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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Jun, 2008 11:05 pm    Post subject: The handling of the medium sized Viking axe.         Reply with quote

Just got this great, in the really nice sense Eric McHugh axe, rather than in the the really BIG GREAT AXE sense: About 36" total length and not the really long 60" to 72" ones.

See this link for pics: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=13336

First impressions are that it's surprisingly light for it's size and easy to handle one handed even with the hand very close to the butt of the haft: Swinging is easy with one hand but recovery a bit slow, as well if parried by a sword it would be easily set aside.

Two handed I find it almost as fast as a sword to handle if a sword had a really forward point of balance. Laughing Out Loud
Spacing of the hands making the above go from challenging to very easy.This size of axe seems very much like the " hand-and-a half " of axes in usefulness and handling.

Maybe a big surprise is because this Viking axe is about the same size as a common wood chopping axe but the ease of handling is like night and day: The wood working axe feels dead and only good for aimed blows where speed of recovery is of minimal importance. This axe by Eric almost moves by itself: So our assumptions that a medium sized axe is like what we expect is completely wrong when based on a " working axe ".

I would think also that any axe might have been put to use fighting if one only had a " working " axe available, but the made for war Viking axe of this size or bigger is a very specialized tool and very lively in use.

I have a very heavy carpenters axe of some " unknown " age that has a very wide and VERY heavy blade with a completely flat side used to square logs into beams I think: Now even with an only two foot handle it weighs a TON ( 10 pounds ) and I would only use it for fighting in period if my farm ( if I was a poor farmer/carpenter ? ) and had to defend my home and nothing else more agile was available.

Now, with only some Longsword training I can almost imagine how I would try to adapt the guards, master strokes and windings to my new Axe: It just feels like some techniques would apply with some modifications plus some special things like hooking with the axe head corner ...... Hmmmm: The long " neck " on the head could also be used to parry at 90ª to the usual way with a blade !? Somewhat like having half a guard at the tip of the weapon instead of close to the hand.

I can see some of the " Jeux de la Hache " may have originated from these medium axes as well as the bigger great Danish axes combines with the general principles of sword and staff fighting. Oh, and one handed with a kite shield having it's own advantages. With the use of the guige one could transition between one handed use and two handed use when useful.

Anyway, many here have much more knowledge of the " Jeux de la Hache " as well as other traditions that might suggest possibilities and limitations, strength and weaknesses of the axe in combat: My impression from handling a true fighting axe is that the axe is often dismissed as slow or awkward while the truth is that it could be as fast and fluid as any sword in the right " trained " hands.

Oh, and congratulation to Eric for making such a wonderful axe and I think he should be making a lot more of these and people should be breaking down his door ordering his custom axes. Wink Cool

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Patrik Erik Lars Lindblom




Location: Göteborg Sweden
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PostPosted: Sat 07 Jun, 2008 4:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Happy Damn cool axe Eric have made there Jean,
Well! fighting with those heavy axe's, something i use to do (when i mess around) is point the handle/grip/stick at enemy
and you have a fast defence weapon and hit him whit the axe head at right time when he is open,
10 pound (4.54kg) sounds heavy, hove long is the edge from tip to tip an hove high is it from the edge to top?

Frid o Fröjd!
Patrik
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Jun, 2008 5:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrik Erik Lars Lindblom wrote:
Happy Damn cool axe Eric have made there Jean,
Well! fighting with those heavy axe's, something i use to do (when i mess around) is point the handle/grip/stick at enemy
and you have a fast defence weapon and hit him whit the axe head at right time when he is open,
10 pound (4.54kg) sounds heavy, hove long is the edge from tip to tip an hove high is it from the edge to top?


Oh, the 10 pound axe is the " carpenter's axe " and not Eric's axe just in case you thought it was: I was just using that one for comparison.

Also, Eric's axe is about 90 cm long and not the huge two handed ONLY axes. Wink Big Grin The edge is 8" wide tip to tip and 7" from the edge to the back of the socket ( Flat hammer face ).

The thing is that the axe is poor for defence if one just swings it using the head but the " queue " can be used defensively very fast and a lot depends on hand spacing that can be changed quickly.

