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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 03 Jul, 2006 8:10 pm    Post subject: The "Quintessential" Medieval Sword         Reply with quote

I was thinking about medieval swords and the general public's perception of them. As everyone here undoubtedly knows, the general public's perception of anything medieval is usually rife with inaccuracies and anachronisms. So, I was wondering: if we were to ask people from the general public at large to describe what they thought the "classic" historical medieval sword looked like, how do you think it would look according to their description? Let's assume for the moment that they don't have difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and historical types of designs and will pick a design that is somewhat historical, if perhaps anachronistic, in nature.

I guess the real point of this question is, what is the general perception of what medieval swords are like floating out in the public consciousness, or what would people identify as the Platonic Form, if you will, for a medieval sword?

My guess is that it will look something like Albion Armorer's Squire. However, the grip would lack the risers that the Squire has, and that the guard would be more like the one found on the Senlac. My guess is that if you showed people photos of this sword and asked them if this is what the "classic" medieval sword looked like, they'd tend to agree, favouring it even over photos of other, earlier swords from Oakeshott's typology. I am curious as to what everyone else thinks on this subject.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 03 Jul, 2006 8:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

PS: If someone wouldn't mind doing a Photoshop of the sword I described with Albion's Campaign Worn brown for the grip, I'd like to see it.
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Patrick J.





Joined: 24 Jan 2005

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PostPosted: Mon 03 Jul, 2006 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can tell you mine, before I really got into swords.

Straight blade with no profile taper. Spatulate point. Simple straight cross guard. Plain wheel pommel.

Basically this sword with a longer hilt and no fuller.

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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Mon 03 Jul, 2006 11:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most people ordering a sword from our workshop ask for a sword with a flat disc pommel and a straight guard, like Patrick's picture above. Because of that we call it "The Medieval Standard" (Mittelalter Standard). Laughing Out Loud
So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Tue 04 Jul, 2006 3:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick J. wrote:
I can tell you mine, before I really got into swords.

Straight blade with no profile taper. Spatulate point. Simple straight cross guard. Plain wheel pommel.

Basically this sword with a longer hilt and no fuller.

In my own case, the quintessential sword is pretty much exactly the same as this Hospitaller, with the fuller and the single hand grip.

"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Tue 04 Jul, 2006 3:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For me the Knight is the quintessential medieval sword. The Steward is up there though. Happy
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Geoff Wood




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Tue 04 Jul, 2006 5:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Grisetti wrote:
Patrick J. wrote:
I can tell you mine, before I really got into swords.

Straight blade with no profile taper. Spatulate point. Simple straight cross guard. Plain wheel pommel.

Basically this sword with a longer hilt and no fuller.

In my own case, the quintessential sword is pretty much exactly the same as this Hospitaller, with the fuller and the single hand grip.

Yep, mine too. I wonder if the more rounded/less pointy tips are a memory from watching stage blunts in hollywood films at an early age?
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Tue 04 Jul, 2006 5:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Geoff Wood wrote:
...I wonder if the more rounded/less pointy tips are a memory from watching stage blunts in hollywood films at an early age?

That's an interesting thought - an probably has a lot of merit.

"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
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Kenton Spaulding




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PostPosted: Tue 04 Jul, 2006 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know that when I first got interested in learning about historical swords, I was surprised to see how thin they are when looking at them from the side. It sounds so foolish to me now, but at the time I envisioned them being almost cubicle, if that makes any sense. Functionally, of course this is absurd, but from t.v. and movies I usually only saw them from the front, and I was shocked to see how narrow they are in reality.

I would say that before I began learning about swords, I probably invisioned the "classic" sword would have a hilt similar to the Black Prince with a blade more like that of the Albion Baron.

Kenton
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Tue 04 Jul, 2006 2:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would think the archetype of the medieval sword would be rather like a type XI - long, parallel edges, mildly pointed, fuller, straight cross and disc pommel.
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Edward Hitchens




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PostPosted: Thu 06 Jul, 2006 12:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Taylor Ellis wrote:
For me the Knight is the quintessential medieval sword. The Steward is up there though. Happy


I couldn't agree more. Wink

"The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest." Thomas Jefferson
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Micha Hofmann




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PostPosted: Thu 06 Jul, 2006 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmmm.... strange. When I look at all the swords I've seen on the net, one sword always feels most...medieval to me.

And it always looks like the Gaddhjalt ( or perhaps a little like the st. Maurice, too ). WTF?!



