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John Cooksey




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Jun, 2007 10:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
John Cooksey wrote:

How could an integral pommel behave significantly differently than one that was welded or peened on? The distribution of mass would be the same, and the security of attachment would be nearly the same? In essence, a proper hot-peened pommel behaves as if it is as one piece with the blade.


Like I said, I'm by no means an expert on that, but you might find this article interesting, it made sense to me.

http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/GTA/motions_and_impacts.htm

The second and third pages get into a lot of detail about pommels specifically

http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/GTA/motions_and_impacts2.htm
http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/GTA/motions_and_impacts3.htm



1.
Quote:

I just find it funny that you describe swords with blades less than 34 inches in length as being "short". There is no

disrespect intended therein, either. It's just that swords with blades much over 30 inches were used for such a short period . . . . . . . .


You misunderstood me, I'm afraid I wasn't clear. I was referring to 34" in total length, which includes swords made for quite a long period of time, at least a millennia.

Quote:

Matthew Amt wrote, a few weeks back, that many surviving Roman gladii are a lot like sharpened pieces of metal (that's a misquote and paraphrase, BTW), with no consideration towards "dynamic balance or handling".


Matthew is a great researcher, I have corresponded with him before and learned a great deal from him. I would not have any trouble believing this. You might want to consider however that the Romans were literally mass producing swords by the thousands for centuries. Standards across the board declined in the last couple of hundred years of the Empire. So they may have very well been manufacturing very crude weapons indeed. Similar phenomena existed in Europe in the Renaissance, your so called "munitions" armor. Many halberds and bill blades were cranked out which were little more than jagged pieces of metal.

None of that however means that finer quality weapons did not exist, nor that the quality didn't make a difference. It did. There is a reason why the Swiss halberds were often tempered steel for example.

Quote:

In my mind, that is what a sword is. A sharpened, pointed piece of metal for inflicting harm on an enemy. I find dynamic handling and "balance" to be highly over-rated when it comes to "short swords".


I'm much more familiar with swords from the 8th - 16th centuries but I can assure you, within that period these weapons were far more than a sharpened pointed piece of metal. I'm sure many "sword-like-objects" existed, but so did the dynamic handling, balanced weapons you hear so much about on this forum. They were made that way for good reason. (and I suspect they were made that way well back into the Iron Age and probably the Bronze Age as well, though Bronze weapons were different in many ways)

I can't think of any two-handed use "long swords" in the bronze age, either, though there were some found in the Iron Age.
Long quillons seem kind of pointless to me, other than as another striking element for the user.


With all due respect, that is because you don't know anything about HEMA. If you understood how these weapons were used, you would understand how critically important they were. Long quillons protect your hand in any number of counters, displacements and other contact with your opponents weapon. Every part of a sword was made for a specific purpose, you really don't want to add weight unless there is a compelling reason.

Quote:

Complex hilts? Nice, but not necessary.


Lol. Not unless you want to use a weapon like a rapier and still keep your hand...

Quote:

Just as a personal example here, i once owned a close reproduction of what Oakeshott described as the "archetypical" medieval sword. It was a very, very nice sword, but I found it almost useless as a weapon. It was sharp, pointy, and had all that lovely dynamic handling that we talk so fondly off. Damned thing felt like it was floating on a portable anti-grav unit . . . . . In the end, I found that it couldn't cut as well as a $20 machete. It could thrust, if you could hit with it, but the POB was so far back that is was whippy *in my hands*. I have a cheap Del Tin bronze sword (not historically accurate at all) that would be a much better weapon for me. YMMV


Unfortunately, just because a weapon is alleged to be a "close reproduction" doesn't mean it's in fact an accurate one. Most repicas, even the most expensive ones, as little as ten years ago were not even in the ball-park of the historical weapons they were meant to be replicas of, even on paper. Only in the last few years have fairly realistic replicas become widely available, and even now many quite expensive and well marketed swords are really barely worthy of the name.

