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Dani Pollett




Location: Newfoundland
Joined: 25 Dec 2016

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PostPosted: Sun 25 Dec, 2016 8:10 pm    Post subject: Use of the Napoleonic Briquet         Reply with quote

Hello! Today I received the first sword I feel I may be comfortable with attempting to study or cut with, the French infantry briquet from medieval shoppe. I'm very new to this, fairly small and physically weak, but feel I should be able to, with some practice, familiarize myself with such a light sword, at least enough to better understand how they may have been used.

Outside of personal use, I have always been a little curious how this type of sword was meant to be wielded. In reality, it's something along the lines of a fairly light cutlass, but is always referred to as a type of sabre. The few examples I have seen of this sword being used have shown it being cast out with the wrist in what resembles a hammer grip. The guard is fairly compact and the hilt small, and I imagine that it might not be normal to use it with a sabre-grip, however with my relatively small hands, I find myself able to get away with it, and that it ends up feeling more comfortable (mind, I may be doing this incorrectly).

Whilst not a primary weapon, it was certainly wide spread, and over the course of a very turbulent and important part of western history, so it would be interesting if anybody has any ideas or even guesses at how this sort of short, light infantry sabre was meant to be, or could be used.
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Gabriele Becattini





Joined: 21 Aug 2007

Posts: 710

PostPosted: Mon 26 Dec, 2016 1:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

search for a navy cutlass manual, there are several from the XIXth century and also fron the beginning of the XXth century,

most of the ones that came in to my mind are U.S navy manuals,

the briquet is basically a cutlass and you can use it using the same guards, moulinets and parry,

it is a funny weapon to train with and a great phisycal stenght is not required if the weapon id decently balanced
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M. Eversberg II




Location: California, Maryland, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 26 Dec, 2016 2:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I remember asking about these a while back on another forum, and I recall the conclusion was that there wasn't a dedicated text for them. But, they are a short sabre so may handle similarly to a cutlass (which itself was an infantry weapon too).

I had wondered how widely issued these weapons were (I know grenadiers got them, but did regular men of the line?), and I'm not sure if the troops were trained in them at all. It seems like training was lacking at this period even for the firearm and bayonet.

M.

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Roderick Stacey




Location: Ballarat, Australia
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Dec, 2016 11:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was a preferred tool for cutting wood etc, the French Soldiers didn't like them much.
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 328

PostPosted: Wed 28 Dec, 2016 11:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roderick Stacey wrote:
It was a preferred tool for cutting wood etc, the French Soldiers didn't like them much.


Every time this specific sword is mentioned somebody says something to that effect. These swords are fine for what they were, an economic mass-produced backup weapon. In their era cast brass hilts were faster and cheaper to make than iron fittings with wooden handles but the brass wasn't as strong as iron and resulted in a heavier weapon. For that reason any weapon hilted in brass would have been seen as inferior to one hilted with iron, hence the complaints in the historical record.

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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,831

PostPosted: Wed 28 Dec, 2016 12:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Ruhala wrote:
Roderick Stacey wrote:
It was a preferred tool for cutting wood etc, the French Soldiers didn't like them much.


Every time this specific sword is mentioned somebody says something to that effect. These swords are fine for what they were, an economic mass-produced backup weapon. In their era cast brass hilts were faster and cheaper to make than iron fittings with wooden handles but the brass wasn't as strong as iron and resulted in a heavier weapon. For that reason any weapon hilted in brass would have been seen as inferior to one hilted with iron, hence the complaints in the historical record.


Yet, the French discontinued the use of the briquet in favor of supplying the infantry with the 1831 model gladius. The gladius a form more suited to chopping and cutting rods for fascine work. Other countries, notably Spain, continued the use of the briquet form far longer but most were also supplementing troops with other sapper and engineer forms.

That said, the use By the French was both on land and sea, replacing short straight swords of the decades preceeding the 1760s.

A brief here from Petard on the 18th century evolution of the French swords. The form typically regarded as a briquet the 1787 0r 97, I forget which but the form most think of when they read briquet.
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=download&id=0B9AOFMA8y3ODUzZfRWVsQW12S1U
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=download&id=0B9AOFMA8y3ODNURhVV9Yc1h0b0U

Cheers

GC
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Wed 28 Dec, 2016 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've handled several variations of the 1816/1831, honestly I can't agree with the assessment that they are better for fascine work than the briquet. They definitely don't handle as well as the briquet so I guess I'd much rather use an 1816/1831 for utility than combat. On the other hand there are a variety of iron hilted "gladius" pattern short swords from the 19th century, all private purchase as far as I know, they are very nice weapons.

Anyway I happened to look up the pattern before this post just to check a few things and I noticed Wikipedia has an entry that makes the following odd statement in regards to the 1816 artillery pattern.

Quote:
The short sword would not have been a practical weapon for combat without a shield...


