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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 4:26 am    Post subject: Were some falchions used for sword+ utalitarian tasks?         Reply with quote

I doubt a knight would be clearing brush in his spare time, but would it be fair to assume someone of another class might be swinging a falchion to clear brush or a few small trees?
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 6:12 am    Post subject: Re: Were some falchions used for sword+ utalitarian tasks?         Reply with quote

Michael Brudon wrote:
I doubt a knight would be clearing brush in his spare time, but would it be fair to assume someone of another class might be swinging a falchion to clear brush or a few small trees?


A falchion is not a machete, it's not made for clearing wood or brush and therefore also a bit more inefficient. I reckon that anyone that had a falchion could well afford a cheaper and more efficient dedicated too. You don't use a Ferrari for farm work, you ride a pick-up truck for that Wink

Some weapons or tools are more in a grey area of tool and weapon but it's a compromise that sacrifices performance of both the tool and weapon use of it. I believe the Indonesia Klewang was something of a combination of a machete and a dedicated weapon but I am not sure.
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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 6:35 am    Post subject: Re: Were some falchions used for sword+ utalitarian tasks?         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
Michael Brudon wrote:
I doubt a knight would be clearing brush in his spare time, but would it be fair to assume someone of another class might be swinging a falchion to clear brush or a few small trees?


A falchion is not a machete, it's not made for clearing wood or brush and therefore also a bit more inefficient. I reckon that anyone that had a falchion could well afford a cheaper and more efficient dedicated too. You don't use a Ferrari for farm work, you ride a pick-up truck for that Wink

Some weapons or tools are more in a grey area of tool and weapon but it's a compromise that sacrifices performance of both the tool and weapon use of it. I believe the Indonesia Klewang was something of a combination of a machete and a dedicated weapon but I am not sure.


Pieter that's actually my point, similarity to machetes. For example long heavy machetes in the region of 22-25" and 2.5- 4mm thickness are great brush clearers(okc 22", various latin , many thai machetes) and we are into similar dimensions here to the conyers and other shorter falchions. They will clear brush and even chop a small tree down with enough time. Some of these machetes even utilise distal taper .

I can understand if this amount of metal was considered too expensive to bash trees with 700 years ago certainly. But from a functionality point of view they would seem to do the job okay?
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 7:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well I certainly have. Just like my gladius and pugio have toasted bits of bread (don't let the optio see) and various rapiers and bayonets done the same (don't let the sgt see) my falchion has cut wood and done other utilitarian tasks. The soldier will always find work for idle bits of kit that the original makers never dreamt of. Its what soldiers do best!
Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 9:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Griffin wrote:
Well I certainly have. Just like my gladius and pugio have toasted bits of bread (don't let the optio see) and various rapiers and bayonets done the same (don't let the sgt see) my falchion has cut wood and done other utilitarian tasks. The soldier will always find work for idle bits of kit that the original makers never dreamt of. Its what soldiers do best!


Good points mark. As a machete, the shorter, thinner versions of falchions would make pretty ideal tools. Seeing the heavy machetes around the world has really blurred the line for me as to what blades can handle and do. We say it a million times to newbs "its not designed for that, or it won't handle that side of things" but you see a 'machete' with messer or short falchion length, hardness over 50RC and 4mm spine cut down a pile of saplings no problem and go hmmmm
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 10:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Probably could do that, but you shouldn't be surprised if you reduce the lifespan of the Falchion using it in that way and run higher rick of damage. If you have to accomplish a task and have a limited number of tools to do a job, to be unwilling to find another function for tool that might not be ideal in doing the job at hand is silly. If you have access to a purpose made tool for job at hand and use something not meant for that work is equally stupid. I bet you could cut light brush and small bushes fine with a falchion, just like if you using to cut up limbs meat for dinner. If you want to start cutting small trees, I would advice that a hatchet would be much safer to utilize for that job and much less to worry about if it breaking than your high precision flesh lacerater.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think edge angles and geometry would be quite different in a machete made for wood cutting and in a falchion made for cutting flesh and cloth.
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 12:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The medievals had a *lot* of various hand tools for fairly specific tasks, and one of those was wood-cutting. Bills, axes, and various other chopping tools were *quite* common. There wouldn't have been much reason for someone to resort to a fighting weapon when odds were quite good that either their fellow troopers had one on hand, or they could steal one from a local farm or house en route.

Now that doesn't mean it never happened-- it probably did-- but there were better tools for the purpose laying about, and they would've been used.
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Alexis Bataille




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is falchion the best one handed weapon to cut pole arms ?
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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 6:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A couple of great points above.

