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R Ashby





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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2012 6:10 pm    Post subject: Question about sword choice for a historical fantasy novel         Reply with quote

Hi all- you've been most useful in the past with arms questions- I can happily report that the book you all helped me with before is coming out in print soon. Now on to the next...

I need a sword for a mid-seventeenth European century setting, with a lot of naval action. My character is a seaman- so they have access to a wide range of weapon styles. Anyhow, I need an optimal weapon for someone very strong, yet of average height, and fast. It would need to be versatile, though I guess owning a couple of weapons for various conditions is a choice. Here's my thoughts:

Rapier: Good choice, but would it be limited on a ship-board action, where people are closely packed. Also, how effective would it be against breast-plated men, and would it be a quick-knock down weapon, effective when fighting beserker-like pirates and such?

Early Cutlass or Hangar: Good for close-in action, fast and sturdy blades, but would fare poorly against a rapier-wielding opponent.

Basket-hilted broadsword: Perhaps the best of both worlds, as it has more reach than the rapier, and but is somewhat better in close quarters. Also, a good slash or thrust from the broader blade would have more stopping power than that of a rapier.

Am I correct in these suppositions?

Thank you!
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2012 9:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Question about sword choice for a historical fantasy nov         Reply with quote

R Ashby wrote:

Early Cutlass or Hangar: Good for close-in action, fast and sturdy blades, but would fare poorly against a rapier-wielding opponent.


Why fare poorly? Perhaps poorly in a 1-on-1 duel with strict rules, and perhaps much less poorly in close-in-no-rules fighting.

Silver had a lot to say on combat value of rapiers versus other swords. Not exactly favourable!

R Ashby wrote:

Basket-hilted broadsword: Perhaps the best of both worlds, as it has more reach than the rapier, and but is somewhat better in close quarters. Also, a good slash or thrust from the broader blade would have more stopping power than that of a rapier.


Amputation of body parts generally has more stopping power than poking small holes. However, superficially slashing is less likely to kill, and perhaps less likely to stop, than deeper poking.

But if a basket hilted broadsword has more reach than a rapier, that's an enormously long basket hilted broadsword. How long is a basket hilt? 30-something inches? Longer than 36" is very long. How long is a rapier? 40" isn't unusual. That's blade length, not counting the hilt.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Julian Reynolds




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2012 10:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The rapier would be my last choice under the circumstances you describe. It's too long for use in a close-in ship-board melee, and unless you are have really good point control (difficult in a melee) it will be of little use against a man in a breastplate.

The cutlass/hanger would be my weapon of choice. I have used one in the salle many times, in boarding action fighting, and there is a reason why they were so popular on board! Used like a Dussack, they are brutally efficient once you get past someone's guard (easy with a rapier, not so easy against a backsword with it's shorter, heavier blade). But the way it is used in confined spaces (close in to the body, blade supported by the offhand, lots of movement, close-in drawing cuts or finish with a thrust, yet still with enough reach to parry a cut and create an opening) is fast and brutal and designed to be immediately incapacitating. Also very good against long arms (musket/bayonet and boarding pike).

Julian
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R Ashby





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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2012 11:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you gentlemen- both very useful answers!
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How about a Walloon sword? They were cut and thrust battlefield swords, used extensively in the second half of the 17th century. go to This Thread to see many photos and information about the variations of this type. The town guard version, with a 32 inch blade could work in an on-board-ship melee.

I bet your protagonist would love to have the second sword pictured below. See some more photos of that sword Here



 Attachment: 40.51 KB
walloon2a.jpg
Walloon

 Attachment: 22.09 KB
Copy of Haudegen2b.jpg
another 17th century campaign sword
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Phil D.




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 9:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a good choice.Pic is from the KOA site...
"A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world." -- Louis Pasteur

"A gentleman should never leave the house without a sharp knife, a good watch, and great hat."
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Christopher Gregg




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 9:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll also vote for the Cutlass or Hanger. They are very versatile, can be used in close quarters or in the open, and in the right hands, are super quick and efficient. They were really the last fully functional military swords, used by many soldiers until the War of 1812 and on board ship until the Civil War. Plus, they're roguish and classy at the same time Big Grin[/img]
Christopher Gregg

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Joel Chesser




Location: Oklahoma
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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What a Basket hilted cutlass, like this one Kirk Lee Spencer put together in this thread?

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=6924&highlight=

..." The person who dosen't have a sword should sell his coat and buy one."

- Luke 22:36
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you want a 17th century hanger, look at This One

Or This One made by Armour Class

Or the campaign sword pictured below -



 Attachment: 8.25 KB
GER BROAD2AB 1680.jpg
From around 1680

 Attachment: 20.46 KB
GER BROAD2B 90CM.jpg
From around 1680
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R Ashby





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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 4:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks guys! Heaps to think about! The Walloon sword is an interesting choice. I remember considering it with the other novel.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 9:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Phil D. wrote:
Here is a good choice.Pic is from the KOA site...


