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Connor Ruebusch

Location: Cincinnati
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Thu 22 Jul, 2010 11:42 pm    Post subject: Messers, Falchions, Seaxes?         Reply with quote

So, between the 10th and 14th centuries there seems to me to be a gap. I see the early seaxes, and then I see the later falchions and much later messers. I think it is reasonable to conclude that these later weapons developed from the seax, and eventually became more specialized fighting weapons. So does anyone know of any depictions in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries of transitional Northern European single-edged swords/large knives? I'd love to see something between the seax and the messers/falchions of the later years.

Just idly wondering what the swords might have looked like before the full-fledged archetypes were perfected, as seen in the messer manuals. Or did that look develop pretty early from the seax? There's still a definite resemblance.

Thanks, everybody!

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Jul, 2010 12:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Essentially these forms share only one common element: a single edge. To declare a developmental relationship based on one single element is not good science.

Tracing a developmental path requires more than a look at merely form alone, but requires actually linking the items through time periods and regions. Studying actual artifacts, cultures, art, texts and other historical records, etc. and noting how these things relate as time passes is required to make such a statement.

I know of no academic study that concludes such a relationship between these forms exists and, in my opinion, very little anecdotal evidence either.

A more reasonable assumption is to state that the form was dictated by a common need, resulting in similar forms. Science shows this to be true: animals and plants with absolutely no evolutionary link developing similarly under like conditions guided by similar fundamental needs and limitations.

(Note that I do not use the word evolve when discussing sword form development.)

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Connor Ruebusch

Location: Cincinnati
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Fri 23 Jul, 2010 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, excellently put. I had thought the same things, but then heard/read many people who stated that there was significant evidence to link the seax with the messer (i.e. they were used in the same region by the same people, etc). I was merely asking if this were true or not. Is there any evidence to support the transition from seax to messer among a geographically similar people of disparate time periods?

Another question: would it be fair to say that, under different circumstances, the messer could have developed earlier? It seems to me that something very much like a messer would easily handle most of the duties required of the seax, and it's shorter blade makes it, like the seax, more suited to utilitarian uses and infighting than a contemporary Anglo-Saxon sword. So would the messer have worked in the seax's place?

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Craig Peters

PostPosted: Sat 24 Jul, 2010 3:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote


Messers are not necessarily much shorter than an Anglo-Saxon sword. Some of the Albion Anglo-Saxon era swords are in the range of 34 to 35 inches. That makes them five or six inches longer than the Soldat messer. By contrast, seaxes are listed as being between 3 to 4 inches to 26 inches or longer. So, while there are certainly seaxes that are similar in length to messers, many seaxes would have been much shorter.

Could the messer have been invented earlier? Perhaps, but it sounds like they were of a fairly sophisticated design. Peter J wrote of them:

"The blade is a simple but very effective design with a subtlety that is easily overlooked... The cross section is a lean and slim triangle, allowing a stiff spine and an acute angle of the main bevel. Such a blade is very effective in the cut. The outer third of the blade is further lightened by a false edge resulting in a blade that is surprisingly responsive and quick in the recovery."

Really, though, if you're talking about swords from the Anglo-Saxon era, doesn't it make more sense to compare a weapon like a Geibig Type 14 with the seax?
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Connor Ruebusch

Location: Cincinnati
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

Posts: 97

PostPosted: Tue 03 Aug, 2010 6:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks all for your insight. I see that the messer is in fact a more subtle weapon than it seems. So two more questions: Was the messer ever used in war, or was it just a civilian weapon? And when were the first identifiable messers likely developed, i.e. when did swords that had the definite characteristics of a grosse messer appear, either based on finds or artwork.


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Markus A

Location: Germany
Joined: 03 Feb 2010

Posts: 61

PostPosted: Wed 04 Aug, 2010 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

in northern europe viking age the Hjalt
and then in eastern europe the normal sabre in all form
there is no proove that the seax might be the ancestor of the sabre or messer.
its simply the way that weapons are made in relation to armour worn at this time.if you have no cavalry you do not need long swords.if you have no wealthy people in your area you have no fine weaponry made because ther was no buyer for it.
an sabre is simply more pratical than an straight sword in cavallry warfare.So most cavallry used it.
The turks had in medieval time staright swords but found the sabre worn by the moorish better suited for warfare on horseback-so they adopted it
The same crusaders which found often the sabre more practical and so they used it.
So simply you develope and use what suits you in your age best
no ancient smith of 1400 iam sure had any idea what type of weapon they used in 800-900.And only with this knowledge of old weapon forms you can develope from this type newer versions.
this eagerness to find an ancestor and its following weapon types is an thing of modern time.
so what is an seay issimplyan single edge knife and those where made until slashing weapon crudly made may be practical 800 Ad as 1600 Ad
So its more the technical advance and better material or better machinery which brought new types of weapon in the field.
Therefore one surely can not develope the theorie that similary weapon types have developed from an ancestor version to its latest version over 200-500 years.
Thats the way i see it.
always only on oppinion
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