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Richard Miller




Location: Santa Barbara
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Feb, 2017 5:44 pm    Post subject: Longswords on a Belt?         Reply with quote

I have been collecting for a few years, and studying Longsword (Fiore, Ringeck) as well. Because it's no longer fashionable to wear a sword, I never put a lot of thought into how a longsword was carried in the High Middle Ages.
Carrying an arming sword (about 34"-38" overall) on a belt isn't much of a problem, but after seeing some medieval towns and realizing how narrow stairs and walkways are, I can't imagine that it was at all common to wear a longsword (about 48" or more) on a belt.
I've read that Highlanders carried their Claymores over their backs, and I wonder if that was true on the Continent as well.
Anybody out there know?
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Feb, 2017 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

They were commonly worn on belts as attested to by much historical artwork. Keep in mind rapiers can easily be as long or longer than longswords.
Historical fencing on Florida's Treasure Coast!
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Richard Miller




Location: Santa Barbara
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Feb, 2017 10:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could you post some of the art? Or some links? I'm beginning to think that I'm not saying this right or using an ambiguous term.
Maybe I'm using the wrong word when I say longsword. I am thinking of a sword that is meant to be used with both hands like the swords depicted in manuscripts of the era.
The description of such a sword was "a sword that came up as high as the swordsman's armpit."
For myself, that would be a sword about 54 inches from point to peen.


Last edited by Richard Miller on Mon 20 Feb, 2017 10:28 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 20 Feb, 2017 10:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard,

From experience I know that when maneuvering through places where there are obstacles or the space is otherwise narrow, you can move your sword slightly by manipulating the hilt while it's in your scabbard suspended to the belt. Pulling the hilt up, for instance helps tuck in the scabbard a bit so it's a little shorter behind you. Similarly, moving the hilt outwards helps to pull the scabbard tighter to your body. I would assume medieval people where also aware of this and did it as appropriate.
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Richard Miller




Location: Santa Barbara
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Feb, 2017 10:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, Craig !
Judging from the sword you're wielding in your profile picture, you have the experience to say that it was do-able.
What term would you use to describe the swords dimensions... I want to be on the same page when discussing the topic of "Longsword Skills"
In another thread, it was said that "longsword fencing" refers as much to the way one fences as to the sword itself.
Have you heard this?
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 20 Feb, 2017 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
What term would you use to describe the swords dimensions... I want to be on the same page when discussing the topic of "Longsword Skills".


It depends what dimensions you refer to. Are you talking about blade length? Or something else? Medieval people were not overly technical about blade length, so unless there's a need for it, I wouldn't be too concerned about it.

Quote:
In another thread, it was said that "longsword fencing" refers as much to the way one fences as to the sword itself.
Have you heard this?


The first thing I would want to ask is to know what, precisely, the person saying this means by it. This statement is one that appears to have meaning, but it's less-clear what is actually meant when you think about it.

From my perspective, long sword fencing is intimately connected to the sword itself. Many of the techniques that arise from using the long sword are reflected in the weapon itself. For instance, you use both edges of the long sword when making attacks because of the fact that the long sword has two edges, unlike say a katana which only has one. The way you fence with a long sword is also different in certain ways from how you fence with sword and buckler or sword and shield, precisely because you are using the sword with two hands which enables you to perform a greater variety of techniques and because you do not have a shield to bind the opponent's sword with at an opportune moment.

Do not get me wrong: there is a tremendous amount of overlap between a long sword and other weapons, and if you can use a long sword, using something like a sword and buckler or even something like a spear becomes considerably easier. However, the original quote seems to imply that long sword fencing can be abstracted from the sword itself, and to me that doesn’t make sense. One might extrapolate long sword fencing to other weapons, like I mentioned, but speaking about how one fences divorced from the weapon used is peculiar.
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Alexander B.




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 12:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I would say it takes some getting used to and skill to walk around with a sword of any kind on a belt. But I'd say it was part of the skillset required for people who had the privilege of wearing swords.


Some experience:
18th C. smallswords are quite dainty and not excessively long (though not as short as many imagine)
And when you look at reenactments, there are people who wear a sword 1 day per year, and hit everything there is with their sword; legs, dogs, furniture, stuff on the table etc.

And then there are people who can slither through the densest crowd and never catch anything with their sword.

Just like backpacks or those suitcases you can draw behind you; it takes some time to get used to taking up more room and how to navigate the world, and also some effort to learn.

-PLUS RATIO QUAM VIS-
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 12:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are earlier references but Paurnfeyndt lays it out plainly enough.

Quote:
The first chapter teaches how one should use advantage in the long sword, which is used with both hands, such as the battle sword, riding sword, estoc, and many others which I will for brevity's sake leave out.


Similarly "short sword" didn't mean a physically shorter weapon, it meant wielding your sword with one hand on the grip and one on the blade. This can also be done with a single handed sword and we have historical artwork that shows it.

