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LaloŽ Franck




Location: yvelines, France
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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 11:01 am    Post subject: two-handed sword in IVe century?         Reply with quote

Hello of all

One generally thinks that the two-handed swords are late.
However, the sword of Brout (in Ossťtie) is a Alaine weapon of the end of IVe century after J.C whose handle measures 34cm! The warriors of Alains elite were "cataphractaires". They thus were very well protected. One can think that they could thus fight with a two-handed sword. It was not the case of the people which used shields.

What think about it?
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Dominic Dellavalle




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 11:28 am    Post subject: Re: two-handed sword in IVe century?         Reply with quote

LaloŽ Franck wrote:
One generally thinks that the two-handed swords are late.



I guess a lot would depend on what we consider a two-handed sword. If we assume any sword that could be used with two hands then certainly we can find early examples of this type of weapon. Oakeshott's Type XIIa and XIIIa, could fit the description of a sword that could accomodate two-handed use and can be found in both the 13th and 14th centuries. The Scottish Claymore of the 13-14th century also springs to mind as an early example of the two handed sword.

If instead you are referring to swords along the line of those used by the Germans and the Swiss (Zweihander) then I believe we're into the 15th century. I'm not that knowledgeable of this type of sword so don't hold me to that date.



~Dominic
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 11:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a very few hints of two-handed swords before the High Middle Ages. Tacitus, I believe, does talk about the Sarmatians as using lances and swords with both hands (posted previously by me on Swordforum), although the text is not detailed.
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello LaloŽ,

Could you possibly post a picture of this sword?
A drawing froma publication perhaps?
A photo would be great...

Long tangs on roman era swords can be a result of big pommel/guard. 34 cm seems very long though!
Spathae can have tangs in excess of 20 cm and still have a grip that is only about 10 cm.

Interesting!
I would like to learn more about this. I know very little about swords from this period and area.
It would be very surpricing to see a straight double edged sword from this early period with a two handed hilt.
Single edged swords is another matter.
We have the falx and related weapons that can be a mix between polearm and sword.
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LaloŽ Franck




Location: yvelines, France
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 4:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am realy sorry, I don't have a photo. I have a drawing in a book but my scanner is broken down! Here the reference of the book (in French):

Armes et guerriers barbares au temps des grandes invasions.
autor: Iaroslav Lebedynsky
ťdition: Errance

If I find an image, I promises to you to be sent it!

-Franck-
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LaloŽ Franck




Location: yvelines, France
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 10:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Felix Wang wrote:
There are a very few hints of two-handed swords before the High Middle Ages. Tacitus, I believe, does talk about the Sarmatians as using lances and swords with both hands (posted previously by me on Swordforum), although the text is not detailed.


I know also this text of Tacit. You are right to say that it is not detailed. In fact, the translation is not clear.
I think that when I called "with two hands", it speaks especially about the lance. It is known that "Cataphractaires" (heavy armoured cavalery men) Sarmates held their lances with two hands. it was to be difficult, especially without clamp!!!
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Adam Bodorics
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 6:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The dacian falx is a sword IMO, and is two-handed for sure... Wink And was quite frequent, at least frequent enough to force the widespread use of manica... And it's very, very hard for me to beleive that one and only one nation used such beasts.

And (even as earlier than this, I think) those stupid gladiators tried out a lot of designs, so I wouldn't be suprised at something resembling a 16th century Indian twohander.
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Caleb Hallgren




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 10:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam Bodorics wrote:
The dacian falx is a sword IMO, and is two-handed for sure... Wink And was quite frequent, at least frequent enough to force the widespread use of manica... And it's very, very hard for me to beleive that one and only one nation used such beasts.

And (even as earlier than this, I think) those stupid gladiators tried out a lot of designs, so I wouldn't be suprised at something resembling a 16th century Indian twohander.


How were the Gladiators stupid? Also, I don't remember ever reading about a Gladiator type that used a two-handed sword.
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Adam Bodorics
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 11:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry, smiley left off... gladiators are far from stupid... Big Grin
Well, I don't remember any gladiator type fighting with axe, but somewhere on my drive I have a picture of one... from a mosaic, not from a modern reconstruction drawing. And I don't recall a specific type using the drusus, either... Wink
So I mean that they were playing with ideas, some remained in use, and some were forgotten...
(((but my favourite area is the near east, especially in the 14-17th cent, so feel free to correct me. Big Grin )))
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LaloŽ Franck




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you with all for your answers here a drawing for the famous sword (all on the right). I point out that his handle measures 34cm, that is to say 13,38 inches!


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LaloŽ Franck




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 2:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A photo of this strang sword...


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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 2:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a few pretty enticing clues for believing in longswords with long grips during the 14th century.

Liechtenauer taught in the mid 1300's (born around 1320?) He based his version on international travel study of techniques already developed and practiced by other experts. Students actually wrote many texts about his style of swordsmanship, so it is credible that they modified or changed his original opinion of sword grip over a few decades after he died.

Whatever the case, that school recommended a sword long enough for the pommel to reach the arm pit, and a grip with enough room to place both hands on with a definate gap in between (some interpret this as both hands on the grip without covering the pommel so that pommel strikes can quickly be done with no injury to the hand.) Artwork from a wide variety of sources and time periods is very consistent with the image this gives.

However, surviving specimens datable to this era are very rare. Not non-existant though.

I have theorized (have zero credentials or authority to assert this, but remain very interested in the answer) that rarity of surving specimens could be due to a variety of reasons;

Actual use may have been primarily for training and unarmored dueling in the early 14th century. It was described as a "foundation" weapon and technique for training with both polearms and other types of swords.

