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Lukas MG
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Location: Germany
Joined: 23 Feb 2010

Posts: 316

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jun, 2014 11:35 am    Post subject: Who wore a longsword in the early 16th century?         Reply with quote

Hey everyone,
I've decided to finally build myself a soft kit and have a few questions I'd love to have answered. As a (hobby) sword maker and devoted HEMA longsword fencer, I naturally want to carry a longsword as part of my kit. I'm currently making the one I intend to carry and historically it fits in the beginning of the 16th century, no later than 1530. Now I'm wondering what my options are. Who regularly carried a longsword at that time? As I want to start with a soft kit, most soldiers are out of the question, except the landsknechts. From what I gathered, they mostly didn't wear any protection at that time.

Frankly, I prefer the idea of being a civilian though. From the fencing manuals that still exist it's clear how important the culture of dueling and civilian weapon carry was. Period art supports this. For my kit I need to decide on a certain depiction. What kind of civilian would wear a longsword? What profession would he have? What status?

While searching online I wasn't able to find much on the subject. I did find these two threads: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...mp;start=0
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=15819

Do you have any additional information? I'd be grateful for all comments and advice!
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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

Posts: 163

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jun, 2014 11:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well even a soldier won't wear armour all day - and for summer events I wouldn't either.
If your soft kit is sufficiently military - for example using an appropriate arming doublet rather than a simple jacket - you could go with an off-duty soldier look.

It's the look I'm currently gunning for (Different period though) and I intend to turn that kit into a semi-soft one at some point rather sooner than later if at all possible (especially adding a brigandine is high up on my list), so this may not be entirely what you are looking for.

For civilian gear using a sword is certainly possible, very much so, but given that you already have a sword in mind the status and occupation might be somewhat dependent on the sword in question. A very fancy sword hardly lends itself to a low-status (albeit high enough to be armed like this) depiction and so forth.

Europe - Where the History comes from. - Eddie Izzard
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Lukas MG
Industry Professional



Location: Germany
Joined: 23 Feb 2010

Posts: 316

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jun, 2014 12:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for your answer, you raise some good points.
Off duty soldier... Got any information on what was worn at that time under the armor?

Regarding the sword, here's what it's gonna look like: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=30075 (scroll down for a rough to-scale drawing).
Not too fancy but not entirely without style. A weapon in any case, not a costume accessory. I think it would be appropriate for any civilian wealthy enough to own a sword and practical enough to know how to use it.
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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

Posts: 163

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jun, 2014 12:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been looking into 16th century arming&fencing clothes - or trying to do so - because my latest sword is about the same period as yours and I wanted - just like you - to get a kit to match it.

But then I got massively sidetracked and am now (eventually, it all comes together very, very slowly) working on a War of the Roses Billman Semi-Softkit.

There are a couple of very nice (and very fancy) Fencing Jackets, Fühlen Designs did a replica of one I believe - though it is no longer listed on their website - but most of the stuff I ended up finding were costumes from various period plays, movies or TV series. And though I love Blackadders black doublet, it's not something I'd take as a basis for a historical kit Wink

Europe - Where the History comes from. - Eddie Izzard
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 328

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jun, 2014 6:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The distinction between "civilian" and "military" was a lot blurrier in the 16th century than it is now. Walled cities were commonly defended by militias raised from local trade guilds and wealthier burghers filled a sort of knight/cavalry role.
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Lukas MG
Industry Professional



Location: Germany
Joined: 23 Feb 2010

Posts: 316

PostPosted: Thu 05 Jun, 2014 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies.
I've decided on my kit. I will be a Landsknecht fighting for the Schwäbische Bund in the campaign against robber-knights in Franconia in 1523 Big Grin
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