Info Favorites Register Log in Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Beast or Flaw. Type XVIIIc Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Hector A.

Joined: 22 Dec 2013

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Sun 01 Feb, 2015 1:22 pm    Post subject: Beast or Flaw. Type XVIIIc         Reply with quote

So much discussion surrounding this sub type in the past and yet nobody has reached any conclusions about when, why and how.

When where they first introduced to the market and how long did they enjoy use? Dates range from 1350's to the 1450's.

Why where they made? Biggest paradox of all, cut, thrust, both? Un-armored or armored opponents? Maybe both?

How did they end up in the middle east? Failed design sold off second hand or recommissioned. Or outdated but faithful design re purposed?

I find this sub type fascinating, all of them are the same, same type of cross, same type of pommels, same proportions? This was clearly a winning design in the minds of those who made and commissioned them, yet they faded out of use in Europe quick. ( at least that's what everything leads us to think )

Here is my take on it and i would very much like to hear yours as well and if anybody knows for sure from research then please enlighten us.

From what i have found on dating's and representations of this sword it seems it came into play at the start of the 15th century rather than the mid to late 14th, why it has been dated earlier i do not know and can't seem to find out why.

I have found it to be primarily present in French and English art of that period, making it a weapon of the 100 years war. It seems to always come up in battles depicting English and French troops in heavy plate, rather than textile or sown plate defenses.

This is where our first problem arises, why would a clearly cut oriented sword be used in full plate battles?
From what i have gathered from my own Alexandria the bevel angle is 16 degree's total, and period sharpening was a micro bevel of mostly 40 degree's or 70 degree's.

70 degree's??? That's definitely intended for edge retention against plate strikes and not the accidental kind, this sword was made to deliberately strike plate?

So a sword optimized for the cut, being sharpened to face plate armor in direct strikes?

Did it work? Certainly enough to warrant using them for a confirmed period of at least 20 years, was it effective? Most evidence points it wasn't why else did they disappear so quickly? And why did all of Europe keep or go back to heavy point designs against plate?

They ended up being used on middle eastern fronts, a place where heavy armor was scarce due to heat, no doubt they must have shined in this environment, evidence threw diplomatic gifting, re-sharpening to 40 degree micro bevels, re-hilting, polishing to a point they lost several millimeters in thickness ( certainly to reduce bevel angle from repeated sharpening), all in all extremely well preserved in Alexandria's arsenal.

Anybody's guess, that's what i believe to be the most plausible explanation based on what i know. But a 1000's different reasons are also possible, lets discuss this and anything XVIIIc related Wink.

ps: Love these swords.
View user's profile Send private message
Hector A.

Joined: 22 Dec 2013

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Sun 01 Feb, 2015 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I forgot to talk about these swords stiffness and tip.

These swords are very stiff in the cut due to being very wide, that further puts emphasis on there cutting ability, yet they are not very stiff in the thrust, not enough to thrust plate effectively.
Paradoxically they are dynamically optimized for thrusting precision despite lacking the stiffness for plate, they most certainly would have been very effective against gambesons, and this is confirmed by my own tests on textile. Having a wide cross section also means the wound will be terribly incapacitating ( much like a gladius ).
And yet threw art it would seem they where used against plate? Artistic licence perhaps? Much prettier to show everybody in full plate rather than in dull "rags" :P.

Some pictures to supplement some of the things i have said, i will post more later on:

Clearly tired sword that has had a least one re-hilting and various polishing's as seen from its reduced thickness. Tip has changed shape from sharpening and/or broke at some point during its life.

micro bevel visible, 40 degree's at least, even more towards the very tip. Broken tip or re-shaped tip.
View user's profile Send private message
Alexis Bataille

Location: montpellier
Joined: 31 Aug 2014

Posts: 95

PostPosted: Sun 01 Feb, 2015 2:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

perhaps the most commun armor of this era was made of fabric ?
View user's profile Send private message
Hector A.

Joined: 22 Dec 2013

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Sun 01 Feb, 2015 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexis Bataille wrote:
perhaps the most commun armor of this era was made of fabric ?

It most certainly was, but why then never depict it in period art? This sword is specifically and constantly ( from the art work i have found so far ) vs plate armor.

Like i said before, perhaps artistic licence? And why then not use the sword for a longer period of time, textile didn't really ever go away or lose popularity, if anything towards the 16th century it gained even more popularity?
View user's profile Send private message
Luka Borscak

Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Likes: 7 pages

Posts: 2,307

PostPosted: Sun 01 Feb, 2015 4:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some nice very broad XVIII's in this thread about Castillon family of swords:

Depending on the dating and if you accept wide Castillon swords to be of a more or less same type of blades as Alexandria XVIIIc's, these wide XVIII blades, both hand and a half and singlehanded, were in use for at least 50 years, but I believe they were made and used a lot longer than that. This painting clearly shows an XVIIIc hand and a half and it's dated to 1480:

Peter Johnsson's drawing of an XVIIIc sword shows it with a late 15th and early 16th century styled fittings, so the type must have still been popular:

Famous Erbach longsword of the late 15th century could also be classified as an XVIIIc. Here are some more nice, wide XVIII blades, one singlehander dated to 1380 because of the coat of arms in the pommel face:

The type might well be related also to a type XXII:

Basically, although Alexandria family is rather specific, there were lots of very wide XVIII made from late 14th to early 16th century , so I wouldn't say they were not practical. Their edge geometries differed of course, but they were all probably effective cutters against flesh and cloth, depending on the tip thickness they could be more or less effective thrusters against mail, but they all must have thrusted nicely cloth armours. If some of them had stronger, well supported edges they might have also been good at striking against mail armoured parts of body, or maybe some knights liked to ring bells inside helmets with them. Wink

I almost forgot this beauty, not really an XVIIIc, but same principle:
View user's profile Send private message

Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Beast or Flaw. Type XVIIIc
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum

All contents © Copyright 2003-2024 — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum