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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Sun 21 Apr, 2013 6:45 pm    Post subject: Late 12th Century seax?         Reply with quote

I was looking through the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford - specifically the Ashmole Bestiary.

The Ashmole Bestiary is identified as "Miscellaneous medical and herbal texts, in Latin, England, late 12th century"

Another note says, "It may have been produced in the early 13th century."

The link to the Ashmole Bestiary is here:
http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/m...e/1462.htm

And look what I found, an image of a surgeon using a broken back seax in the 12th (maybe 13th ) Century:

folio 10r


Large image here:
http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/wmss/m...001564.jpg


Evidence that the broken-back seax was still in use in the late 12th (maybe 13th) Century?
What do you think?

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 21 Apr, 2013 7:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are knives which show a sax influence in their shape that are dated to the era you're talking about. Whether it's a true broken back sax or whether it's a personal knife whose shape was influenced is a debatable issue.
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Sun 21 Apr, 2013 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote, "There are knives which show a sax influence in their shape that are dated to the era you're talking about. Whether it's a true broken back sax or whether it's a personal knife whose shape was influenced is a debatable issue."

OK, if you say so but could you explain what makes a knife with a broken back a seax and another with the same shape just a knife? Is it merely linguistic usage? If somebody called a seax type cutter a knife does that mean it isn't a seax. My understanding was that seax meant cutter and I think somebody said that seax now means scissors in Swedish or Norwegian.
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Matthew Bunker




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PostPosted: Sun 21 Apr, 2013 10:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I's say that what you see there is a surgeon using a specialised knife, rather than a common knife.

If you look in the Museum of London catalogue 'Knives and Scabbards' you'll see that knives with angled, concave backs are still in use in the 14th century but that they are very much the exception (having been in decline since the 12th century), not the norm and were (I would imagine) made to perform specialist tasks.


Not all blades were 'seaxes'. Some were just 'cnifs' (the Old English word for 'knife'). What defines the difference between the two is, of course, open for debate but for me a seax is something which is designed for either martial or at least hunting purposes and which was worn on a sheath on the person, whereas a 'cnif' is..well..a knife, which lives at home.

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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Apr, 2013 1:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am with Matthew and Chad on this one. The MOL book shows many knives with 'seaxy' influence dated well after seaxs went out. You could take a Bowie blade or any other clipped knife and sit it next to seaxs and argue that it has influences of.

Penknives also very often use this shape too as well as surgical knives and razors. I would agree that it really does look like a seax, but that I think is just coincidence rather than anything more interesting.

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