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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Sioux City, IA
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Nov, 2022 2:00 pm    Post subject: The Swordstaff, Viking Sagas ... and Tyr?         Reply with quote

Quote:
"We were 1800 Germans and we were attacked by 15,000 Swedish farmers. God gaev us victory and we struck most of them dead. We were all wearing breast and back plates, skullcaps and arm defences, and they had crossbows and good spears [spiess] made from swords. Afterwards, the King of Denmark knighted us all and id us great honour and paid us well and let us return over the sea in 1503. I, Paul Dolnstein was there and Sir Sigmund List was our Obrist."


Paul Dolstein's reference is the sole written reference for these undernoticed weapons. I recently discovered they appeared in a Spanish-Gallician painter Fernando Gallego, the Betrayal of Christ c. 1480-6:



One of the things a swedish member of this forum said is that Dolstein "thought" the weapons held by the swedish farmers were made out of swords, but considering how Gallego's swordstaff has finger-guards, which is useless in a spear, I couldn't really think those were other than recycled swords, instead of a spear with a simply long blade. The Dolstein's swordstaff show the rare S-shaped profile that some Norse sword guards have that I just discovered due to a Skallagrim's review.

So, why we have so few about those? Why they appear in a Iberian peninsula artwork?

I lost some photos a guy took when he visited a museum either in Denmark or in Sweden, with extant swordstaves with yet different guards. If someone has photos of them, sharing would be great
----
Second question would be when they appear. Wikipedia says we have weird terms for spears already in the Sagas, trying to associate them with the 1500's Dolstein visual sources, like "hewing spear" which was taken from the Sagas to mean "bill" or "halberd", but I think these would like to refer to the extant spears we found that have huge blades.



These were universally used in this period, right? Because Skallagrim showed a very big spear from the Carolingian period, but it was the one I know so far.
-----
Lastly, I have some reserves on God of War's Ragnarok historical research of Norse Myths, but do we have primary sources of Tyr having a spear? A secondary source I was reading quotes another secondary source arguing that Tyr's figure of a god of war was progressively incorporated in Wutan/Odin himself, his mightly spear (which was symbol of justice and decision-making) eventually referring to Odin's Gungnir, etc. But I found scant references for that, and no primary sources on this subject at all.

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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Ryan S.




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Nov, 2022 10:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don’t know much about sword spears, but I believe it was noticed in other threads that the guards arresting Christ, almost always have a variety of pole arms. I don’t know why.

Anyway, here is also a picture of a crusader with a sword-spear in a French book. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b55006914c/f543.item.zoom
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Nov, 2022 11:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Wikipedia says we have weird terms for spears already in the Sagas, trying to associate them with the 1500's Dolstein visual sources, like "hewing spear" which was taken from the Sagas to mean "bill" or "halberd", but I think these would like to refer to the extant spears we found that have huge blades.


Wiki actually says :

"While clearly identifiable artistic or archaeological evidence of the form of these weapons is lacking, it is possible that the swordstaff may be a late derivative of this family of weapons."

It merely states we have a lot of cut and thrust weapons in the Scandinavian tradition we can't pin down and the swordstaff may belong to this tradition. It's possible, though speculative. But then, a lot of attempts to identify Scandinavian weapons from sagas and their relationship one with another are speculative in the absence of clear evidence, unfortunately.

That said, thank you for that image, which I'd never seen before.

Polerams carried by guards in Betrayal scenes are a very common tradition in medieval art. By the later period, there tends to be a particular exoticism in the portrayal. The main swordstaff seems to be deliberately oversized here (intended as some sort of bearing staff, perhaps?) but the one in the left background seems more practically sized.

Anthony Clipsom
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

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PostPosted: Mon 21 Nov, 2022 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can anyone read the writing on the scabbard of the falchion or the kneeling man's belt? Here is the Wikimedia Commons page with information and closeup photos https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:The_Betrayal_of_Christ_by_Fernando_Gallego

The soldier in greaves has an arming point for sabatons on the toe of his shoe. We rarely see those without the sabaton in the way.

I think that someone, perhaps Pietro Monte, says that the partisan has a blade like an "ancient sword" (ie. Oakeshott Group 1, as distinct from the more aggressively tapered Oakeshott group II)

www.bookandsword.com
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2022 12:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Can anyone read the writing on the scabbard of the falchion or the kneeling man's belt?


The belt seems to start MA, so perhaps Malchus, which is the servant's name according to John's gospel?

Anthony Clipsom
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Sioux City, IA
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2022 6:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Quote:
Can anyone read the writing on the scabbard of the falchion or the kneeling man's belt?


The belt seems to start MA, so perhaps Malchus, which is the servant's name according to John's gospel?


Malchus would be the soldier that lost his ear, I don't if you're talking about the same soldier with the ear about to be glued back in the center.

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 331

PostPosted: Wed 23 Nov, 2022 7:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Quote:
Can anyone read the writing on the scabbard of the falchion or the kneeling man's belt?


