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William P




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PostPosted: Tue 05 Jan, 2016 6:42 am    Post subject: the 'javelin' of di grassi and george silver what IS it?         Reply with quote

ok, i'm reading through di grassi's manual on the partizan looking regarding whether it is seen as a weapon for the cut as well as the thrust, and it seems to agree then, it segways along and says

Quote:
And to the end, the bigness and weight of the Partisan, (which ought to be apt and commodious to be handled) might not be increased, they diminished part of the Iron thereof, and gave the same to the forks or defenses: And by that means they framed another weapon called the javelin which (because the broadness, and happily the weight and place thereof is diminished) is not very forcible to strike with the edge, but all his power consists in three thrusts.


di grassi, and silver both mention a weapon called the javelin, however it seems to be used to describe a thrusting polearm, rather than a missile weapon cast from the hand

does anyone have any idea what this 'javelin' might look like? according to digrassi, saying that 'the iron is diminished' but also broadened? (the language and sentence structure makes it hard to follow at times) might suggest a weapon like the ranseur spetum and corsque perhaps

george silver mentions it alongside the other weapons such as the long staff, glaive and partizan

as such it is QUITE confusing
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Jan, 2016 9:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are European javelins, aka, "lancegay"

As you can see, these are depicted as slightly shorter and lighter than typical spears, and with broad, acutely pointed heads. The text in question simply notes that these traits make for a good thrusting weapon in addition to its use as a missile. My take on the text is that it's along the lines of, "...and don't underestimate the value of the javelin for thrusting attacks, although it isn't as strong or versatile as a partizan..."

The two images at bottom very helpfully show javelins next to lances and spears so you can see the construction differences. Granted, the difference between a javelin and partizan would be much more pronounced.



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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Tue 05 Jan, 2016 10:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The word 'javelin' apparently comes from Vulgar Latin 'gabalus' and in turn from Gaulish 'gabal' meaning simply 'fork, forked stick', 'stick with two points',

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/javelin

Apparently also this sense, if this is not different word?

http://www.wordsense.eu/gabalus/


All in all the word original meaning wasn't really connected with throwing.

The good question is when the word acquired modern meaning - and when this meaning of 'thrown spear' became dominant, standard meaning.

I think that careful and rather tedious study of usage of word 'javelin' and contexts in 16th century would certainly give an answer on what 'javelin' had usually meant.

Dunno if anybody had performed such a thing though.
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Andrew Gill





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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2016 1:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bartek: that's interesting - probably just an coincidence, but the irish mythological hero Cuchalain's magical weapon was a barbed (in some translations forked) throwing-spear called the Gáe Bolga. In the translations I've seen, it is described as splitting into multiple barbs on entry to the point that it needs to be cut out of its victim to retrieve it. (It is also described as being thrown with the foot, and having barbs which further subdivide like the roots of a tree, so a large pinch of salt is probably in order - this is a magic weapon in a heroic epic after all). However, given that the gaelic word for sword (claid or variations thereon) is apparently derived from the roman word "gladius", so it's not inconceivable to me that the roman word "gabalus" would also have been appropriated. But I know very little about gaelic etymology.

Returning to the original question, the fact that di Grassi makes reference to "the forks or defences" and to a javelin having "three thusts" makes me wonder whether he's not talking about something like a spetum or ranseur - one of those (to me) slightly oddball polearms which look superfically like a trident. This seems to match what he says:
1) "they diminished part of the Iron thereof" - check; these forked polearms usually have a long but slender and light spike in the center.
2) "and gave the same to the forks or defenses" -check; the relatively slender forward curving prongs are the distinguishing feature of these polearms, and are useful for catching other weapons, ie. defence
3) "...is not very forcible to strike with the edge" - check; for some examples I've seen it's like trying to cut with an ahlspies!
"but all his power consists in three thrusts" - this is the part which almost convinces me - these polearms have three forward pointing spikes - the central one and the prongs - hence three thrusts.
Why di Grassi would call one of these polearms a javelin, I've no idea! But people in the middle ages and renaissance seemed to play fast and loose with weapon names and terminology - consider the pollaxe/pole axe/halberd/battleaxe debate here a while ago. None of this makes my arguement conclusively proven though!
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2016 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Giacomo di Grassi's "javelin" is the spiedo. You can see it in this image from the Italian version of di Grassi's manual. It's a winged spear. The 16th-century English word "javelin" commonly referred to something similar, a 10-12ft thrusting staff weapon. What we might call a javelin today would often have been a "dart" in 16th-century English. For example, Humphrey Barwick wrote: "[W]e [the English] haue the like estmation of the Long Bow, as the Irish haue of their Darts." 16th-century English terminology was indeed fast and loose compared with how scholars and martial artists talk today. The words "lance," "spear," and "javelin" could be synonyms, though certain authors distinguished between them in practice. Of course, that's likewise true 21st-century English outside of scholarly, WMA, and gaming circles (and at times within these circles).
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2016 1:15 pm    Post subject: Re: the 'javelin' of di grassi and george silver what IS it?         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
ok, i'm reading through di grassi's manual on the partizan looking regarding whether it is seen as a weapon for the cut as well as the thrust, and it seems to agree then, it segways along and says

