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Zhenyu Li




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2016 11:47 pm    Post subject: How people judge a sword is good or bad during meddle age?         Reply with quote

Well, it is obvious that swords of different quality were made.But unlike today people have high technology equipment and rich metallurgical knowledges to judge the quality of edge weapon.But how people judge a sword is a good one or bad one in the past(especially medieval and renaissance)?Is there any records talk about those method?By the way, I am also interested about how ancients describe pattern welded sword(Vikings swords,wootz, bulat .etc).Would they used peotic/romantic description to praise the shape/pattern of a good sword?
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Dec, 2016 12:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's a bit later than what you are after, but there are advices of that sort in French smallsword texts. For example this in Liancour (1692):
Quote:

The body of the guard and the pommel have to be well filed and pierced on the inside; because it is better that the hole in the guard and pommel to be big, rather than altering the tang of the sword by filing it. [...] Thus the person mounting the sword will only have to put a little wood to make it hold firmly; if you are not careful, he files the tang too much, in order to spare himself the labour of filing the guard and pommel, and then puts a great amount of wood to fill the void, and the sword is not as solid then. [...] I would even advise to see the sword being mounted, because it has happened to many people sword in hand, at the slightest parry or beat, to see the sword fall appart, which is very perilous. Above all make sure that the tang is well riveted to the pommel.

Having talked about the qualities of the guard, we have to discuss the blade. [...] In order to know if it is good, one has to look at it all over, from the tip to the tang, above the ridge and inside, if it has three edges, and above the two ridges, if it has four, in order to see if there are no paille. Pailles are like little holes. Some are transverse, some are lengthwise. The latter are not as dangerous. If you find none, you have to push the blade against the wall, and see if it does a good circle when it bends. If you see a stop, that is to say the bend stays towards the tip, and the rest of the blade stiff and straight, it is a big flaw. But if it does a good circle, up to one foot from the guard, which is the strong of the blade, it is a sign of the quality of the blade. If when flexing it, it stays bent, it is a sign that the quenching is not perfect, however it is actually better to stay a little bent, rather than not at all, which is the mark of a quenching that is sour and easy to break. If it keeps a little bend, it is not a flaw, on the contrary it is the mark of the best and soft quenching. It can be good to break a small piece off the tip. When it is broken, you will better know the quenching. If in the break you find a gray color, your blade will be quite good; if it is white, it won't be good at all. [...]


There is almost the same description worded a bit differently in Angelo. Seems to have been a common advice in France.

I haven't seen earlier descriptions, but I would say it is likely that previously swords were evaluated in much the same way. First look at the construction, then signs of flaws in the steel, good temper, steel grain. Incidently, it is still a good advice Happy

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Vincent
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Dec, 2016 4:53 pm    Post subject: Re: How people judge a sword is good or bad during meddle ag         Reply with quote

Zhenyu Li wrote:
By the way, I am also interested about how ancients describe pattern welded sword(Vikings swords,wootz, bulat .etc).Would they used peotic/romantic description to praise the shape/pattern of a good sword?


Oh, absolutely. Anglo-Saxon and Norse poetry is replete with what are called "kennings", which are basically figurative or metaphorical phrases used to describe things (not just swords, but a lot of things). Some examples of kennings used to describe pattern-welded blades are "Snake Blade" or "Blood Eddy".

David K. Wilson, Jr.
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