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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > German Hand-and-a-Half, circa 1420 Reply to topic
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 8:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
BUT would you call it one of the most elegant types of medieval sword?


No, I don't think I would. It's one of those swords that is very mission specific. Certainly not a jack-of-all-trades type of design. You have no trouble figuring out what this sword is for once you have it in hand. Sleek and deadly looking yes. But elegant? Not really.

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 8:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I am not sure if we can make ANY arguments whether this this is more elegant than that. Oakeshott himself went on a rant (I think it was in "sword in hand") how type XVII vary and one will be light, well balanced weapon and another one will be a 4-5lb boat-anchor. Yet they were all period weapons that served their purpose rather successfully (i'd presume).


Of course we can argue the point. Things like aesthetics are completely subjective but that doesn't mean it can't be argued and debated. Very few things are absolutely concrete and irrefutable. Arguments and debates are simply exchanges of information. Oakeshott went on a rant about this type of sword and his opinion was valid. Your rant about Oakeshott's rant is your opinion and is as equally valid. The exchange of opinions is what it's all about.

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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 9:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
I would agree that whether you like something or not is in the eye of the beholder, it's all subjective. However words do mean something to whit:

Main Entry: el∑e∑gance
Pronunciation: 'e-li-g&n(t)s
Function: noun
1 a : refined grace or dignified propriety : URBANITY b : tasteful richness of design or ornamentation <the sumptuous elegance of the furnishings> c : dignified gracefulness or restrained beauty of style

Now by that definition can you call the type XVII elegant? The keyword I think is grace...

[Edited]
I do not intend to make this post confrontational. I am simply arguing a case and not trying to force my opinion on anyone.

I have no problem calling type XVII graceful, but that is just me. Just to argue the point, did your definition of elegance come from a XIV-XV century dictionary?

I do not wish to presume that even contemporaries would have called this sword type elegant, but some might have.
We all have opinions, and they do not have to agree, especially with respect to aesthetics (which elegance is in the very core of).

the only point that I wish to make is that for some an object might be very elegant, and for some it might be ugly.

"refined grace", "dignified property", "tasteful richness", "beauty of style" are all highly subjective notions.

Just to make it clear, if someone was arguing that type XVII was the MOST elegant sword ever and that everybody should like it, I would be arguing the opposite case where people do NOT have to think that XVIIs are elegant or beautiful.

I say, here is the sword, think what you want about it and let me think what I want about it, at lest with respect to elegance.

Alexi
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

LOL of course Alexi, I didn't think you were being confrontational at all. Rather you were just disagreeing with me which is totally fine!

Isn't grace a definable quality? Wouldn't we also say that for a sword to be graceful it should be agile or "fast" as well?

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 11:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Isn't grace a definable quality? Wouldn't we also say that for a sword to be graceful it should be agile or "fast" as well?


Graceful doesn't necessarily mean agile or fast Happy:

Quote:
Graceful:
1. Showing grace of movement, form, or proportion
2. characterized by beauty of movement, style, form etc.; not awkward


Maybe you could equate graceful with agile with the "not awkward" part, but it's a stretch. Graceful things are not necessarily fast.

Happy

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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
LOL of course Alexi, I didn't think you were being confrontational at all. Rather you were just disagreeing with me which is totally fine!

Isn't grace a definable quality? Wouldn't we also say that for a sword to be graceful it should be agile or "fast" as well?



No, and then Yes. I do not think one can quantify "grace" in a unit that is the same for everyone, like length or mass, or force or acceleration, etc.. There is no unit for "grace" that I know of Laughing Out Loud . Agile and fast are terms that are somewhat easier to deal with, even though there is a degree of subjectivity in these as well. I do see your argument though. You are applying grace in therms of how the sword moves and performs and not in terms of how it looks. The former are parameters that could be measured against some standard in a more rigorous way.

In essence you are saying (if I am following you correctly) that type XVII swords might not be as agile and/or fast, and hence are not as graceful. This argument is sensible and even though one might start splitting hairs and ask what do we mean by agile, and how fast should a sword be to be called fast, et, etc. I think it is a better discussion all together than whether or not a sword "looks or appears" elegant and beautiful.

