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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2004 9:16 am    Post subject: The Maciejowski "Glaive"         Reply with quote

Hi all

I thought I had succesfully posted this before-- seems not Worried Well, here goes again!

The illuminations of the Maciejowski Bible often depict a two-handed cutting weapon that is sometimes referred to as a “glaive” or fouchard. I have attached a detail from Leaf 10 of said Bible illustrating the capture of Hai (or Ai). The detail shows a knight who has, more or less, cut his opponent in two with this weapon—through maille, at that! Given that there may be some exaggeration of the weapon’s capabilities, it still looks quite formidable.

Is the term “glaive” an accurate one? I ask because the glaive I am familiar with is a long-hafted pole arm rather than the beast shown here. Impressive as it is, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more reproductions on the market—Manning Imperial is the only one I’ve seen that’s offering it.

Can anyone give me more info on this weapon? Has anyone seen it in a museum or private collection (an original)? Handled it? If so, what does it feel like… I think you get the direction I’m going in here. Any info would be appreciated.

Thanks,

David



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The Capture of Ai
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2004 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mr McElrea
Just speculating here. Glaive would normally be a two handed pole arm used by a man on foot. Two handed weapons would normally be used one handed off a horse (e.g. bastard swords), and using one two handed appears improbable without an extraordinarily well behaved horse. The user is shown using two hands and he's on a horse. I think it may be made up. Someone knew a real glaive and tried to adjust it to make it look a bit more realistic for horseback use, by shortening it so that the handle is much shorter than the blade. The blade shape looks about right, if a little long, and they could be used to chop (as well as stab) as in the picture. Perhaps it was something as simple as ' a knight chopped a man almost in half with a glaive', but the artist erroneously put the knight on horseback because that's more where he expected him to be (the status thing). As I said, just speculating.
Geoff
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2004 11:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Geoff Wood wrote:
Quote:

Two handed weapons would normally be used one handed off a horse (e.g. bastard swords), and using one two handed appears improbable without an extraordinarily well behaved horse. The user is shown using two hands and he's on a horse. I think it may be made up. Someone knew a real glaive and tried to adjust it to make it look a bit more realistic for horseback use, by shortening it so that the handle is much shorter than the blade. The blade shape looks about right, if a little long, and they could be used to chop (as well as stab) as in the picture.
Geoff


HI Geoff,

Thanks for your response. Good point about the use of a two-handed weapon in the saddle. The interesting thing is that this weapon is shown in a number of different plates sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback. I would have associated the common glaive (halberd) with a low-status foot soldier, whereas this is often portrayed as a knight's (or at least cavalry?) weapon. It is consistently long-bladed and short-hafted.

It's not outside the realm of possibility that the two-handed use of the blade in question (as well as the damage) is made up as you suggest. I would find it unsurprising if there were quite a few scribes who had not seen a battle from the `"inside". He may have known of the weapon yet been unfamiliar with the practicalities of its use.

Quote:
Perhaps it was something as simple as ' a knight chopped a man almost in half with a glaive', but the artist erroneously put the knight on horseback because that's more where he expected him to be (the status thing).


The battle of Ai is a biblical battle from the time of the conquest of Canaan. None of the weapons shown (at least in their Medieval incarnations) would have been present. The artist, as with most medieval artists, has portrayed the scene in anachronistic terms-- i.e. Medieval knights rather than Bronze Age warriors. The text itself (Joshua Chapter 8 of the Bible) gives no details about any deaths in particular apart from the hanging of Ai's king, so it is unlikely that the knight in question is referring to a particular event with a particular weapon. If we assume the above weapon is a halberd with poor proportions, it may be that the artist placed a "modern" tale of war very similar to the one you described in his seen, and moved the knight to his proper place (on a horse).

I find it a bit hard to believe that it is merely a matter of proportion, though. The weapon appears again and again, with the same (or similar) dimensions-- more sword than halberd. I have heard it said that the same creature can be found in the Bayeaux Tapestry as well, although I cannot remember having seen it there and would have assumed it was a much weapon.

Ah the mystery!

Thanks again,

David
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Robert Zamoida




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2004 11:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Museum Replicas does make a version of this weapon, which they call the "Warbrand" and describe as a hybrid sword/polearm. Though it shares some similarities with the glaive I think the best way to classify this weapon is a variant of the Gross Messer or Falchion, and though it may not have been intended for two hand use on horseback I don't think it's entirely improbable that it could be used that way. There are many cultures from the Eurasian steppes that were famed for their mounted archery (requiring the use of two hands), the Mongols being one of them. Also, there are accounts that describe how well trained the horses of mounted knights were, even in the period depicted in the Maciejowski Bible; if I remember right (it's been years since I read it), the Song of Roland does in fact describe that training, along with accounts on mounted combat of that time period. Here's a picture of the MRL replica:



Here's a link to Amazon.com for the Song of Roland:

The Song of Roland

Rob Zamoida
"When your life is on the line, you want to make use of all your tools. No warrior should be willing to die with his swords at his sides, without having made use of his tools."
-Miyamoto Mushashi, Gorin no Sho
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2004 11:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Roy,

Thanks for that-- so there are more out there!

