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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 496

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 6:17 pm    Post subject: Why did these fall out of fashion?         Reply with quote

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0TmSLdNVbU I was watching this video by Matt easton and his dicussion made me wonder why later broadswords such as the Shiavona or claymore didn't include substantal pommels or quillons, given the binding you can do with quillons, close in offensive capabilites such as guard punching, pommel smashing, etc. Why do ya'll think that later basket hilted swords reduced their pommels and eliminated quillons instead of having quillomns, a pommel and a basket like this example?
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 9:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Why did these fall out of fashion?         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0TmSLdNVbU I was watching this video by Matt easton and his dicussion made me wonder why later broadswords such as the Shiavona or claymore didn't include substantal pommels or quillons, given the binding you can do with quillons, close in offensive capabilites such as guard punching, pommel smashing, etc. Why do ya'll think that later basket hilted swords reduced their pommels and eliminated quillons instead of having quillomns, a pommel and a basket like this example?


Three things.

--Styles changed. A large cross-guard and pommel are distinctively medieval. As the styles of the Renaissance developed the fashions became more flamboyant, and the medieval simplicity simply did not last.

--Bulk. A knuckle guard is one thing; when you start developing full hand protection, suddenly you're talking about a lot of weight surrounding the hilt area. To preserve balance with the blade, you need to minimize certain aspects of the hilt design.

--They didn't actually vanish all that much, and you can still do all those techniques with late period swords. They may be modified from the medieval originals, but you can see the roots. Plenty of quillons and pommels around still, trust me. European basket-hilts in particular could have quite long quillons, and of course rapiers did, although those aren't quite what you're thinking of.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
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Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Thu 06 Feb, 2014 10:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At first glance, I must admit to finding this to be an odd question since as far as I know basket-hilted swords tended to have fairly substantial crossguard inside the basket. While they no longer project beyond the basket and as such play little role in direct interactions with opposing weapons, their presence inside still provides useful aids and reference points for various ways of handling and gripping the sword (such as when one wants to loop the forefinger over the cross).

Another thing I've noticed is that the habit of using the cross to aid binding and trapping actions isn't something that comes instinctively -- it takes a fair amount of practice to acquire the habit, and even then not all actions at the bind would involve the cross. Since the presence of a basket means that the swordsman can simply block with the hand (some late 17th-century English master -- I don't remember whether it was Hope or McBane or somebody else entirely -- actually complained that people were defending with the basket hilt rather than with the blade), the presence of the protruding cross was probably thought unnecessary by swordsmen who weren't trained in old-fashioned styles (if they had any formal training at all), and if there was no longer any strong demand for a cross that protruded beyond the basket then why would swordsmiths bother to make them at all?

Last but not least, it's worth noting that a vestigial cross survived under more complex hilts for quite a long time in other sword-types too. The smallsword had a stubby cross and finger-rings (now too small to be properly fingered) under a figure-eight guard, and originally so did the foil; in modern times this arrangement survived in the "Italian" grip for the foil. The Italian version of the epee also had a cross-bar at the base of the bell guard to allow actions that would have been familiar to the students of traditional Italian fencing schools. Last but not least, if I'm not mistaken the Spanish rapier continued to have a substantial (and not necessarily vestigial) cross at the base of the cup-hilt well into the 19th century (before it was modified to be more in line with French-based epee fashions).
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