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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 9:59 am    Post subject: rapiers in armoured combat/ battlefield combat         Reply with quote

sao one thing thats been plaguing me is that we know that the side sword and rapier evolved from the tendencty towards cut and thrust swords to be more and more thrust centric to deal with armour

but for some reason the rapier doesnt seem tpo bee in that classification

why not?

it seems to have everything youd want,

a long stip, NARROW thrusting blade and decent reach with perhaps some nasty oppertunities for half swording.

what toi type XV;s have that rapiers dont i wonder?
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 10:21 am    Post subject: Re: rapiers in armoured combat/ battlefield combat         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
sao one thing thats been plaguing me is that we know that the side sword and rapier evolved from the tendencty towards cut and thrust swords to be more and more thrust centric to deal with armour

I would not actually say that at all. IMO they seem rather to evolve as heavy armour is already on its way out, in a bid for longer reach and more comprehensive hand protection.

Quote:
but for some reason the rapier doesnt seem tpo bee in that classification

why not?

it seems to have everything youd want,

a long stip, NARROW thrusting blade and decent reach with perhaps some nasty oppertunities for half swording.

what toi type XV;s have that rapiers dont i wonder?

A much sturdier blade and point, structurally suited to half-swording and being jammed into tight nooks and crannies against forceful resistance. Judging by accounts of historical duels, rapiers had a tendency to break under that kind of stresses.

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.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 10:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I, personally, wouldn't want to use a rapier in armored combat. The blades *usually* would be too light and flexible to be of much use against heavy plate, unless the strike was very well placed between the gaps in the armor. And, all but useless as a slasher. I'd personally want a war hammer or a stout pole arm against a heavily armored opponent. I'm sure I will get some argument for saying that....but that's just ME. Wink Not saying a rapier *couldn't* be used, I just don't see it being a good idea. Wink .....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Michele Allori




Location: Rome, Italy
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 10:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing to add is that rapiers (as far as I know) were rarely, if ever, seen on the battlefield, this would automatically imply that they were definitely not suitable to use against armored opponents, being them "civil" weapons.

Also, having such a long and thin blade I'd be afraid of my opponent actually grabbing it and bending it with the shear weight of the armor even if a thrust were to hit the mail part of the armor.

Yeah, very cool. Is it historically accurate though?
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sturdier cut and thrust swords like the Walloon, used extensively on battlefields during the second half of the 17th century, would be much more useful.

Last edited by Roger Hooper on Tue 20 Jun, 2017 8:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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Guillaume Vauthier




Location: France
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In fact I think that the flexible rapier blade is more like an urban legend, the historical rapiers that I had the luck to handle were quite stiff (that seems legit for a thrusting weapon, that said).

However, and even if some big-ass rapiers were used on battlefield (on the 30 years war, for example), those swords are not build to fence some guys in heavy armor, as Michele said. Even if there are some mentions of armored opponents in some treatises, like the second one of Nicoletto Giganti (1608).
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rapiers seem to have been considered too long and too fragile to withstand the brunt of militrary combat between armoured soldiers, particularly the cavarly. Yet some men clearly used rapiers when in service unless prevented from doing so given the lengthy prohibitions against rapiers being used as cavalry sidearms that I have found in a couple of mid 16th Century documents. However the Imperial regulations issued for the HRE in 1570 actually mentions rapiers as military sidearms, not for armoured troops but rather for the unarmoured arquebusiers.

It's worth remembering that "armoured combat" was by the time of the rapier either fought between men with pikes & polearms on foot or between cavalrymen. In both cases the sidearm needed to be able to handle the lack of space found in a melee. And the cut was still usefull against unarmoured troops who were more common than say on the battlefields of the 100YW as the armies increased the number of men with little or no armour. As a result something like the Wallace collection A612 was much more usefull for the cuirassiers of the early 17th century and the 30-Years War than than a long thrust focused rapier. The A612 can cut as well and has the robust design needed to withstand the impact of thrusts against heavily armoured enemies such as other cuirassiers.
http://wallacelive.wallacecollection.org/eMus...detailView

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Michele Allori




Location: Rome, Italy
Joined: 24 May 2017

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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 1:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guillaume Vauthier wrote:
In fact I think that the flexible rapier blade is more like an urban legend, the historical rapiers that I had the luck to handle were quite stiff (that seems legit for a thrusting weapon, that said).