It's the "hybrid" factor that fascinates me-- I can hardly imagine how it would be wielded without thinking in terms of the more Oriental martial arts. I'm also wondering how the length of hilt balances out the weight of the blade itself. It looks deadly but vaguely awkward, although I am sure it would be efficient enough in the hands of someone trained with it.

Looking at it again (at least the MRL one) I am put in mind of the Elven weapons in Peter Jackson's LOTR.

Anyway, having taken a quick look at the MRL website I note they say there are none of these in existence today. While I'm hoping someone might jump in and say "actually, I've held one" (Peter?), I'm guessing I won't get a lot of first hand info. I'll be dreaming of one of them turning up in someone's attic nonetheless.

Cheers
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2004 1:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By way of contrast, here is a pic of Manning Imperial's offering. The top is, of course, the "Glaive", immediately below that is the "Godenac"-- the other two speak for themselves.


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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2004 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just as a little added detail, I think that it is generally agreed that the illustrator of the Maciejowski bible was familiar with the arms and armor of his time and in all probability may have spent some time as a soldier or chaplain himself. This conclusion is drawn because of so many of the details he gets right. So I think it is fair to say that we should not just dismiss this weapon out of hand as being something he dreamed up.

As another side note I have heard from people that have owned the MRL piece that it is a bit of a beast to use. That's a shame, it's a fascinating looking weapon.

TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
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Scott Byler




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2004 2:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Manning offering is interesting. It has curvature, as well. I spoke a long while back with Al Massey about making one of these based on the Bible illo with maybe just a little curve to the blade. Alas, I've been unable to get actual free to use cash, so it hasn't happened. I hope to do it some day, before me and Al both expire of old age. It is a fascinating weapon...
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Bart Walczak





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PostPosted: Mon 02 Feb, 2004 4:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David McElrea wrote:
I find it a bit hard to believe that it is merely a matter of proportion, though. The weapon appears again and again, with the same (or similar) dimensions-- more sword than halberd. I have heard it said that the same creature can be found in the Bayeaux Tapestry as well, although I cannot remember having seen it there and would have assumed it was a much weapon.


Interestingly, a similar item can be found in a number of illustrations in Romance of Alexander (the one in Oxford library collection) and in one of the German 15th century sources from Bibliotheca Palatina.

It is very intriguing.
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Feb, 2004 6:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bart Walczak wrote:
David McElrea wrote:
I find it a bit hard to believe that it is merely a matter of proportion, though. The weapon appears again and again, with the same (or similar) dimensions-- more sword than halberd. I have heard it said that the same creature can be found in the Bayeaux Tapestry as well, although I cannot remember having seen it there and would have assumed it was a much weapon.


Interestingly, a similar item can be found in a number of illustrations in Romance of Alexander (the one in Oxford library collection) and in one of the German 15th century sources from Bibliotheca Palatina.

It is very intriguing.


Bart,
I am collecting material about these weapons and did not know about the Romance of Alexander and that German source in this vcontext. Do you have access to these illustrations to post here on this forum? It would be very interesting to see how they are depicted.

I agree with you that these weapons give an impression of having blades with sword character. Some are shown in the Maciejowski bible with single hand mounting, other having straight two hand handles, some are mounted as short staff weapons. I think it is the same type of blade in al cases.
It is reasonable to assume we can learn about the character and function of these weapons by studying falchions and big war knives.
My impression is that they are wide, thin bladed weapons with a reinforcing spine and sometimes groves or a fuller along the back of the blade. Big machetes made for war. I would not think they are so very heavy as one might think from the widht of the blade.
This is something to take note on regarding the falchion family as well: they are not generally the heavy choppers often made out to be. Those I have seen and handeled were light and thin in the blade. There is surely some blade presence, but not more than can be expected on any typical chopping/cutting sword. Nor is their weight much greater than double edged swords with similar blade length. There is a difference in mass distribution, but not so much as one might assume from blade profile. As the blades grow wider, they also grow thinner,

A set of Maciejowski weapons were among the first projects I discussed with Albion. We might see some of these realised at some point in the future, perhaps. I think this is a very interesting project and it has been on my mind for a few years now.
In any case I will make a study of this weapon in my own forge at some time.