When I read "elegant" and "graceful" i do not think about performance, I think about looks and appearances, and there is the misunderstanding.

Alexi
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Russ Ellis wrote:
Isn't grace a definable quality? Wouldn't we also say that for a sword to be graceful it should be agile or "fast" as well?


Graceful doesn't necessarily mean agile or fast Happy:

Quote:
Graceful:
1. Showing grace of movement, form, or proportion
2. characterized by beauty of movement, style, form etc.; not awkward


Maybe you could equate graceful with agile with the "not awkward" part, but it's a stretch. Graceful things are not necessarily fast.


Yeah I put fast in quotes because I was more or less referring to over all good handling characteristics then actual speed if that makes sense?

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexi Goranov wrote:
No, and then Yes. I do not think one can quantify "grace" in a unit that is the same for everyone, like length or mass, or force or acceleration, etc.. There is no unit for "grace" that I know of Laughing Out Loud . Agile and fast are terms that are somewhat easier to deal with, even though there is a degree of subjectivity in these as well. I do see your argument though. You are applying grace in therms of how the sword moves and performs and not in terms of how it looks. The former are parameters that could be measured against some standard in a more rigorous way.

In essence you are saying (if I am following you correctly) that type XVII swords might not be as agile and/or fast, and hence are not as graceful. This argument is sensible and even though one might start splitting hairs and ask what do we mean by agile, and how fast should a sword be to be called fast, et, etc. I think it is a better discussion all together than whether or not a sword "looks or appears" elegant and beautiful.

When I read "elegant" and "graceful" i do not think about performance, I think about looks and appearances, and there is the misunderstanding.

Alexi


Ahhh well that's a fair statement I suppose. I guess just about anything can be dolled up, one of the definitions in the dictionary even refers to design and ornamentation.

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PostPosted: Fri 19 Nov, 2004 6:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It may not be "Beautiful", but there are serious style points in it's brutal efficiency. I can well imagine that given sufficient force, it would punch through maille like an ice-pick through paper, and would skitter off plate towards such vulnerable areas as protected by maille with ease. Against plate there is no real need for an edge, though seemingly there is some edge to it, but the stiffness of it, and the thick, sturdy tang suggests that not only could the entire weight of the user be put into it, but it could also be put to good use as a "good stiff tuck" or estoc, and the weight of the horse would be used to force entry to the vitals of the enemy. By "couching" the pommel against the hip one can aim the horse at your opponent, and use the foot-tons of energy produced by the speed and weight of the animal, transfered to the point. A good stiff "crowbar" is just what is needed in such a situation, LOL!

"Efficient" is what that piece says to me, and there is beauty in that.

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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Oct, 2005 10:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

WOW that is beautiful! I love the long narrow blade, what a formiddable sword this must have been!

Bob
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Oct, 2005 4:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

These are diffinately my favorite swords. To me, they seem to speak of the history of the era. I'd give my left arm for one. Well... Maybe not, as that would make it rather hard to wield. Confused
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Oct, 2005 5:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan,
I also thank you for the post. I really love this type of sword.

I would like to know if you happen to know the grip length? My best guess would be near 8 to 8-1/2" (200 - 215 mm) since there is ~10" difference between blade and overall length, with relatively compact pommel and guard design. This would not place it in an extremely long grip category, just a comfortable length grip for primary technique to be a blend of two handed use and half swording. Some texts recommended room for two to two and one half hands, which could be interpreted as 10" grip depending on inclusion of the pommel within this length. Illustrations tend to make the 10" long grip credible as having actually existed.

I am not familiar with period originals, and the appearance of the guard is confusing. Is the present "dimpled" texture of the guard a result of original design geometry, or has it been battered?


http://swordforum.com/swords/historical/vasteras.html

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Oct, 2005 8:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
I am not familiar with period originals, and the appearance of the guard is confusing. Is the present "dimpled" texture of the guard a result of original design geometry, or has it been battered?


As the text says:

Quote:
The quillons of the sword under discussion are notable for being forged on their outer face with a series of pinched ridges. Relief-decorated quillons were of the greatest rarity in the Middle Ages. The earliest recorded examples, formed as ragged staves, are those occurring on a sword in the Historisches Museum, Dresden, given to the Prince Elector Friedrich I of Saxony by the Emperor Sigismund I in 1425, and probably made in Hungary in the period 1419-25.


