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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 635

PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2021 5:33 pm    Post subject: Small swords, short swords, and riding swords in the MA         Reply with quote

In the late middle ages, there was a family of swords with about 3/4 as much blade as a full sized example of their type, say 50-80 cm of blade. Medieval sources call them small swords, short swords, side knives, hangers, baselards, etc.; modern people sometimes call them children's swords, but Ewart Oakeshott was of the view that they were convenient swords for wearing like the hangers, smallswords, and shearing swords of the 18th century. A shorter, lighter sword has disadvantages in a duel but it has advantages in every other situation.

Is there much interest in these today? Many makers today focus on full-sized swords and large daggers.

A&A offers a Knightly Riding Sword (Oakeshott Type XVIII based on Wallace Collection A515)

Lockwood offers a SL1003 Medieval Sword which he classifies as an Oakeshott type XVa but I would call a type XVIII due to the curved line of the edges and short handle.

www.bookandsword.com


Last edited by Sean Manning on Sun 18 Apr, 2021 11:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Barrett Hiebert





Joined: 22 Sep 2006

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Thu 15 Apr, 2021 11:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean,

Check out Albion’s one handed medieval sword lineup. Those swords coincide with Oakeshott’s typology. Maybe you might find what you are looking for. Always a pleasure perusing that site.

Best regards,

Barrett Hiebert
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 635

PostPosted: Fri 16 Apr, 2021 8:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Barrett Hiebert wrote:
Sean,

Check out Albion’s one handed medieval sword lineup. Those swords coincide with Oakeshott’s typology. Maybe you might find what you are looking for. Always a pleasure perusing that site.

Best regards,

Barrett Hiebert

Hi Barrett,

yeah, Albion has a great site! I don't know if I have looked at all their late medieval swords, but they seen to focus on 'ordinary sized' and 'large' swords. I don't know if that is what Peter Johnsson likes, or what their customers like, or just that the bigger swords were more common in the late middle ages.

I am pretty sure I have seen a modern version of one of the sword-sized baselards like Museum of London 80.34

Edit: a good example is the sword of Bishop Gerhard von Schwartzburg in Würzburg. Its a longsword only 100 cm long with a 77 cm (30") blade, and resembles several others which Oakeshott called Type XVI or XVIa.

www.bookandsword.com


Last edited by Sean Manning on Fri 16 Apr, 2021 10:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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Barrett Hiebert





Joined: 22 Sep 2006

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Fri 16 Apr, 2021 10:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean,

You are correct. I did intend to further write that from ‘The Condottiere’ down, the XIX subtype group of swords is probably what you would be looking for, if only smaller. If not would have to go custom.

Best regards,

Barrett Hiebert
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Fri 16 Apr, 2021 7:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I assume you know that Albion and other manufacturers carry various XIV designs with a blade length around 70cm.

Also single-edge falchions with a similar blade length.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 635

PostPosted: Fri 16 Apr, 2021 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
I assume you know that Albion and other manufacturers carry various XIV designs with a blade length around 70cm.

Also single-edge falchions with a similar blade length.

The Albion type XIVs are 'full sized' and medium-weight for their typology aren't they? I am not a medieval sword geek but my impression is that type XIV tends to be shorter than many other late medieval swords. A 'small' type XIV would be shorter and lighter. The weapon which got me thinking is Bishop Gerhard's sword above.

I don't have Elmslie's article so I'm willing to put lange Messer and falchions to the side. Typologically, they are their own thing (although once you get down to dagger-size that is harder to do, medieval people often called them all knives / couteaux / Messer).

Edit: does anyone with experience wearing some of the late medieval Oakeshott types which tend to be on the short side have thoughts?

www.bookandsword.com
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 635

PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2021 10:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Met has one of these little longswords as accession number 32.75.226. I would place it in the Oakeshott type XVIII family. Its only 96.6 cm long with a 74.3 cm blade and weighs 1276 g

Maybe I am looking for swords on the short end of the range of variation for their typology? I have not read all of Oakeshott's scholarly books and he sometimes changed his mind over the years.

www.bookandsword.com
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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 10 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2021 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sean,

I don't have much to share academically in this discussion but I have some experience wearing and using what I felt was a riding sword as Oakeshott described. Many years ago Angus Trim made a series of shorter one handers in roughly the Type XVIII configuration. I found it nimble and convenient to wield as well as being a ferocious cutter.

I was sad to sell it off to pick up another sword but happy to know its in a good friend's hands.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 635

PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2021 11:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kel Rekuta wrote:
Hi Sean,

I don't have much to share academically in this discussion but I have some experience wearing and using what I felt was a riding sword as Oakeshott described. Many years ago Angus Trim made a series of shorter one handers in roughly the Type XVIII configuration. I found it nimble and convenient to wield as well as being a ferocious cutter.

I was sad to sell it off to pick up another sword but happy to know its in a good friend's hands.

Thanks Kel! I have my Naue type II, but I never handled a shorter medieval one-handed sword or long sword.

A&A say that their Wallace A515 "riding sword" is good cutter

www.bookandsword.com
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 635

PostPosted: Sun 18 Apr, 2021 7:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I threw together a little page with late medieval swords in some collections with detailed online catalogues (link).
www.bookandsword.com
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John Dunn




Location: Frankfort, KY
Joined: 15 Apr 2013

Posts: 164

PostPosted: Mon 19 Apr, 2021 4:03 am    Post subject: Re: Small swords, short swords, and riding swords in the MA         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
In the late middle ages, there was a family of swords with about 3/4 as much blade as a full sized example of their type, say 50-80 cm of blade. Medieval sources call them small swords, short swords, side knives, hangers, baselards, etc.; modern people sometimes call them children's swords, but Ewart Oakeshott was of the view that they were convenient swords for wearing like the hangers, smallswords, and shearing swords of the 18th century. A shorter, lighter sword has disadvantages in a duel but it has advantages in every other situation.