Exactly! This is why I thought about the rapier bending against armour, their stifness, combined with the narrow blade, wouldn't allow for it to flex and take its form back, and a thrust focused weapon is impossible to use if bent.

Yeah, very cool. Is it historically accurate though?
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 3:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guillaume Vauthier wrote:
In fact I think that the flexible rapier blade is more like an urban legend, the historical rapiers that I had the luck to handle were quite stiff (that seems legit for a thrusting weapon, that said).

Yeah, thrusting blades need to be stiff, whether they're rapiers or Type XVs or XVIIs. The difference between rapiers and actual anti-armour blades is in sturdiness, instead, the real can openers being built to withstand very different kinds and levels of stresses without deforming. Most rapiers are clearly designed to perforate unarmoured opponents from as far away as reasonably possible, not to pry open chinks in hard armour at grappling distances.

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.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 4:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is exactly why the 'Tuck', or 'Estoc' was invented. Dead stiff, pointed as hell. Exactly meant for armor penetration. Also the tri-edged, stiletto-bladed rondelle dagger. Beat 'em down with a hammer, then gig 'em with a spike in the crack. (That didn't come out right AT ALL.) WTF?! You know what I mean! Laughing Out Loud ......McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Steven Lussenburg





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jun, 2017 10:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can imagine quite a few people who only had one sword would carry their rapier as back up weapon on the battlefield.
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jun, 2017 4:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven Lussenburg wrote:
I can imagine quite a few people who only had one sword would carry their rapier as back up weapon on the battlefield.

Sure, but soldiers who only had one sword would far more likely have a simpler, more robust military sword like that Walloon, above.

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.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Mike Janis




Location: Atlanta GA
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jun, 2017 10:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yet, Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim was famous for carrying a Pappenheimer Rapier on the battlefield. Also, Gustavus Adolphus was carrying a rapier when he was killed at the Battle of Lützen. Both were known for "Leading from the front".
MikeJ
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Houston P.




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jun, 2017 10:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is also important to note that they called what we would consider multiple multiple different types of sword a rapier. They considered sideswords rapiers, for example. If a historical record said they died with a rapier, it is most likely referring to a weapon more akin to the A and A Munich Town Guard. It is highly unlikely to be referring to the "true rapiers". Their long, narrow, thick, stiff blades could not handle contact with many larger weapons. I would shudder to think about losing my polearm and having to face someone who still had one while my only backup weapon was a rapier. If I had a longsword, while I'd still be in significantly disadvantageous position, I would have more options, power, and leverage to use against against my opponent.
...and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭36‬) To be without silver is better than to be without honor. -Norse proverb
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jun, 2017 12:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Janis wrote:
Yet, Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim was famous for carrying a Pappenheimer Rapier on the battlefield. Also, Gustavus Adolphus was carrying a rapier when he was killed at the Battle of Lützen. Both were known for "Leading from the front".

Sure, there are always exceptions. Particularly among officers. But the very fact of someone being famous for something indicates that it was uncommon.

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.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Guillaume Vauthier




Location: France
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jun, 2017 12:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In fact, from the historical sources that I saw, they called rapiers "swords" most of the time.

A few historical rapiers that I saw were actually pretty heavy, with a strong blade presence and a handle longer than usual, and I suspect this kind of weapon could have been used in cavalry for example. But, as precedently said, the rapier is mainly a civilian weapon.

Some treatises mention how to deal with a guy armed with a polearm or a "great sword" (a longsword or montante-like sword, as I think)... but there again, it was in civilian context.
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jun, 2017 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Janis wrote:
Yet, Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim was famous for carrying a Pappenheimer Rapier on the battlefield. Also, Gustavus Adolphus was carrying a rapier when he was killed at the Battle of Lützen. Both were known for "Leading from the front".

While "rapier" is indeed the correct translation of the the Swedish word "värja" the meaning of the Swedish word is not the same today as it was in 1632. Then it could be used for any weapon, for example both muskets and pikes were listed as "värjor" in the records of the Swedish army as the word in it's 17th Century form is better translated as "arm(s)" (as in sidearm/polearm) than "rapier" when translating it into English.