Timing as you said is important and probably the main way to use it one handed when one depends on the shield for the defensive I think: At least this is the way I understand what I have read about it so far in the " Jeu de la Hache ", read but not seriously studied that is. Wink Big Grin

Oh, total weight of this axe is 4 pounds approximately. if one chokes up on the handle and hold it midway to the head handling with one hand becomes easy at the cost of power and reach: Bottom line, as I mentioned in my initial post is that it feels very lively and not ponderous and slow.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Patrik Erik Lars Lindblom




Location: Göteborg Sweden
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PostPosted: Sat 07 Jun, 2008 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Patrik Erik Lars Lindblom wrote:
Happy Damn cool axe Eric have made there Jean,
Well! fighting with those heavy axe's, something i use to do (when i mess around) is point the handle/grip/stick at enemy
and you have a fast defence weapon and hit him whit the axe head at right time when he is open,
10 pound (4.54kg) sounds heavy, hove long is the edge from tip to tip an hove high is it from the edge to top?


Oh, the 10 pound axe is the " carpenter's axe " and not Eric's axe just in case you thought it was: I was just using that one for comparison.

Eek! Blush He He! i blame the warm weather for that Big Grin and my swenglish to.
4 pounds sounds better Cool

Frid o Fröjd!
Patrik
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Jun, 2008 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One slight correction: it isn't a "Viking" axe per-say, but more correctly an 11th century "Norman" axe. That style of axe head really didn't develop until late in the 10th-early 11th century, not what we consider the classic Viking age. The so-called "bearded" axe is the classic shape of the Viking age. ( At least this is something a friend of mine who should know told me after reading my initial post ).

Oh, just reread one of my books " THE VIKINGS Recreated in colour photograph ", Nurman, Schulze & Verhulsdonk, published by Windrow & Green Ltd © 1997 and on page 16 it says " At the beginning of the Viking era both the normal woodcutter's axe and the small bearded axe were commonly used ............. " Next paragraph: " The later years saw the invention of the notorious so-called Danish axe - long or broad axe- specifically a battle weapon ......... ". So, I guess it's a question of not paying enough attention to the nuances and just remembering " selectively " the whole range of types and not noticing or remembering which came first ........ LOL.

I guess we need an axe " typology " assuming there isn't one already that I don't know about. Wink Big Grin

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S. Christiansen




Location: South Jutland, Denmark
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PostPosted: Sat 07 Jun, 2008 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
I guess we need an axe " typology " assuming there isn't one already that I don't know about. Wink Big Grin


Well, Jan Petersen had a section with Viking age axes and their types in his book "De Norske Vikingesverd", as well as spears and, most commonly known, swords. Happy

The whole book can be downloaded as PDF here: http://stud.imma.dk/deltahak/nils.anderssen/D...esverd.pdf. The axe heads begin on page 37.

Regards,

Sonni
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Jun, 2008 12:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting but a little hard for me to read. Wink Laughing Out Loud

Oh, amnesia must have hit me when I wondered about there being a lack of a typology for Viking period axes as I just remembered that when Albion used to sell those Indian made axes they were identified by type based on this work.

Maybe I should have said that apart from knowing that there are types A - B - C ......... L - M etc .... I haven't read a detailed explanation of their evolution and period occurrences by type.

The PDF would seem to cover this if I could actually decipher more that one word out of 10. Laughing Out Loud

Maybe something on Wikepedia ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axe
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_axe
( As usual any Wikepedia article can be useful as basic information as long as one keeps in mind that errors or inaccuracies based on common held but faulty information do occur ).

Although any historical or design information is on Topic and interesting, I am looking for information/opinions about the ways an axe like this is used in combat based on " Le jeu de la Hache : and other sources.

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Scott Kowalski




Location: Oak Lawn, IL USA
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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jun, 2008 7:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean,
Could I bother you to post a pictire of the axe head from the top down so I can see what the edge geometry looks like? Please? It is for an axe I am thinking of having made.

Scott
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jun, 2008 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Kowalski wrote:
Jean,
Could I bother you to post a pictire of the axe head from the top down so I can see what the edge geometry looks like? Please? It is for an axe I am thinking of having made.

Scott


No camera available at the moment but if I base it on the pic in your Topic thread:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=13242&start=20

The one showing an axe from the top, I would say that the edge geometry of mine is basically the same but looks like the thin part between the socket and the axe edge is a little thicker and tapers more gradually and aesthetically more pleasing to where it is thinnest.

The one you show does seem a little extreme in " web " thinness and how abruptly it become thin in my opinion. ( Hope this is helpful and clear as I think I am saying the same thing in two different ways ).

The reinforced edge is the same.

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Scott Kowalski




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jun, 2008 4:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Scott Kowalski wrote:
Jean,
Could I bother you to post a pictire of the axe head from the top down so I can see what the edge geometry looks like? Please? It is for an axe I am thinking of having made.

