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Jeremiah Swanger




Location: Hershey, PA
Joined: 20 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Dec, 2004 1:47 pm    Post subject: Santa rocks!         Reply with quote

Yep, Santa Claus has been particularly good this year. Not only did I get a hardcover translation of Codex Wallerstein (I had been borrowing one from the library for a while), but I also got a used hardcover copy of The Sword in the Age of Chivalry. Said Oakeshott book is a first-run, having spent most of its 40 years (did I mention it was a first run?) in a library, judging by the Dewey decimal sticker on the spine.

Seeing as how it was only the second of Oakeshott's major works (Archeology of Weapons having preceeded it), I've noticed the following peculiarities:

- Xa doesn't exist. Swords like the St. Maritus (Vienna) are classified as XI's.

- XIb exists.

- XIIa doesn't exist.

- XV is broken down into two distinct cross-sections

- XVIIIa consists mostly of riding swords (the original of A&A's German Branch Sword is used as an example)

- XXa consists entirely of single-handed swords

With which later book did all of this change?

"Rhaegar fought nobly.
Rhaegar fought valiantly.
Rhaegar fought honorably.
And Rhaegar died."

- G.R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Dec, 2004 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
With which later book did all of this change?


Some of these were included in later editions of Chivalry. They were also included in Records of the Medieval Sword.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Peter Johnsson
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Location: Storvreta, Sweden
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Dec, 2004 1:03 am    Post subject: Re: Santa rocks!         Reply with quote

Jeremiah Swanger wrote:
With which later book did all of this change?


I do not think Oakeshott intended "Records" to be a complete presentation of his typology.
The title even suggests as much: the book includes records of the medieval sword, but is not a complete overview.
For a more complete persentation of his typology, "Sword in the Age of Chivalry" is more complete, *but* he introduced some changes in later publications, as "Records" will show you.
I wonder if Oakeshott really intended to limit the sub-groups in the XVIII type. I have an impression he wanted to present a simplified image, not to really make any change in his typology. ..I donīt know, but that is how I read him.

"Records" unfortunately has a number of double entries.
You need to be a bit careful whenever you pic a specific sword from this work as an example of a type.

As Craig of A&A has pointed out a number of times:
Oakeshott saw his tyopolgy as something dynamic. He was aware that aspects of it needed to be elaborated and developed.
That is the nature of any system.
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Brian M




Location: Austin, TX
Joined: 01 Oct 2003

Posts: 500

PostPosted: Mon 27 Dec, 2004 11:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have the 1994 revised edition of TSITAOC. It still includes the classifications you mention and it also includes an updated postscript in which Oakeshott addresses new information and errors of his early research. Oakeshott would probably be the first to admit that his system was just a guideline. For example, is the XIb a truly distinct type? Is the SoSM-Vienna a Xa or an XI? The boundaries are fuzzy and it may not be appropriate to be too dogmatic about classifications. The more I read and the more I hear from Peter J, the more I'm convinced that Oakeshott only provides a framework, and that there are always exceptions to that framework.

Regards,
Brian M
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Dec, 2004 2:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Even more importantly,

The Oakeshott typology only makes sense when comparing or judging actual authentic historical swords.
It is not a systyem to describe swords removed from ther context.
We cannot use the suystem to classify any given sword produced today.
It is a typology, a system of classification of historical sword.

When swords are made today accoring to historical example, the typology can be valid, but this is not an automaic thing.
It depends on how specific the "replica" or recreation is.

Do not expect a sword to be a realsitic representative for a historical type just because some general similarities.
Swords are more specific than that.
There are also important factors for he function of swords that are not outlined in the Oakeshott typology (or any other typology for that matter).
To really learn about swords we ned tos tudy the actual ting.

Books and photos will only take us part of the way.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Dec, 2004 6:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter brings up some excellent points, as always. Over the last year or so I've really been preaching about getting away from our dependence on typologies. No typology is a definitive guide in and of itself, be it Oakeshott, Norman, Petersen, etc. All typologies do is provide a broad framework that can be used to illustrate the development of a given weapon. Our modern propensity towards categorization tends to cause us to look at typologies as more than what they really are.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Dec, 2004 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
...All typologies do is provide a broad framework that can be used to illustrate the development of a given weapon. Our modern propensity towards categorization tends to cause us to look at typologies as more than what they really are.


A very sensible comment, but maybe a bit too limiting? I just received a copy of Records of the Medieval Sword as a gift, and am really enjoying it. As a newcomer to the hobby, I find that the framework provided by Oakeshott's typology has been invaluable in navigating the initial, steep learning curve. However, for those more advanced in this field of study, I think that the value of the typology is in providing a common language, even though the boundaries between classifications may sometimes be blurry. For example, if a sword is described as an XI, versus a Xa, at least you immediately know that it doesn't look like an XVIII.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Dec, 2004 4:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
A very sensible comment, but maybe a bit too limiting?


Not really. Your comments echo my general thoughts on how any typology should be used. They make an excellent baseline reference for developing a broad understanding of the topic. What they are *not*, and are all too often used as, is some kind of definitive bible of the subject. Far too many students of the sword use typologies as their one and only resource for study. If a medieval sword doesn't fit neatly into Oakeshott's typology it may be judged as a fake or an aberration.

In the past we've had discussions that go on for days as to where a sword may fit into Oakeshott's typology. The discussion can at times even escalate into an argument. In reality what the parties involved don't seem to realize is that just because a sword doesn't fit neatly into Oakeshott it doesn't mean that it isn't accurate or authentic. There are many many swords out there that are hybrids of different features, hence they don't fit into any specific category in Oakeshott's typology. This fact alone is reason enough why any typology should never used as a stand-alone source.

Don't take this as a criticism of Oakeshott or his work. We owe Mr. O, as will as Petersen, Wheeler, Geibig, and others, a great debt of gratitude. They did more for the study of the sword than many of their contemporaries. So enjoy your copy of Records but don't assume that it's the only resource you need for an accurate understanding of the topic. A typology is only a beginning, not a conclusion.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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