I own an Albion Constable and I can assure you it cuts vastly better than any machete, (I can show you videos if you like) more importantly it also is correctly balanced so that I can use German or Italian Renaissance era martial arts techniques, and cut or thrust into my opponent while protecting myself. It is extremely light and fast and has a deadly point that could easily pierce the skull or rib-cage of any human being, and long enough to easily cut off the hand of someone trying to cut me with a machete Happy

You should investigate how swords were used a bit more so that you can understand what they were, and that in turn will help you understand ancient History much better, it certainly did me Happy.

J[/quote]

Wow! That was . . . . enlightening. :-)
I don't mean to be a personal attack of any kind, BTW.
I am a historian and archaeologist by trade, and I do find that experimental archaeology is an excellent technique for better understanding history and culture change.

I do want to answer each of your points specifically, but I might miss some of them since I am just a wee bit tipsy at the moment.
1. I did read the arma articles, and I don't see where they specifically address method of pommel attachment, rather than distribution of mass and inertia.
2. Regarding weapons quality---of course there were higher and lower qualities of weapons. You can still see that today, in comparing, say, a semi-custom Les Baer 1911 to a production line "Springfield Armory" GI 1911. But even in very high quality swords, for examples, there were large differences in hardness, for example, across (and through) blade surfaces, and between blades. Indeed, some exquisite Medieval swords would not have passed muster by current standards for hardness and flexibility.
3. Dynamic handling----everything depends on context. what is good in one era or geo-historical context may be piss poor in another.
4. Long quillons-----wow, it's amazing to me that everyone besides medieval Europeans was so backward. Poor Middle-easterners, Central Asians, and East Asians never developed the long quillon. Seems to me like it was more of a personal preference than a requisite. I have seen quite a few European swords with "relatively" short quillons.
5. rapiers-----of course those beautiful complex hilts offer some protection for the hand---but their whole reason for being (okay, maybe not "whole") arose from the use of swords in a civilian or "lightly armoured" context, where heavy armor and shields were little used. I love compound hilts, as items of aesthetic value, but would rather have gauntlet and simply hilted sword, if I had to use a sword.
6. I won't say what replica I was using, but I will say that it was less than 3 years ago, and came from a top maker. Indeed, it was a wonderful sword. My point was, simply, that not every weapon, no matter its quality, was suitable for every user or every context.
7. And I can guarantee you that I *would* use and *have used* a machete to cut things that *would* hurt your constable, simple because the machete is cheap and replaceable---the constable is neither. It is a flesh-cutter, and an excellent thruster. The tasks that I would give a machete (or khukuri) would be considered sword abuse, and I would respect the Constable too much to ever offer it that abuse. I was a surveying technician for a while, and we used machetes every day. We cut quite substantial hardwood trees down with them, and every day I got in a few minutes of martial arts practice with a pair. :-)
8. I guess I'll go out and investigate that "historic sword usage" thing you mentioned, since it appears that the last 20 years of cross-cultural arms and armour research haven't accomplished anything useful.

In the end, I really have to apologize. You don't know me, and you don't know my research methods or background of scholarship. I really don't mean to prick so many sore points with you. I shouldn't have brought up so many issues . . . . .


Edited to add: Sorry for getting so far off topic. The bone-pommeled sword is quite amazing. I am always fascinated by how people adapt various types of blades for local tastes and usages. The cross-guard (lower hilt) on the pictured weapon seems especially thick. One wonders what the reason for this was? To create an adequately large surface for decoration? To create a certain type of handling? Or to allow the relatively fragile bone sufficient strength to maintain coherency during use?

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:

(snip) even in very high quality swords, for examples, there were large differences in hardness, for example, across (and through) blade surfaces, and between blades. Indeed, some exquisite Medieval swords would not have passed muster by current standards for hardness and flexibility.


Well, you have yourself pointed out that different swords were designed for different purposes. Some are meant to be very flexible ("Viking" swords, for example), some stiff for thrusting, some needed to be very hard, others not so much. Since you have studied weapons in period, you are also no-doubt aware that pitifully few Medieval swords have actually been analyzed for metallurgical properties or even hardness. Most of the studies of this type that I have seen involve a dozen or so weapons at the most.

