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Evan Jones




Location: Michigan
Joined: 25 Jul 2009
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 4:11 pm    Post subject: Undergrad Research Help         Reply with quote

Hey everybody, I've got an easy 1000 level class standing between me and my BA in History, and I've got to do a paper, of course! The class is Western World to 1500, and we have to cover something that has changed over time, and the prof liked my idea of the changes in the sword from its earliest forms up to the year 1500. Ewart Oakeshott's is a no-brainer, and my searches have turned up a few other sources, but could anybody point me in the direction of some good sources on the topic? Please make sure they are publicly available and not hidden behind the access page of a journal or database I might not have access to. Thanks!
"Love and serve your friends, hate and harm your enemies..." -Geoffroi de Charny
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Scott Hrouda




Location: Minnesota, USA
Joined: 17 Nov 2006
Likes: 15 pages
Reading list: 87 books

Posts: 643

PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 10:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suggest using the "Books" link in the myArmoury header above and use the search function therein.

As a (very) general outline you might try Charles Ffoulkes, though he focused more on armour. Much more research has been conducted since he published "Armour & Weapons" in 1909. That being said, the 2005 reprint is an enjoyable read.

As you mentioned, Oakeshott is a no-brainer. "The Archaeology of Weapons" and "Sword in Hand" are two of my favorites. "A Knight and His Weapons" is a really good place to start for a general overview.

M.P. LaCombe's "Arms & Armour in Antiquity and the Middle Ages" translated by Charles Boutell is a bit dry and very dated (1869, translated 1901, reprinted 1996).

Look for more recent publications by Dr. Tobias Capwell as well as other resources found on the "links" button in the header above.

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 399

PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 11:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Undergrad Research Help         Reply with quote

Evan Jones wrote:
Hey everybody, I've got an easy 1000 level class standing between me and my BA in History, and I've got to do a paper, of course! The class is Western World to 1500, and we have to cover something that has changed over time, and the prof liked my idea of the changes in the sword from its earliest forms up to the year 1500. Ewart Oakeshott's is a no-brainer, and my searches have turned up a few other sources, but could anybody point me in the direction of some good sources on the topic? Please make sure they are publicly available and not hidden behind the access page of a journal or database I might not have access to. Thanks!

Keep in mind that in Europe, swords had been around for three thousand years in 1500 CE! So that might be too big a topic unless you have a very good library available.

Barry Molloy, an Irish archaeologist, works on Bronze Age European swrds. He cites earlier literature such as the Prehistorisches Bronzefunds series. I don't know who would be best on "Celtic," Roman, or "Germanic" swords. I think that a Scandinavian scholar called Geibig is the Oakeshott of early medieval swords, but I have not read his work.
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
Joined: 27 Nov 2007

Posts: 444

PostPosted: Wed 10 Jul, 2013 1:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like that you're doing something that suits your interests. As others have mentioned, Western swords to 1500 is a (very) broad topic. If the paper is 4000 words or less, you could easily (and probably should) focus on a specific country (Italy and Germany would both be good choices, or maybe a region e.g. Scandinavia, Mediterranean). I don't know what your criteria are, but you could possibly also target a more specific time span e.g. swords of the vikings.

As mentioned, the book list on this site would be a great place to start. Besides the Oakeshott, I'd recommend Ian Pierce's "Swords of the Viking Age', which does a good job cataloging a variety of viking blades, and perhaps Spada / Spada 2 for some background information of the use and effect of various swords. You probably know this (then again, I have friends who probably never used the library in college) but your university/library might have subscriptions to several online databases which you can browse.

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart


Last edited by Ian Hutchison on Wed 10 Jul, 2013 2:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
Joined: 02 Apr 2009

Posts: 483

PostPosted: Wed 10 Jul, 2013 1:29 am    Post subject: Re: Undergrad Research Help         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
I don't know who would be best on "Roman"


"Studien zur römischen Schwertbewaffnung in der Kaiserzeit" by Christian Miks.

Quote:
or "Germanic" swords.


"Das Schwert im frühen Mittelalter" by Wilfrid Menghin

Quote:
I think that a Scandinavian scholar called Geibig is the Oakeshott of early medieval swords, but I have not read his work.


Geibig's "Entwicklung des Schwertes im Mittelalter" concentrates on 8th -12th century, so latter half of 'early medieval' whereas Menghin concentrates on the earlier half of the period.
I think Dr Geibig is German, not Scandinavian.

Steadman's "British Iron Age Swords and Scabbards" should probably be on your reading list, as should Pierce's "Swords of the Viking Age" and Davidson's "Sword in Anglo Saxon England".