I agree with Phil that the Dussack is a very good choice, and would have suggested it myself as a first choice. Big Grin Cool

But here is another choice, the Schiavona, for an all around cut and thrust sword of ideal length:
http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...nze+Pommel

For a rapier this one by A&A, Dresden rapier, is also a good cut and thrust type of rapier, but with it's lenght of blade maybe a little difficult to use in cramped mellee:
http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...den+Rapier

Town Guard sword by A&A is sort of like the Dresden but is shorter in blade length and should be fast and handy and still wide enough to be a good cutter as well as being a pointy pointy sword. Wink Laughing Out Loud :
http://www.arms-n-armor.com/sword192.html

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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R Ashby





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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 10:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Schiavona was one of my top choices as well- from the reviews I found they seem sturdy, rugged blades that would be better suited to the rough-and-tumble of combat than rapiers, while being longer than cutlasses, and therefore more commanding.

Decisions decisions. At the end of the day I suppose the answer is to have access to mutliple weapons, or to choose the best to fit every situation.

A cutlass seems the obvious choice, but so much combat occured on land as well as on sea, and I'm not sure it would do as well as a scihavona or walloon sword under those circumstances.

Thank you for the further input!
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Julian Reynolds




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 12:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The only trouble with the Schiavona and the Walloon swords, is that you may need some kind of 'back story' as to how they came to be in your Hero's hands, as they are very specific types of swords that are not so commonly encountered (as opposed to any kind of hanger, used universally as a ship-board or a land (hunting etc.) weapon and found all over the place over several centuries. In particular, it has become a bit of a cliche amongst Grand Age of Piracy re-enactors, how Schiavoni have turned up in the hands of way more would-be 'pirates' than would have ever had them in reality.....just because it's pretty (or even practical) doesn't make it probable!

Julian
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R Ashby





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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 12:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julian Reynolds wrote:
The only trouble with the Schiavona and the Walloon swords, is that you may need some kind of 'back story' as to how they came to be in your Hero's hands, as they are very specific types of swords that are not so commonly encountered (as opposed to any kind of hanger, used universally as a ship-board or a land (hunting etc.) weapon and found all over the place over several centuries. In particular, it has become a bit of a cliche amongst Grand Age of Piracy re-enactors, how Schiavoni have turned up in the hands of way more would-be 'pirates' than would have ever had them in reality.....just because it's pretty (or even practical) doesn't make it probable!

Julian


This I have under wraps! My character is European. I had thought of hat- but thanks for pointing it out. I was plannin to put a bit in about it at the appropriate place, as a bit of backstory.
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Phil D.




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 1:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You should consider creating your own blade for a fantasy novel.Look at the movie "Van Helsing". The Heroine had a nice sword...a shortened sabre blade on a Schiavona hilt...very attractive.After all,Dussacks and hangers were meant for the battlefield but will definitely work on board a ship as well.I have a Hessian blade on a baskethilt and it is a very lively handling sword.I illustrate books and war games and it also makes for an incredible look as a prop in my artwork.
"A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world." -- Louis Pasteur

"A gentleman should never leave the house without a sharp knife, a good watch, and great hat."
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D. Bell




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 3:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would go with a cutlass. Not only is it a very good choice for your character, but it will not require a backstory to explain how he came to possess it. More importantly, your readers are much more likely to know what a cutlass is than a Walloon sword, Dussack or a Schiavona, most people are not sword geeks and do not know their Flyssas from their Firangi, but they probably do have a pretty good idea of what a cutlass is.
An armed society is a polite society.
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julian Reynolds wrote:
The only trouble with the Schiavona and the Walloon swords, is that you may need some kind of 'back story' as to how they came to be in your Hero's hands, as they are very specific types of swords that are not so commonly encountered (as opposed to any kind of hanger, used universally as a ship-board or a land (hunting etc.) weapon and found all over the place over several centuries. In particular, it has become a bit of a cliche amongst Grand Age of Piracy re-enactors, how Schiavoni have turned up in the hands of way more would-be 'pirates' than would have ever had them in reality.....just because it's pretty (or even practical) doesn't make it probable!

Julian


Actually Walloons were pretty common swords during their time. Of course, most people now aren't familiar with them, but telling relating how your guy came to possess this sword , plus a detailed physical description of it would be interesting for your reader. I'm always disappointed when fictional characters use undescribed swords, but then, I'm a sword geek.

Unfortunately, no one in the 17th century would call a Walloon sword a Walloon, the same for Mortuary swords, and Sinclair hilts. They are all after-the-fact names.
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