Quote:

3. Dynamic handling----everything depends on context. what is good in one era or geo-historical context may be piss poor in another.


True, to some extent. Some weapons are far more specialized than others, while some are far more general (and thus saw far more widespread use across a wider area for a longer period of time) A saber for example, in one form or another was pretty widely used around the world for cavalry over quite a long period of time, whereas the Pata saw little use outside of India that I'm aware of, and only for a relatively short period.

Quote:

4. Long quillons-----wow, it's amazing to me that everyone besides medieval Europeans was so backward. Poor Middle-easterners, Central Asians, and East Asians never developed the long quillon. Seems to me like it was more of a personal preference than a requisite. I have seen quite a few European swords with "relatively" short quillons.


I wasn't claiming that European weapons were necessarily superior, that is a completely different argument. The long-quillons were there for a reason. They were developed for the fencing style which evolved in Europe, and they do protect your hands when used with the historical techniques. That is simply a fact. Your original statement was that you couldn't imagine what their purpose was other than "...as another striking element for the user". I'm sorry, but that you are just wrong.

As for why you see these in Europe and not in other countries, I do not know why, but I can guess. Lets keep in mind that Europe is the only area I know of where you see a strong battlefield emphasis on armored heavy-infantry fighting with hand-to-hand weapons pretty consistently for the past two millennia. In Asia, most warriors and soldiers were archers of one kind or another, including the Samurai who were horse-archers. What heavy infantry you did see in Asia or the Middle East, such as the Janissaries or some of the Mamelukes, usually relied upon either shields or long-hafted weapons for protection in hand-to-hand combat. The Europeans used swords as primary or secondary battlefield weapons, and during the time when long quillons came into use, often without a shield. Thus the sword itself is protecting you

Fighting on foot is different from fighting on horseback. As you say, different weapons were designed for different purposes. A sword with a curved blade and a canted grip is good for a quick draw-cut during a ride-by attack. A longsword is very good for the sustained attack of shock-infantry.

European swords as you are no doubt aware also have a closer to the hilt balance point than almost any Asian or Middle Eastern swords. This is because the sword itself became a major part of the defense, are usually two-edged weapons and the closer to the hilt balance allows for high agility and the ability to cut with the true-and false edge in rapid succession.

Quote:

5. rapiers-----of course those beautiful complex hilts offer some protection for the hand---but their whole reason for being (okay, maybe not "whole") arose from the use of swords in a civilian or "lightly armoured" context, where heavy armor and shields were little used. I love compound hilts, as items of aesthetic value, but would rather have gauntlet and simply hilted sword, if I had to use a sword.


That is because you have never tried to wield a sword like a rapier while wearing gauntlets. You might want to have a look at some fechtbuchs and see how often they wear gauntlets on their hands. Of course a rapier is a civilian weapon but you see complex hilts on military weapons as well. As you say, it all depends on the intended use.

Quote:

6. I won't say what replica I was using, but I will say that it was less than 3 years ago, and came from a top maker. Indeed, it was a wonderful sword. My point was, simply, that not every weapon, no matter its quality, was suitable for every user or every context.


I pointed out, plenty of even higher end replicas are not up to the standard of the historical weapons they are purportedly based on . Ten years ago it was more obvious because they weighed twice as much for example. But it's still a major issue today.

Bottom line: The poor performance of a modern replica does not necessarily reflect at all on the qualities of an antique sword.

Quote:

7. And I can guarantee you that I *would* use and *have used* a machete to cut things that *would* hurt your constable, simple because the machete is cheap and replaceable---


That is a completely separate issue. Frankly I bought my Constable partially so I could really put it to the test, and I have cut plenty of hard things, turkeys, two-by-fours. You are shifting your argument here, you mentioned that you owned a replica which could not cut as well as a machete, I was only pointing out that I own a fairly accurate replica which can definitely cut better than any machete.

Quote:

8. I guess I'll go out and investigate that "historic sword usage" thing you mentioned, since it appears that the last 20 years of cross-cultural arms and armour research haven't accomplished anything useful.

