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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
Joined: 21 Dec 2013

Posts: 107

PostPosted: Sat 21 Dec, 2013 9:11 pm    Post subject: Hello and q about george silvers swords         Reply with quote

Hi the forum. I am just getting into reading about medieval martial arts and had a few questions about Georges paradox of defence. I was wondering if someone could clarify a couple of things?

When he speaks of a single handed sword with buckler in particular what sword type would it be for his period. Would it be some sort of oakshott type or something different?

Also can anyone decipher or flesh out his instructions on how to choose the perfect length sword. I can't get my head around the following Happy

"To know the perfect length of your sword, you shall stand with your sword and dagger drawn, as you see this picture(sorry canít paste it but sure you knowledgeable gents know the one) keeping out straight your dagger arm, drawing back your sword as far as conveniently you can, not opening the elbow joint of your sword arm, and look what you can draw within your dagger, that is the just length of your sword, to be made according to your own stature"

??

Lastly in another area he said for guys of tall stature a blade of a yard + 3-4 inches is perfect. Well this is a 40" blade- I am thinking that is pretty long for a single handed sword? especially considering he does not seem to like rapiers and imperfect length weapons too much.

The above q's have probably been covered here a dozen times so thanks for your patience.
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 931

PostPosted: Sun 22 Dec, 2013 3:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Push your left hand (which holds the dagger) out as far as it can reach; pull your right hand (which holds the sword) back as far as you can while keeping the elbow bent; the position you're now in resembles drawing a bow, and the sword's blade should be just short enough that it fits behind the dagger, and can thus point freely to the left or right of the dagger without having to lift the tip over it. In other words, the blade reaches roughly from your left wrist to your right shoulder. For me, a fellow of fairly medium stature, that's up to about 34-36 inches, depending.

As to the type of swords, Silver would have approved of any sword of his day (late 16th or early 17th Century) capable of both cut and thrust and roughly in keeping with his "perfect" size (remember, it's a handy guideline, not a hard and fast rule). Things like Albion's Doge or this ATrim/Fletcher side sword. He would not approve of Arms & Armor's Italian Three Ring Rapier, with its blade of imperfect length and unmanly foreign character. Happy

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

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PostPosted: Sun 22 Dec, 2013 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Silver's style assume a basket hilt that protects the hand. As far the differing measures for sword length, that's a matter of some debate. Silver possibly had a very tall man in mind for the 39-40in blade.
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 931

PostPosted: Sun 22 Dec, 2013 9:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh yeah, some sort of basket or complex hilt, too (something more enclosed than in my examples). It's especially important in single sword, with no other weapon available to protect the sword hand.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
Joined: 21 Dec 2013

Posts: 107

PostPosted: Mon 23 Dec, 2013 7:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks gents, I liked reading this guy. He seems to have an axe to grind pardoning the pun. You at least know he is passionate and not just churning out an easy book to the masses.
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Philip Melhop




Location: Wokingham, Berkshire, UK
Joined: 24 May 2008

Posts: 126

PostPosted: Tue 24 Dec, 2013 4:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Michael
I have just returned to Silver a number of years after first reading it. Both books will reward careful study, it is far too easy to dismiss Silver as a xenophobe, racist or "someone with an axe to grind". He is however, asyou have already worked out, passionate about his subject. It is worth the effort of reading both the original text, available all over the web; and a decent modern transcription, Paul Wagners 'Master of Defense' http://www.amazon.co.uk/Master-Defence-Works-...rge+silver
contains one.
Silver sword, you have to piece together what he is describing, has both a closed hilt and a cross guard. The sword recovered from under the Mary Rose fits the bill. Here are a couple of pictures of Pooley Swords replica to give you an idea
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

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Posts: 1,183

PostPosted: Tue 24 Dec, 2013 11:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Silver noted that his style relies on a hilt that protects the hand, particularly in open and guardant fight, two of his positions. Interestingly, two of Silver's contemporaries, who wrote military rather than fencing manuals, recommended swords with either plain cross hilts and or a simple knuckle bow for the field.
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Neil Langley




Location: Stockport, UK
Joined: 23 Jan 2006

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Thu 26 Dec, 2013 6:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As has been said above, Silver is not too precise, but based on the illustration in Paradox' I could be happy with a length of 34 to 36 inches and I am about 5' 11'. I think Mikko gives a perfectly sound way to measure this.

I would also agree with Benjamin that you really need a full basket hilt though. In single sword the hand is incredibly vulnerable, especially in guardant fight. A lot of complex (rapier style) hilts will still leave the hand very exposed in this position, so I would argue that a knucklebow style hilt, say, is not fully up to the job.

