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Alexander Pratt





Joined: 19 Oct 2005

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PostPosted: Thu 12 Apr, 2007 12:40 pm    Post subject: Proclamation made May 6th 1562         Reply with quote

In the book by A.V.B. Norman,The Rapier and Small-sword, page 23 there is an excerpt of a proclamation made by the engilish crown on Statutes of Apparell. Mentioned in this text is a passage that deals with sword/ rapier length. It states;

" No man shall after X dayes next followying this proclamation, weare any sword, rapier, or any weapon in theyr steade, passynge the length of one yard & halfe a quarter of blade, at the vttermost:".

My question is, was the english yard of elizibethan times the same as the yard now used? And what is 'halfe a quarter' exactly? is it simply 1/8th of a yard?

Thanks

Alexander the Pratt

A sans-culotte you rogues? He is someone who always goes on foot, who has no millions, no chateaux. No valets to serve him, and who lives simply with his wife and children, if he has any, on a fourth or fifth story.
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Gordon Frye




Location: Kingston, Washington
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Apr, 2007 8:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexander;

To the best of my knowledge, an English Yard was the same then as an English Yard is today, so I'm going to guess that the statute mentioned was a restriction on sword blades of any more than 40-1/2 English Inches. At least assuming my math is right. Confused

There certainly was a fashion for really long blades in Elizabethan England, and the "Elizabethan Rapier" by Arms and Armour ( http://www.arms-n-armor.com/rapier190.html) wouldn't pass the muster, as it's got a 43" blade on it... it would be a pitty indeed to have to snap off the last two inches of that nice sword! Eek!

This was mostly, I believe, a sumptuary law (though I could well be wrong on this account), and I wold expect that you could get away with such extravagant blades if you paid sufficient "taxes" on it. Makes it that much more fashionable, as it becomes conspicuous consumption then!

Cheers!

Gordon

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David Nava





Joined: 05 Apr 2007

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri 13 Apr, 2007 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gentlemen

Funny this topic should come up. I was doing research on the net just this morning on the English Longbow and ran across this in Wikipedia:

"Cloth-yard shafts (used in longbows, their length being 31" or one yard of cloth) recovered from the Mary Rose show that some arrowheads were attached using a copper-based glue. As copper is lethal when introduced into the bloodstream, this could be considered an example of biochemical warfare."

This surprised me because I always assumed their measurements were the same as ours. Assuming the Wikipedia author is correct and no change was made between 1545 and 1562 it might be safe to presume that a yard was 31 inches then.

The article on longbows discussed the finding of a large number of the bows and arrows from the wreckage of the Mary Rose. Here's what I found out about the Mary Rose:

"Although she was the pride of the English fleet, she was sunk in Portsmouth Harbour during an engagement with the French fleet on July 19th 1545. The exact cause of her sinking has not been definitely determined but is thought to be because of instability. The surviving section of the ship was raised in 1982 and is now on display in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard along with an extensive collection of well preserved artifacts."

I think Gordon is quite right about the proclamation being mostly a sumptuary law. The Tudors were real sticklers about them and they were pretty much poorly enforced. It wouldn't surprise me that Elizabeth was railing about them fairly early in her reign.

Regards

David
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Alexander Pratt





Joined: 19 Oct 2005

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Fri 13 Apr, 2007 6:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for replying. very intresting inforomation. The Elizabethan rapier is a lovely sword. I have been lusting after it for many a year. it would be a shame to clip off the tip, such style should never be blemished. It makes sence that the blade length was a sumptuary law, THe book also states that this was not the first time Elizabeth made such proclamations about swords lenghts.
The info about the 31 inch yard is most interesting, if that were the case that would bring max rapier lengths down to 35.25", if my math is right. I wonder if the inch was diffrent during these times? it would also be interesting to see an example of a sword that has been cliped. anyone know of one?

Thanks again

Alexander the pratt

A sans-culotte you rogues? He is someone who always goes on foot, who has no millions, no chateaux. No valets to serve him, and who lives simply with his wife and children, if he has any, on a fourth or fifth story.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Sat 14 Apr, 2007 12:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We should also keep in mind that there were several kinds of yards in use at any one time. The "cloth yard" is one; and there were definitely other yard measurements that were either shorter or longer, including our modern 36-inch yard.
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