The "Lutzen rapier" is an interesting weapon, it was not the king's favourite sidearm and is unusual in several ways, for example the hilt is only a "half-basket" with one side only having a thumbring. The blade is to my eye a long and narrow type XVa and diffrent from the blades found on for example the rapiers in the Wallace collection. It has more in common with swords like the Wallace A617. The Lutzen rapier can be found here http://emuseumplus.lsh.se/eMuseumPlus?service...detailView
Do note that the measurements are a bit misleading as the width given is that of the ricasso rather than the blade. The blade is 32mm at the base acording to the best book published so far on the Lützen artifacts. For more photos click the heading marked "relaterade bilder".

Gustav Adolf's favourite "värja"/sidearm also survives to this day and it is a bit of a shame that it does not get as much attention as the famous Lutzen "värja". Even the Livrustkammaren does not have a photo showing the entire weapon but rather focuses on the ornate hilt. Yet the blade is another very serviceable and to me very military Solingen blade which seems like another typ XVa that is a bit shorter and broader than the blade of the Lutzen sword.
http://emuseumplus.lsh.se/eMuseumPlus?service...detailView

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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John Cope





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PostPosted: Fri 23 Jun, 2017 10:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Keep in mind that the sword and rapier coexisted into the black powder age. Even then the Small sword and the Hanger/Cutlass continue together beyond that time period.

Different tool for a different job.

Rapiers and Small swords were used by people in a civilian setting to defend themselves against unarmoured opponents. Duels and other fights that might expect a certain code of conduct. Also since it is lighter it is easier to wear with you all the time. As anyone who has actually worn a sword for a period of time will attest, the heavier they are the less comfortable they are on you.

Swords used against armoured opponents tend to be much heavier bladed in both width at the quillon, rigidity and sheer weight. Much more capable of delivering a heavy blow to stun or knock down someone. Death happens on the ground for the armoured. Or later against someone who might be swinging a musket butt or Artillery ramrod at you. Don't suggest blocking that with a light bladed rapier!
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Fri 23 Jun, 2017 1:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rapiers are for the most part not light, the long blades and heavy complex hilts make them as heavy or even heavier than contemporary swords. I looked at the rapiers in the collection of the Swedish Royal Armoury and the were mostly 1,5 to 1,7 kilos in weight. In comparison a cuirassier sword beloning to the same group as the Wallace collection A612 was only 1,4 kilos and many of the so called Dutch-Swedish cavalry swords from the 1st half of the 17th Century was only about 1,2 kilos. German late 16th Century basket-hilts were about as heavy as the rapiers despite shorter blades because of their heavy and to some extent crude hilts.

And weight is not much of an issue if the scabbard has a good suspension system which distributes and balances the weight of the sword or rapier. Rapiers hangers had to be particularly good at this because of the weight and lenght of many rapiers. Once I started using swords that were the proper historical weight or close enough to it combined with good suspension systems as part of my reenactment I was never bothered by the actual weight of a sword or rapier, The lenght of the weapon is another matter...

Long or very long blades are problematic to carry if you don't have a lot of space and you find your self hitting both people or furniture with the scabbard. Of all the sword types I've carried rapiers are by far the most cumbersome in restricted or crowded spaces, only the longest of long swords would be equaly bad. Their combination of short one hand hilts and long blades makes for a lot of blade sticking out behind you ready to hit furniture, knock goblets off the table or bump into innocent ladies when passing them in the street ;-)
(Katzbalgers are by far the easiest, once it's properly secured at the waist it is almost easy to forget that it is there.)

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Guillaume Vauthier




Location: France
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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jun, 2017 1:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Totally agree with Daniel. From my own experience, rapiers were not lighter than the average sword (on a sample of a hundred specimens, the average weight went from 1,2 to 1,4kg, with an extreme at 1,8kg). They were not flexible as well, nor agile, not even fast, as it seems to be confimed by the dynamics graphs we obtained with Vincent Le Chevalier. And I guess that if a guy with a longsword is not a dumb brute and does not cut as if he had a hammer, you can stop his attack with an average rapier. If he strikes with all his power, the best thing to do is to dodge, like all the fencing manuals say.

But they were civilian weapons. You can see it in representations, and also on the grip length, which is often pretty short (like 8 to 9cm, even shorter). Like Daniel says, such a cumbersome weapon would not be practical in a battle - especially on foot. On the other side I think that some heavy rapiers could have been used as cavalry swords.

Concerning the suspension, you can see that on several historical ones, the rapier was hang to the belt with hooks that were easy to remove... so you could just take the scabbard by hand in the crowded areas. Many left-handed daggers were quite short and were not as bulky!
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