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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Dec, 2006 5:30 am    Post subject: Morgenstern         Reply with quote

I've looked for a long time for a good photo of one of these ancient weapons... being made of wood not too many exist and most of the photos I have seen were black and white, of a limited view and / or of poor quality.

Here is an old ebay auction with some excellent photos of one of these. I thought if there are any other researchers out there who have been looking for a good photo of one of these they might appreciate it.

Jean



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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Dec, 2006 9:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks like the weapon called a godendag in the Low Countries. Early 14thC. Clearly a simple practical design as it survived four hundred years of military development. Cool
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2006 10:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

One question (and I know there is some overlap with pole arm names), would a godendag have the side spikes? I've always envisioned the godendag as a sort of a club with a single vertical spike (as in those shown on the Courtrai chest, an early 14th century manuscript in the British library, and the 14th century Romance of Alexander in the Bodleian Library) and morgenstern had the side spikes. This could just be splitting hairs, and I'm not advocating one term or the other. I have seen some decent examples of morgensterns in my books, but it's always nice to see a colour close-up.
Thanks!

Stay safe!

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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2006 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Facinating picture,

Do you think that the weapon is genuine? If so, of what era- surely it can't be early 14th.

Jeremy
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2006 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Waldman devotes a whole chapter to these, in case you're looking for a good source of info. Assuming this particular weapon is authentic (meaning made for fighting rather than made "in the style of",) it could be as late as the 17th century. The haft is very light-colored and straight--not necessarily what I'd expect to see in a weapon stacked in a European armoury for the last 400 years. Bright spikes as well. Could have been cleaned, of course, and if properly stored would remain straight. Fagan Arms offered a number of these at auction in the last few years, and those were supposedly collected from European armouries. To see those weapons, follow this link and download catalog #72. The Morgensterns are in the first few pages.

http://www.faganarms.com

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2006 1:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Morgenstern         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
I've looked for a long time for a good photo of one of these ancient weapons... being made of wood not too many exist and most of the photos I have seen were black and white, of a limited view and / or of poor quality.

Here is an old ebay auction with some excellent photos of one of these. I thought if there are any other researchers out there who have been looking for a good photo of one of these they might appreciate it.

Jean


Yeah, if you look at the auction it is supposed to be an authentic item from Switzerland, dating to the 17th century IIRC, it has a mark on it from the arsenal. It sold for $999

I've seen nearly identical weapons to this in the Czech republic which were attributed to the Hussites.

The Godendag of the Low Countries is similar but most of the representations I've seen depict it as lacking the spikes and being more mace-like, or like a mace with one central spear-spike.

I recently posted this link to another thread about Dutch military history

http://www.liebaart.org/goeden_e.htm

they have a good reproductoin godendag on their site



It's interesting to me that the Swiss used this weapon. All the really major defeats of the mounted Aristocracy in this late Medieval / Early Renaissance era seem to involve similar weapons to this, the Swiss had their volgue / halberd (and apparently these as well) the Hussites had these morgensterns and their brutal militarized agricultural flails (does anyone have a photo of one of those?) the Scots had the Sparth Axe and the Flemmish / Dutch had that charming godendag. These are all adaptations to defeating a heavily armored opponent, developed in places where there was still some residue of the old tribal warrior traditions and training was still practiced... it's interesting how they all found a way and the way was pretty similar, a heavy spear with some ferocious smashing or cutting implements to finish the guy off....

Cheers,

Jean

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George Hill




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Dec, 2006 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the subject of the godentag, I'm most curious as well. I've encountered people refering to them as everything from a halberd to a holy water sprinkler.

On the subject of Holy Water Sprinklers, I saw two excellent ones many years ago in the Tower of London. (I have heard that collection has been moved.)


They both had quite long shafts, (Though I was much shorter then) and one of them ended in a spike covered wooden sphere, and the other ended in a spike covered hexagon, which was perhaps 8-12 inches long, and a good bit larger in diameter then the shaft.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
Hello all!