The belt seems to start MA, so perhaps Malchus, which is the servant's name according to John's gospel?


Malchus would be the soldier that lost his ear, I don't if you're talking about the same soldier with the ear about to be glued back in the center.


There is only one kneeling man in the picture, so I assume the question is about him, and he is the one who has lost his ear, which would make him Malchus.

Anthony Clipsom
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
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PostPosted: Fri 06 Jan, 2023 10:29 am    Post subject: Re: The Swordstaff, Viking Sagas ... and Tyr?         Reply with quote

Quote:
I couldn't really think those were other than recycled swords, instead of a spear with a simply long blade.
Perhaps, but the construction would, I think, not hold up. Hitting something in a cleaving motion with such a spear would cause a lot of force (inertia = force x arm) on the tang which is hidden and not even reinforced by some iron bands or something.

I don't see a lot of evidence of anything related to actual weapons in that particular painting.

Quote:

The Dolstein's swordstaff show the rare S-shaped profile that some Norse sword guards have that I just discovered due to a Skallagrim's review.

So, why we have so few about those? Why they appear in a Iberian peninsula artwork?

I lost some photos a guy took when he visited a museum either in Denmark or in Sweden, with extant swordstaves with yet different guards. If someone has photos of them, sharing would be great
----
Second question would be when they appear. Wikipedia says we have weird terms for spears already in the Sagas, trying to associate them with the 1500's Dolstein visual sources, like "hewing spear" which was taken from the Sagas to mean "bill" or "halberd", but I think these would like to refer to the extant spears we found that have huge blades.




These winged spears are quite common. They seem to appear around 500 A.D. and remain in various shapes until around 1900 or so, I guess. More commonly they are called "boar spear" indicating they were possibly primarily a hunting weapon. The intention of the wings seems to be to prevent over-penetration.

Whether or not these were the "halberds" from the saga's is a hotly contested subject. Personally I don't think this matter will ever be settled.

Quote:

Lastly, I have some reserves on God of War's Ragnarok historical research of Norse Myths, but do we have primary sources of Tyr having a spear? A secondary source I was reading quotes another secondary source arguing that Tyr's figure of a god of war was progressively incorporated in Wutan/Odin himself, his mightly spear (which was symbol of justice and decision-making) eventually referring to Odin's Gungnir, etc. But I found scant references for that, and no primary sources on this subject at all.
Tyr's weapon was a sword, Odin's a spear.
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Graham Shearlaw





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PostPosted: Fri 06 Jan, 2023 1:53 pm    Post subject: Re: The Swordstaff, Viking Sagas ... and Tyr?         Reply with quote

[quote="Pedro Paulo Gaião"]
Quote:
"
One of the things a swedish member of this forum said is that Dolstein "thought" the weapons held by the swedish farmers were made out of swords, but considering how Gallego's swordstaff has finger-guards, which is useless in a spear, I couldn't really think those were other than recycled swords, instead of a spear with a simply long blade.


More likey the "finger-guards" are fairly normal blade catchers or a decorative flourish as found on so many partizans an other pole arms.
Religious art works are often full of artistic licence, Saint Peter's sword looks nothing like his sword in Poznań or a sword of the historical era.

There is definitely class of larger bladed spears with some massive blades in the 9th to 11 century.
So abnormally long are these spear heads that they can't of been used singe handed on a normal length of shaft.
The sockets are often of a larger diameter and longer then normal, so the shaft can be taken to be corresponding in diameter, which add to the arguments for there use as slashing an slicing weapons.

As there often highly decorated they may of been status items with a easy-to-read symbolism, or specialized weapons for cavalry or the second row of a shield wall.

An view of 9th-11th century spearheads longer than 50 cm.
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M. Nordlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 03 May 2017

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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2023 7:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the staffswords.
My guess is that the Scandinavian ones are also a hunting weapon for bear and or boar. A south Norwegian source from later in the century(Peder Claussøn Friis) Describes bear spears as having iron blades more than 2 feet long, a handspan wide with strong wings and a strong reinforced shaft. They probobly got phased out of military use as the swedish kings Gustav and Erik Vasa wanted to have a more professional an German looking army.

I seem to remember that of the 2 swedish stavsvärd that have been analyzed one had a blade made from a sword and one a purpose built blade I do not have a source other than someone on the internet told me though.

