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David Donovan

Location: Wichita, KS
Joined: 28 Apr 2006
Reading list: 6 books

Posts: 33

PostPosted: Sat 27 May, 2017 7:42 pm    Post subject: XVI Century postal worker - Carried a weapon?         Reply with quote

I've recently gotten involved with the local renfaire royal court, and have been trying to find an unfilled niche for a character I can depict. Our dates are c.1525 for the fall faire and c.1575 for the spring faire, with a German cultural background. My current research led me some info about the Kaiserliche Reichspost which fits well into our time period, and I thought this might be an interesting opportunity for a character.

However, I haven't been able to find any good info on whether or not the employees of the Reichspost would have been armed to protect themselves from dangers along the road while carrying important correspondence. So I thought I'd run the question by everyone here to see if there was any knowledge to share. Would a "mailman" of the time been armed when travelling between towns? If so, what would they have likely carried? Just a civilian hauswehr/baurnswehr, or something more military in style? (Or even both?)

EDIT: Attached pic is from Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608 depicting an English courier - so not quite the same time/place I'm aiming for but gives an idea.

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Takasugi Shinsaku (1839-1867)
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Mark Moore

Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 2,294

PostPosted: Sun 28 May, 2017 11:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure they would have carried -something- to protect themselves and the post from bandits and various other threats. It would only make sense if traveling the roads between settlements. I figure they would be on horseback, or maybe in a small wagon or coach. I could see carrying a large knife---maybe a short sword or a stout side-sword. I, myself, would be armed to the teeth--either in that century or the present one! I'm pretty sure that my postman has a little surprise under his seat, and I don't blame him a bit! Wink .....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Lafayette C Curtis

Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,698

PostPosted: Wed 06 Sep, 2017 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe that would have largely depended on whether the post service was supposed to handle valuable items, whether in the form of bullion or jewels or debt certificates. Given the imperial nature of the postal service you have in mind, its use was probably restricted to relatively affluent and/or politically important people who had either the money or the influence to justify their use of the post, so I'd hazard a guess that the postal couriers were not only armed but travelled in groups (or with hired guards in the manner of Wells Fargo agents in the Wild West).
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Steve Mijatovic

Location: Australia
Joined: 13 Jul 2012

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed 06 Sep, 2017 11:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A decent compromise might be a good stout walking stick/quarterstaff.

You can use it for walking, carrying your mail sack, poking at things, checking river depths etc etc. Best of all it's a stout cudgel to beat knaves on the roadway.

Couple it with a utility knife for cutting the purses from those whose skulls you've cracked and you'd probably feel quite comfortable on the road.
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