It's a huge topic though, so good luck with whittiling it down to an ungrad dissertation.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Evan Jones




Location: Michigan
Joined: 25 Jul 2009
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Wed 10 Jul, 2013 6:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the suggestions! A little clarification though, it's not a full-blown dissertation, just a 6-8 page paper on something that has "changed over time". It's just an entry level history course that I have to take to finish out, so the paper isn't too demanding (not like the 20+ page papers I've written Eek! )

My basic goal is to outline the evolution of the sword from its earliest inception in metal (not going to bother with obsidian-studded club-swords) and work up to the general shape of European swords at 1500 without getting into too much detail over italian vs german vs flemish ad infinitum....... As much as i'd love to go turbo-nerd on the paper and write the next greatest text on swords since Oakeshotte, there's more than enough out there to meet the requirements for the paper, I just need a little help tracking it all down, which is why I decided to crowdsource my favorite forum. Knew I could count on everybody here! Big Grin

"Love and serve your friends, hate and harm your enemies..." -Geoffroi de Charny
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Scott Hrouda




Location: Minnesota, USA
Joined: 17 Nov 2006
Likes: 15 pages
Reading list: 87 books

Posts: 643

PostPosted: Wed 10 Jul, 2013 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Evan Jones wrote:
Thanks for all the suggestions! A little clarification though, it's not a full-blown dissertation, just a 6-8 page paper on something that has "changed over time". It's just an entry level history course that I have to take to finish out, so the paper isn't too demanding (not like the 20+ page papers I've written Eek! )

My basic goal is to outline the evolution of the sword from its earliest inception in metal (not going to bother with obsidian-studded club-swords) and work up to the general shape of European swords at 1500 without getting into too much detail over italian vs german vs flemish ad infinitum....... As much as i'd love to go turbo-nerd on the paper and write the next greatest text on swords since Oakeshotte, there's more than enough out there to meet the requirements for the paper, I just need a little help tracking it all down, which is why I decided to crowdsource my favorite forum. Knew I could count on everybody here! Big Grin


Wow, squishing all that into 8 pages is going to be tough. Eek! Good luck!

"Turbo-nerd", I love it! Laughing Out Loud

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Robert B. Marks




Location: Kingston, Ont.
Joined: 04 Feb 2004

Posts: 82

PostPosted: Mon 29 Jul, 2013 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Evan Jones wrote:
Thanks for all the suggestions! A little clarification though, it's not a full-blown dissertation, just a 6-8 page paper on something that has "changed over time". It's just an entry level history course that I have to take to finish out, so the paper isn't too demanding (not like the 20+ page papers I've written Eek! )

My basic goal is to outline the evolution of the sword from its earliest inception in metal (not going to bother with obsidian-studded club-swords) and work up to the general shape of European swords at 1500 without getting into too much detail over italian vs german vs flemish ad infinitum....... As much as i'd love to go turbo-nerd on the paper and write the next greatest text on swords since Oakeshotte, there's more than enough out there to meet the requirements for the paper, I just need a little help tracking it all down, which is why I decided to crowdsource my favorite forum. Knew I could count on everybody here! Big Grin


Yeah, as somebody who has been a TA and received a Master of Arts degree in War Studies, I'm afraid I've got to tell you it's a bit too much to handle in that short a space. You're talking about 3-4000 years of history. And, even if you do cover that in snapshots, what are you going to say about it? How are you going to flesh your paper out to add a thesis worth arguing?

If I was in your shoes (and granted, I'm not), I would focus on one of two possible sub-sections of the development of the sword:

1. The rise of the Ulfberhts - around the 9th or 10th century there's a massive technological change, where pattern welded swords are supplanted and whatever smithy is making the Ulfberhts starts providing high quality monosteel blades. This would allow you to talk first about pattern welding and why it was necessary, and then address the fact that the Ulfberhts appear to be made from a high-quality crucible steel similar to historical Damascus blades out of the Middle East. This in turn would allow you to talk about the importance of international trade, and the impact that trade had on the development of the sword. There's a definite thesis in there, and you could break it down into 2 pages on pattern welding, 2 pages on Ulfberhts, and 4 pages of analysis as to the impact of trade combined with new technology.

2. The development of the sword vs. armour between 1200-1400. As Oakeshott outlines, in this period there is a dramatic shift in armour, and a similar shift in sword design. This would allow you to concentrate in detail about the arms race between bladesmiths and armorers, and you would have enough space to dedicate at least a page to each type of sword you want to outline and why it came out as it did.

I'm sorry, but you really need to focus this paper in - otherwise you're going to find yourself with eight pages that skim over the material while saying very little.

Robert Marks
Darksword Armory, Inc.
www.darksword-armory.com
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