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Will Phillips





Joined: 19 Mar 2014

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PostPosted: Sun 30 Nov, 2014 3:19 am    Post subject: Proper Infantry Officer Sword 1625-1650?         Reply with quote

Hi all,

Slowly assembling some bits and pieces for a Dutch noble infantry captain during the time of Prince Frederick Henry and the end of the Eighty Years War, 1625-1650 (technically 1647 or 1648).

Trouble is, I'm at a loss here of what manner of sword I need to acquire (or, if I have to spend the big bucks, commission).

As far as I'm aware, there are three criteria I need to go with. Past that, I'm ignorant and would appreciate your input.

1. Infantry used shorter blades than cavalry. Something in the 30-34 inch range. Is that correct?

2. Would I be using a rapier or a heavier cut and thrust blade? I'll only be investing in a single sword, so I'd like to make sure I'm on the mark here. My early assumption is a heavier blade.

3. This is the era of handguards, but what type? My guess is a Walloon hilt, but is my 1625-1650 timeframe too early? Most of those I've seen are 1676 onwards. If not Walloon, what should I be researching? Anything particularly Dutch/Low Countries?

4. Bonus question: How were swords affixed to a person during the second quarter of the 17th century? As you can tell, I've still got a lot of reading left to do.

There's a wealth of information around here. I enjoy reading and learning. Thanks in advance for the replies.
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Sun 30 Nov, 2014 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An infantry officer would use a robust cut and thrust blade, 30 - 35 inches long.

Walloon swords showed up in the 1640's, though there were earlier models that had some of the same characteristics. Look at This Thread to see many photos of Walloons and other sword of this period, hopefully with dates attached to them. Also, go to Hermann Historica and look at their auction swords. You will find many from the 17th century.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Sun 30 Nov, 2014 8:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Portrait of four brothers of William I ca, 1630 (technically in cavalry uniform but I believe the scabbard is held in the same way on foot)

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

Another portrait showing rank and file and I believe some officers. (the sash is usually a good indicator) 1625

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...625%29.jpg

1615 (this one shows the whole sword and scabbard well

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



EDIT: in some filenames a different date is named, either the filename or wikipedia is incorrect. However I believe the paintings do give a general feel as to what the swords should look like.
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Nov, 2014 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent paintings Pieter, thanks for sharing them.
'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Will Phillips





Joined: 19 Mar 2014

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PostPosted: Sun 30 Nov, 2014 8:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the links, guys. I'll look into them.

It seems that almost a proto-basket hilt was in play before the Walloons arrived in force in the 1640s. Do these types have a specific name?
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Mon 01 Dec, 2014 3:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Will Phillips wrote:
Thanks for the links, guys. I'll look into them.

It seems that almost a proto-basket hilt was in play before the Walloons arrived in force in the 1640s. Do these types have a specific name?


I'd say it floats between sidesword and basket hilted (broad)sword. 30 years war generic cut and thrust sword with a complex hilt and most folks will know what you are talking about.

On a side note, may I inquire as to why you want to portray a noble infantry officer per say and not just an infantry officer?
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Will Phillips





Joined: 19 Mar 2014

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PostPosted: Mon 01 Dec, 2014 8:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doing some further reading and research, I feel somewhat torn in my time frame. The Walloons are a bit late (although some similar hilts appear in paintings), and the late 16th century side swords might be too early for my portrayal.

That, and the Walloons I've seen have all been out of my price range. Since I'm building this all from the ground up, I'd like to keep an eye on budget options, and then splurge on something custom or more expensive (like an A&A order). Same reason I'll likely start with a buff coat, gorget, and late burgonet first, and worry about the breastplate and tassets once I have the rest of things assembled.

So, right now it seems the two acceptable options would be:

  • Windlass Munich Cut & Thrust Sword, or
  • Hanwei Side Sword
Both run around the same general price. The Side Sword has been officially discontinued, but appears to be for sale, still, in a few locations.

I'm not sure which would be the more appropriate purchase and/or the measurably "better" sword at this $250ish price point.

Pieter B. wrote:
On a side note, may I inquire as to why you want to portray a noble infantry officer per say and not just an infantry officer?


Four reasons:

1. This kit would be part of my very tentative return to the SCA in addition to just general historical research. The SCA expects, by custom at least, its members to portray some manner of minor nobility.