However; I have just been reading British Military Swords by Stuart Mobray (see: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=29052) and in this he cites a 1640 State Paper of Charles I for procuring the 'most approved size and pattern for swords' which states:

'We conceived of a swoard whereof ye Blade to be thirty eight inches in length & of a reasonable breadth will not bee any ways to burdonsome to the souldier Marching in ranke or fyle, the Blade two edged & the hilt garded, yet not a Basket hilt.'

According to Mobary these swords were purchased, so it seems that for a foot soldier a blade of 38 inches is not to be seen as overly long (for what one assumes the 'average' infantryman) and that a full basket is not seen as an essential - at least on the battlefield. I have no idea if the specification was drawn up by armchair generals but, as these swords are being ordered just a few decades after Silver wrote his works (and by men who's training, in their youth, might conceivably overlap Silver's own time), it does not seem unreasonable to assume that not everyone would consider longer blades to be outside the definition of 'perfect length' even for a man of normal stature.

Neil.
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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
Joined: 21 Dec 2013

Posts: 107

PostPosted: Fri 27 Dec, 2013 10:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the insightful replies gents. I like another of silvers comments to the effect that a strong agile man with good sense may have more chance against someone with too much inneffective stylisation to their fighting. I've seen this enough times myself living on the rougher side of society with thugs flattening dojo masters and blackbelts etc on the street, who had trained for years maybe in something never put to the test.

The downside to this is without live sword fighting occurring we are at risk of being in the same category, putting a puzzle together with our best guess of realistic sparring , woodcuts, written word trying to describne the shape of the fight.I guess its the best we can do. The good news is at least what I am seeing the average western martial artist seems to be a critical and analyatical sort, prepared to discuss rather than just blast opinions.

I remember in the 80's and 90's everything was so frustrating. If it wasn't an Asian based striking sport or involving a katana or nunchukas, everyone laughed. Just regards hand to hand being a sport wrestler I'd seen grappling anilhate anyone who hasn't practiced at least some basic defence to it. Thanks UFC 1993 for cleaning that up to a small degree.Anyway, sorry to rattle on, just reiterating this is interesting reading!
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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
Joined: 21 Dec 2013

Posts: 107

PostPosted: Fri 27 Dec, 2013 11:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Melhop wrote:
Hi Michael
I have just returned to Silver a number of years after first reading it. Both books will reward careful study, it is far too easy to dismiss Silver as a xenophobe, racist or "someone with an axe to grind". He is however, asyou have already worked out, passionate about his subject. It is worth the effort of reading both the original text, available all over the web; and a decent modern transcription, Paul Wagners 'Master of Defense' http://www.amazon.co.uk/Master-Defence-Works-...rge+silver
contains one.
Silver sword, you have to piece together what he is describing, has both a closed hilt and a cross guard. The sword recovered from under the Mary Rose fits the bill. Here are a couple of pictures of Pooley Swords replica to give you an idea


Phil, thanks a lot and specifically what weight and profile is that sword blade? One of the big q's for me is what weighting the blades would be that Silver would suggest. I have asked this on a basket hilt question and also on PM and got the usual newb reply ""swords were all shapes and sizes newb, not linear progression etc etc" Yep cool, just wondered what the "Type Silver ideal weight for his 38" ideal sword might be? Or even a generalisation. I know swords varied a heap for each period in type but we could generally say for the purpose of quick information to the reader the regular medieval blade(type Xii, XV etc) is generally a 2.5 -3lb sword. Were silvers era swords similar, or were we headed towards lighter blade types into the 1600's?
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Philip Melhop




Location: Wokingham, Berkshire, UK
Joined: 24 May 2008

Posts: 126

PostPosted: Sat 28 Dec, 2013 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm, had written long and detailed reply only to loose it Sad
New short version
Buy Paul Wagners book if you are serious about Silver. He's North Sydney based.
The Pooley made sword I pictured was used to ilustrate the hilt type, I don't know the specs.
Working in reasonably loose "averages"a typical Silverian sword would have a closed hilt, probably with a vestigial cross(as in picture above); be either single edged or double edged, have a wide thin blade about 90 cm(35 ins) long, allowing for differing physical charateristics; and weigh between 1.2 - 1.3 kg( 2.5 -3 lbs), a little heavier than your average medieval single handed weapon.

It is important to realise that Silver is using loaded comparitive terms when he says light, short long etc. Sometimes the comparison is lost to us or is at best unclear.
Phil
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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
Joined: 21 Dec 2013

Posts: 107

PostPosted: Fri 03 Jan, 2014 5:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks!
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