Is there much interest in these today? Many makers today focus on full-sized swords and large daggers.

A&A offers a Knightly Riding Sword (Oakeshott Type XVIII based on Wallace Collection A515)

Lockwood offers a SL1003 Medieval Sword which he classifies as an Oakeshott type XVa but I would call a type XVIII due to the curved line of the edges and short handle.


Valiant Armory also offers the Monarch Sword which is a type XVIII that is around the same size give or take as the Lockwood sword you reference.

I have an Angus Trim Type XVIII (18.1) that is 33 3/4 inches long overall.

So they are out there depending on the type and manufacturer.
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
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PostPosted: Sun 25 Apr, 2021 1:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Small swords, short swords, and riding swords in the MA         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
In the late middle ages, there was a family of swords with about 3/4 as much blade as a full sized example of their type, say 50-80 cm of blade. Medieval sources call them small swords, short swords, side knives, hangers, baselards, etc.; modern people sometimes call them children's swords, but Ewart Oakeshott was of the view that they were convenient swords for wearing like the hangers, smallswords, and shearing swords of the 18th century. A shorter, lighter sword has disadvantages in a duel but it has advantages in every other situation.


I think you really need to distinguish between the various Oakeshott (or Geibig) Types, all of which have their own "normal length" range, vs. swords which are short/light within their Type.

For example, Oakeshott Type XIV tends to be short and broad, Type XI tends to be long and narrow. It seems clear that both serve a particular purpose. A simplistic, but perhaps not incorrect, approach could be to say that Type XI was developed as variant on the Type X but better for use on horseback.

A sword on the other hand that is in every aspect a Type XI but with a 60cm blade and a very short grip, then that might be a child's sword.

Within each type there is a normal range of lengths and weights. Some swords go to one end of the range or the other end, probably depending on the preference of the user and/or it's intended purpose. But I'd say that swords which are completely outside the normal range are quite easily recognisable as children's swords.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 635

PostPosted: Sun 25 Apr, 2021 3:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Small swords, short swords, and riding swords in the MA         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Sean Manning wrote:
In the late middle ages, there was a family of swords with about 3/4 as much blade as a full sized example of their type, say 50-80 cm of blade. Medieval sources call them small swords, short swords, side knives, hangers, baselards, etc.; modern people sometimes call them children's swords, but Ewart Oakeshott was of the view that they were convenient swords for wearing like the hangers, smallswords, and shearing swords of the 18th century. A shorter, lighter sword has disadvantages in a duel but it has advantages in every other situation.


I think you really need to distinguish between the various Oakeshott (or Geibig) Types, all of which have their own "normal length" range, vs. swords which are short/light within their Type.


Hi Paul, I agree! At the risk of quoting myself:

Sean Manning wrote:
The Albion type XIVs are 'full sized' and medium-weight for their typology aren't they? I am not a medieval sword geek but my impression is that type XIV tends to be shorter than many other late medieval swords. A 'small' type XIV would be shorter and lighter. The weapon which got me thinking is Bishop Gerhard's sword above.


Ewart Oakeshott was a good old British antiquarian, and I don't know that anyone has done a rigorously quantitative survey for late medieval swords like Geibig did for swords around the year 1000. But I did not have to search too hard to find two small longswords.

www.bookandsword.com
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Apr, 2021 1:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Small swords, short swords, and riding swords in the MA         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
I don't know that anyone has done a rigorously quantitative survey for late medieval swords like Geibig did for swords around the year 1000.


I don't think so, but I guess that Geibig's findings with regards to length range may well apply to later types as well.

What I am kind of trying to say is, it may make sense that sword length distribution within a certain type follow a bell curve, so if the median length of a Type X would be 75cm, then the range between 70-80cm may be common, but 65cm uncommonly short. (These are just example figures, without actually looking it up, just to make my point.)

On the other hand, a 60cm Type X, with a narrow blade and a short hilt may well be a children's sword rather than an uncommonly short version of a common type. Not only the short length, but also the light-weight profile and small hilt may give a clue to the swords nature. The sword may still fit in the Type X, also because Oakeshott's classification is decriptive rather than numerical. This is contrary to Geibig's classification, which is numerical. So this particular blade would likely not be classified into a Geibig type but be a type of it's own.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 635

PostPosted: Wed 28 Apr, 2021 10:55 am    Post subject: Re: Small swords, short swords, and riding swords in the MA         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Sean Manning wrote:
I don't know that anyone has done a rigorously quantitative survey for late medieval swords like Geibig did for swords around the year 1000.


I don't think so, but I guess that Geibig's findings with regards to length range may well apply to later types as well.

What I am kind of trying to say is, it may make sense that sword length distribution within a certain type follow a bell curve, so if the median length of a Type X would be 75cm, then the range between 70-80cm may be common, but 65cm uncommonly short. (These are just example figures, without actually looking it up, just to make my point.)

I have not yet read Geibig, but I am interested in the possibility that within a big sample of Oakeshott type XV we would find a group of small light delicate-edged "riding swords," a group of "ordinary swords," and a group of big heavy tough-edged "war swords." Or that we find that Viking swords with about the same length and shape of blade have weights from 900 to 1800 pounds 80% of the time (whereas on a model of European military sword from the 18th or 19th century, the variation might be more like "850 to 950 grams).

www.bookandsword.com
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