I'll clarify tree-wood cutting is pretty extreme example I gave. Most machete users don't push them like that either, too inefficient(or impossible) at performing axe like tasks.

Edge angle and geometry. Many heavy machetes are basic bevels types true. Though some are now pushing the bounds with taper and flat grinds and getting lighter work done.

Selecting correct tool for the job. Agree completely and even today in my side of the world you don't choose a machete when a cheap fernhook will outbash it.

That said there is always use for a long machete to do something, why so much of the 3rd world carries one, and why they exist. They cut a decent width swathe of light stuff, will tackle some heavier stuff, give you reach for thorny materials and overheads, don't tire you out like a staff mounted blade, can be carried on the hip, and with basic grind still okay for basic self defence.

I remember in the 90's we felt basic versions of falchions, langseaxes and large messers filled this niche. Since then they have all ended up on a warriors belt instead Happy

So what was the peasant using? Or was a long piece of steel maybe just too expensive to have as a useful tool before modern production?
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Gregg Sobocinski




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 8:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No matter what the resemblance to cutting tools, the falchion is a sword. Swords are damaged easily-enough when not used properly. I say "no" to your original query. I'm sure it was done in survival situations or to vent frustration, but not if you can help it.

Regarding 3rd world machete carrying, they are the longest, legal blade you may carry in those areas. Of course they are as popular as hand guns are in the U.S., especially in areas of unrest. Note that if you put a pommel on a machete in these countries, it becomes illegal, since it is no longer as useful as a tool.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Mon 07 Mar, 2016 8:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Brudon wrote:
A couple of great points above.

I'll clarify tree-wood cutting is pretty extreme example I gave. Most machete users don't push them like that either, too inefficient(or impossible) at performing axe like tasks.

Edge angle and geometry. Many heavy machetes are basic bevels types true. Though some are now pushing the bounds with taper and flat grinds and getting lighter work done.

Selecting correct tool for the job. Agree completely and even today in my side of the world you don't choose a machete when a cheap fernhook will outbash it.

That said there is always use for a long machete to do something, why so much of the 3rd world carries one, and why they exist. They cut a decent width swathe of light stuff, will tackle some heavier stuff, give you reach for thorny materials and overheads, don't tire you out like a staff mounted blade, can be carried on the hip, and with basic grind still okay for basic self defence.

I remember in the 90's we felt basic versions of falchions, langseaxes and large messers filled this niche. Since then they have all ended up on a warriors belt instead Happy

So what was the peasant using? Or was a long piece of steel maybe just too expensive to have as a useful tool before modern production?

A drafted levy rural conscripts (what most people think of when they think of peasant, peasant actually denotes quite range of wealth) would probably be armed with a spear, a flail or a wooden maul, or bill hook , (not purpose made billhook head, adapted agricultural billhook head mounted on a longer pole) and a club or hatchet for a sidearm. An army wouldn't want to actually use them. City Militia would usually would have way better moral because city artisans were usually better educated, better equipped and had more drilling than conscript subsistence farmers. Well drilled city militia actually proven several times in Medieval to beat back Highly trained invading Knights, were rural levy farmers generally had a much lower success rate.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Mar, 2016 6:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexis Bataille wrote:
Is falchion the best one handed weapon to cut pole arms ?


No, a saw is better.

You aren't talking about trying to cut one *in battle*, are you? For all the effort and focus that would require, you're much better off just blocking, parrying, or trapping the weapon, and attacking the guy using it! Trying to cut through a polearm is an excellent waste of energy, and a good way to get killed.

Matthew
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Andrew Gill





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PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 2:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the weapon most likely (or perhaps rather least unlikely) to have been used for clearing brush in the renaissance would have been a bauenwehr - the multipurpose peasant weapon/tool used in renaissance Germany, and related to the slightly bigger messer. Have a look at this thread: https://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=21952&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
Many in that thread were, I think, intended mainly as weapons - all those with long, narrow, heavily tapering, sharp-pointed blades and/or fancy hilt fittings. But there are a number of examples in that thread (Nos 10, 13 and 20(center) in particular), which, if derusted and given a cheap plastic handle wouldn't look out of place with the outdoor equipment section in a modern hardware store. They have the nearly parallel-sided profile ending with the abrupt rounded point of a machete, an edge geometry apparently consisting of very prominent and sudden bevels on what looks like an otherwise apparently flat blade. Even the blade length on these - 30-50 cm is similar to a modern machete. And the hilt furniture of these is either absent (so probably something organic, like wood) or in one case two very plain wooden slabs with a very simple nagel - so probably the property of a poorer person (ie. the one most likely to have been delegated the work of clearing brush). I'm not saying they were made with this in mind, merely that they would probably have been more than usable for this purpose.