I think they are mentioned historically as different forms of modern Swedish term "knävelspjut" which can be translated as quillon-spear A term I am pretty sure I have seen used to refer directly to bear hunting spears as well but I cant find that source right now. but they do appear in bear hunting context in art as say the inlay on this petronel/pistol from Aachen.
https://samlingar.shm.se/object/87658588-D9A1-4371-860E-44C5FD1D00A1

they are mentioned as one of the standard arms for rich people to arm their soliders twice with in 1526:

"Aff iiijc marc rentha huadt thet ær kronaness renthe
eller frælse skall holles vj gode karla iij med godha dragha Harnesk och iij med staallbogha ok knæffuelspiuth
ok hæst saa god som xxx marcer"
-Konug Gusatf den Förstes registratur del 3 page. 255

basically if you hold 400 marks worth of rent you must equip 6 good men; 3 with "godha dragha Harnesk" wich I am not quite sure how to translate and 3 with Steelbows(crossbows I guess) and quillon-spears
and a horse worth 30 marks (I an unsure how many horses and who gets them based on the other similar mentions they might get one each)

"Friiborne frælsisman och forleningxman som haffuer iiij°[400j marc renttho om aaret
thet ware mere frælse eller forlæningh schal ther wtaff
holla yj godha*) karla medh tiilbörligha weryor iij medh
draffharnisk och glaffuener huar thera medh en godh hest
om xxx march och andre iij medh skytthetygh stoolboghar spetzser kneffuelspiuth eller rör"
-Konug Gusatf den Förstes registratur del 3 page. 253

Same thing here except if you get 400 mark in rent a year you supply 6 men and their accompanying weapons; 3 with I what I think is german "Trabharnisch", lances and each with a horse worth 30 mark as well as 3 other men with "skytthetygh" ( literally shooting tools?, shooting things, probobly the level of armour needed) Steelbows, "Spetzer"(I think spears or pikes),"kneffuelspiuth" quilloned spears or "rör" literally tubes or pipes, which I think means firearms

There is also one call to equip troops that don't involve any close combat infantry weapons from 1526

1524 the Swedish crown tells a bishop to send 100 men armed with
"taallerör spedzer oc hillebarda eller swinspeetz"
-Konug Gusatf den Förstes registratur del1 page. 190

I honsetly dont know what "taallerör" means but the latter half means of halberds or swine(boar)-spears which might also be the quillioned spears
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Parker D.




Location: US
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2023 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pretty sure the sword staff really isn't a thing as a whole. Depictions typically usually embellish anything the artist(s) would like to, although not hugely commonly, but weapons sometimes too. I mean look in the background with all those unusually shaped and large polearms, most of them are highly unrealistic. A sword staff could work, but its just not really practical whatsoever not to mention would be highly expensive like most of the rest of those polearms. The japanese had their yari which is about as big as you would want to get in a spear. And even those 12",14" yari's are really (at least from what I was always informed by) that they were ceremonial. Anything more than about a 8-10" spear head is kind of ridiculous, its unwieldy, unnecessarily heavy, and more. Of course there have been every measure of weapon created throughout history, but many were abandoned or never pursued for good reason. But thats me. Nice depiction though, I adore medieval artwork it truly is something magnificent. I love the knightly effigies, and depictions, in the books you often find little but highly detailed depictions of knights, in those little "framed" I guess images, there wonderful. Anyways.
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Frank Baker




Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2023 7:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi, i know this discussion is about western weapons but I thought I would mention Japanese Naginata. These seem to be a pretty good example of a "sword blade on a pole"
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Sioux City, IA
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Feb, 2023 3:49 pm    Post subject: Re: The Swordstaff, Viking Sagas ... and Tyr?         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
These winged spears are quite common. They seem to appear around 500 A.D. and remain in various shapes until around 1900 or so, I guess. More commonly they are called "boar spear" indicating they were possibly primarily a hunting weapon. The intention of the wings seems to be to prevent over-penetration.

Whether or not these were the "halberds" from the saga's is a hotly contested subject. Personally I don't think this matter will ever be settled.


I have seen these winged spears being used often by Carolingian cavalrymen and foot, and also by Ottonian soldiers, in artistic evidence, I would be skeptical on a delayed battlefield adoption after a primary hunting use. Actually, I can't really see a reason why a cavalry lance would use these wings considering it's basically a weapon you loose after the first hit and you want to penetrate as much as possible, but there are extant pieces with both wings and huge blades from ninth century Francia.

I think they were the most logical solution possible, given he has two different variations and the find two branches of spears, either slim and long spears, and larger ones.

Quote:
Tyr's weapon was a sword, Odin's a spear.


Surprisingly, Tyrfing has nothing to do with Tyr besides the name similarity, the legend is about dwarves forging a cursed sword for a mortal king or warrior, it's never associated with godhood. I think Tyrfing is known since the 4th century in Roman sources, must check later.

I have struggled to find primary sources for Tyr using a spear, but the secondary sources that wants to be taken seriously argue as such. Like: https://www.academia.edu/41246776/Tyr_the_Silent

Tyr shares many roles with Odin: spear user decides who enters Valhala with Odin and is also a judge, but doesn't share the magic and death attributes Odin has. I think the thesis Odin assumed Tyr's roles in Germanic religion to be a reasonable one (btw, aren't both killed by giant wolves?)
------
Frank Baker wrote:
Hi, i know this discussion is about western weapons but I thought I would mention Japanese Naginata. These seem to be a pretty good example of a "sword blade on a pole"


There's a Chinese analog for the Naginata. In fact, it's likely the Japanese were inspired by the Chinese swordstaves instead of being an unrelated parallel invention.

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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