I don't know why I think this way. Maybe it was those little toy Normans and Anglo-Saxons I played with so much, when I was a kid... Wink
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 06 Jul, 2006 3:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guys, I appreciate that some of you want to share your ideas about what the quintessential medieval sword is. However, my question isn't really asking about what your opinion of the quintessential medieval sword is; I know that pretty much everyone here at myArmoury is much more sophisticated that the average person and has a far better idea of what the quintessential sword might be like. I'm more interested in your thoughts and ideas about what the lay public thinks and why. If you don't have any ideas about this, consider asking someone you know who is a member of the lay public.
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Thu 06 Jul, 2006 4:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that those without a deeper interest in history will tend to be influenced by the latest popular films. Fortunately, Kingdom of Heaven illustrated some swords that weren't too bad, if not necessarily correct for the period.
"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
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Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
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PostPosted: Thu 06 Jul, 2006 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Guys, I appreciate that some of you want to share your ideas about what the quintessential medieval sword is. However, my question isn't really asking about what your opinion of the quintessential medieval sword is; I know that pretty much everyone here at myArmoury is much more sophisticated that the average person and has a far better idea of what the quintessential sword might be like. I'm more interested in your thoughts and ideas about what the lay public thinks and why. If you don't have any ideas about this, consider asking someone you know who is a member of the lay public.


Hmm, how about this for a public perception of a medieval sword...

Comes with a cool grip that you can grasp even when your hands are bloody! It would be even better if it's in the form of a snake or dragon!

It has that crossbar thing near the grip that would look cool if it was shaped with curvy spikes like maybe those fantasy swords you see in the movies. Heck double spikes would look really cool! That way it would have a cool look that says you're a real badass when wielding it!

It has a back weight thingy so you can use it to bash someone with, like they do in the movies, maybe with more spikes on it...or a cool gem on it.

The blade is long and pointy with a cool blood groove on it. Everyone knows that you need a blood groove on a real cool sword. Long and thinner looks better than short and broader, otherwise it would look too chunky. Curved is really cool too! Real neato engraving with Elvish runes would be cool too or Klingon/Chinese/mystic characters. Oh the blade has to have a real shiny silvery hue to it that you can read by! Shiny enough that it would almost seem to be glowing in the Sodium lights in your carport. Shiny enough that it would really make everyone say, "wow what cool sword you have!"

However all the best swords always weigh a lot because only really strong warriors would be wielding them. It just doesn't feel right unless it feels heavy. Not too heavy though, since you need to swing it to show your friends and to bash things!

Oh and it has to be sharp, like a Katana, so that it can slice paper! It should have a cool name for it too or it isn't a real badass sword like they have in the movies! Something like "Soul Drinker" or "Blood Sucker" would be real cool. Stupid names like "Excalibur" aren't...what's an Excalibur?

Finally it has to have a really cool box it comes in with all kinds of pictures of kids like me wielding it so my mom would know it's safe to get! :-)

Ok I know the above is an exageration, but then again most of the public are idiots anyway, sad to say, and wouldn't know a good sword from an anchor! :-( Otherwise I agree with the above comments on what a perceived European Medieval sword would look like.

Hope this helps Craig.

Happy
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 06 Jul, 2006 6:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe the general population's concept of the archetypical medieval sword would be some fantasy creation. Something from Lord of the Rings, Excalibur, Conan, Kingdom of Heaven, and the like would all be included as answers to such a poll. It would be speculation to know if these items would appear before actual historical swords in the polls, but I personally have no doubt that they'd rank highly.
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Kenton Spaulding




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PostPosted: Thu 06 Jul, 2006 7:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

and it had better make a really lound SHHIIIIIIINGGG!!!!! when you draw it.

Kenton
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 06 Jul, 2006 10:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While it's probably true that the general public's idea of what the quintessential medieval sword is while involve fantasy elments, let's suppose for the sake of discussion what I said initially: "Let's assume for the moment that they don't have difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and historical types of designs and will pick a design that is somewhat historical, if perhaps anachronistic, in nature."
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Patrick J.





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PostPosted: Fri 07 Jul, 2006 9:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters - Just wanted you to know that I did what you asked. My description was from when I was a kid, before I even saw a wallhanger. I used to hate European swords, because they were so plain. Then I discovered that real European swords could be beautiful, even though most are visually boring.

If you ask kids today who grew up on Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, then you may get different answers.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 07 Jul, 2006 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick J. wrote:
Craig Peters - Just wanted you to know that I did what you asked. My description was from when I was a kid, before I even saw a wallhanger. I used to hate European swords, because they were so plain. Then I discovered that real European swords could be beautiful, even though most are visually boring.

If you ask kids today who grew up on Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, then you may get different answers.


Indeed you did Patrick. You'll notice that in my post I qualified what I was writing by noting that it was only "some" of the people who wanted to share their ideas about what the quintessential sword is. Wink
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