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Justin Gehly

Joined: 26 Jan 2018

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed 29 Apr, 2020 3:41 am    Post subject: Help classifying sword types         Reply with quote

Hi everyone,
Iím still trying to get a grasp on recognizing sword types and the various subtletyís that involves. I have a few examples here and was wondering if they all fall under roughly the same classification (which I believe is xvi) or if any of them start to veer off into earlier or later territory. Iím trying to eventually get a kit together based on around the 1380s-90s. Looking at effigies Iím definitely getting a good grasp on the armor of the time but most swords are in tough spot for viewing or are sheathed. Also wondering how late into the 14th century a type xvi may be used I know most finds are dated to the earlier half but Iím not sure if they may have been used towards the close of the century as well. Any help would be appreciated!
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Mikko Kuusirati

Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 1,078

PostPosted: Wed 29 Apr, 2020 5:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The first thing to keep in mind is that the Oakeshott typology is, like any typology, nothing more than a system of shorthands for describing historical items. Very few actual items fit any single type perfectly, and many fit none as-is, so a lot of the time using the typology is a matter of picking the closest fit and specifying the deviations present, e.g. a Type XIV with an atypical diamond cross-section, or a Type XVI with an atypically long fuller, and so on. Also, since it's a system for describing specific historical items from a specific region and time period (i.e. straight double-edged swords from Medieval Europe), it doesn't necessarily apply to modern approximations of them!

The posted swords are a good example: the ones in the photographs are blunt practice weapons, so they have rounded, spatulate tips and cross-sections unlike anything you'd ever find on a "live" blade; their purpose is to enable safe practice without producing serious injury, the exact opposite of any actual weapon. But imagining for a moment that they had sharp edges and points, they're still somewhat weird - the linear profile taper is very much like the Type XV (rather than the more convex tapers seen on XVI or XVIII, or the more complex profile of Type XIV) but one definitive feature of Type XV blades is the absence of fullers, and these fullers are unusually wide and long even for XVI (or XIV). So they don't fit any Oakeshott type precisely, but IMO you could describe them as fullered practice versions of Type XV swords and get your point across more or less accurately.

PS. Also note the rectangular ricassos on two of them, either extremely rare or nonexistent on historical swords of this style but used here for the sake of convenience with modern manufacturing methods.

"And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That's what sin is."
ó Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum
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