germans, Italians, Burgundians, French, Scots and knights of the Military Orders. We know that the Swiss, Burgundians, Venetians and later the German Landsknechts used it as a regulation weapons; to what extent any of the others did is not clear. Probably the difficulty of its manufacture and greater price in comparison with staff weapons precluded its widespread acceptance.


And there is this quote by J. Clements on his thearma site:

As one writer says of the weapon, "Among the smaller countries where mercenary bands were likely to develop---the Low Countries, the Italian city states, and the free cities and states of the German lands---the Swiss became premier two-handed swordsmen for hire from the 14th century until well into the 16th century. The two-handed sword and the multipurpose polearm, called the halberd, were familiar Swiss trademarks. The Swiss and Germans made their own two-handed swords. The Italians made a basic two-hander that they exported throughout Europe. Two-handed swordsmen were perimeter shock troops, trained to lay into approaching knights or infantry and break their stride. By the end of the 15th century, however, the Swiss had turned almost exclusively to the 17- to 18-foot pike as their weapon of choice, becoming the premier pikemen of Europe. The two-handed sword was considered incompatible with the pike and was actually outlawed as a frontline weapon by many confederation members--though the Swiss kept making them. The two-hander remained a popular weapon among many other European mercenaries, in Italy and particularly in Germany." (William J. McPeak. "For a Swordsmen with Muscle as Well as Skill, Two Hands Could be Better Than One." Military History, Oct 2001, Vol. 18. Issue 4, p 24).

So, the subject is rather complicated and I would like to see some hard evidence about how long Swiss used two handers in battle and if they made their own or they imported two handers from Germany or Italy...

I found these two swords that the site claims one is Swiss made and other either Swiss or German but I don't know what is their evidence for it... Anyone recognizes the makers mark on the second sword?

http://futuremuseum.co.uk/Collection.aspx/the...nded_sword

http://futuremuseum.co.uk/Collection.aspx/the...reat_sword
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Michael R. Mann




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Waffensammlung Carl Beck Sursee (Collection of arms and armour, Carl Beck, Sursee, Suisse) could be also a good source for your question(s): http://www.waffensammlung-beck.ch/index.php
Click on Waffen nach Land (Weapons per Country) and select Schweiz (Suisse). Some melle weapons are very well described - but the whole site is only in the german language available.

In a very short summary: In Switzerland were, as far as known, only Schweizerdegen (Swiss Degen) produced. Some bastard swords were also produced there but these swords were Richtschwerter / Gerichtsschwerter (Executioner's swords / Court swords) or representative swords.
See complemental also: http://www.waffensammlung-beck.ch/waffe189.html and for Swiss Degen: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_degen (engl).
The swords resp. the blades of the Reisläufer were from (southern) Germany, usually from Passau. Passau hold a kind of a monopoly and had also the better technique and the better raw materials to produce swords resp. the blades of the swords. Suisse armourers completed the blades to a sword.

How long these swords are used? I assume during the whole aera as the pike square technique was used. See more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pike_square (engl.)
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 7:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting, thank you Michael. I will try to google translate the page.
http://www.waffensammlung-beck.ch/waffe189.html This sword is interesting, it is pretty much what I expected, big longsword, because of weight probably required real two handed use, and it is shaped like regular longsword of the period... If Swiss imported blades than it's probable that any early two hander made in Germany in second half of the 15th century could be imported by Swiss and hilted in their fashion, but as their fashion is more or less equal to south German fashion it becomes rather impossible to differentiate early German and Swiss two handers and the difference could probably be told only when characteristic huge Landsknecht doppelhanders of the 16th century emerge...
Btw, does that mean Swiss hand and a half saber blades were also from Germany?
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Michael R. Mann




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 8:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Btw, does that mean Swiss hand and a half saber blades were also from Germany?

Nice question.
This sword is described as a Court Sword and not as a sword designed for battles, from the description it's a suisse sword. So it's a representative sword.
The comment is here vague, the difference they made is the intended purpose of the weapon and the trade marks which are added to the blade / sword. If there is missing a mark like the Wolfsmarke (i.e. the origin is Passau) and it's not used for battles then it's quite possible that's the origin of the sword is Suisse.

So I would say that you check the swords / blades for the added marks to decide if the weapons are form Germany or not.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One more quote about Swiss and twohanders by George Cameron Stone:

The Swiss used it almost exclusively until the later part of the 15th century. In 1499 it was decided "to suppress completely the two-handed swords and, instead, to arm the pikemen and halberdiers with a sword or axe". It was, however, retained by the Swiss Papal Guard until the middle of the 19th century, if not later.

Maybe I should rather concentrate on other European nations wielding two handers, Swiss seem rather complicated. Wink
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Michal Plezia
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 4:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Papal Guars still use twohanders.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lyx-HFkKsXI&am...embedded#!

2:25

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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 5:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cool. When I was in Vatican the guards I have seen had polearms and small SLO like swords, maybe they are functional but they looked toy-ish. I wish I had seen them with two handers they have in that video...

My "investigation" brought me to a point where I have enough evidence for big longswords/small two handers used by Swiss in the last quarter of 15th century but they look like typical longswords of that period, just bigger. When characteristic two handers with siderings, parrier haken and ricasso appear there is no longer evidence Swiss used them (at least not pictorial evidence) and they except with pikes they are pictured with halberds and shorter swords on their belts. Two handers in Swiss museums can't be used as an evidence Swiss really used them, a lot of weapons in museums were not used by inhabitants of that country but are rather loot, trophy weapons etc... So if I decide to have a true two hander made it will be inspired by German, Austrian or maybe Italian examples and there is a possibility Swiss Reisläufer would use such swords and if I decide to have a sized up longsword made than it will be quite universal longsword of the second half of the 15th century, just bigger than usual and then it will e appropriate also for Swiss in the Burgundian war and maybe Swabian war but that is already questionable.
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Nicholas A. Gaese




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 6:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have yu seen these pics before? they were just posted on another thread not too long back but since its on topic i'll share them here.

I agree that twohander in this period will resemble their longsword counterparts quite well, just sized up to suit the role of a primary arm.







Regards.



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Michael R. Mann




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The battle of Laupen was in 1339 (linked picture #2).
Here is also a picture of the swiss soldiers: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...Laupen.jpg (Source: Spiezer Chronik from 1484/85). So the chronicle was made about 150 years after the battle. This picture should show soldiers of Bern (see the heraldic figure with the bear).

Regarding the question which sword was used by a Reisläufer: I think, in case of a doubt, a two hander sword from (south) Germany would be always the right choice.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2012 7:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, I meant those pictures earlier when speaking about pictorial evidence. Happy
Michael, thank you, but I'm a bit worried about the fact that already two sources talk about two handers being outlawed at the end of the 15th century... I wonder if that is true if it happened before or after the Swabian war...
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