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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2005 1:07 am    Post subject: Peirod flails         Reply with quote

I'm looking for information on historical ball and chain type weapons. Anyone have any good resources? I'm espeically interisted in the works of the old masters on the subject, if there ARE any works on the flail type weapons, and also... what is the longest chain ever used on such a weapon? (On an actual weapon of course, no show peices or fantasy replicas... But that goes without saying with you guys.)
To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2005 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jakob Sutor's fechtbuch shows use of the flail. I know it's on the last page, but I don't know where else in that text it might appear. If you can get a copy of Anglo's Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe you'll see some nice color plates of Maximillian using a flail (if I'm remembering correctly.)

Find Sutor and LOTS of other texts on ARMA's fantastic Historical Manuals page:

http://www.thearma.org/manuals.htm



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Fromhold K.




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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2005 2:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Flails, balls and chains, etc         Reply with quote

One "old master" is from 19th century: Demmin, A. "Die Kriegswaffen in ihren geschichtlichen Entwickelungen von den šltesten Zeiten bis auf dieGegenwart", 1891. Happy There is something about flail.

Also, there is a picture of a flail-head excavated from Finland: http://mlab.uiah.fi/Mulli/html/media/valokuva/e_tya631_190.html
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Jun, 2005 10:39 pm    Post subject: Peirod flails.... Did any of the directions survive?         Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure there are no directions books for the european flails.... But I thought I would ask here. Are there any?
To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Jun, 2005 11:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess the main object of the exercise is not to whack yourself with the thing.

These guys seem to be wearing helmets, just in case.

They were certainly not the first farm implement to be used as a weapon. The use in eastern martial arts might be better documented.

Cheers

GC
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 12:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
I guess the main object of the exercise is not to whack yourself with the thing.

These guys seem to be wearing helmets, just in case.


Gee... sounds prudent with most weapons, don't you think? Wink

Oh, as for the "helmet"...

... it's fulled wool. Wish all my patients came pre-bandaged.

Guys, the flail wasn't exactly the epitome of "knightly weapon" - ranks up there with the pitchfork. Since all peasants of the era were extremely well-read, and it's just a 21st century issue that illiteracy is an issue, yeah. Books on these would be on every newsstand.

I'm sure it's documented somewhere... there are techniques to defend against them (and to use them). Pretty straight-forward though. User - thresh your opponent. Defender - block the head, not the shaft, or the head's still coming.

For the record, these hurt. A lot. Despite a gambeson and 14 oz of leather with 18 gauge plates over the kidneys, I was still peeing blood.

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 12:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Many years ago at a Ren Faire I hit myself in the foot with one of these while wearing a pair of mocasin boots. Yes, it hurt.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus


Last edited by Patrick Kelly on Sun 19 Jun, 2005 1:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 12:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Or to continue what Aaron is saying: Miss your opponents head and depending on the length of chain, get hit in the teeth or gut. Or at the very least struggle to get control of the thing wigglily waggely at the end of your totally unbalanced staff to attempt another blow.

One good thing though is that you can swing with all the power and speed you can muster and if the head hits its' target you won't get any of the chock transmitted back to your hand(s) holding the flail as you would with any other impact weapon.

It's sort of an all or nothing weapon: But those peasants would be used to using it all day long, so maybe recovery from a missed blow might be easy for them to control. Eek! Laughing Out Loud

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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 12:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
It's sort of an all or nothing weapon: But those peasants would be used to using it all day long, so maybe recovery from a missed blow might be easy for them to control. Eek! Laughing Out Loud


Actually, in the hands of someone used to using these dag-nasty things, it is quite fluid, easily recovered, and as fast as a bo-staff... I used to despise going up against an opponent who actually knew what's up. Put one in a newby's hands, though, and I'll hand it back to you with your head.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 12:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron, well said ! Practice can make something that seems hard to use, easy.

My only experience is playing with a home made one years ago, quite different from serious practice or study.

There must also be optimum length of staff to length of chain to weight of spiky head that make the difference between fast and agile and slow and akward.

That is what should be in those missing historical direction books Razz Eek! Laughing Out Loud

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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 1:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Aaron, well said ! Practice can make something that seems hard to use, easy.

My only experience is playing with a home made one years ago, quite different from serious practice or study.

There must also be optimum length of staff to length of chain to weight of spiky head that make the difference between fast and agile and slow and akward.