2. It also gives me the opportunity to have at least a fleeting and minor use of heraldry, while still letting me play with suitably developed black powder guns and printing presses using typography that's immediately recognizable to modern eyes. What can I say? I'm trying to have my cake and eat it, too.

3. Although this relates to the first two points, I also like the idea of a character growing up in a rural havezate. The tension in the state councils between the cities and the Ridderschappen is interesting.

4. I was under the impression based on my reading thus far that most officers in this time frame were still members of the nobility.
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Dec, 2014 11:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a Walloonish sword over at KOA, made by Fabri Armorum. I can't speak as to its quality, and it may be a little more expensive than what you are looking for.
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Will Phillips





Joined: 19 Mar 2014

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PostPosted: Tue 02 Dec, 2014 12:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
There is a Walloonish sword over at KOA, made by Fabri Armorum. I can't speak as to its quality, and it may be a little more expensive than what you are looking for.


Somehow I've missed that alltogether. I'll do some reading up on it to see what I can find. If it's getting decent reviews, it may be a very viable option.
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
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PostPosted: Tue 02 Dec, 2014 7:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would go with the Windlass Munich over the Hanwei if you are looking for a 'user' sword. I have the Hanwei. Here are my impressions:

While the blade is very nice, and the fittings are likewise quite well done for their price, it suffers greatly from being badly balanced. The fittings are solid (stainless? mild? Who knows) steel. The blade, conversely, is a fairly light piece with good distal taper. As such, it's quite heavy in the hand, the balance is far back due to a very heavy pommel. If the fittings were paired with a more authoritative blade, it would be a far better sword. As it is, I've since chopped the blade into two dagger-size pieces. It was simply too light and short to be really useful as anything but a too-wide smallsword or 'pillow sword' blade.

The Windlass Munich, on the other hand, has a more robust blade, and Windlass is not necessarily known for excellent distal taper, so while the weight would not be ideal it would probably be better balanced than the Hanwei. Plus it's more easily obtained. It's a bit 'old school' for the 30 years' war but wouldn't get any funny looks as it's only a decade or two out of date for that period.

From what I understand Fabri Armorum's pieces at KOA are largely stage-combat swords and as such if you want to make it into a user you would have to do a lot of grinding and further work. I would suggest contacting KOA though and seeing what they say in regard to the sword.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Tue 02 Dec, 2014 9:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Will Phillips wrote:
Doing some further reading and research, I feel somewhat torn in my time frame. The Walloons are a bit late (although some similar hilts appear in paintings), and the late 16th century side swords might be too early for my portrayal.

That, and the Walloons I've seen have all been out of my price range. Since I'm building this all from the ground up, I'd like to keep an eye on budget options, and then splurge on something custom or more expensive (like an A&A order). Same reason I'll likely start with a buff coat, gorget, and late burgonet first, and worry about the breastplate and tassets once I have the rest of things assembled.

So, right now it seems the two acceptable options would be:

  • Windlass Munich Cut & Thrust Sword, or
  • Hanwei Side Sword
Both run around the same general price. The Side Sword has been officially discontinued, but appears to be for sale, still, in a few locations.

I'm not sure which would be the more appropriate purchase and/or the measurably "better" sword at this $250ish price point.

Pieter B. wrote:
On a side note, may I inquire as to why you want to portray a noble infantry officer per say and not just an infantry officer?


Four reasons:

1. This kit would be part of my very tentative return to the SCA in addition to just general historical research. The SCA expects, by custom at least, its members to portray some manner of minor nobility.

2. It also gives me the opportunity to have at least a fleeting and minor use of heraldry, while still letting me play with suitably developed black powder guns and printing presses using typography that's immediately recognizable to modern eyes. What can I say? I'm trying to have my cake and eat it, too.

3. Although this relates to the first two points, I also like the idea of a character growing up in a rural havezate. The tension in the state councils between the cities and the Ridderschappen is interesting.

4. I was under the impression based on my reading thus far that most officers in this time frame were still members of the nobility.


Well Dutch nobility certainly led armies (however naval affairs and general government mostly fell into the hands of patricians) and I believe the majority of the cavalry would be made up out of minor nobility. However I am not sure how often nobility fought as infantry. The Dutch infantry was an all mercenary affair with the majority of soldiers being foreigners. Perhaps native Dutch mercenary companies were led by nobles but none of the paintings show anyone displaying heraldry.

Try to point out the nobles in these pictures of the civic guard.

