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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Apr, 2011 1:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The one-handed katzbalger swords with rounded points intrigue. Why did the Germans favor cutting blades for pikemen when military authors such Fourquevaux suggested only the thrust on the battlefield? Do any instructions for employing these weapons in the press exist?
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Andreas Becht




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Apr, 2011 8:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I visited the Klingenmuseum in Solingen yesterday. I thought I'd share my pics of the Katzbalgers that were on display. It was almost impossible to take photos, because it was so sunny and that didn't go well with all the glass.
The museum is well worth a visit.





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Andreas Becht




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Apr, 2011 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote



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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Apr, 2011 1:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin, I've often thought the same thing about the cutting nature of katzbalgers, I would think that a thrusting or cut and thrust type would serve a pikeman better.

Andreas, thanks for those pics, their great.

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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr, 2011 2:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've seen examples of katzbalgers from as late the 1560s, does everyone here know of any datable examples from later than this? Does anyone know when they fell out of fashion? For that matter, when exactly did the landsknecht cease to exist?
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Thomas R.




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 3:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Stephen,
it's a common misunderstanding, that Katzbalgers were no good at thrusting. In fact their rounded points were sharp and suitable for stabbing, like a roman gladius - plus the point won't get stuck in shields or armor. In between a mass of angry pikemen a short blade as the katzbalgers comes very handy, while a longsword is just too long for fighting between all those lances and staffweapons. I recommend the spanish movie "Alatriste" in which such a fighting is portrayed very realistic (crouching beneath the entangled pikes and slitting the enemies sinews included!)

Thomas

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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 7:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/files/katzbalger008_205.jpg

looks very much like a modern federschwert with the configuration of the fuller.
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Ken Jay




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 10:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas R. wrote:
Hi Stephen,
it's a common misunderstanding, that Katzbalgers were no good at thrusting. In fact their rounded points were sharp and suitable for stabbing, like a roman gladius - plus the point won't get stuck in shields or armor. In between a mass of angry pikemen a short blade as the katzbalgers comes very handy, while a longsword is just too long for fighting between all those lances and staffweapons. I recommend the spanish movie "Alatriste" in which such a fighting is portrayed very realistic (crouching beneath the entangled pikes and slitting the enemies sinews included!)

Thomas


I agree the rounded tip Katzbalgers will deliver an adequate thrust against the head/face or hands. However, I can't see such thrusting performance against light armor or even heavy clothing. If a cut & thrust sword was needed by Pikemen there was the established Type XVIII pattern to fall back on. Perhaps form follows function and the majority of Katzbalgers were primarily used for cutting? Just how closely packed were pike formations? Was the Katzbalger a tool of last resort, used when the formation's cohesion was compromised, or used in pursuit of a fleeing foe? As an aside, all the various historical or reproduction Gladius blades I've seen feature a sharp point suitable for thrusting rather than a "rounded" point as seen in so many Katzblager.

Ken
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Thomas R.




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 12:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Ken,

have a look at this youtube scene taken from "Alatriste". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26C758K4Fc0 As far as I read about Landsknechts & Co this seems to me as a quite realistic depiction of such a battle.

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Thomas

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some quick thoughts:

Consider the design challenge. You want a weapon short enough that it can be worn, drawn and used in a densely-packed environment. If you taper that short blade to an effective thrusting point, it might not have enough blade presence to deliver the immediately debilitating wounds--severed tendons, muscles, outright amputations--that are more valuable both to the individual soldier delivering them as well as to the commanders viewing the bigger picture of the course of battle.

This is not only modern speculation. Silver said exactly this in his dismissal of narrow thrust-oriented weapons for field use.

Another argument against an acute point is that there's less plate armour on the field in this period. You don't need a long, narrow point to exploit gaps in plate. Your enemy might turn away a thrust or otherwise dodge it. I would think it's harder to stop or dodge a hard slashing blow without some degree of injury.

It might be worthwhile to consider the class status of these men, too. If they had any experience with edged weapons prior to enlisting, it was most likely brawling with knives and daggers of various sizes. You can't scale-up daggers to sword length and use the same techniques you'd use with a short dagger, but a man used to cutting up his friends with a large messer might feel comfortable with a short, broad slashing weapon. If my life were on the line, I'd certainly choose the weapon and associated techniques I know best. On the other hand, if this is true I don't know why the Landsknecht didn't all carry large fighting knives instead of swords. Maybe the additional edge was considered important enough to compromise on that.