Interestingly, there are accounts from much later periods (the English civil war onward) of troops cutting wood with their swords. General Monck famously recommended giving pikemen "a good stiff tuck - not too long" as a sidearm because they (especially the "common men", as he puts it) were messing up cut-and-thrust swords by using them to cut branches.

Then there was the short, double edged napoleonic french artillery sword that got nicknamed "cabbage-cutter" or something equivalent because it was too short and too heavy and only really useful for clearing bush and chopping. And around the same time, some facetious fellow in England was saying that one of the 1796 cavalry sabres (I forget whether the light or the heavy) was excellent for cutting up billets of firewood (that one may have just been a bit of snarkiness, but nonetheless it illustrates that the properties of a good wood-cutting implement and a good sword were seen as divergent by actual swordsmen)
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 6:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The way I see it, why would you use a sword for this when proper hatchets and axes were much more common and much, much cheaper?
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregg Sobocinski wrote:
No matter what the resemblance to cutting tools, the falchion is a sword. Swords are damaged easily-enough when not used properly. I say "no" to your original query. I'm sure it was done in survival situations or to vent frustration, but not if you can help it.

Regarding 3rd world machete carrying, they are the longest, legal blade you may carry in those areas. Of course they are as popular as hand guns are in the U.S., especially in areas of unrest. Note that if you put a pommel on a machete in these countries, it becomes illegal, since it is no longer as useful as a tool.



Well we have to define 'used properly' .

there is historic use of swords as deliberate brush cutters like the British Pioneer sword, Dutch Klewang, American artillery shortsword, french briquette sabres on occasion and a range of current tapered machetes seeing good service in the worlds tropics to this day.

As to legal blades in the 3rd world that's a bit general since we are covering several dozen countries here. In my region and south east asia for example you can find places who make whatever you want, the thais make some lovely massive two handed blades.


Last edited by Michael Brudon on Wed 09 Mar, 2016 7:45 am; edited 2 times in total
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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 7:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Should clarify I am not trying to say purely martial weapons, with the high taper and POB close to hilt , and sword like grips were designed for brush cutting. Also that any overly long aka 28"+ blade can be turned to use as a brush cutter. because it can't.

But there is enough evidence sensibly medium lenght blades can be made to work, and the shorter weapon falchions like the cluny and conyers for example I think would make excellent dual purpose implements.

Also when people talk about cutting brush as 'a way to shorten their life', well I would put that battlefield use is probably the greatest stress place on any blade.

Using long blades for forestry you can cut all day without problems if you are sensible(having done it for plantation work). Where things go wrong- and you are filing out, nicks, or chipping the blade beyond use, or fixing rolled egdes all the time , is when you hit anything harder than greenery or 'green wood'. Such as a hidden metal tag on a plantation tree, hidden pieces of wire or fencing in brush, or tackling seasoned wood.

In my opinion using a falchion on greenery would have minimal effect compared to what it is subjected to in battle meeting any manner of materials on impact.

As to an above comment about why use a sword when a hatchet/axe is better. Well the first reason is a medium length blade performs a lot of tasks a hatchet or staff mounted implement can't.

The other one possibly pure convenience? Soldiers are efficient or lazy as hell, whatever you prefer. If you are carrying a blade , medium length, decent thickness, and know it can whack a few brushes around the campsite, cut some grass for the horse, hack light deadwood into firewood without breaking, why would you carry dedicated heavy farm implements as well?
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Brudon wrote:
Should clarify I am not trying to say purely martial weapons, with the high taper and POB close to hilt , and sword like grips were designed for brush cutting. Also that any overly long aka 28"+ blade can be turned to use as a brush cutter. because it can't.

But there is enough evidence sensibly medium lenght blades can be made to work, and the shorter weapon falchions like the cluny and conyers for example I think would make excellent dual purpose implements.

Also when people talk about cutting brush as 'a way to shorten their life', well I would put that battlefield use is probably the greatest stress place on any blade.

Using long blades for forestry you can cut all day without problems if you are sensible(having done it for plantation work). Where things go wrong- and you are filing out, nicks, or chipping the blade beyond use, or fixing rolled egdes all the time , is when you hit anything harder than greenery or 'green wood'. Such as a hidden metal tag on a plantation tree, hidden pieces of wire or fencing in brush, or tackling seasoned wood.

