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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Nov, 2005 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reinventing the Bardiche         Reply with quote

An acquaintance of mine from the SCA offered to make me an axe or two for SCA combat, using some sort of wondrous material he gets from Boeing. He said to bring him some designs for axe shapes, so I sat down do design the "perfect" long axe. Before I started, I went over a list of the things a good axe should or could do.

1. a well developed thrusting tip for linear attacks

2. a long cutting edge for sweeping cuts, and higher hit probability

3. a good backspike for reaching over shields, also works wonders on "rhinos"

4. a long haft, 5 - 6 feet in length.

5. dont want the thing to get overly heavy, so I'll skeletonize the blade.

Once I drew the thing, I realized I wasn't looking at an axe at all, but a kind of bardiche. Now I'm wondering about the origin and history of the bardiche. I was under the impression this was an eastern European development, similar to the lochaber axe, but opposite end of the continent, used by Muscovites, Turks, etc? I'm not sure of the dates, either. www.aurorahistoryboutique.com says this:

Quote:
The Sparth - or Bardiche was used throughout Scandinavia, Russia and Eastern Europe throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. At the time, this pole arm was known as the Bardiche. As the Bardiche has neither a lug or hook at the back, nor a spear like point ahead of the top of the haft, which makes it quite different from the halberd. Instead, the Bardiche blade is narrow and much longer than that of a halberd - with its upper part curving back above the end of the haft and being cut off square instead of drawing to a point. Although it seems fairly certain that the true bardiche of this form was not in use before 1500 A.D., there are numerous medieval manuscript pictures which show weapons of a very similar nature as early as 1250 A.D.


is this accurate? I know polearms are a pain to categorize, as the y come in a dizzying array of shapes and functions, and many are just impracticle and ceremonial. One source says they were used as a monopod for harquebiusiers. Any how this is a very interesting weapon, can anyone illuminate the origins of the bardiche?

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Mon 07 Nov, 2005 9:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well here's some quotes from Waldman on the matter...


"The guisarme and the bardiche are both variations of axes, and therefore cutting arms, but some may also have a minor thrusting function. The two have often been confused, understandably so, as they are very similar. The main difference between the two is that the bardiche is characterized by a rear facing concavity on the uppermost part of the blade. Secondly, the blade is usually thicker and wider, that is, more parallel especially towards the top, where it is truncated by the concavity.

The guisarme (and the bardiche) have only one eye towards the upper end of the blade and have a secondary fastening at the bottom of the blade which is pin-like or strap (langet) like.

The guisarme is older, more Central European but made and used perhaps in smaller numbers; the bardiche (also berdiche, berdyche, or berdysh) appears to have been used mainly in eastern Europe, including Turkey, and Russan and far longer into recent times." (Waldman 165)

Hope that helps... so... are you building a guisarme or a Bardiche? Happy

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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Nov, 2005 11:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well gee now I'm not sure bardiche is the right term. This is a sticky wicket. I've included a (very crude) drawing of what I had in mind, but based on the descriptions given, it's not a bardiche. What then is it?

Furthermore, does this look like a useful design, or am I trying to jam too many functions into a polearm? is the next logical step to carve an arrowrest and make the haft out of yew? Laughing Out Loud



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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 1:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin;

Yes it does look like a good design to me but I've seen " Bardiches " that don't have the wide clip top that Russ described: At least they were called Bardiche in those other books ! ?

It's not so much that what Russ described is wrong it's just not an indispensable feature needed to call something like this a Bardiche. I think most of the later Russian or east European one match Russ's description.

The back hook in your design is not normally part of a Bardiche I think.

I would describe a Bardiche as a very long edged axe were the top point is very usable as a thrusting weapon and were the bottom point is connected to the shaft in the way Russ mentioned or a second socket ( Not sure about the last. )

The shape might be more of a long crescent so that the curve would bring the upper point closer to the axis of the shaft than in your drawing where it stays some inches away: More curve on the side closest to the shaft as opposed to the strait edge in your drawing . ( Hard to explain in words that a simple drawing would explain better. )

I think just from the shape that these evolved from the Danish axe and the second attachment became necessary because the long blade would stress a small narrow socket too much.

As to Guisarme I have read the name attached to what could be called Bills instead of a Bardiche: The name may have just been applied to any early French polearm or the name may have been used for different polearms at different time.
At least in French the term Guisarme ( And I think it is a French word ) seems debatable and no one is 100% sure what it was applied to.

The confusion may be that the " Book " Russ has been using as his primary source ( Which I haven't seen but I'm starting to have my doubts about the Waldman book ??? ) was written from the perspective of Swiss polearms if I remember correctly from an other polearm related topic about pollaxes.
( One source no matter how good can make things sound like gospel while many sources may contradict each other to the point of giving one pause to doubt the certainty of the information i.e. opinion versus proof !? )

Russ might be right about this and I don't want him to think that I am contradicting him just for the fun of it but my definition of what a Bardiche IS, is a little less restricted by a specific detail.

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Eric Nower




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 5:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
Well gee now I'm not sure bardiche is the right term. This is a sticky wicket. I've included a (very crude) drawing of what I had in mind, but based on the descriptions given, it's not a bardiche. What then is it?

Furthermore, does this look like a useful design, or am I trying to jam too many functions into a polearm? is the next logical step to carve an arrowrest and make the haft out of yew? Laughing Out Loud



Might be just me, but it looks alot like an off-version of a poleaxe. Worried

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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 5:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The naming of these pole arms is often tricky. To strive for an exact nomenlature is often impossible as there are cross over versions and differences over time and between regions.