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

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...w_1639.jpg


Notice a distinct lack of heraldry?

What about SCA though, wouldn't it be odd to have an all noble army? Not that I have anything against nobility it just seems somewhat odd. However you are in free in your choice to be a *cough*backwater east*cough* noble. Wink
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Tue 02 Dec, 2014 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:


From what I understand Fabri Armorum's pieces at KOA are largely stage-combat swords and as such if you want to make it into a user you would have to do a lot of grinding and further work. I would suggest contacting KOA though and seeing what they say in regard to the sword.


If this is for SCA, it may not matter if it is a blunt. It depends on how you want to use it.

It doesn't have much distal taper on the blade, but it is under 3 lbs. It's hard to know how lively it will be. I don't think that you will find reviews of this sword, but perhaps there are some for other Fabri Armorum models.

Unfortunately, there are very few repros available of 17th century continental battlefield swords.
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Mike Janis




Location: Atlanta GA
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PostPosted: Tue 02 Dec, 2014 10:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Iíll be the bad guy here. The SCA cutoff is one minute after midnight (00:01) on 1 January 1601. Of course you can adopt any persona you want, but you will probably get grief if you use 1625-1650. My persona is from 1566 and you should see people fume when I show up with a pistol stuffed in each of my boot tops and an arquebuse in my hand. They positively soil their baise when I point out at the siege of Malta in 1565, the knights had: plate armor, muskets, rifles, pistols, hand grenades, napalm, flame throwers, cannon, in addition to their swords/shields/spears.

FWIW, I have the Windless Munich Town Guard sword.

MikeJ
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2014 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Janis wrote:
They positively soil their baise when I point out at the siege of Malta in 1565, the knights had: plate armor, muskets, rifles, pistols, hand grenades, napalm, flame throwers, cannon, in addition to their swords/shields/spears.


Yeah. That's weird, since nearly all of these would have been available in 1465 too (well, maybe not rifles, muskets, and pistols as such, but surprisingly advanced arquebuses were already around).
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2014 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Janis wrote:
Iíll be the bad guy here. The SCA cutoff is one minute after midnight (00:01) on 1 January 1601.


That's odd. When I was involved with the SCA many years ago, the cutoff point was the end of the English Civil War. Either that has changed or it may vary from group to group.
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2014 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am guessing as well that it varies between groups. There may also be further codes about periods allowed as they may not wish to have to deal with, say, an English Civil War cuiraisser versus a Norman knight! Though not being a member nor having looked into it all that much, I cannot comment much further upon this...
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Will Phillips





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Dec, 2014 4:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is my understanding that the hard cutoff is "pre-17th century," but there's a more or less accepted grey period of until the English Civil War / Peace of Westphalia. That time period or even the Protestant Reformation - a hundred years earlier - both make a lot more sense to me than the arbitrary date of December 31st, 1600 if you're looking to define the end of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

At any rate, in the reading I've been doing the past couple of days, it looks like a lot of people - a vocal minority, perhaps - get really worked up about that date and how "jarring" it is to their pre-17th century sensibilities (but heaven forbid the ancient Celts and Romans along with the horde of generic Norse in pajama pants), which is a whole 'nuther topic separate from the discussion here. I'm starting to rant here!

To bring it back to the subject of appropriate sidearms for the time period, if I push back my kit to the 1579 Union of Utrecht or 1581 Act of Abjuration, I think the Munich side sword (and dagger) would work admirably well. Except now I'm stuck with the giant, puffy, super-starched ruffs - which I could have avoided had I gone 1625-1648.

C'est la vie!
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Dec, 2014 4:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, on one hand, you might eventually grow to like ruffs. On the other hand, ruffs weren't always huge and heavily starched -- in France, Germany, and England, we often see fairly small ruffs, and sometimes pretty floppy (or sloppy!) ones too. You might be out of luck with the Dutch, though, since (if I remember correctly) they liked huge ruffs more than anybody else.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Sat 06 Dec, 2014 5:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Well, on one hand, you might eventually grow to like ruffs. On the other hand, ruffs weren't always huge and heavily starched -- in France, Germany, and England, we often see fairly small ruffs, and sometimes pretty floppy (or sloppy!) ones too. You might be out of luck with the Dutch, though, since (if I remember correctly) they liked huge ruffs more than anybody else.


He could always try mercenary captain, A German one for example.
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