I saw two chopping knives at for sale at Herman Historica (sorry, do not remember what auction), that were labeled as Langobardian 6th C weapons. I suspect the dating to be wrong: rather from the late 15th C seems reasonable when comparing with similar weapons shown in art. These were the single hand type with a spur, or umbrella handle. Not so long and large as those depicted in the Maciejowsky bible, but absolutely belonging to the same family.
One good example of this type of knife is seen in a painting of Lorenzo Lotto from 1503 showing Madonna and Child with S:t Peter the Martyr. The way this poor fellow was martyred is farily obvious in the painting...



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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Feb, 2004 6:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Similar weapons survived in Italy and were called Storte Contadine (Pesant Choppers/Falchions).
This picture is from Armi Bianche Italiane. Weapon shown is dated to 18th C. Note construction of grip and spur. The lenght of this weapon would be about the same as those single hand weapons shown in the Maciejowski bible.



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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Feb, 2004 6:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are some line drawings that show variations and themes of these weapons in the Maciejowski bible (these are not all depictions of this weapon...)


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Greg Thomas Obach
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Feb, 2004 7:54 am    Post subject: Hi all         Reply with quote

this is a great post

I've always wondered about the bible pic and just thought of the weapon as a Messer... thanks for the info...
good to see talk about these lesser known cutters...

Greg

ps.. I was alway under the impression that a glaive was a pole weapon... ... from the looks of the bible it would possibly be something like a naginata..??
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Feb, 2004 8:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Peter,

How did I know you would come up with the goods? Happy

Thanks for the insights and the illustrations-- unfortunately in England (at least in the country, where I am) broadband is not easy to come by and my Internet access is via the telephone lines. This means it takes me a long time to go through image files like those found in the Maciejowski Bible-- I appreciate your collection of sketches, and am excited at the prospect of you and Albion recreating some of these weapons (particularly the glaive/2-hand falchion/whatever it is).

Although the above illustrations will be old hat to some on the forum, for me these "new" weapons came as a bit of a surprise. As Bart writes: "Intriguing"!

David
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Robert Zamoida




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Feb, 2004 8:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Would studies of the blade profiles of similar Chinese weapons, like the dao and da dao, be of any benefit?

Did you mean the nagamaki Greg? If I remember right, I read somewhere that the nagamaki was the inspiration for the Elvish infantry swords.

Rob Zamoida
"When your life is on the line, you want to make use of all your tools. No warrior should be willing to die with his swords at his sides, without having made use of his tools."
-Miyamoto Mushashi, Gorin no Sho
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Feb, 2004 8:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Greg,

You are right in that a glaive is normally a polearm. One of the thing that makes this discussion interesting is that the term "glaive" is frequently used to describe this more sword-like weapon, at least in commentaries on the Maciejowski Bible.

Robert,

The naginata and the nagamaki are two types of the same sword-- both single-edged cutters with long handles. Although the two terms are used interchangeably the nagamaki is often used for a longer version.

For a brief overview check out the following (which is where I got all of the above info-- I'm useless with Eastern weapons Big Grin ):

http://www.ksky.ne.jp/~sumie99/naginata.html

I have to admit there are some very attractive looking blades there-- the cord wrapped hilts/handles are also quite impressive by their own rights.

Other webpages show that there is no clear guideline for the nagamaki/naginata-- some look more like a halbard, others have grips as short as a standard katana (although it is possible that they are naginaki's that have been converted to katanas-- I seem to remember seeing that somewhere).

As to whether Chinese/Japanese martial forms are of use in exploring the use of our Maciejowski thingy... one should look for help wherever one can, but I don't know how accurately the Chinese and Japanese weapons would replicate the usage and feel of this particular blade.

Still... the likeness is interesting. I think they must have stolen the idea from the West Laughing Out Loud

Just joking,

David
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B. Stark
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Feb, 2004 1:01 pm    Post subject: You've probably seen me at that other place...         Reply with quote

Hello, I'm new. To answer a previous question I've handled MRL's offing. It has a "T" shaped blade crossection and seems reasonably well balanced. Sturdy as well by all accounts with the slab tang const. Seemed a tad whippy the last 2" or so.
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Bart Walczak





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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 1:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter,

Here they come from Bibliotheca Palatina, Cod. Pal. Germ. 16 and 17



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Bart Walczak





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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 1:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now three from Romance of Alexander.

The first one from an unknown source:



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Bart Walczak





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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And two last ones, also from the Romance:

Hope this helps.



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