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Boris R.





Joined: 15 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 12:55 am    Post subject: authenticity of the medieval sword rack         Reply with quote

Those things that we see on various reenactment events, not the eastern katana holder but medieva(ish) rack for swords.
Have those things really existed in army camps? Are there any proof or survivng extant pieces from middle ages?


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Connie Bechtel




Location: Ohio
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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 3:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not have proof either way, but as a reenactor that deals with multiple weapons at events, I say that as long as the construction is appropriate to the time period being portrayed, these weapon racks are a necessity for the safety of the patrons and the liability issues of the reenactor.
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Todd Eriksen




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 3:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think too, that you must take into context the type of Living History event that the 'rack' is being used for. In period paintings you find many paintings of army camps, but no weapons racks, more probably a weapons wagon for pole arms and the like. The picture posted is of a weapons rack that a fine gentleman that I have the privilege to call a friend uses at events he goes to. Why? His goal at events is to educate the masses on different types of medieval weapons and their uses (yes, killing, I suppose answers that last one pretty well Happy ). His camp is so wonderfully set up for a nobleman at the turn of the 14th century, but the rack, though may have no historical evidence, like Connie said, stays in the realm of a medieval item, was strictly designed as a display tool for educational purposes. He'll be the 1st to tell you that.

Boris, when I reread my note, it may seem like it's edgy. I have no intentions of trying to sound that way. I hear and understand your question perfectly and have wondered it myself. I just happen to be educated on this one display in particular. Plus, I'm still adjusting to my CPAP machine and wake up crabby!! Eek!

Ich Dien
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Christine Munro




Location: Oxford
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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 7:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Todd Eriksen wrote:
Boris, when I reread my note, it may seem like it's edgy. I have no intentions of trying to sound that way. I hear and understand your question perfectly and have wondered it myself. I just happen to be educated on this one display in particular. Plus, I'm still adjusting to my CPAP machine and wake up crabby!! Eek!

Hah, that sounds so familiar! I write so much stuff that sounds much grumpier than I intended, even though I am quite grumpy anyway.

Habituating to a CPAP machine fortunately comes quite quickly: indeed I'd feel quite lost without mine, though on the occasions I travel, I'm not a fan of lugging it about.

Edit: sorry for wandering off-topic. :o


Last edited by Christine Munro on Fri 08 Nov, 2013 1:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joe Metz





Joined: 21 Apr 2007

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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As the owner of the above camp I appreciate the above comments. I would completely agree that the ubiquitous weapons rack that many of us reenactors put in our camps is a "reenactorism". I posed this question to the group for Days of Knights last year and none of the educated group there had any period depictions or descriptions of anything resembling a weapons rack from the medieval era. Keeping this in mind, I constructed the above rack myself to look feasible, but entirely aware that there is no historic documentation for it.

I would love to hear any further discussion on this topic from folks on this forum!

metz528
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 10:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The minute you start thinking about your liability then it boils down to the inevitable solution of roping off your display so the public can't even touch things, let alone grab, pick up and wave about. At which point you might as well do away with the rack and simply lay things on tables, or prop them up or better still, wear them.

Ive never seen a weapons rack like the above but haven't looked. Sure I'd have noticed them though, I've been staring at ms for over a third of a century and nothing has stood out. I do have experience of researching something similar though, jousting lance stands/racks. These are totally a re-enactorism and as then, totally uneccessary. In fact a liability where horses are concerned.

The whole re-enactment as education thing sits very uneasy with me. I have blunt swords for combat but if ever having to show them to a member of the public I explain they are rebated much like original tourney swords and hey, we are doing it for fun and specatcle. I'd never show it in 1st person as it dosnt fit my style of performance/work. . If I want to educate I show them a real one. Light, easy to hold and use, a sharp, lethal tool. That's education and is distinctive from a good hack and bash behind the rope arenas at a fair or heritage site.

I'm very unusual in that I get paid to advise heritage bodies on 'authenticity' and to keep an eye out for howling errors at events, festivals etc. I'm mainly there to stop people getting caught on film with anachronisms or having stuff that the public will recognise as wrong, simple slip-ups. I can spot a plastic bag sticking out from under a tent at several hundred paces and woe betide anyone i find with a modern rustic lantern from a hardware store. But i keep in general and obvious or I'd be debating the ins and outs of minutiae with people who may well know more than me.

So...the rack. Well it looks like its made well out of wood of a decent variety. I'd ditch the hardware store fleur de lys coat kooks and either put in wooden pegs or forge something less mass produced. Looks like a nice collection of swords and other nasties and I expect the pubic love seeing them.

One thing i would say though as its a bugbear of mine... edges on heater shields. Evidence?

Yours,

Griff
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Joe Metz





Joined: 21 Apr 2007

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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The rack is made of stained oak planks. It is a light version of a much heavier one that I made years ago of the same design that came from no period reference but sprang from my creativity having looked at similar racks owned by other people. I was very conscious of this and you might even say guilty of it as I put it together.

Several of my comrades and I turn a blind eye to these reenactorisms for purposes of presentation. It has been a frequent topic of discussion among our Days of Knights group of how to present an encampment with the "right" amount of gear. One approach is to go minimal; literally the tent, six board chest, trestle table, and stool that you could load on a pack horse. The other approach is to go full blown lord of the manor with an imaginary baggage train to carry a very comfortable home-away-from-home pavilion. I have endeavored to whittle my presentation down from the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink mode that I started at. Obviously, even if soldiers did set up racks for weapons in camp the big issue is who or what gets to carry the darned things around which is probably why they didn't bother.