I don't have any other stats. The text has all the information I have.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Feb, 2007 2:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was happy to see that this sword has not disappeared into the private sector, lost from public view. In 2006, it was donated to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Happy

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PostPosted: Tue 13 Feb, 2007 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrik Erik Lars Lindblom wrote:
This one really look like a big neddle and like it would have low weight,
but when i look at the tang on it, the size of that are not small,
what can it be 15-20mm in a square or something,


The tang appeared to be nearly 1/2 an inch thick. I was quite suprised.

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PostPosted: Tue 13 Feb, 2007 2:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Compare this sword to the one shown on the statue of Gattamelata by Donatello, as seen in the photos posted in this thread:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=9227

I'm not saying they are exactly the same type of sword, but both are long, narrow-bladed thrusting swords. They both look perfectly fit for the job they had to do - give wicked thrusts. I thought it was an interesting comparison, anyway.

Thanks for the photo and info, Nathan! Happy

By the way, as for the debate about "elegant" or "graceful", I believe in Records of the Medieval Sword Oakeshott called the XVII's as a whole a rather "boring" type. He also said that not all were handsome. Terms like these are really all in the eye of the beholder, and perhaps Oakeshott's bias showed through when he wrote these descriptive terms.

As for the weight of type XVII's, in the same work Oakeshott pointed out that this could vary quite significantly. He stated that the type XVII in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge was surprisingly light and beautifully balanced, while the one that had been in his possession was rather clumsy and a bit heavy at nearly four pounds. Granted, these are merely subjective observations, but it does hint at differences in weight and balance amongst swords of the same type. Different strokes for different folks, apparently.

I personally like their lines; I think their profiles can be quite elegant. Again, that's just my opinion. Wink

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Last edited by Richard Fay on Tue 13 Feb, 2007 2:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Feb, 2007 2:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
Hello all!

Compare this sword to the one shown on the statue of Gattamelata by Donatello, as seen in the photos posted in this thread:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=9227

I'm not saying they are exactly the same type of sword, but both are long, narrow-bladed thrusting swords. They both look perfectly fit for the job they had to do - give wicked thrusts. I thought it was an interesting comparison, anyway.

Thanks for the photo and info, Nathan!


The Met sword's blade appears to be more narrow than the Gattamelata sword. The blade cross-sections also appear to be different. The Gattamelata sword might be a Type XVIIIa where this is a Type XVII. They're both long and pointy, though. Happy

Happy

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PostPosted: Tue 13 Feb, 2007 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
They're both long and pointy, though. Happy


Yeah, that was my point (pardon the pun). Big Grin I wasn't comparing the specific types, since it's often difficult to give specific types to scabbarded swords shown in art (plus trying to interpret details such as blade profile, cross-section, etc. from a photo of a sculpture is even more difficult). I thought there were some general similarities in the apparent functions of each.

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PostPosted: Fri 01 Feb, 2008 6:59 pm    Post subject: Re: German Hand-and-a-Half, circa 1420         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:

The earliest unequivocal evidence for the use of the type is provided by two examples in the Kantonales Antiquarium, Aarau, Switzerland, which were obtained from the graves of the Austrian knights Friedrich von Tarant and Friedrich von Griffenstein who fell in the Battle of Sempach in 1386.


I have been unable to find pictures or stats on these two swords, though they are referenced in many different texts. I understand they were part of the inspiritation for the Albion Sempach. All I know about them is they were taken from von Tarant's and von Griffenstein's graves at the Abbey church of Konigsfeld in Aura in the 19th century, and that there is a similar sword in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (shown in myArmoury Feature on type XVII and featured in Oakeshott's Records of the Medieval Sword) and another with a shorter grip in the Odescachi Collection in Rome. Does anyone have any more information on the von Tarant or von Griffenstein swords ...?

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PostPosted: Sat 02 Feb, 2008 5:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dimensionally, this sword is a lot like the Albion Munich (Bayerisches sword.) Since it has a fuller, I would guess it to be lighter (than 3 lbs 4 ounces.) In my opinion, with that grip, it would be agile and very fast!
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