Quote:
And to the end, the bigness and weight of the Partisan, (which ought to be apt and commodious to be handled) might not be increased, they diminished part of the Iron thereof, and gave the same to the forks or defenses: And by that means they framed another weapon called the javelin which (because the broadness, and happily the weight and place thereof is diminished) is not very forcible to strike with the edge, but all his power consists in three thrusts.


di grassi, and silver both mention a weapon called the javelin, however it seems to be used to describe a thrusting polearm, rather than a missile weapon cast from the hand

does anyone have any idea what this 'javelin' might look like? according to digrassi, saying that 'the iron is diminished' but also broadened? (the language and sentence structure makes it hard to follow at times) might suggest a weapon like the ranseur spetum and corsque perhaps

george silver mentions it alongside the other weapons such as the long staff, glaive and partizan

as such it is QUITE confusing

As far as I can tell, the weapon which I.G. Gentleman translates as javelin is a spiedo in the original. The following description confirms it. I don't think that spiedi were popular in England, but “border staves”/lancegays and darts were. So probably I.G. Gentleman was looking for a word for something which did not have an accepted English name.
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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jan, 2016 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
16th-century English terminology was indeed fast and loose compared with how scholars and martial artists talk today. The words "lance," "spear," and "javelin" could be synonyms, though certain authors distinguished between them in practice. Of course, that's likewise true 21st-century English outside of scholarly, WMA, and gaming circles (and at times within these circles).


Well, 'spear' 'javelin' and 'lance' all apparently share etymological meaning 'pointed stick' without real distinction about size, ability to be thrown or not etc.

So hard to blame 16th century guys for not using terminology we invented in 20th century. Wink
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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Thu 13 Sep, 2018 12:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry for reviving this thread, but I wanted to say that I've found the answer. Do Grassi's "Javelin" is obviously a speido, but otherwise the most common English definition in the 16th-17th centuries seems to be that a javelin was a relatively long, light cavalry spear with a sharp point at each end. Fourquevaux for example says that he wanted his argolet to be each armed with a 10-12 foot "javelin" with a point at each end so that it could be used to stab both forwards and backwards at unarmored men and horses in a cavalry skirmish or used as a pike when fighting dismounted, which fits George silver's definition perfectly as a polearm which is above the perfect length, used like a pike, and doesn't have a complex head that can be used for forking or hooking like the forest bill has.

Sir James turner uses the term quite a bit in his 17th century Pallas Armata to refer to the double pointed spears sometimes still used by light horsemen in the east. The one exception is that at some point you start to see translators calling the ancient roman pilums "javelins" or "darts or javelins", but as James Turner explains the weapon wasn't really a javelin, it's just that many people didn't really feel it was "dart" either, being somewhere between that and a fighting spear, so they just sort of continued the tradition of calling it a javelin. Also there was apparently a theory that all Roman pila had an iron point at the bottom end so that the front rank of legionaries could plant their weapons in the ground in order to quickly create a stationary fence of sharp spikes for protection from cavalry. You know, since they didn't have any pikemen.

Edit: so yeah, very similar to if not the same weapon as the "punching stave" or Smythe's "zagaia".

Edit 2: Turner also refers to a weapon with a point at one end and a mace at the other as a "javelin", though that's still referring to a spear that has a hurty thing at both ends. This may have been another definition of "punching stave" as well.
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Tom DR





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PostPosted: Thu 20 Sep, 2018 3:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Henry O. wrote:

Edit: so yeah, very similar to if not the same weapon as the "punching stave" or Smythe's "zagaia".

Edit 2: Turner also refers to a weapon with a point at one end and a mace at the other as a "javelin", though that's still referring to a spear that has a hurty thing at both ends. This may have been another definition of "punching stave" as well.

Sir John Fastolf and the Diverse Affinities of the Medieval Lancegay may be of interest.
If that paper is to be believed, and it makes a pretty convincing argument, Javelin would also be synonymous with the lancegay, which seems to have been used to refer to a double-tipped light lance.
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