One question (and I know there is some overlap with pole arm names), would a godendag have the side spikes? I've always envisioned the godendag as a sort of a club with a single vertical spike (as in those shown on the Courtrai chest, an early 14th century manuscript in the British library, and the 14th century Romance of Alexander in the Bodleian Library) and morgenstern had the side spikes. This could just be splitting hairs, and I'm not advocating one term or the other. I have seen some decent examples of morgensterns in my books, but it's always nice to see a colour close-up.
Thanks!

Stay safe!


Ah. Sorry to have been so brief. I wasn't clear.

My reference was more directed to the practical design concept of a great mucking club with a nasty spike on the end. Regional variations notwithstanding. Modern people spend a lot more effort classifying everything in minute detail than our ancestors did.

Kel
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!
Kel Rekuta wrote:

Modern people spend a lot more effort classifying everything in minute detail than our ancestors did.

Kel,
Agreed! Our ancestors gave many different names to the same thing, or called different things by the same name. Historically, glaive could have meant a variety of different weapons, but today it usually refers to a specific pole arm. I can see a "familial" resemblance between the godendag and the morgenstern. I think the morgenstern can be considered a "pumped up" godendag.

George Hill wrote:

On the subject of the godentag, I'm most curious as well. I've encountered people refering to them as everything from a halberd to a holy water sprinkler.

George,
There have been varying interpretations and definitions of godendag, but I think the current modern one is that of a long club with a single spike at the top (like the reproduction Jean posted). This is actually close to what's seen on the Courtrai Chest and other period images showing this form of weapon.

This is what Oakeshott said about the "godendac" in The Archaeology of Weapons:
Ewart Oakeshott wrote:

...Almost its only call to fame is its use in the battle of Coutrai in 1302, when the burghers of that city inflicted a terrible and most bl;oody defeat upon the chivalry of France.

Guiart gives an account of this battle, and describes the Godendac as thus:

A grans baton pesans ferres
Avec leur agu devant
Vont ceux de France recevant
Tiex baton qu'il portent en guerre...

Cil baton sont long e traitis
Pour ferir a deux mains faitis.

At one time it was believed that the mystery surrounding this thing's precise shape had been solved. A great oak chest of fourteenth century date in the new College, Oxford, had carved upon it several battle scenes which have been identified as portraying this battle at Courtrai. in all these illustrations the chief weapon in the hands of the Flemings is a great club about 5 ft. long, reinforced on its head with bands of iron and furnished with a long spike. With some stretching of the imagination these could be made to fit Guiart's description: great sticks or clubs with "thier iron pointed in front". However, this desription would do equally well for the early form of halberd, the weapon which the Swiss used for the first time at Morgarten thirteen years later, with apparently the same effect on the Austrian knights as the Godendac had on the French. Most of the accounts of Courtrai make it clear that the godendac was a cutting weapon like an axe as well as having a forward-pointing spike like a spear; in that respect the weapons on the New College chest fail to equate with the descriptions.

Claims of the cutting ability of the godendag aside, I think Oakeshott's comparison of the godendag with the halberd is incorrect. There are other depictions of weapons similar to those seen on the Courtrai chest; one in a 14th century English manuscript that may have had a Flemish origin, and an appearance in the 14th century Romance of Alexander.

Others define the godendag as a spiked club. This is what Kelly DeVries said in Medieval Military Technology, in the chapter on arms:
Kelly DeVries wrote:

The goedendag combined the spear not with the axe, but with a mace. Strictly a Flemish weapon, the goedendag, which translates as "good-day" or "hello", was featured in their early fourteenth-century warfare, and was credited by some French chroniclers as the reason for the Felmish victory at the battle of Courtrai. It was employed by infantry first to pull the French cavalry from their horses (using the spear part of the weapon) and then to crush their bones and skulls (using the mace part).

