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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Nov, 2017 5:51 am    Post subject: Swiss Longswords in Schilling's Chronicles         Reply with quote


Rudolf von Erlach as field commander of Berne kneeling in prayer before the battle of Laupen 1339 (illustration from Spiezer Chronik, c. 1485). Rudolf is shown with his family coat or arms and wearing a pointed hat with his heraldic colours.


In Schilling's Manuscript, there is a fairly good representation of these longswords/two-handers as a second side-weapon of the Swiss, after the Baselard. Apparently, everyone was expected to afford at least his main weapon, a baselard, and basic armor. Those who could afford this very long gripped-sword could add it as a secondary side-weapon. I also find interesting that this is perhaps the only manuscript I know so far to describe some swiss soldiers in full harness.

However, my doubt is related to the fact that sometimes you can see highlighted groups carrying their greatswords (often resting on the shoulders) without a main weapon. So I'm interested if by that time (late 15th century) the officers were mainly armed with the greatsword or if there were units of two-handed armed swordsmen amongst them.

Schilling's swordsmen:

https://myArmoury.com/talk/files/switzerland2011_82_of_352_199_628_115.jpg

https://myArmoury.com/talk/files/2874ye_101_139.jpg


Regarding what I have researched:

In some obscure period, the Confederation banned the use of zweihandër, but it was ignored or relaxed somewhere until the Second War of Kappel (where you can see illustration showing zweihandër-armed swordsmen fighting pikemen).

The zweihander wasn't adopted by the Landsknecht until somewhere by 1510's. Paul Dolstein drawings don't include them among the weapon of the Landsknecht serving in Sweden, for example. Some authors also argued it was swiss/german influence that make Scots adopt the use of two-handed swordsmen at the Schiltron's flanks starting at Flodden (1513).

Giving the fact that Oakeshott traces the earliest two-handers in Spain and then to Italy, it's possible the Swiss adopted the two-handers before the germans, who were likely to have copied them.

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Nov, 2017 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's a lot of evidence that Swiss soldiers carried longswords as sidearms. They were famous for using longswords/two-handers even into the middle of the 17th century.

Now, some of the swords worn at the side in this particular chronicle look so big as to prove a hindrance. That might just be a matter of inconsistent proportions and artwork.

There are various later pieces that show pikers and halberdiers equipped with longswords, such as from Urs Graf. Sometimes these do have long handles, as in this picture.

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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Nov, 2017 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
There's a lot of evidence that Swiss soldiers carried longswords as sidearms. They were famous for using longswords/two-handers even into the middle of the 17th century.


What intrigues me is how they would harmonize their style of fighting with two-hander swordsmanship. Though I'm inclined to believe that those longswords and two-handers were more common among halberdiers rather than pikemen (and the Chronicle in question somehow suggests that), it would still curious to think how exactly they would use them in a pike column. Would they use them to charge against other pike formations to avoid the push-of-pike, suddenly dropping their pikes to use the two-handers or greatswords (ie. longswords who were necessarily used with both hands)?

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Now, some of the swords worn at the side in this particular chronicle look so big as to prove a hindrance. That might just be a matter of inconsistent proportions and artwork.


There is one illustration that dismisses that, showing soldiers with their swords held horizontally. It's another work made by Schillings. They were actual, if not simply smaller, zwëihanders:


Perhaps only a specific amount of those swords were actual zwëihanders, likely the ones in the left; but those in the right are doubtless two-handers.

Quote:
There are various later pieces that show pikers and halberdiers equipped with longswords, such as from Urs Graf. Sometimes these do have long handles, as in this picture.


Interesting picture. There was any difference between a landsknecht and a swiss garment, they look almost identical?

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Alexander Hinman




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Nov, 2017 6:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
There's a lot of evidence that Swiss soldiers carried longswords as sidearms. They were famous for using longswords/two-handers even into the middle of the 17th century.


What intrigues me is how they would harmonize their style of fighting with two-hander swordsmanship. Though I'm inclined to believe that those longswords and two-handers were more common among halberdiers rather than pikemen (and the Chronicle in question somehow suggests that), it would still curious to think how exactly they would use them in a pike column. Would they use them to charge against other pike formations to avoid the push-of-pike, suddenly dropping their pikes to use the two-handers or greatswords (ie. longswords who were necessarily used with both hands)?


I don't think I've seen any indication that longswords were preferred by halberdiers. Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf and Niklaus Manuel Deutsch show them being carried by flag bearers, pikemen, and halberdiers alike.