This is nonsense, short bladed swords were the preferred sidearm for infantry for centuries and work fine in that role. What is true is that as the blade gets shorter it gets riskier to attack the legs/low targets. On that note this is something the OP should bear in mind when training with his sword, any saber instruction will be beneficial but de-emphasize low attacks until you reach a high level of experience. Before I was able to pursue training in a traditional style I really enjoyed studying Roworth's Art of Defence On Foot and would recommend it as a good place to begin. I would also suggest finding a stick or pipe about the right length and weighing no more than 1lbs to begin with. You're more likely to injure yourself working with a weapon that's too heavy for you and it'll also fight against developing good form. As you build up to it you can do more and more drilling with your briquet.

https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Art_of_Defence_on_Foot.html?id=iVACAAAAYAAJ

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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Wed 28 Dec, 2016 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The French then went beyond the glaive/gladius by giving the troops the yatghan bayonets starting in the 1840s. No doubt in an effort for a fencible secondary weapon. There is little doubt about the glaives were meant more for utility. One form or anther (as with the briquet type). There were both broad bladed and narrower iron hilted swords. Some sawback, others not. The rather massive Russian 1827 engineer swords a bit more than any would consider them anything more than a tool or just plain scary looking.

The dawn of the briquet types really while most bayonets were socketed and countries still wanting for a secondary weapon once the first shot was done..

Cheers

GC
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Michael Beeching





Joined: 22 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Mon 16 Jan, 2017 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few questions from my end:

1. Wouldn't studying dussak be a good way to go with a short, curved weapon like the briquet? The dussak also shares a comparable amount of hand protection, and sources on Meyer, etc., should not be hard to come by.

2. Is the "poor handling" of these weapons mostly attributed to poor handle design (specifically, the shape of the handle)? I think an overwhelming number of modern knives have serious deficiencies on that front, although simplified blade geometry doesn't help either. For instance, I had a Ka-Bar with a tanto blade that I gave to one of my uncles because the ergonomics of the weapon did not match its ideal means of employment, whereas a normal Ka-Bar would have worked just fine with said ergonomics. Bad ergonomics on the user-end can turn what should be a great choice in edged side arm (a weapon like the gladius - even today I think it could be viable) into a garbage weapon.

I'd also like to pipe in and state that I've had the chance of handling a Chassepot rifle bayonet - probably the most beautiful bayonet you'll ever see. Along with Mauser bayonets, they just don't make them like they used to!
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 328

PostPosted: Mon 16 Jan, 2017 6:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Beeching wrote:
A few questions from my end:

1. Wouldn't studying dussak be a good way to go with a short, curved weapon like the briquet? The dussak also shares a comparable amount of hand protection, and sources on Meyer, etc., should not be hard to come by.


As far as I'm concerned that would be a perfectly acceptable approach to learning how to handle the weapon. There's actually very little difference between traditional saber/cutlass systems and dussack. Heck, there's not much difference between saber and longsword once you make the minor adjustments required when you tie both sides of your body together by placing two hands on the grip. One of the areas where there are some significant differences is in the naming of techniques and organization of information, if you go with Meyer you'll learn terminology that would be unfamiliar to a 19th c. swordsman.

Quote:

2. Is the "poor handling" of these weapons mostly attributed to poor handle design (specifically, the shape of the handle)?


It's the cast brass or in some cases the cast iron handle, that was a cost-savings measure that increased the weight of weapons considerably beyond what was strictly necessary and the resulting product wasn't as durable as a conventionally hilted weapon.

Quote:

I think an overwhelming number of modern knives have serious deficiencies on that front, although simplified blade geometry doesn't help either. For instance, I had a Ka-Bar with a tanto blade that I gave to one of my uncles because the ergonomics of the weapon did not match its ideal means of employment, whereas a normal Ka-Bar would have worked just fine with said ergonomics. Bad ergonomics on the user-end can turn what should be a great choice in edged side arm (a weapon like the gladius - even today I think it could be viable) into a garbage weapon.


I totally agree with this. It's kind of like how it is with fishing lures, they're not really designed to catch fish they're designed to catch fishermen. The original pattern Ka-Bar is old enough to be free of that kind of thing and actually has several very well thought out features like the fuller, stacked leather handle and slightly off center blade.


Quote:
I'd also like to pipe in and state that I've had the chance of handling a Chassepot rifle bayonet - probably the most beautiful bayonet you'll ever see. Along with Mauser bayonets, they just don't make them like they used to!


Also agree with this, the quality of manufactured goods from that era was often truly amazing!

Historical fencing on Florida's Treasure Coast!
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David Kelly




Location: Petersburg, Virginia
Joined: 18 Apr 2009

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2017 2:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Ruhala wrote:
Roderick Stacey wrote:
It was a preferred tool for cutting wood etc, the French Soldiers didn't like them much.


Every time this specific sword is mentioned somebody says something to that effect. These swords are fine for what they were, an economic mass-produced backup weapon. In their era cast brass hilts were faster and cheaper to make than iron fittings with wooden handles but the brass wasn't as strong as iron and resulted in a heavier weapon. For that reason any weapon hilted in brass would have been seen as inferior to one hilted with iron, hence the complaints in the historical record.


Repros are from India and China. Their dynamics and taper are always wrong.

Weaponized brass used by the French Army employed a brass infused charcoal mix for hilts and superior fullering to ensure optimum balance.

There are several British manuals for foot swords that will help study.

The term "briquet" was a slur. Why a big knife when you have a mounted bayonet?

That said, doesn't mean this isn't a valid training tool for learning technique and developing stamina. Enjoy it.



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