Here is an example of both long and short gripped swords being fenced long,

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/media/cache/m..._large.jpg

Here is a long gripped sword being fenced short,

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/media/cache/m..._large.jpg

I will attach a picture of a dude from the early 16th c. wearing a longsword on a belt. If you dig around there is historical artwork that shows whole formations of foot soldiers wearing longswords on their belt.



 Attachment: 136.7 KB
[ Download ]

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Guillaume Vauthier




Location: France
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Posts: 155

PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 1:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Ruhala wrote:
They were commonly worn on belts as attested to by much historical artwork. Keep in mind rapiers can easily be as long or longer than longswords.

Very true. The longest historical rapier I've seen is a german one, currently kept in the Musée Renaissance in Ecouen (France). It is close to 59 inches long (149cm), and the blade must be like 53 inches. And this kind of weapon was clearly not designed to be carried on your back.
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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 3:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a nice illustration showing longswords worn at the waist and carried over the shoulder.

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Neil Melville




Location: Scotland
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 5:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard: let me disabuse you - there is no evidence whatsoever that Highlanders carried their claidheamh da laimh or twahandswerds on their backs (by the way, the term 'claymore' was never used for this sword at the time). The idea is an invention of film-makers. Sorry.
Mark: that is a great image you just posted; can you give us a source for it, please. Thanks.
Neil

N Melville
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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Neil Melville wrote:
Mark: that is a great image you just posted; can you give us a source for it, please. Thanks.
Neil

It is from an edition of the Richentalchronik in Vienna, Codex 3044 at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. It is fully digitized, and has many other interesting illustrations. Here is another showing very large longswords worn at the waist.

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Richard Miller




Location: Santa Barbara
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 12:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow! Gentlemen, you all really came through on this one. The information looks to be about as solid as it gets. And thanks to Mr. Melville, I am much more convinced by a native than a narrator.

The art depicted shows very clearly men carrying swords that match the dimensions of swords described in the manuscripts. Men were carrying swords as "high as his armpit" in belt suspensions. As Craig Miller points out something that should have been obvious to me, it would be natural to people of any time period to adapt a skill that was "normal" to them.

As a man who had finished college before Oakeshott ever published, those professors from whom I learned didn't have access to the wealth of information we have at our fingertips today. I often joke that; " I went to high school 5 billion years ago." My old textbooks taught that the earth was as much as a billion years old and the universe was as much as 5 billion years old." Today we are told that the earth is six billion years old and the universe is 11 billion. Wow! I've aged a lot more than I thought.

Seems an old dog can learn new tricks.

Thanks for the education, gents. It is much appreciated!

-Rick
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 1:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just keep a good hold on your grip or pommel when indoors. I once cleaned off the dining table while wearing my Hanwei Rhinelander belted. Laughing Out Loud .....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Richard Miller




Location: Santa Barbara
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 5:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
Just keep a good hold on your grip or pommel when indoors. I once cleaned off the dining table while wearing my Hanwei Rhinelander belted. Laughing Out Loud .....McM



Actually, Mark... An experience similar to yours is what prompted me to start this topic!
After touring Bruges, Belgium I was convinced that nobody could have worn a longsword on their belt without becoming a walking disaster! The same was true for Vienna and Prague. Alleyways that were only a little wider than three feet, and stairways were even narrower.

When I returned home I strapped on my Lutel (47 inches, point to pommel and comes with full suspension fitted to my measurements) and almost immediately knocked over our umbrella stand. I even knocked over a bunch of framed photos as I was trying to take the thing off.

Apparently, swordsmen in days of yore were a lot better at carrying swords around than I am.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not really....they just had less stuff to knock about! Laughing Out Loud ......McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would imagine that class and social standing had a bit to do with it as well. If you were the sort of person who was permitted to wear a longsword around town, it was probably up to other people to get out of its/your way. If you knock over a merchant's goods with your longsword, what is he going to do about it? I am not suggesting that this was a major element, but it seems unlikely that it was never an issue.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 8:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I'm going to carry a sword in a tight, or crowded place(Ren-fests), I like a belt with suspension long enough that I can hold it by the scabbard in front of me. Then, I got a universal-fit baldric and carry was no issue at all. Just swing it in front or back, or carry in front. Maybe not historic for all time periods, but beats poking the people walking behind you every time you stop. Laughing Out Loud ....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Richard Miller




Location: Santa Barbara
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 9:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
If I'm going to carry a sword in a tight, or crowded place(Ren-fests), I like a belt with suspension long enough that I can hold it by the scabbard in front of me. Then, I got a universal-fit baldric and carry was no issue at all. Just swing it in front or back, or carry in front. Maybe not historic for all time periods, but beats poking the people walking behind you every time you stop. Laughing Out Loud ....McM
Idea

I think I've just decided how I'll wear it next time! Laughing Out Loud
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Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Tue 21 Feb, 2017 10:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wouldn't doubt that longswords were transported on the back, but only for long transits. You can't draw a longsword from a back-mounted scabbard, and even if you could it would certainly entail a lot of wild gyrations.
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