As for their use, they would of course be useful in situations such as while foraging (peasants were known to kill solitary landsknechts on sight, and for good reason!) or during a siege assault. In the early modern period both of these would be more common than a pitched battle. In a true battle, however, they would find use in a situation called "bad war". This is when, after two pike blocks meet, the mounting casualties cause discipline in the blocks to break down, and they get entangled. It becomes more difficult to fence with the pikes and so shorter weapons are typically used.

This drawing by Hans Holbein the Younger, though somewhat muddy and hard to parse, is a fairly good example of bad war: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/Battle_Scene%2C_after_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger.jpg

This Niklaus Manuel Deutsch piece is even more relevant to our discussion:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/13/Niklaus_Manuel_Eidgenosse.jpg

Notice in the frieze at the top of the image, there are longswords carried by both halberdier and pikeman at the center, and at the bottom left a broken longsword is in the hands of the fallen drummer, while on the far right one mercenary is holding another down and is about to strike him with his longsword. These are the sorts of things you might expect to use a longsword for.

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Now, some of the swords worn at the side in this particular chronicle look so big as to prove a hindrance. That might just be a matter of inconsistent proportions and artwork.


There is one illustration that dismisses that, showing soldiers with their swords held horizontally. It's another work made by Schillings. They were actual, if not simply smaller, zwëihanders:


Perhaps only a specific amount of those swords were actual zwëihanders, likely the ones in the left; but those in the right are doubtless two-handers.


Your observations are sharp. It is not by accident that Figueiredo's montante drills start with the sword point down on the ground, and I think this is one of the better ways to identify the representation of a true two-handed sword in simple artwork, especially because it makes it easier for the artist to show the full length of the sword in relation to the height of the person, as opposed to raised or pointed at an angle. Another way of identifying a two-handed sword is how it is carried: with the grip on the shoulder, and the guard behind it.



Here Urs Graf shows a particularly clear example of this, but you can also see it in the Holbein image, on the far right, carried in the same way. Hans Burgkmair also shows them carried this way in the Triumph of Maximilian. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O675665/tri...an-i-holy/

Indeed, whether this is artistic convention or a truly accurate representation of reality, I think it may be fair to say that any sword carried on the belt is not a two-handed sword

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:

Interesting picture. There was any difference between a landsknecht and a swiss garment, they look almost identical?


There was one very important difference in garb, which is the use of crosses. Specifically, Swiss reisläufer will have a horizontal and vertical cross slashed or painted into their clothing. Imperial landsknechts, meanwhile, will have a diagonal cross (derived from the Burgundian Cross). Schilling himself depicts this convention in his sections on the Burgundian Wars, such as in this scene of the Battle of Grandson, with the Burgundian crosses painted in red and the Swiss in white: http://www.e-codices.ch/en/kol/S0023-2/200/0/Sequence-1291

From painted crosses, the tradition moved into slashing. The landsknecht with the "al mein gelt verspilt" sword has them both on his coif and on his jacket, at the thigh.

This Urs Graf piece, meanwhile, shows landsknecht and reisläufer together, as friends, with the relevant slashing plainly visible:



Here we can also see other symbols that help us identify a Swiss or German. The schweizerdolch or basler is used by both Urs Graf and Niklaus Manuel Deutsch to indicate Swiss-ness, and the reisläufer here is indeed carrying one. Also, though this observation is not as firm, Graf seems to associate the two-handed sword with a figure-8 shaped hilt with the Germans. He does not, however, treat the katzbalger as a uniquely German weapon, so this theory is rather shaky. There are probably other identifiers that I haven't noticed, but that's what I've got.

Hope that answers your questions!
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2017 1:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexander Hinman wrote:
I don't think I've seen any indication that longswords were preferred by halberdiers. Hans Holbein the Younger, Urs Graf and Niklaus Manuel Deutsch show them being carried by flag bearers, pikemen, and halberdiers alike.


Perhaps "prefered" is not the most exact word, but I usually see them more often with halberdiers than with pikemen, but I don't know if the reason for that was mainly because pikemen wouldn't have too much space in close formation to use them or because the halberdiers, usually being of higher social classes, could all afford them, while some pikemen couldn't. That might be the same reason for why full armor is more often being noticed among halberdiers rather among pikemen, but strategically use might be a reason too (halberdiers performing the duty of forlorn hope and of "doppelsöldner")

Alexander Hinman wrote:
As for their use, they would of course be useful in situations such as while foraging (peasants were known to kill solitary landsknechts on sight, and for good reason!) or during a siege assault. In the early modern period both of these would be more common than a pitched battle. In a true battle, however, they would find use in a situation called "bad war". This is when, after two pike blocks meet, the mounting casualties cause discipline in the blocks to break down, and they get entangled. It becomes more difficult to fence with the pikes and so shorter weapons are typically used.


