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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 19 Feb, 2019 6:31 pm    Post subject: Double Belt and Two Point Long Sword Suspensions         Reply with quote

I've noticed that two point suspensions are often popular on modern day scabbard reproductions. We also see double belts in some instances, too.

What I would like to know is when double belts and two point suspensions first appear. Also, at what point are they no longer a novelty, and instead have become popular? To what extent do other, earlier suspensions persist on scabbards?

I suspect double belts first appear on single-handed sword scabbards. If that's the case, I'm still interested more in the earliest known example on a long sword scabbard.

In part, I would like to help raise awareness among collectors and enthusiasts to encourage greater accuracy in reproduction scabbards.
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Brian K.
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Feb, 2019 6:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The earliest evidence I have of a double belt integral harness would be 1221 - Robert de Vere Earl of Oxford

The earliest 'evidence' of your 2-point, which I refer to as 2.5-point or 3-point is 1472 - Montefeltro Altarpiece by Piero della Francesca

Edit: found an even earlier version of the 2 point here - 1441 - John Cherowin

The double-belt is used throughout the 13th, 14th and even into the 15th centuries but the 2.5-point is rare to find. However, it is the cheapest method to harness a 15th and 16th century sword.

I think there needs to be a more open mind in regards to time frame of usage regarding suspensions. I have evidence of a 14th century viking style harness setup. There is also evidence of a Chinese sword used by a Templar.

As for modern day reproductions, there is so much demand of it you're going to see a lot of repro's and it is more about what the customer wants and not necessarily accuracy.

Brian Kunz
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Feb, 2019 2:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Double Belt and Two Point Long Sword Suspensions         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
I've noticed that two point suspensions are often popular on modern day scabbard reproductions. We also see double belts in some instances, too.

What I would like to know is when double belts and two point suspensions first appear. Also, at what point are they no longer a novelty, and instead have become popular? To what extent do other, earlier suspensions persist on scabbards?

Could you show us what you mean by "two-point suspensions" and "double belts"? A baldric can be a two-point suspension, if it is fastened to two rings one closer to the pommel than the other, and a double belt can be double layered leather, one belt for the sword and another for everything else, a split belt touching the back of the scabbard at two points and the front at only one ...

Keep in mind that Europeans have been wearing swords for more than 3000 years, and a few basic designs reoccur again and again. There is no "progress" towards a goal, just "fashion" driven by taste and whimsy.

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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Sat 23 Feb, 2019 2:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is one of Roland Warzecha's "teasers" from his forthcoming book: a diagram of 9th/10th century Norse and Frankish scabbard suspensions. https://www.patreon.com/posts/23906171

Here is Carol van Driel-Murray on suspensions from the end of the 13th/beginning of the 14th century (Leiden, Schleswig, Naumburg Cathdral) https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/57788/Sheaths_Leiden.pdf?sequence=1 Many of the modern scabbard-makers learned to make these from Peter Johansson.

Here is the most common late 14th century suspension:


The latest of the three designs is the least sophisticated and ergonomic ("hang it vertically from a hip belt") ... and if you want "firsts" you will have to read up on Bronze Age and Roman scabbards.

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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Mar, 2019 1:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig, I had time to throw together this image showing how I think late 14th/early 15th century European scabbards were usually worn.



The sword hangs vertically or tilted slightly forward at the left hip, usually with the junction between scabbard and belt hidden between scabbard and wearer. Occasionally the scabbard is attached directly to the fauld of the cuirass with no sword-belt at all, and again, it hangs upright or tilted slightly forward.



Beginning around 1380 a handful of images show another system, with the sword worn at an angle from a waist belt with a strap from the small of the back to the middle of the blade, but this is very rare until well into the 15th century, the vast majority of art shows swords worn upright and no extra strap. I have mostly seen this in paintings from northern Italy (Altichiero's frescos in Padua, the Padua Picture Bible, the Fior di Battaglia in the Getty Museum) whereas the three solutions in the first picture appear all over Europe in all kinds of art.