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alatriste shows what Sir John Smythe considered the wrong way of employing pikes in the field: standing at distance and thrusting. However, both Smythe's disapproving account and others suggest pikemen did fight in such fashion at times.

While I imagine a rounded tip could give an effective thrust under the right circumstances, the design obviously favors the cut. In this respect it differed from the swords used by other pikemen. For example, sixteenth-century military writer William Garrard explicitly recommended a "sharp pointed sword" for the field. Fourquevaux counseled only the thrust. Smythe advocated both cut and thrust from swords with blades ranged from 27 to 36 inches. Various late sixteenth- and early seventh-century sources suggested three feet as a good blade length, but one noted that the tight press often makes only daggers serviceable.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Apr, 2011 2:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Sean this makes quite alot of sense about why katz were shaped the way they were. And Thomas' point about the thrusting ability of rounded tips also makes sense, I remember once seeing a show hosted by Mike Loades called, weapons that made britain, well he tested some different types of blades being tested on a block of clay, and both the Oakeshott type X and type XVIII performed almost identically in the thrust as well as the cut.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 01 May, 2011 8:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you follow this link you'll see some nice examples http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?...&pp=30 (hope it's alright to link to another forum) I haven't had a chance to look through all of it but there might be something in there pertainant to this discussion.
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Ken Jay




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PostPosted: Sun 01 May, 2011 4:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good movies, educated guesses, and trusts to modeling clay aside, I still feel form dictates function. If you have a rounded point it's a better cutter than thruster - on average. Let's give the old armorers some credit - they knew how to make thrusting, cutting, and duel purpose blades. Just my two cents...
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Dan Mackison





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PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2011 5:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know very little about katzbalgers and appreciate all the info here. I noticed some weapons listed as "possibly too long to be considered a katzbalger". What would be considered a typical length? I only know they were generally short swords.
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Jimi Edmonds




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2011 11:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had thought the katzblager to be an ugly little sword, but after reading through this thread and seeing the different types in the pictures, it has changed my thoughts on the little buggers and now I wouldn't mind one!
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Dan Mackison





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PostPosted: Sat 03 Dec, 2011 5:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Mackison wrote:
... What would be considered a typical length? I only know they were generally short swords.


Anyone?
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 04 Dec, 2011 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Mackison wrote:
I know very little about katzbalgers and appreciate all the info here. I noticed some weapons listed as "possibly too long to be considered a katzbalger". What would be considered a typical length? I only know they were generally short swords.


What research have you done to find this out? You're asking a question without an easy answer. It's not like I can open my copy of "Bob's Big Book of Katzbalgers" to page 2 and read "A typical Katzbalger is XX inches long." Happy

At least 2 of Oakeshott's works (Records of the Medieval Sword and Sword in the Age of Chivalry, plus probably the Archaeology of Weapons). Likely won't give us much as katzbalgers don't fit the chronology of either book very well nor the focus of one (Records). So, I'd need to go to Oakeshott's European Weapons and Armour: From the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution and thumb through it. I might also need to go to Edge/Paddock and/or Blair, or something else. Even those may not list a typical length.

Which would send me to museum catalogues. The Wallace has to have one or two. Are they typical? There are some in Dresden and Berlin. Again, are they typical? Museum catalogues don't often make that kind of distinction. So after looking through 8-10 books and spending a good 45 minutes of my time, I may not have a definitive answer for you. Sometimes questions that take 30 seconds to post require someone else to take 30 minutes or more of their time to answer thoroughly.

I'd urge you to take some time and look through museum online databases. Or check out some books. If I get some time later I might dig up something, but these weapons are outside of my focus and my library may not be geared to answer your question.

Happy

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 04 Dec, 2011 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a bunch of lengths listed in this very topic; certainly enough to give a sense of the size of the weapons in question.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Dec, 2011 5:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Heres a link (taken from a recent post by J.D. Crawford) to a later period katz looks pretty much exactly what I was looking for when I started this thread. It could be interpreted as a link between the katzbalger and the later germanic baskethilts.

http://moteur.musenor.com/application/moteur_...vre=394771

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