The goedendag saw very limited service, and then only by the Flemings who themselves abandoned it by the beginning of the fifteenth century. However, it may have inspired several later staff-weapons - the Morning Star, the Holy Water Sprinkler, and the Military Flail - all of which combined the spear with the mace. The Holy Water Sprinkler and the Military Flail attached their mace heads to the haft by a chain...

Here's how Nicolle defines it in Arms & Armour of the Crusading Era 1050-1350 Western Europe and the Crusader States (this definition is almost identical to the one in his other work, Medieval Warfare Source Book Volume 1: Warfare in Western Christendom):
David Nicolle wrote:

Godendac, goedendag: long-hafted mace with a thrusting spike at the ned, used by infantry; Flanders, 13th-14th century.

Godendat, godendart: heavy infantry mace with thrusting spike at end; from Flemish godendac; Flanders, early 14th century.


Again, I could find other definitions that are divergent from this, but I think this is the currently accepted definition of godendag. Jean-Denis G. G. Lepage equates the goedendag with the morgenster in Medieval Armies and Weapons in Western Europe. Edge and Paddock equate it more with the halberd (a ploughshare on a staff) in Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight. Blair and Tarassuk state that it had a fluke as well as a spike, and was the possible predecessor of the halberd, in The Complete Encyclopedia of Arms & Weapons. Still, I think the form proposed by Nicolle and DeVries most closely matches what's shown on the Courtrai Chest (and even matches Guiart's description). It was a simple infantry weapon used for only a limited period in a limited geographic area.

I hope this helped!

Have a safe and happy holiday!

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 11:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

In case anyone is interested, here's the image of a godendac (behind the axe) from the Romance of Alexander, the 14th century manuscript now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford:



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Godendac from Romance of Alexander.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Dec, 2006 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can see advantages to the spiky morgenstern as far as looking wicked and making nasty wounds but carrying around a geodendag ( spelling seems to vary ) like the one now available from A & A is that one wouldn't be at risk of hurting oneself with the spikes: Not a problem during a fight but a very awkward weapon to carry around I think ?

A bunch of geodendag could easily be bundled up and thrown into a supply cart or on a pack animal: All those spiky morgensterns would all get tangled together and be a hazard if dropped on the ground.
( Wouldn't want to step on one. Eek! )

As far as weapons use there is probably very little advantage to either style as the mace like function is mostly blunt trauma anyway and the spikes could get stuck in something.

In principle they are both good weapons and really inexpensive if one wanted to arm a large militia or peasants.

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Dec, 2006 11:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!
Jean Thibodeau wrote:

As far as weapons use there is probably very little advantage to either style as the mace like function is mostly blunt trauma anyway and the spikes could get stuck in something.

Jean,

I don't think we should discount the effectiveness of the spikes on a morgenstern to concentrate the force of the blow. It's simple physics again; the same amount of force concentrated on a smaller area (the tip of a spike) will "hit" harder. The spikes would act as a wedge. I do think the spikes getting stuck could be a problem; I believe Oakeshott said that the "spiky" 15th century maces could be a problem for the same reason. The force was so concentrated that the spikes on the flanges could get stuck in an opponent's armour after piercing said armour. It might just have been Oakeshott's musings, but it's an interesting thought!

I think the spikes on the sides of a morgenstern might have been seen as an improvement over the plainer godendac. It would have enabled the morgenstern to pierce as well as bludgeon, and concentrate the force of the blow on the spikes.

I also think the morgensterns were long enough that infantry soldiers might have carried them over their shoulders. And, in the case of the Hussites, these weapons might have been carried in their war-wagons. I don't see them being much more dangerous to carry than many of the other sharp and pointy pole arms.

There is something very visceral about the look of a morgenstern, isn't there? A few years ago I made a medieval war-club, based on the one that Museum Replica's once carried, that was itself based on examples in the Maciejowski Bible. It's basically a studded club (an old snow shovel handle). It looks mean, but it's not nearly as brutal-looking as a spiked morgenstern. I would worry about someone hurting themselves if I had one of those on my wall!

Have a safe and joyous holiday!