That is what should be in those missing historical direction books Razz Eek! Laughing Out Loud


From the Polish American Journal:

    Many barns in Poland had a threshing floor called a boisko - a large wooden deck with carefully fitted boards so that there were no cracks for grains of wheat, oats or barley to fall through. The sheaves of wheat were spread on the floor and the threshers would "flail" them until the grain was loosened from the heads. The most common design for the flail, one in use since the early days of the Christian era, was simply two pieces of wood as thick as a shovel handle, six feet long, the other 18 inches long, loosely attached to one another, end to end, with a leather thong. The short piece of wood, called the swingle would generally be made of hardwood.

    The sheaves were unbound and placed in the middle of the threshing floor. The handle of the flail was raised until the swingle was shoulder high and then brought down firmly so that it struck full length against the straw until it shook off the grains from the head. When all the grain had been shook off the heads, the straw was removed and saved for mulching, composting, weaving into rope or for thatching. The remaining grain, generally consisting of chaff and small bits of straw were ready for winnowing. In a steady wind, the grain was poured from one container to another. The loose grain could be stored in sacks or barrels.


Of course, those designed as weapons saw additional "refinement" with chains and unfriendly-type swingles. My personal experience with this weapon has been that the shorer hinge makes for a more maneuverable weapon. The end of the pole hits just before the hinge, and the swingle seems to go friggin' supersonic when it continues the arc - kind of a "crack-BAM!" when it strikes. Does a good job of binding weapons, and wraps right around the backside of a shield nicely, too.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Eric Nower




Location: Upstate NY
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"The most common design for the flail, one in use since the early days of the Christian era, was simply two pieces of wood as thick as a shovel handle, six feet long, the other 18 inches long, loosely attached to one another, end to end, with a leather thong. The short piece of wood, called the swingle would generally be made of hardwood. "

We've got somthing like that up to the barn, the first end isn't 6ft more like 3-4 but it certainly does sound right.

I think the one we had was used for beating hay down in the field, long before we had haybines and discbines. Happy

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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Nower wrote:
I think the one we had was used for beating hay down in the field, long before we had haybines and discbines. Happy


Sounds reasonable, though it does seem short (unless the field worker was, too...). Does it look like that was the length all the time, or was it broken and still used (or not tossed)?

A tool such as this was also used in a sweeping motion to break stalks along the ground to do exactly the task you mention.

Any chance on a pic or two?

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 12:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George, you've already asked this question in another topic so I'm merging them together. Please keep your stuff together for the benefit of all of us.
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Cole Sibley




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 9:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I play around a bit with flails, and am finding the same as above. Shorten the chain (or hinge) and lengthen the handle. My first try was a 2 foot handle and a 3 foot chain and a heavy ball, the thing was a menace (and not to the enemy). I thought a simple chain (similar to the Mel Gibson affair in Braveheart) might be effective, but a handle multiplies power very quickly, as well as increasing speed. I was unable to find any good info on combat flails either, I hadn't thought of the peasant/knight aspect, this is almost surely the reason. Not to mention the things are dangerous to anybody within 10 feet, including the wielder.
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2005 11:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
George, you've already asked this question in another topic so I'm merging them together. Please keep your stuff together for the benefit of all of us.


Did I? Opps. I must have forgotten.


As to Flails being a commoner weapon, how sure are we of that? I see many nice 'horseman's flails' out there.

Yes, Most flails I have seen have the free swinging part shorter then the handle, for what I can only believe is the speicific reason that this prevents you from hitting yourself in the hand. Makes sence doesn't it?

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Eric Nower




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all,

Here's a couple of pics of what my father called "a grain flail". He said he can remember using it and he wasn't careful he gave himself quite a bump on the head. Enjoy and please excuse all the hay chaff.....the barn is used for mass hay storage and gets a little dusty Happy

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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2005 7:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks a ton, Eric! Yeah, that's pretty much the monster.

For a weapon, I would think a longer handle or a shorter swingle would make for a great footman's or horseman's flail, respectively.

It appears in the pics that the handle has a carved wood swivel as well. That's pretty interesting.

Oh, and George, as with most weapons, it started as a civillian tool, and found more grave application, and subsequent modification later. How common was it as a horseman's weapon? Not sure... As the picture in the original thread (now at the beginning of this one) shows, it apparently did eventually see use in the knightly realm. Maximillian armour was a heck of a lot later than the invention of the tool for threashing grain, though.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Jun, 2005 8:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So does anyone know of any sort of period directions on the ball and chain-on-a-stick sort of flail?
To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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