In the end, I really have to apologize. You don't know me, and you don't know my research methods or background of scholarship. I really don't mean to prick so many sore points with you. I shouldn't have brought up so many issues . . . . .


I'm always glad to see professional as well as amateur scholars posting on this board, I'm sure you could teach me a great many things from your research. But you can study swords for 20 years or 200 years and if you don't know anything about HEMA you are really not going to understand how these weapons were used, or what they really are. Your comments about quillons and dynamic balance indicate that you are ill-informed on the functional qualities of a Medieval European sword. I don't mean any offense.

J

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 8:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
I'm always glad to see professional as well as amateur scholars posting on this board, I'm sure you could teach me a great many things from your research. But you can study swords for 20 years or 200 years and if you don't know anything about HEMA you are really not going to understand how these weapons were used, or what they really are. Your comments about quillons and dynamic balance indicate that you are ill-informed on the functional qualities of a Medieval European sword. I don't mean any offense.

J


If you don't mean any offense, then don't say offensive things. Exclamation

How much did Oakeshott know about HEMA? Or Claude Blair? Wheeling? Petersen? Geibig? Boccia? Etc. Did they not understand what the weapons really were?

It's a pretty (okay, very) arrogant statement to say that only martial arts practitioners understand swords. I'm not saying HEMA has no value in the study of antique swords, only that many of the scholars whose books we rely on had a pretty damn good idea of what swords were even though they weren't HEMA practitioners. We can't discount anyone's research or knowledge simply because they aren't/weren't practitioners.

Hopefully I'm misunderstanding you, but your statement really hit me wrong. There is value to both a historical/academic approach and a practical one to study arms and armour. Perhaps an even greater value to a balance of both.

Happy

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:

If you don't mean any offense, then don't say offensive things. Exclamation

How much did Oakeshott know about HEMA? Or Claude Blair? Wheeling? Petersen? Geibig? Boccia? Etc. Did they not understand what the weapons really were?

It's a pretty (okay, very) arrogant statement to say that only martial arts practitioners understand antique swords. I'm not saying HEMA has no value in the study of antique swords, only that many of the scholars whose books we rely on had a pretty damn good idea of what swords were even though they weren't HEMA practitioners.


You misunderstand me Chad. I never said you had to be a Martial Artist to understand swords. It doesn't hurt, but it's not necessary.

There is a big difference between being a Martial Artist and knowing something about HEMA. You can get a very good idea of the value of long quillons from looking at a few pictures in some of the Fechtbuchs, skimming one of the interpreted HEMA manuals available today, or reading say, Sydney Anglo's Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe.

The whole genius of Oakeshott was that he took a close look at the functional aspects of swords, including eventually within the context of how they were actually used historically. That is what differentiated him from so many previous scholars, though not all of them of course. Oakeshotts insights and typology proved rather vastly more useful than the analysis of many hundreds of academians before him precisely because he looked at these weapons within that context, as opposed to what ever the shape of the hilt reminded you of. Mr Oakeshott certainly understood what quillons were for and appreciated the less obvious qualities of a real sword such as dynamic balance. A sword is a weapon and you really can't understand how it is made unless you know something about it's actual use, any more than you can grasp the need of spurs, stirrups or bridle bits if you don't know any of the technical aspects of how horses are ridden. That doesn't mean you necessarily have to have actually ridden horses of course.

I see this forum as a place where people from a Martial Arts background, an Academic historical background, a collectors background and interested amateurs and professionals of all kinds can get together to compare notes on a subject of mutual interest: ancient weapons and armor.

I'm sorry if my post was offensive but stating that quillons don't have any purpose, complex hilts were just decoration, or that swords are just sharp bits of metal is incorrect whether one is an archeologist and a historian or just an ordinary dummy like me. It's not personal at all. Just a difference of opinion. For myself, I'm always interested to learn new things and have my misapprehensions corrected as has happened many times on this board over the years.


