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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
Joined: 21 Dec 2013

Posts: 107

PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 6:36 am    Post subject: Still a messer?         Reply with quote

Hi, I am a recent fan of messers(or grossmessers, the one handed type anyway?) and wondered if there were there any in the period with less of a sudden clip point(more tapered blade for better penetration) and also different handle/ grip options? I actually find the small square messer grips I have handled with the metal surfaces less than preferable to hang onto with my gorilla hands.

Were I to make modifications( more tapered blade and rounded or sword like grip) would I have 'de-messerfied' the swords signature points?

I was hoping that gross messer meaning big knife there might have been a range of 'big knives' used by germans of different sorts and I could still squeeze into the 'true messer' club so to speak. However maybe I would just be re-engineering a falchion...

Thanks for any thoughts.
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Tim Jones




Location: United Kingdom
Joined: 05 Nov 2013

Posts: 37

PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 7:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a couple of images in Talhoffer's Fechtbüchen that show Messers without clip points, or at least not aggressive ones.



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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
Joined: 21 Dec 2013

Posts: 107

PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for those pics. that is interesting and good news to have one item on the list sorted. I assume as the handles are definetly slab sided etc they would still be messers.

Also would like to ask what is the purpose behind the clip points, I think also shown on dussacks? It seems to be a deliberate limiter to penetration, maybe for sparring or competition fighting? Or was it just a shortcut to build a basic heavy spine and at least give it some sort of point ?
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Tim Jones




Location: United Kingdom
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As long as it's scale tang and has a Nagel it'll pass as a Messer.
I've never really thought about why they tend to have clip points, I suspect it's probably just one of those things...
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe that one theoretical advantage of the clipped point (or a triangular point, as with a gladius) is that it creates a short, relatively broad weapon that can make strong cuts without sacrificing the thrust. Imagine what a messer would look like with a gentler taper to a thrusting point, but retaining its width at the center of percussion.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are two messers with softer tapers, but notice the length.

See this old thread for details and good info.



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-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Tim Jones




Location: United Kingdom
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some examples of eating/general utility knives of that period had clip points and the rolled end to the handle, and if the theory that Messers were invented to circumvent restrictions in lower status individuals is to be believed, it may be that they originally come from massively enlarged knives.

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 11:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There might also be guild restrictions at play here.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Tim Jones




Location: United Kingdom
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe that's also the case. It tended to be frowned upon for a member of one guild to be doing the work of another guild. I think I read something about the sword-makers' guild getting very jumpy after cutlers started producing Messers - the old "Its not a technically a sword but blatantly is" argument.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Those leather-wrapped kriegsmesser grips further blur the lines. Some messers sport a side-ring guard identical to those seen on contemporary swords, but with scale grips and typical messer pommel. The distinctions get rather fine. That Dresden kriegsmesser guard and chappe could be transferred to a longsword without looking odd.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Messers aren't simpler to make or use than swords. Legal and trade restrictions may have had something to do with their popularity, I can't really say because I've never seen any hard documentation of that, but they have several notable design advantages over arming swords that certainly justify their use.

As far as clip points go it was probably something that was originally stumbled upon by accident during the forging process. If you begin with a pre-form shaped something like a broken back seax and start working the edge the blade will begin to curve and form a clip point. Similarly long blades have a natural tendency to "saber" or bend asymmetrically in profile during heat treatment. From there it's just a matter of refining the suggestion. Messers came with all kinds of blades though, a great many weren't clip pointed.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 1:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Worth noting here that there were/are some very fine fighting messers--weapons chosen by elites who could afford anything they wanted.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 4:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

the getting around regulations thing is in an interesting possibility. If so, once something is suitably fashionable, the nobler folk might want to use or wear it as well, and there is where different blade shapes and handles might come in too.
I can see there are a lot of discussion points over these anyway and I am thinking I coulld probably get away with a lot of latitude on my version as long as I don't mind occasional debates with purists.

regards couple of points above, can anyone outline the advantages of a messer if there are any, over say a longer general arming sword?

I was wondering if one advantage of falchiions/messers is the solid spine allows them more durability for utilitarian tasks?