Most scabbard makers today offer a few different kinds that are hard to find after 1340, and another kind which is very rare before the middle of the 15th century, and they don't offer the kinds which were overwhelmingly preferred in between unless customers knows what to ask for. I just hope that they are honest with customers who want a typical late 14th century or early 15th century scabbard that the harness should look like one of the three pictures at the top of this post.

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar, 2019 12:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Sean. Your post provides valuable information and a service to those interested in historically accurate scabbards. I know this is a bit of an anachronistic question, but have you noticed patterns or trends in those wearing long swords unarmoured?
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Michael Zimmermann





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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar, 2019 2:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's also this method (not sure how it falls into the above classification), as depicted on the Portinari Triptych (ca. 1475 ?), which I haven't seen reproduced:


 Attachment: 81.75 KB
van der Goes Portinari Triptych [ Download ]

- Michael
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar, 2019 3:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Thanks Sean. Your post provides valuable information and a service to those interested in historically accurate scabbards. I know this is a bit of an anachronistic question, but have you noticed patterns or trends in those wearing long swords unarmoured?

Craig, I am just glad that my third post was more helpful than my first one.

In The Sword in the Age of Chivalry, it looks like Ewart Oakeshott started out with plans to study scabbards but reached the end of the book and decided that he had done enough in studying blades, crosses, grips, and pommels. Without a typology, I think pictures or descriptions are clearer than phrases like "double belt."

Offhand, I have not noticed different ways of wearing swords in armour and without in the places and times I study. It was very common for someone on foot to ungird the sword and carry it like a walking stick or give it to a servant; some late medieval town ordinances address whether someone who is allowed to wear a sword in town can have a strong servant carry their sword for them, and I think the sagas of the Icelanders and sources from the late 16th century mention carrying your sword and having a servant carry your sword and rotella. Swords in tombs often still have the belt wrapped around the scabbard. I have also not noticed different ways of wearing swords with hand-and-a-half hilts, and swords with one-handed hilts.

Michael Zimmermann wrote:
There's also this method (not sure how it falls into the above classification), as depicted on the Portinari Triptych (ca. 1475 ?), which I haven't seen reproduced:

Thanks for the painting! My post is not a complete typology of scabbards 1330-1520 (that would be at least a year's work!) but it covers the vast majority of scabbards in art from say 1350 to 1430, especially the clearest art like memorial brasses and large sculptures. If someone wants to continue it into the mid to late 15th century, that would be a great project.

www.bookandsword.com
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Michael Zimmermann





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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar, 2019 4:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sure thing.

Reason, why I thought this might be interesting, is not just the method of suspension.
Van der Goes clearly depicts a rider (spurs), whose horse is held by his companion in the background, wearing a longsword very low down the thigh.
The question of how a scabbard suspension reacts not just to human locomotion, but the different gaits of a horse, is not as pressing today, as it was then. Mind you, this is not just about the wearer's comfort, or ability to draw quickly and easily, either. The lower third of the scabbard/chape might slap the flank of your horse in a really unfortunate way, if you don't know how to wear it properly.
The system shown on the Triptych reminds a little of later sabre suspensions, which hang unreasonably low when walking, if they're not pulled upwards and hooked into the belt after dismounting.

- Michael
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar, 2019 4:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael, I agree: many scabbard suspensions were optimized for horsemen, not for footmen. On the other hand, the English in my period liked to wear their swords upright at the hip even though they often did arms on foot, and the people I know who have worn swords that way find that it works OK on foot.

Here is the Wikipedia page for your triptych, it looks like the sword wearer is one of the small figures in the background of the right panel, and that he is wearing one of those short gowns which may hide some of the details.

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Michael Zimmermann





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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar, 2019 5:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I'm not sure about optimized; it's probably more that people knew these suspensions would have had to be adjustable to work decently either way.
For the so-called 2,5 point suspension, specifically those with a slider on the back, this might be achieved by moving the latter across to lower the sword. With a fixed distributor you could adjust the angle by buckling the third scabbard strap, which feeds into the belt end, more tightly, perhaps.