In my opinion using a falchion on greenery would have minimal effect compared to what it is subjected to in battle meeting any manner of materials on impact.

As to an above comment about why use a sword when a hatchet/axe is better. Well the first reason is a medium length blade performs a lot of tasks a hatchet or staff mounted implement can't.

The other one possibly pure convenience? Soldiers are efficient or lazy as hell, whatever you prefer. If you are carrying a blade , medium length, decent thickness, and know it can whack a few brushes around the campsite, cut some grass for the horse, hack light deadwood into firewood without breaking, why would you carry dedicated heavy farm implements as well?
The thing is, falchions and other one handed sword were almost always paired with a buckler or a shield, people didn't go to war nearly as constantly as cutting brush and trees, and swords of all kinds were secondarily weapons, which means they would only be used if shit goes really south in the middle of combat. Also, an army at this was constantly accompanied by a supply train,so it not they would be lugging these extra equipment by themselves. Also, the condition of the blade on the battle field is where it matters most. Having a nicked up blade when crap really hits the fan in combat can end your life. Having an abused hatchet or woodaxe is just inconvenient.
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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 8:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Gill wrote:
I think the weapon most likely (or perhaps rather least unlikely) to have been used for clearing brush in the renaissance would have been a bauenwehr - the multipurpose peasant weapon/tool used in renaissance Germany, and related to the slightly bigger messer. Have a look at this thread: https://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=21952&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
Many in that thread were, I think, intended mainly as weapons - all those with long, narrow, heavily tapering, sharp-pointed blades and/or fancy hilt fittings. But there are a number of examples in that thread (Nos 10, 13 and 20(center) in particular), which, if derusted and given a cheap plastic handle wouldn't look out of place with the outdoor equipment section in a modern hardware store. They have the nearly parallel-sided profile ending with the abrupt rounded point of a machete, an edge geometry apparently consisting of very prominent and sudden bevels on what looks like an otherwise apparently flat blade. Even the blade length on these - 30-50 cm is similar to a modern machete. And the hilt furniture of these is either absent (so probably something organic, like wood) or in one case two very plain wooden slabs with a very simple nagel - so probably the property of a poorer person (ie. the one most likely to have been delegated the work of clearing brush). I'm not saying they were made with this in mind, merely that they would probably have been more than usable for this purpose.

Interestingly, there are accounts from much later periods (the English civil war onward) of troops cutting wood with their swords. General Monck famously recommended giving pikemen "a good stiff tuck - not too long" as a sidearm because they (especially the "common men", as he puts it) were messing up cut-and-thrust swords by using them to cut branches.

Then there was the short, double edged napoleonic french artillery sword that got nicknamed "cabbage-cutter" or something equivalent because it was too short and too heavy and only really useful for clearing bush and chopping. And around the same time, some facetious fellow in England was saying that one of the 1796 cavalry sabres (I forget whether the light or the heavy) was excellent for cutting up billets of firewood (that one may have just been a bit of snarkiness, but nonetheless it illustrates that the properties of a good wood-cutting implement and a good sword were seen as divergent by actual swordsmen)


Very interesting Andrew, sorry I missed your post the first time. I am still checking out the full thread you linked on those blades.

Seems quite a few examples where soldiery used swords on the environment for better or worse Happy
There seems to be length, edge, and thickness combinations that allow effective use though.

That's probably worthy of discussion too- 'acceptable use and damage to a sword blade'. Modern fans are collectors and may have a different viewpoint from those with an agricultural background who are used to filing nicks, chips and rolls out of implements as normal duty.
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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Mar, 2016 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

{quote] The thing is, falchions and other one handed sword were almost always paired with a buckler or a shield, people didn't go to war nearly as constantly as cutting brush and trees, and swords of all kinds were secondarily weapons, which means they would only be used if shit goes really south in the middle of combat. Also, an army at this was constantly accompanied by a supply train,so it not they would be lugging these extra equipment by themselves. Also, the condition of the blade on the battle field is where it matters most. Having a nicked up blade when crap really hits the fan in combat can end your life. Having an abused hatchet or woodaxe is just inconvenient.[/quote]

Good points but brush swords did exist historically, or were pressed into service on occasion. Despite supply trains with better items, and 'saving the edge for battle', other factors such as versatility and tactical convenience obviously had an influence.

Whether the falchion is part of a time period where this would occur I am out of my depth to answer.

.. Already said I doubt many martially designed knights weapons would be used for cutting grass etc.

But on function alone, of the bush swords used, short falchions like the cluny would certainly be capable.
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