A weapon like this could be called a bearded axe or berdishe (or perhaps even a guisarme -not sure about that though)

A word of caution: be careful so the distance between cutting edge and shaft i not too big. These axes should not be lenghtened monster sized axe heads. The propotions are different. Make the blade sit closer to the haft and youŽll get a much better balanced weapon, with less tendency to twist as you deliver blows.
The spike end will then also be more in line with the haft.

Looking at period art we can see that there were innumerable variations to halberds, pollaxes, glaives, bardishes or whatever we nowadays want to call them.
When adding spikes, points and curves just be careful the head does not become overbuilt and clumsy. Strive for as lean a shape as possible. In originals there is a lot of variation in the thickness of different parts: reinforcements, hollow grinds and reinforcing ribs, to get the most strength and rigidity out of a minimum of material. They are not just slabs of steel cut to shape and mounted on a haft.
For a bouting or fencing blunt this is less of an issue of course, but it might be a good idea to strive to keep within character as much as possible.

Good luck with your interesting project!
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 6:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
Well gee now I'm not sure bardiche is the right term. This is a sticky wicket. I've included a (very crude) drawing of what I had in mind, but based on the descriptions given, it's not a bardiche. What then is it?

Furthermore, does this look like a useful design, or am I trying to jam too many functions into a polearm? is the next logical step to carve an arrowrest and make the haft out of yew? Laughing Out Loud


Well the backspike would seem to be atypical for either one, but what you've got there doesn't have the concavity that Waldman illustrates with the bardiche pictures in his book... having said that the two types seem to be so close I'm not sure it really matters all that much. If I had to call it something I'd call it a guisarme... the definition of which seems to be more open to interpretation.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm just curious why you feel you want to reinvent something that already has brought us a virtually limitless amount of variety? If I may, I'd like to humbly suggest doing a bit of research into historical designs. I think you'd find something quite appealing to you. More than that, you're likely to stumble onto something that has had some trial-and-error R&D attached to it, likely making an effective and appealing weapon for you that also fits your stated criteria.
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice Peter. The proportions are still very much subject to change, but because this it designed to be a sport combat weapon, I would like the skeletonized portion of the blade to be large enough to fit my gauntlet (why I would to that is another matter).

Your note about keeping the blade closer to the haft make perfect sense, and I have indeed noticed that oversized axe heads do tend to drift out of alignment at the most inopportune moments. I believe this can be somewhat mitigated by shaping the haft, but not entirely, so I'll be sure to keep the principle in mind. Wink

Nathan, it wasn't my intent to reinvent the bardishe, I was trying to design an axe that would be more flexible in its applications than a Danish long axe, which is my preferred weapon lately, and this is what I ended up with. The backspike is a debatable feature that may or may not make it off the drawing board, so the core of the impliment is, in my mind, very close to a berdysh.

The original inspiration, and what got my gears turning to begin with, was the A&A hungarian axe, which is a beautiful piece that i'm quite taken with. The thrusting spike is of course a salient feature, but beards that pronounced tend to get hung up very badly in single combat, especially against another axe. I've noted before that two friends of mine were once so hopelessly entangled untill one of them pulled out a dagger and finished the fight. This in mind I wanted to eliminate that issue, while keeping a long cutting edge, so the logical nextstep was to bring the beard back down to the halt in a sweeping arc, and voila: reinvented the wheel, so to speak.

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Alexander Hinman




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 3:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

About the Russian Bardiche (spelt Berdysh in cyrillic, so it's probably the same thing) They were interesting weapons, used in the (late) 15th, 16th, and (early) 17th centuries. They were at times put on the stocks of arquebuses, to make a combination weapon. A very good illustration of one can be found in Osprey's Medieval Russia 1250-1500 towards the end. A crude drawing of one can be found here: [url]http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/images/u/ua)18-03.gif[/url]

You'll notice they don't have backspikes, and the pole is about 4-4.5 feet long (in the illustrations I've seen). A nasty weapon to be sure, but they didn't start appearing in Russia until the late 15th century, so I don't know how close they are (time-wise) to sparths.
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 3:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Given the funds, I'd have been very interested in reading "Hafted Weapons in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: The Evolution of European Staff Weapons between 1200 and 1650", but it's just not in the cards. I think the Osprey book is more my speed.
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 6:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
...The original inspiration, and what got my gears turning to begin with, was the A&A hungarian axe, which is a beautiful piece that i'm quite taken with....

Interestingly enough, A&A also makes, or used to make, a sparth axe/berdiche. See 032 on this excerpt, below, from A&A's Catalog #15. This is the catalog that is currently available for download from their website. However, the piece no longer appears on the website, which does not bode well....

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 7:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure the sparth axe is still in their line-up. Craig can confirm. The fact that it's not on the site means I didn't get any photos for it while I made the site. I'll let Craig know so I can do an update.
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 7:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
A word of caution: be careful so the distance between cutting edge and shaft i not too big. These axes should not be lenghtened monster sized axe heads. The propotions are different. Make the blade sit closer to the haft and youŽll get a much better balanced weapon, with less tendency to twist as you deliver blows.


This is especially true when your enemy isn't a pumpkin, but a man in armor designed to encourage that misalignment, who doesn't intend to die.

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
I'm pretty sure the sparth axe is still in their line-up. Craig can confirm. The fact that it's not on the site means I didn't get any photos for it while I made the site. I'll let Craig know so I can do an update.


While you are at it could you ask him about the bec de corbyn they used to carry? I was wondering about that one the other day...

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