I usually thought of landsknecht and swiss mercenaries of pitched battle troops instead of siege ones, since they would have much tactical use unless at streetfighting, where they could deploy their pikes. There were actually occasions were both of them were employed in siege attacks?

About the Bad War, Schilling's manuscript has an illustration were one frontline or flanking swiss use his two-handed sword to thrust through enemy's breastplate (probably exaggerated, though). Perhaps using a two-hander's point would be more practical in pikemen's formations than actually swinging around.

Quote:
Another way of identifying a two-handed sword is how it is carried: with the grip on the shoulder, and the guard behind it.
[...]
Indeed, whether this is artistic convention or a truly accurate representation of reality, I think it may be fair to say that any sword carried on the belt is not a two-handed sword


Schilling's manuscripts are the only ones I know to show two handers being carried both over shoulders and on sword's belts. Perhaps the last one was a dying tradition or simply because you have no reason to carry a two-hander if it is not your main weapon. Having it on your belt is a way more practical.

Alexander Hinman wrote:
Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:

Interesting picture. There was any difference between a landsknecht and a swiss garment, they look almost identical?


There was one very important difference in garb, which is the use of crosses. Specifically, Swiss reisläufer will have a horizontal and vertical cross slashed or painted into their clothing. Imperial landsknechts, meanwhile, will have a diagonal cross (derived from the Burgundian Cross). Schilling himself depicts this convention in his sections on the Burgundian Wars, such as in this scene of the Battle of Grandson, with the Burgundian crosses painted in red and the Swiss in white: http://www.e-codices.ch/en/kol/S0023-2/200/0/Sequence-1291

From painted crosses, the tradition moved into slashing. The landsknecht with the "al mein gelt verspilt" sword has them both on his coif and on his jacket, at the thigh.

This Urs Graf piece, meanwhile, shows landsknecht and reisläufer together, as friends, with the relevant slashing plainly visible:

Here we can also see other symbols that help us identify a Swiss or German. The schweizerdolch or basler is used by both Urs Graf and Niklaus Manuel Deutsch to indicate Swiss-ness, and the reisläufer here is indeed carrying one. Also, though this observation is not as firm, Graf seems to associate the two-handed sword with a figure-8 shaped hilt with the Germans. He does not, however, treat the katzbalger as a uniquely German weapon, so this theory is rather shaky. There are probably other identifiers that I haven't noticed, but that's what I've got.

Hope that answers your questions!


Apart from the weapons, the slashing part is somehow confusing. I thought it would be related to the style of slashing, but both the swiss and the landsknecht had the two types of slashing in their dresses.



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two hander.png
Swiss soldier thrusting with his sword against an enemy 's armor

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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2017 3:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
I usually thought of landsknecht and swiss mercenaries of pitched battle troops instead of siege ones, since they would have much tactical use unless at streetfighting, where they could deploy their pikes. There were actually occasions were both of them were employed in siege attacks?


Over time Armored pikemen seem to increasingly take point during assaults with shot working in close coordination to provide suppressing fire. Whether this is because pikes actually were very useful in urban combat, because most armies no longer had many short weapons availible, or because the strongest, best armored troops were made into pikemen isn't clear. According to Roger Williams (1592):

"The Pike is the chie∣fest weapon to defend, and to enter a breach, although diuers guards nere a place assieged are furnished onelie with shot & short weapons, as armed Holberts, Targets, and such weapons, by reason their Trenches are narrow and deepe to couer them from the defendants shot, in which trenches the Pikes haue no conuenient place to fight: notwithstanding, about their batteries, and in di∣uers places nere vnto these guards, they make large Cor∣digards, where they place their Ensignes in some and in all strong guards of Pikes; meaning thereby to put their strength and rest chieflie on that weapon: wherefore the experimented Spaniards commands all their chiefe men on foote to carrie the Pike."

It might be that like he says that the breach itself was still typically decided by a push of pike and pikes were still useful for street combat, but it was best if they had a higher proportion of short weapons to help back them up or clear out buildings.

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
About the Bad War, Schilling's manuscript has an illustration were one frontline or flanking swiss use his two-handed sword to thrust through enemy's breastplate (probably exaggerated, though). Perhaps using a two-hander's point would be more practical in pikemen's formations than actually swinging around.


