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Andrew Huang

Location: Vancouver
Joined: 14 Mar 2017

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PostPosted: Thu 14 Mar, 2019 8:13 pm    Post subject: How Knights use swords on horseback against each other?         Reply with quote

Did Knights use dedicated cavalry swords on horseback? It seems like in manuals, on horseback, they are swinging their swords at eachother like in the movies even against armor and not half swording. It seems like these type of swords were weighted on the blade to give more blunt trauma.

Andy Huang
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Mark Tan

Joined: 30 Nov 2016

Posts: 29

PostPosted: Thu 14 Mar, 2019 8:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have a look at fiore's treatise. There is a section on mounted combat between 2 armoured opponents using swords
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Craig Peters

PostPosted: Thu 14 Mar, 2019 10:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote


I don't think they are striking with the expectation or intention of being able to hew into their enemy through the armour. Warriors would have known that this was not realistic. Instead, I would suggest that the hews are made more as a means of trying to set up a bind that will allow them to make an attack to the nearest opening.

Even in unarmoured long sword, it is unlikely that your opponent will do nothing to stop your initial hew as you close to strike. Unless you have struck with such suddenness and speed so as to have caught him off guard, he will do something to try to stop you, whether hewing into your strike to displace, trying to parry by striking your blade aside, or merely parrying by trying to intercept your blade. So a bind is more or less inevitable, but what becomes significant is the placement of the swords in the bind relative to each other. Different binds create slightly different possibilities to make attacks to the nearest opening. Therefore, I would suggest that both of these instances of striking are merely working to achieve a bind, which then creates possibilities to work the point towards an actual opening.
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Craig Peters

PostPosted: Thu 14 Mar, 2019 10:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, what gives you the impression that these swords are "weighted on the blade" to give more blunt trauma? Even Philippo Vadi, who in his section of swords against plate armour shows swords that are deliberately widened near the point, illustrates these weapons being used for half-swording, i.e. thrusts. You might also notice that neither combatant in Vadi has a visor covering his face. This means that the sword can be widened near the point to make the wound more severe, as the point does not need to be aimed only at small articulations and gaps in the plate.

Vadi even articulates what the form of the sword used in armour should be like, as translated by Guy Windsor, below. Notice that Vadi says nothing about the sword needing to be broader near the point, meaning such an addition is inessential:


The sword for fighting in armour should have the form as written below, thus: it should be of a length to come with the pommel under the arm, sharpened four fingers from the point. It's [sic] handle should be of a span. The crossguard should be as long as the handle of the sword. And it should be pointed on every side. And similarly, the pommel should be pointed, so that you can strike with any of these parts.

Translation from Wiktenauer:
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Craig Peters

PostPosted: Thu 14 Mar, 2019 10:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way, here are translations for the two images you've posted. They come from the Dresden edition of Paulus Hector Mair.

Translation by Per Magnus Haaland, courtesy of Wiktenauer:

Image One:

[45] A way of grabbing [Eingreiffen] hold of the mouth piece of a rearing horse.

If you wish to emerge victorious in this battle, then pull out your sword and ride toward the opponent, and strike from above to his head or turn the pommel into his visor. If your opponent does this on the other hand, then ride toward him as well, but do not draw your sword, but instead grab hold of the mouthpiece on the opponent's horse as you may see on the picture and lift up on your right side. If the horse is about to rear forcefully, then quickly ride close to him and lift up the mouthpiece, and both the horse and the opponent will fall over at the same time. But if the horse is not as incline to rear up on its hind legs, then do not use this technique, as it is much too risky. Instead you grab hold underneath on his right arm with your right hand and you will get away from the opponent safe from harm.

Image Two

[35] Wrath strike [Zornhaw] against a parry [Absetzen].

In this clash you do thus: Hold your sword raised in your right hand and charge your opponent quickly, and strike a wrath strike from your left to the right side of your opponent's head. If your opponent attacks you thus, and you are holding your sword in your right hand, then parry with the cross on your right side and thrust or strike at his visor, and then you ride past him.


Although the second text does indicate striking at his visor, this is presumably because the visor, being a point of articulation, would be easier to break or otherwise damage, rendering it difficult for the opponent to keep fighting.
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Peter Spätling
Industry Professional

Location: Germany
Joined: 07 Nov 2015

Posts: 119

PostPosted: Tue 16 Apr, 2019 9:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Arne Koets has two playlists about fighting on horseback on his youtube channel. Here is the first one, explaining fencing techniques on foot. (To be used on horseback)
And here are a couple of other videos featuring mounted fencing.
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