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J.L.A. Sereno




Location: Manila, Philippines
Joined: 12 Oct 2014

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue 21 Jul, 2015 12:48 am    Post subject: 16th to 19th Century Spanish Swords and Swordsmanship         Reply with quote

I've taken quite a bit of interest in this period and was wondering what were the predominant military swords at this period? I read George Gush's article on the Spanish Renaissance Armies but still do not know what exactly fighting infantrymen would use in the field. Related to this, did the Spanish use different weapons for its different territories across Europe, the Americas, and Asia? I'm specifically interested in what weapons soldiers would have used in the Philippines vs the native rebels throughout its 333 years of reign.

One source points to alleged "cut and thrust" swords, another to shell-covered broadswords, and another to rapiers (which I somehow doubt was used very much in battle).

I am aware of the huge range of time this question covers, so perhaps to be more specific, what swords would have been used in the mid 16th century, the 17th to 18th century (Hapsburgs), and from the 19th century up to around 1898 (after the Spanish American War).

Related to this, what would be the swordsmanship style of period swordsmen? Would it be Godhino? De Carranza? Narvaez? Or some kind of amalgamation of them all? Or even Italian/French?

Thanks very much for your time and help.

Omnia in bonum
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Christopher Treichel




Location: Metro D.C.
Joined: 14 Jan 2010

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PostPosted: Tue 21 Jul, 2015 6:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why would you doubt that rapiers would be used in battle? While a dainty bladed rapier was probably not good for battle... you should see some of the more military minded ones. Also the Spanish like the Italians kept using the rapier for quite a long time well into the 18th century and there are many "colonial" rapiers of this type with wide blades.

http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.p...elp-needed
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J.L.A. Sereno




Location: Manila, Philippines
Joined: 12 Oct 2014

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue 21 Jul, 2015 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah pardon. For one, I think rapiers were used more in Central America and Europe. For another, they were principally for 1v1 bouts or for officers, who would likely have been better trained with them. But the average "grunt" so to speak would probably be more inclined towards a cutting warsword of some kind. I am open to correction, however, as I have yet to read the duelling/fighting accounts of the time.
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Christopher Treichel




Location: Metro D.C.
Joined: 14 Jan 2010

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PostPosted: Tue 21 Jul, 2015 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you take a look at any painting of Tercios you will most likely see them armed with a rapier as a side arm. If you look at probably one of the best illustrated military manuals from that time period, De Gheyn Exercise of Arms, while Dutch, they were fighting the Spanish and copying much of what the Spanish where up to you will see each and every soldier armed with a rapier. Military rapiers frequently also had shorter wider blades and while you may call it a late side sword I am sure that back then they would have just called it a sword.

De Gheyn https://www.google.com/search?q=Degheyn&es_sm=93&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAkQ_AUoA2oVChMIkr736M7sxgIVCx-UCh3D7AFV&biw=1440&bih=799&safe=active&ssui=on#safe=active&tbm=isch&q=De+Gheyn+exercise+of+arms&imgrc=_

Velazquez Surrender at Breda https://silverandexact.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/the-surrender-of-breda-diego-velc3a1zquez-1635.jpg

Spanish soldier 1650 https://crossfireamersfoort.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/piquero-1650.jpg

Spanish Musqueteer 1650 https://crossfireamersfoort.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/mousquetaire-espagnol-1650.jpg?w=529

Spanish Infantry 1630 https://crossfireamersfoort.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/mosquetero-piquero-arcabucero-16331.jpg
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Tue 21 Jul, 2015 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.L.A. Sereno,

It is quite important to note that in this period there are many swords that are hilted exactly the same as rapiers, but the blades are fairly different. The hilt design is not singular to rapiers, and you cannot trust that imagery of scabbarded swords with complex hilts like these are images of rapiers by default.

Oakeshott called swords with complex hilts 'reiterschwert', which is admittedly a German term, but it does cover a certain base-- swords with complex hilts which are suitable for cutting and combat, versus a rapier, which is a sword with complex hilt only suitable for duelling and thrusting.

Also, the designation 'rapier', 'side sword', whatever, is quite often modern terminology. They may have used the word 'rapier' to refer to the sword... but then they probably also called it just a 'sword'. Remarkably un-helpful, but what can you do...
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Andrew Gill





Joined: 19 Feb 2015

Posts: 98

PostPosted: Wed 22 Jul, 2015 4:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christopher: do you think that Jeffrey's point may go some way towards explaining the swords in the illustrations you posted?
My [admittedly inexpert] impression, based on the examples which I've seen, is that in general, spanish civilian rapiers for duelling purposes could have very narrow blades, whereas the military weapons often had blades like those on most military swords of the time; that is broad and well-suited to cutting as well as thrusting.