The term that usually comes up for this in english sources is "pell mell" or a mingled, close-quarters melee. Generally all the "short weapons", partisans, halberds, bills, longswords, sword&target, etc., were considered more effective in a pell mell than a pike, and many writers tend to argue the shorter and heavier, the better. Some, like Robert Barret felt that troops could sometimes get so close in a pell mell that even a longsword couldn't be used, so the standard sidearms for all infantry tends to be reccomended as a 3-foot short sword and a small dagger.

Short weapons could also be used outside of a pike square in skirmishes alongside harquebusiers or to pursue fleeing enemies

Barret, 1600: " The which bils and halberds with other short weapons as swords and targets, and long swords, and such like, shall serue as in a place of best seruice for them, to mingle with your naked troupes of shot, and also (placed with some pikes) for the gard of the cariage and munition and ordinance, or for execution if the ene∣my begin to breake and slye, with sundry such seruices not contained in the bo∣dy of the battell."

Edit: more relevant images https://imgur.com/a/0eYTZ



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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2017 5:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Back to the subject of two-handed swords. Here's an interesting passage from a translation of Jacopo di Porcia's "The Preceptes of Warre" written sometime in the early 16th century

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A09851.0001.001/1:5?rgn=div1;view=toc

Quote:
187. ¶ Of the maner of fyghtynge.

Cause thy souldyours to foyne conty∣nually, and not lay on downryght, which force of fyghtynge is moche dreaded of thyne enemyes, cheifelye yf the foynes be cast at the face. These woundes ben vncu∣rable, and the wounded haue more nede of a preeste then of a surgyon. But yf thy men haue bastarde swordes, or twohan∣ded swordes, vsed in the ast partyes, lette them gyue downryght strokes. For those swordes be so deedlye, that lyghtlye they wyll stryke of the heed, cleaue the bodye, and dismembre all partes.


So he feels that most solders should be instructed to thrust towards the face, which is very frightening and deadly to the enemy. (I have sometimes come across similar instructions in later treatises, for instance that targeteers should be taught to only trust with their swords and aim for the face or where there is no armor.) However Jacopo also specifies that troops armed with bastard swords or two-handed swords held at the aft parts (i.e. not half-swording) should be allowed to give downward strokes because of all the cleaving and dismembering they do.

I wonder if perhaps the popularity of large "slaughter-swords" and wide-bladed battle axes was in part due to the psychological effect of the wounds they caused, sort of like how some writers considered bullets more frightening because they were more likely to maim or kill outright than arrows. The prospect of being stabbed in the face would be pretty scary, but how does it compare to seeing the man in front of you suddenly clutching a bloody stump where his arm used to be?

Elizabethan treatises don't seem to discuss great swords very much. George Silver did put the two-handed sword (albeit one with the same blade as a one-handed sword) pretty high up on his (in)famous weapons heiarchy. He thought it had the advantage over sword&dagger, sword&buckler, and sword&target in one-on-one combat and was still pretty effective when fighting in a pell mell with other armored men.

Silver and a number of other english military writers also tend make the distinction that a shorter and heavier polearm, like a 5-6 foot battle axe is better when fighting in a pell mell, while a longer, lighter polearm like a half-pike is better in one-on-one duels or in loose-order skirmishes.

Humphrey Barwick, writing in 1592, claimed that French officers carried long, thrust-centric, halberds in order to deal with greatswords:

Quote:
I wish no Halbards into the hands of any that hath no skill to vse the same, for it is a weapon that can abide no blowes, as the Bill wil do, but yet in the hands of officers, & such as hath skill how to vse the same, it is a very good weapon, but the same must be handled delicately with the push onely, and quickly drawne backe: the cause that the French officers do vse them with such long staues and pykes, is to encounter with the Lance-knights [Landsknechts], who do vse being Sargiants of foote-bandes, to carrie verie good long swordes or Slaugh swordes.

But for our common countrie men, not vsed to handle a halbard as aforesaid: I woulde wish him to haue a good strong black Bill wide in the socket, to receiue a strong Staffe, the heade thicke in the backe, with a strong pyke in the backe and point sharpe edged:
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2018 10:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Apart from the weapons, the slashing part is somehow confusing. I thought it would be related to the style of slashing, but both the swiss and the landsknecht had the two types of slashing in their dresses.


Look at the cross-shaped slashes. The Swiss only has an upright cross on his chest. The Landsknecht has multiple diagonal crosses on various parts.
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