J

EDIT: P.S. I don't consider myself a true martial artist. I'm too fat, too old and in too poor of physical condition. I'm just a guy who likes to fight and tries to train in HEMA twice a week. It's something of an avocation and I take it seriously, but hell I'm a beat up 40 year old man studying a 15th century Art in the 20th century, I'm not some MMA fighter or something Wink

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John Cooksey




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, the whole "quote" and "response" thing is getting a bit too long.
I thing you misunderstand the entire context of my statements. Perhaps I didn't adequately state my position on things like sword design, "balance", and western martial arts.
My point was, really, that things like long quillons were not for *me* personally. That's my perspective as an end-user. As I wrote above, your mileage may vary. Same thing goes for my much-loved machete. It is older than me, has seen a lot of hard usage, and has lots of sentimental value. I was not saying, universally, that a machete is "better" than your Albion. Just that it was better for me, for lots of purposes, than was that other well-respected sword. :-)
Same thing goes for "balance"---what may work for you or for me, may not be at all good for the other. There is a huge amount of variation in extant artifacts (size, shape, technique of manufacture, style, ornamentation, etc.)----I think you discount the role that individual preference and taste has always had in arms manufacture and usage.

I don't think there is one "be-all and end-all" type of sword or swordsmanship (historic martial art, if you will). I don't believe that there was any kind of "linear" evolution in weapons or weapons usage over time. Rather, weapons and techniques varied over time and were uniquely suited for certain historical and geographic contexts.

I think that there is a lot of value to be found in studying Western European historical arms usage, but in general I don't find the medieval period and its specific weapons forms to be all that appealing. That's no knock on what you like, at all, but my personal taste veers off to the east after about AD 1100.
I am most interested in "commonalities"------points of usage that are connected across time and space. Specifically, how arms and armor (and their usages) get from point A to point B, and how they change along the way. Migration, colonization, contact diffusion, all that good stuff. I don't believe there is one best weapon or best way to use weapons. Everything, for me, is context-driven.

And yes, I have used a gauntlet to wield a sword. But I wasn't fencing with it as one would with a rapier. Nor would I try to do so, or be at all interested in either the process or the result. Except to avoid getting stuck. :-)
In general, I don't care for longswords or their techniques of usage---I find them admirable weapons, just not all that interesting (to me). I still own a very good one, but I never use it. On the other hand, I use a decent shamshir and a very good gladius nearly every day, to keep in shape.
I really am sorry that you are taking everything that I say the wrong way, and that this thread has degenerated.
I guess we will just have to agree to disagree???? You can keep thinking that I don't know a darned thing, and I will just keep thinking the same things that I always do (mmmm, sky blue, wind nice, beer good---I really am a simple and friendly fellow, I think).
Take care,
John

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 12:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:

I guess we will just have to agree to disagree???? You can keep thinking that I don't know a darned thing, and I will just keep thinking the same things that I always do (mmmm, sky blue, wind nice, beer good---I really am a simple and friendly fellow, I think).
Take care,
John


I never said you "don't know a darned thing" I just disagreed with a few of your specific assertions and questioned your apparent understanding of the use of swords within a certain time and place. I said several times it's nothing personal, I've read your posts before and I'm sure you are in fact a swell guy John.

Hopefully our next discussion will be more collaborative.

J

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Shamsi Modarai




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I just wanted to say thanks to the person who posted about this originally, as I had never heard of bone being used in such a way on a VIking sword before. I'm so glad I know about this now! Big Grin


~ Shamsi

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John Cooksey




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jun, 2007 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shamsi Modarai wrote:
I just wanted to say thanks to the person who posted about this originally, as I had never heard of bone being used in such a way on a VIking sword before. I'm so glad I know about this now! Big Grin


~ Shamsi

P.S. I'm sorry that I rarely have much of substance to add to the threads I post on, but I am still learning about all this stuff so bear with me for a few more years. Razz


It is a very interesting piece. At least in that era, one can see that hilt styles and fittings varied widely from region to region, and could be fitted to an "international" blade.
I wonder if the carving was done before or after the tang was peened over the pommel?
If I was to guess, I would say after----just think how awful it would be for all one's lovely carvings to split during assembly!
Wonder if any of the folks who regularly use organics in hilt fittings would care to hazard a hypothesis?

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