IMHO cavalry would have preferred hand and a half grips. Long grip swords may have been used more by mercenaries on foot, and perished in battle.

Blade damage and poor survival rate may apply to these types of swords. Speed and force possible with this type of grip increases. Lancelot Chan's video of obvious damage/tip deformation (Albion Brescia Spadona) resulting from hitting a pig leg resting on a cardboard box using only mild sparring strokes is something people should see if they have not already. This is not a particularly long grip length (8"? ) sword, but it is pretty obvious what its design can do, and what toll is taken on the tip after gentle use.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 3:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
There are a few pretty enticing clues for believing in longswords with long grips during the 14th century.


Jared, I think you misread the topic. "IV", not "XIV". Wink It's okay, I misread it too at first, but when reading the posts I got confused and looked back only to discover my mistake. Happy

Quote:
Whatever the case, that school recommended a sword long enough for the pommel to reach the arm pit, and a grip with enough room to place both hands on with a definate gap in between (some interpret this as both hands on the grip without covering the pommel so that pommel strikes can quickly be done with no injury to the hand.) Artwork from a wide variety of sources and time periods is very consistent with the image this gives.


Sorry for getting off topic here, but are you sure? I've never read such a measurement in the Liechtenauer school, though Vadi gives this measurement (he's Italian). Also, not all masters had a definate gap between the hands. Doebringer in particular said not to grip the pommel but to instead have both hands on the grip itself (and considering that so many longswords didn't have that much space on the grip, some swords would require having the hands together). And here's an image from the Solthurner fechtbuch that shows the hands close together (the same manuscript also shows the hands apart as well).

Sorry for the off-topic diversion everyone. Happy



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closegrip.jpg


Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 6:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, I misread the topic.... Sorry

I also am dependent on other's translations and discussion of the historical texts, and percieve a bit of debate on what was meant.

A separate thread on early development and popularity of long grip, two handed use of longswords would be appreciated, at least by me!

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2006 12:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you so much!

This is completely fascinating.
This made my day, and I will now have problem sleeping. Big Grin

Having thought about this there are a few other examples in art showing long gripped straight swords from the 4th or 5th C.
This however is something completely diffrent! How refreshing and inspiring.

Best regards
Peter



LaloŽ Franck wrote:
A photo of this strang sword...


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Jonathon Janusz





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PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2006 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Please forgive some of my questions - I am not very well versed in swords from this era. . .

I assume the photo is of the sword sheathed? If so, is it stuck in there or are we fortunate enough to have a few pictures of the blade [crosses fingers Wink ]?

Is the hilt assembly complete or is it missing some components [to my eye, it looks complete]? If so, I was thinking that, proportionately, this sword appears to balance similarly to Japanese swords - by that I mean that the blade is balanced mostly internally and by the position of the "guard" or placement of the hand on the hilt rather than relying on a pommel as a counterbalance. [Even further conjecture. . .] In regards to blade thickness, this would suggest that this sword could have been made thicker/heavier than its single-hand contemporaries creating a weapon less one that is a slicing/cutting sword and more one that could chop/cleave with an authority I haven't heard or seen generally in discussion of swords from this era?

This is a sword I could see even a reasonably armoured man being afraid of when under attack from horseback. . .
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LaloŽ Franck




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2006 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I will do what I can. I speak very badly English.
The blade is completely rusted. There remains only the trimming because it is out of gold.
It is the sword of a Alain lord. It was thus a heavy rider (it is certain!). The Alain heads carried armours made up of scales, the "cataphractes"...
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Adam Bodorics
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2006 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do we know ANYTHING about blade lenght? Just because it does look like a simplified Indian twohander... which would mean that I have another crazy theory proved. Big Grin
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2006 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam Bodorics wrote:
Do we know ANYTHING about blade lenght? Just because it does look like a simplified Indian twohander... which would mean that I have another crazy theory proved. Big Grin


Based on the photo, and knowing the grip is 34 cm, the blade would be around 75-78 cm. That is a blade length you could find on a longbladed spatha.

The gold disc and small buckle makes me think the sword was carried from a baldrick. The long row of closionet garnets could possibly decorate the slot where the cross binding for the thongs from the baldric would be attached. This is the typical method to carry a spatha.

In all, this is not a very long sword and that is also in line with those long gripped spathas you can see depicted in art, although those depictions belong to the previous century.
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2006 1:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

After looking through the first things that were at hand I found two examples of long gripped spathae illustrated in Ospreyīs Warrior series: "#9. Late Roman Infantry man AD 236-565" and "#72. Imperial Roman Legionary AD 161-284"

In the first is printed a photo of the famous relief in Venice of Emperor Diocletian (AD 284-305) with his coemperors. All four guys have the same long gripped spathae with eagle head pommels (Iīve always wondered about those strange swords: never knew of any similar weapons from anywhere else).
Interestingly, you can make out long panels at the top of the scabbards that remind strongly of the garnet decorated panel at the top of the scabbard of the sword that is the focus of this thread...
I would also say that the size and proportions of Diocletianīs sword is spot on!

The second picture is a drawing made by Steven D P Richardson of a gravestone of a legionary from Sparta who served in Caracallaīs Spartan cohort AD 212-217. The gravestone is in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
Not much detail can be made out of the sword other than general size and proportions: very close to the archaeological find.
It is interesting to note that we have here a third version of hilt type: kidney shaped pommel, much like that on a regular short gripped spatha and a stubby guard. Apart from the long grip, it looks rather like the run of the mill spatha hilt.

Diocletian came from Illyria, corresponding to former Yogoslavia, while the legionary came from Sparta...
Do we have an eastern europe/balkan origin here?
This is all new to me. I would like to learn more!
Any input is much appreciated!



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