Scott


No camera available at the moment but if I base it on the pic in your Topic thread:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=13242&start=20

The one showing an axe from the top, I would say that the edge geometry of mine is basically the same but looks like the thin part between the socket and the axe edge is a little thicker and tapers more gradually and aesthetically more pleasing to where it is thinnest.

The one you show does seem a little extreme in " web " thinness and how abruptly it become thin in my opinion. ( Hope this is helpful and clear as I think I am saying the same thing in two different ways ).

The reinforced edge is the same.



That is exactly the information I was looking for Jean. Thank you very much.

Scott
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Mike Dunchok




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 5:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What's the difference between the long axe and the broad axe?
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 6:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Broad axe is a type of a head as far as I know. You can have a broadaxe with longer or shorter hafts.
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Mike Dunchok




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 6:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is a Dane axe considered both a long axe and a broad axe then? Can you have a long axe that isn't a dane axe, or vice versa?
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 7:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The period term is "broad axe", which relates to the long cutting edge, as opposed to "Wedge axes", that have profiles more similar to modern wood cuting axes.

Dane axe is a english term to describe a danish (i.e scandinavian) style axe, which would seem to be the long, two handed variety.

My reenactment broadaxe, on a 2m ash pole, weights only 1,6 kg (just over 3 pounds)


As mentioned in the axes vs armour thread, the "broad axe" was a relatively late deveopment in the viking age, replacing more massive earlier designs.
Over all the impression is that the 950-1050 scandinavian warrior is armed with a lot lighter, faster weaponry than his 850-950 counterpart; Sword hilts are smaller, spearheads long and narrow, the axes broad headed or smaller wedges...

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Mike Dunchok




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 8:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like that picture. Did they really have them at 2 meters long? I saw they had them fairly tall in the Bayeaux tapestry

So the recognizable "bearded axe" of the earlier time period would have been considered of the "wedge" variety.

Was the large, double headed "labrys" style axe ever used in the medieval or renaissance eras? Are styles of axe like http://stores.devitosweaponsupply.com/catalog/double%20axe.jpg this purely fantastical?

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Michael Ahrens




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 12:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jean

How about this, you come down from Montreal. i come up from NYC. we meet in the middle,say at Todds. you with your Eric McHugh axe and me with my Kirby Wise axe, and we compare handling and cutting ability. we could cut something fun, you know like Todd. how does that sound?

Barbarian Mike

Mike Ahrens
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 3:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As mentioned, we don't really know how long they where. However, combat experience sugests that an effective polearm in a shield wall and spear enviroment would need to be quite long to be used two handed. Size probably varied.

The "Hirdskraa", a instruction book for norwegian royal retainers dating from the 1270s, states that the comander of the kings squad of bodyguards could carry "A sword and buckler. Or an axe, but it should be quite large"
(Scribe: so, what weapons for the Hirdmen? Retainer1: Shield, spear, sword, the whole shebang... Retainer2: ...Except the Skutilsvein, he can have a sword and buckler... Retainer1:...or an axe... Scribe*writing: ...or an axe... Retainer 2: Well, yes, but not a small one. Retainer1: Well, sure, but it doesn't need to be HUGE... Scribe*writing*:...but it should be quite big.... )

Since all the written sources are from the 13th century, its imposible to know exactly what they called what.
The bearded axes would simply be bearded axes. Some of them have quite long edges, but what separates them is the thickness of the blade. the later ones have very thin blades, while the bearded styles are bulkier.

Semi-bearded axe
http://www.unimus.no/foto/#/P=search/S=%25F8k.../I=1986KHM
Wedge axe;
http://www.unimus.no/foto/#/P=search/S=%25F8k...=179052KHM
Broad axe
http://www.unimus.no/foto/#/P=search/S=%25F8k...I=21979KHM
Type L broad axe
http://www.unimus.no/foto/#/P=search/S=%25F8k...=312843KHM
top wiev of same
http://www.unimus.no/foto/#/P=search/S=%25F8k...=312844KHM

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 9:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean,

I'm glad to see you're enjoying that axe. I miss it.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2009 12:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Ahrens wrote:
Hi Jean

How about this, you come down from Montreal. i come up from NYC. we meet in the middle,say at Todds. you with your Eric McHugh axe and me with my Kirby Wise axe, and we compare handling and cutting ability. we could cut something fun, you know like Todd. how does that sound?

Barbarian Mike


Well I appreciate the thought but travelling isn't very easy as I take care of my 89 year old mother so anything over a day trip is hard to do ...... also, would have to get a passport to travel to the U.S.A. Big Grin Cool

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Steven H




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PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2009 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling- Thanks for the pictures. That helps a lot.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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