Yep, agree entirely about the English preference. I think, both the integrated sword belt and this properly vertical suspension is actually more easily managed on horseback. Might slap you or the saddle, but there's little danger the scabbard hits the horse in such a way, as to startle the beast. Or, perhaps, medieval horses were taught to ignore the whole thing...

Thanks. I had the opportunity to study the altarpiece in Florence and he is indeed a background denizen, standing just above Maria Portinari's hennin. I would assume his outer garment hides a thin belt, from which all of this gear dangles.

- Michael
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar, 2019 7:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Zimmermann wrote:
There's also this method (not sure how it falls into the above classification), as depicted on the Portinari Triptych (ca. 1475 ?), which I haven't seen reproduced:


It needs a name. I'm going to call it the "A-Suspension" or "Thigh Suspension". Now scabbard makers and buyers know what to call it. ;-)

And, if either of these names is not precise enough, it can be a "3 Point Thigh" suspension.
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Michael P. Smith




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar, 2019 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I assume by "two-point" you are referring to a suspension with the buckle side attached to one ring of the locket and the the remainder of the belt to a ring on the opposite side of the locket? I don't know about specifically longsword use of such a suspension, but that suspension was common from the early 14th century until... what... maybe 1360 in a martial context. We see them all over effigies. Then we get the weird vertical hang look. You asked about civilian context... I can't find much, but the illustrations in the Ellesmere Chaucer hint at a similar suspension because of the angle of the belt and sword, but the the details are not seen as all those carrying swords have a buckler covering the hilt and suspension system, so we can;t say anything about the details, really, and these are riding swords (thus the buckler). Not much help, I guess, but it is something.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Mar, 2019 2:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael P. Smith wrote:
Then we get the weird vertical hang look.

Although, wearing swords vertically is pretty common: from the 15th to the 18th century, the word "hanger" referred to a sword which could be hung from the belt without an elaborate suspension. That is most common for big knives and small swords, but it seems to have worked OK for swords with a 30" to 36" blade in the late 14th and early 15th century.

Sometimes we spend more time and energy trying to explain something away than we would need to build it and try it out.

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Michael P. Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Mar, 2019 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Michael P. Smith wrote:
Then we get the weird vertical hang look.

Although, wearing swords vertically is pretty common: from the 15th to the 18th century, the word "hanger" referred to a sword which could be hung from the belt without an elaborate suspension. That is most common for big knives and small swords, but it seems to have worked OK for swords with a 30" to 36" blade in the late 14th and early 15th century.

Sometimes we spend more time and energy trying to explain something away than we would need to build it and try it out.


By "weird" I really mean "we don;t know exactly how the suspension worked."

I would think some flexibility in how the sword hangs might be useful. Certainly, being able to turn without whacking your fellows is a plus. But a vertical hang from a plaque belt low on the hips limits blade length too.

I fitted a homebrew scabbard targeted at about 1380 with a "staple" to support vertical hanging, and I intend to do the same for my Poitiers as well.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Mar, 2019 3:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael P. Smith wrote:
I fitted a homebrew scabbard targeted at about 1380 with a "staple" to support vertical hanging, and I intend to do the same for my Poitiers as well.

Good for you! I know three or four people who have done the same and find that it works OK.

www.bookandsword.com
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Michael Zimmermann





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PostPosted: Thu 21 Mar, 2019 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One addendum to the above posts:

If you like the earlier dates suggested for Uccello's work on the Battle of San Romano, the 2/2,5 point suspension might be documented even earlier than 1441, say 1435. The only caveat here: the panels show arming and not long swords.

Also, for the newly named A-suspension, there is an interesting variant on a Crivelli altarpiece, which comes in at the very end of the 15th century. Again, not a long sword in the scabbard, though.



 Attachment: 466.32 KB
Bildschirmfoto 2019-03-21 um 14.29.35.png
Crivelli La Madonna della Rondine

- Michael
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