Or would it a bit of a fallacy to assume the fighting messers like the albion soldat would still be getting used to clear saplings with?
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T. Kew




Location: Cambridge, UK
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 5:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Brudon wrote:
the getting around regulations thing is in an interesting possibility. If so, once something is suitably fashionable, the nobler folk might want to use or wear it as well, and there is where different blade shapes and handles might come in too.
I can see there are a lot of discussion points over these anyway and I am thinking I coulld probably get away with a lot of latitude on my version as long as I don't mind occasional debates with purists.

regards couple of points above, can anyone outline the advantages of a messer if there are any, over say a longer general arming sword?

I was wondering if one advantage of falchiions/messers is the solid spine allows them more durability for utilitarian tasks?

Or would it a bit of a fallacy to assume the fighting messers like the albion soldat would still be getting used to clear saplings with?


You'll destroy it, very fast.

A fighting messer tends to be a thin blade, with an acute edge angle. The strength is that it can still have a fairly thick spine but come to a very acute edge.

Other advantages: legally knives. That has implications for owning and carrying them, and who can make them. The nagel gives you a variety of techniques for using it to parry. The long grip is a good hooking and binding tool.

Most of these could be translated to an arming sword, but weren't - why is an interesting question (maybe the nagel was a legal feature of knives only? But that's purely speculation).
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James Moore





Joined: 27 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Wed 18 Feb, 2015 6:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Brudon wrote:

Or would it a bit of a fallacy to assume the fighting messers like the albion soldat would still be getting used to clear saplings with?


From what I understand from a guy who's studying them properly, thats just another myth like the "falchions are like axes" and "knights cant get up when knocked over" stories. There's absolutely no evidence for them being used like that, and they're not remotely designed for it.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2015 12:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Moore wrote:
Michael Brudon wrote:

Or would it a bit of a fallacy to assume the fighting messers like the albion soldat would still be getting used to clear saplings with?


From what I understand from a guy who's studying them properly, thats just another myth like the "falchions are like axes" and "knights cant get up when knocked over" stories. There's absolutely no evidence for them being used like that, and they're not remotely designed for it.

I think the confusion would stem from their similarity to weapons which are designed more as tools such as verious machetes. hell, the cutlass developed from a kind of machete like blade. i wouldnt put it past the dao and messer developing similarly
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2015 2:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Other way around... the first cutlasses were developed from the messer and its direct descendants, historical catalogs show that early machetes sported the same exact blades that were used for cutlasses. Cutlasses weren't even specially designed for naval warfare at first, they were simply selected because they were the short and handy blades available at the time. The machete developed as a dedicated tool to do the utility work cutlasses were used for and then quickly re-weaponized throughout the Gulf region. That kind of back and forth was pretty common throughout the history of this class of weapon, the beidana and what some of us are calling the bauernschwert are two earlier examples. There's even some historical artwork that shows beidana and buckler. Fascine knives fit in here, too.
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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
Joined: 21 Dec 2013

Posts: 107

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2015 5:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is fascinating stuff. So regards the transition from any of these from utilitarian(machete functions) to weaponising what would be the major changes?

Funnily enough I own a 22" blade OKC machete which must have at least 50 Rc hardness, and weight near to 2 lbs. I have during moments of insanity, actually thought of replacing the handle with something more sword like to bring the balance rearward and trying to file a clip point on it to have as a 'bush cutlass' for lack of a better word.
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 325

PostPosted: Thu 19 Feb, 2015 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There wasn't necessarily any change except in terms of what was being targeted for cutting. An illumination from a 13th c. manuscript shows a normal beidana being held in luginslant and wielded with a buckler, having evidently just wounded the head of kneeling saint. In the later half of the 19th c. ordinary stamped machete blades were fitted with real hilts that added anything from a pommel and cross to a basket for use in boarding actions or even cavalry combat. Before that Mexican soldiers were issued the "machete de cinta" which featured a forged and fullered saber-like blade mounted with a simple machete grip for dual fighting/utility purposes. There's been rumors of a machete fighting folk art in South America called "catorce paradas," I've never seen it and it would be difficult to document the veracity of anything that might come forward in the future but I can't help but note that the number 14 relates to the primary forms of attack and defense found in most saber systems. The Hatians have machete fighting traditions too and they typically chamber their cuts like a French sabreur.
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James Moore





Joined: 27 Jan 2011

Posts: 61

PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 5:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Ruhala wrote:
An illumination from a 13th c. manuscript shows a normal beidana being held in luginslant and wielded with a buckler, having evidently just wounded the head of kneeling saint.


could you provide a source for that illumination? From what I've heard, Beidana only appeared in the 16th Century....
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