Beyond the amount of gear to set up, which admittedly is far more than you could possibly lug on campaign if you really had to, is how to present to patrons. I am very much a reach out and talk the patron kind of knight; not with gimmicks, but if you want to listen to some history I'm happy to tell you about it or experience it through show and tell. Thus, ye olde rack is something I have continued to display the weapons on and admittedly it is a focal point of attention because everybody likes swords, axes, maces, etc...

And sharp eye on that shield rim. Now that you mention it, I cannot recall any evidence. Another reenactorism!!! Ha!

metz528
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Boris R.





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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

well none of that really answers my question. were they used in medieval military camps or not? my common sense would suggest that there were some made to hold expensive equipment, even in military camps, but there seems to be a serious lack of evidence to support my theory.
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Joe Metz





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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In a word I would say "No" they were not used in medieval military camps based on written and pictorial record if you want present yourself 100% according to evidence. Weapons were either worn in constant use, stacked in tents or trunks, or just placed on the ground beside the soldier who huddled in his cloak for the night. If great lords or knights had racks in their tents we have no way to know, but I find it kinda hard to believe that in the entire span of the middle ages nobody ever thought it might be handy to build a wood stand for their sword. Perhaps I am wrong Happy
metz528
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Boris R.





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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe, that is exactly what I was thinking.

By the way, you've made that weapon stand outstandingly (excuse the pun) Happy

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Connie Bechtel




Location: Ohio
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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe a rack like this might be an anachronism, however spears were used "in racks" as a defense. If you look at the first picture labeled Turkenkrieg on this site (http://www.bayerisches-armeemuseum.de/de/fotogalerien/innenraeume-neues-schloss.html), there is a setup in the back of the spears as a defensive barrier.
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Quinn W.




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So it seems there is no known evidence of the racks being used in camps, but what about in permanent armories, like in castles? Do we know how weapons were stored there? If we can find a rack design not used in a camp but elsewhere, then at least you could build something that would be period, if perhaps out of place.
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Harry Marinakis




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 5:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brave souls.

If I expect the public in my camp, my weapons are under lock and key in a strong box hidden in my tent.
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Boris R.





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PostPosted: Fri 08 Nov, 2013 6:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quinn W. wrote:
So it seems there is no known evidence of the racks being used in camps, but what about in permanent armories, like in castles? Do we know how weapons were stored there? If we can find a rack design not used in a camp but elsewhere, then at least you could build something that would be period, if perhaps out of place.


yes, Landeszeughaus museum in Graz, altough built in 16th century is one such armoury, with shelves and racks full of weapons and armour.

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Boris R.





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PostPosted: Sat 09 Nov, 2013 2:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

However I have some problems with the whole "there is no evidence therefore no existance " theory.
Firstly: what with all the oiled weapons and armour? They should at least had been dried some time prior to next usage. I sincerely doubt they just threw them around camps anywhere. And did the soldiers (or knights for that matter) carry their federschwerts with them to military campaigns? Surely they did hold them in one place?

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Bjorn Hagstrom




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PostPosted: Sat 09 Nov, 2013 4:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Boris R. wrote:
However I have some problems with the whole "there is no evidence therefore no existance " theory.


I think you are exptrapolating what people say a little bit.
What I read is more along the line of: "I can not make a weapon rack as it would have looked in the 15th century since there is no known images or extant examples of weapon racks from that time" That does not necessarily imply a firm stand in the belief that they did or did not exist Happy

As for plausible solutions. I assume that the base requirement for weapon storage in a camp setting would be

1. Keep above ground/mud
2. Keep away from rain
3. Keep away from long fingered people

A reason racks do not show up in images of camps could simply be that the most obvious solution to all three points is having your weapons inside your tent?

Simply an empty barrel would work quite well for anything shorter than a spear, I think. Like a modern umbrella stand Happy

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Boris R.





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PostPosted: Sat 09 Nov, 2013 4:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a picture of the guardroom from 15th century somewhere in today's Italy in this book:

http://books.google.hr/books?id=P21LrFw3j90C&...mp;f=false

also, there is this weapon chest in Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg


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Boris R.





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PostPosted: Sat 09 Nov, 2013 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

it seems that the picture from Osprey book is really a fresco from castle Issogne

http://historical-academy.co.uk/blog/wp-conte...-Sling.jpg

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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
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PostPosted: Sat 09 Nov, 2013 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Issigone fresco highlights one important thing- accessibility. All those arms and armour will be pretty handy to grab should need arise (one already has on far right!). In that respect racks may be a sensible option, but why transport extra stuff about when the chest and the barrel or even the sack were the standard medieval storage item?

We know that arrows and swords and armour is carried around in those, they turn up in wills, inventories and other sources. Mary Rose arrow and bow chests for example.

Thanks for that fab box from Nurnburg Boris, lovely! I wonder if its vaguely cruciform shape indicates swords... I noticed another one here:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...ntruhe.jpg

and this is lovely
[url]
http://www.katzenmeyer.at/media/waffentruhe_489x395.jpg[/url]

and here
[url]
http://www.katzenmeyer.at/media/waffentruhe_489x395.jpg[/url]

Of course, unless they have weapons in them, or good evidence to show they did, how they can be given that attribute I don't know. A wooden chest/box.coffer is pretty much the same as the next one and knightly scenes or armorials on doesn't prove anything either.

But there simply are not any pictures so I have my doubts and echo the 'no's' above

To the modern eye these all look like pretty heavy, long term storage but medieval people knew no different and so were used to carting heavy stuff around, especially if indentured servants working for someone of a higher status, they would have just got on with it.
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Boris R.





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PostPosted: Sat 09 Nov, 2013 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If only we could look inside these weapon chests, to see if there are built in compartments for weapons
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