I have seen an ornate, almost grotesque [silver plated?] swept-hilt single-hand spanish sword in the Kelvingrove that had a huge, broad blade that wouldn't have looked out of place on a big longsword (the blade is well over a meter long). And even some of the later spanish military sword patterns looked superficially like the stereotypical Spanish cup-hilt rapier; abeit with a broader, sturdier blade and a much less ornate hilt. Also, not from Spain, but the Swedish kings seemed to like broad, sturdy cut-and-thrust blades on their "rapiers" - apart from the famous Vasa Rapier, there is another sword in the Swedish Royal Armoury with a long, broad blade but a fairly fragile rapier-style hilt. That sword stuck in my mind because it was carried into battle by a Swedish king and the hilt got slashed to pieces in a cavalry skirmish, which shows one possible reason why flashy but sometimes flimsy rapier-hilts became less popular than sturdier basket hilts for military service. But I digress...

The point is that rapier-hilted military swords occurred all over Europe, sometimes with blades long enough that if depicted in a scabbard in an illustration, it could be quite difficult to tell whether they were "true" rapiers (if such an expression has any meaning) mainly for civilian duels, or rapier-hilted military cut-and-thrust swords. Also, regarding the painting of the surrender of Breda; even the costumes and military equipment are correctly depicted by the artist and haven't been romanticized, I can imagine that both commanders would have dressed their best for the formal surrender; the Spanish commander would have wanted to look suitably dashing in victory, and the Dutch commander would have wanted to save whatever dignity and pride he could in defeat. So I might speculate that the swords there are those they would wear as part of their formal attire rather than those they'd carry for military use. What do you think?

Edit: re-reading your posts, I see that although you use the term "rapier" in a broader sense than I do, otherwise we agree, I think?
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John Hardy




Location: Saskatoon SK Canada
Joined: 31 May 2014
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Jul, 2015 5:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Gill wrote:
Christopher: do you think that Jeffrey's point may go some way towards explaining the swords in the illustrations you posted?
My [admittedly inexpert] impression, based on the examples which I've seen, is that in general, spanish civilian rapiers for duelling purposes could have very narrow blades, whereas the military weapons often had blades like those on most military swords of the time; that is broad and well-suited to cutting as well as thrusting.

I have seen an ornate, almost grotesque [silver plated?] swept-hilt single-hand spanish sword in the Kelvingrove that had a huge, broad blade that wouldn't have looked out of place on a big longsword (the blade is well over a meter long). And even some of the later spanish military sword patterns looked superficially like the stereotypical Spanish cup-hilt rapier; abeit with a broader, sturdier blade and a much less ornate hilt. Also, not from Spain, but the Swedish kings seemed to like broad, sturdy cut-and-thrust blades on their "rapiers" - apart from the famous Vasa Rapier, there is another sword in the Swedish Royal Armoury with a long, broad blade but a fairly fragile rapier-style hilt. That sword stuck in my mind because it was carried into battle by a Swedish king and the hilt got slashed to pieces in a cavalry skirmish, which shows one possible reason why flashy but sometimes flimsy rapier-hilts became less popular than sturdier basket hilts for military service. But I digress...

The point is that rapier-hilted military swords occurred all over Europe, sometimes with blades long enough that if depicted in a scabbard in an illustration, it could be quite difficult to tell whether they were "true" rapiers (if such an expression has any meaning) mainly for civilian duels, or rapier-hilted military cut-and-thrust swords. Also, regarding the painting of the surrender of Breda; even the costumes and military equipment are correctly depicted by the artist and haven't been romanticized, I can imagine that both commanders would have dressed their best for the formal surrender; the Spanish commander would have wanted to look suitably dashing in victory, and the Dutch commander would have wanted to save whatever dignity and pride he could in defeat. So I might speculate that the swords there are those they would wear as part of their formal attire rather than those they'd carry for military use. What do you think?


Looking at the engravings in de Gheyn's Exercise of Arms, the scabbards on those ornately hilted swords look about right in length and width to be holding standard period heavy-duty military cut-and-thrust blades (broadsword / backsword / sidesword) rather than thrust-centric rapier duelling blades...
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Eric Feder




Location: Alhambra, CA
Joined: 31 Oct 2011
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Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun 26 Jul, 2015 2:24 pm    Post subject: Re: 16th to 19th Century Spanish Swords and Swordsmanship         Reply with quote

[quote="One source points to alleged "cut and thrust" swords, another to shell-covered broadswords, and another to rapiers (which I somehow doubt was used very much in battle).

[/quote]

For an example of a military rapier, see the rapier below. It's long and broad blade make it quite heavy and unwieldy to use with just one hand and I definitely don't see it being used to "fence" in a civilian context, certainly not while holding a dagger in the left hand. To the contrary, one can almost see it being used with both hands like a bastard sword..

http://www.antiqueweaponstore.com/Italian%207...201620.htm
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David Cooper




Location: UK
Joined: 27 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jul, 2015 12:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I posted this thread earlier which qualifies as a rapier like Spanish military sword I think.

http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=297...highlight=

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