Oh, I've added a computer-generated drawing I did of my war-club. I think it's a distant cousin to the godendac. The one thing I did a little differently was to put four "studs" on top versus just one (I had tacks to spare).



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Medieval War Club

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Dec, 2006 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

In case anyone is interested, I was just browsing through my copy of Medieval Costume, Armour and Weapons by Eduard Wagner, Zoroslava Drobna, and Jan Durdik, and saw many nice drawings of several variations of the morgenstern and other mace-type weapons. There are also a few interesting looking flails. I know they are drawings and not photos, but the drawings are based directly on either period art or actual surviving examples.

Another member just recently posted a link to this work on-line in this thread:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=8681

For those interested in morgensterns or other "spiky" medieval weapons, it might be worth checking out!

Happy Holidays!

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Dec, 2006 5:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
Hello all!

I don't think we should discount the effectiveness of the spikes on a morgenstern to concentrate the force of the blow. It's simple physics again; the same amount of force concentrated on a smaller area (the tip of a spike) will "hit" harder. The spikes would act as a wedge. I do think the spikes getting stuck could be a problem; I believe Oakeshott said that the "spiky" 15th century maces could be a problem for the same reason. The force was so concentrated that the spikes on the flanges could get stuck in an opponent's armour after piercing said armour. It might just have been Oakeshott's musings, but it's an interesting thought!


If I was to actually design my own version " hybrid " between a geodendag and the morgenstern I would have spikes but more of the pyramidal ones on the A &A Iberian mace where the concentration of force you mentioned would be used but not so thin and pointy that a spike would or could get stuck in a plate and stacking them for transport not a potential problem like I imagined.

Oh, I used to have to pack and carry around a lot of heavy video and lighting equipment in my EX. A / V job and I could visualize a bunch of spiky heads being prone to get tangled up if tracked together or with other gear.

Also, you are right that the morgensterns would be individually carried on the shoulder and the above not a problem.
( As well the morgenstern seems generally longer than the geodendag. )

A & A Iberian mace: http://www.arms-n-armor.com/view.html?pole147a.jpg Imagine this combined with this:
A & A Geodengag: http://www.arms-n-armor.com/view.html?custom935a.jpg

Now, the geodendag I ordered is going to be the standard type as I like the clean lines and if I changed it I might have a good design but it just wouldn't still be a geodendag.

What seems like the main design feature to both is a long handled mace with a stout point: Impact weapon + piercing weapon almost more like a pointy battering ram than just a spear. The spike on the A & A gedendag seems particularly strong and the point might also make a nasty raking tip cut if contact was made with the last couple of inches when swung.

The spike also being heavy enough to almost be an impact weapon by itself and also contributing substantially to the weight of the head of the whole weapon.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Dec, 2006 5:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard;

Oh, almost forgot: Nice warclub. Cool Add a long point to it and you would have a geodendag or very close to it.

( And Merry Xmas. )

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Dec, 2006 8:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!
Jean Thibodeau wrote:

If I was to actually design my own version " hybrid " between a geodendag and the morgenstern I would have spikes but more of the pyramidal ones on the A &A Iberian mace where the concentration of force you mentioned would be used but not so thin and pointy that a spike would or could get stuck in a plate and stacking them for transport not a potential problem like I imagined.

Jean,
I like that idea! Now you've got me wondering if anything similar to that was used historically. It's certainly a possibility. I'll have to dig through my books some time and see what I find. Not today, though; too many holiday activities to do!
Have fun!

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Krystian Jakubiuk




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Sep, 2008 1:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a question... Have you got any information about use godendag in Poland in XV centaury ???
mars is attack .... Happy
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A.A. Boskaljon




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Sep, 2008 2:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One last funny note on the godendag. The way we call it in Dutch these times is goedendag. What can be translated to "Good day"
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Krystian Jakubiuk




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Sep, 2008 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good day or not good day but is use in XV centaury or not ?
mars is attack .... Happy
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