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Kyro R. Lantsberger





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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jul, 2006 6:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Geez, I guess I apologize for bringing up a few points here and being an ignorant newbie.

Im not passionate about this issue that it MUST HAVE been done. My precise point, as a veteran of two contemporary theaters of conflict, is that ergonomics and logistics create certain compromises vs. combat efficiency.

There are some other things that came up here that I am very interested in, namely weapons maintainence on extended campaign-particularly during the Crusades.

I will probably do a search and maybe start a new thread.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jul, 2006 7:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kyro R. Lantsberger wrote:
Geez, I guess I apologize for bringing up a few points here and being an ignorant newbie.

Im not passionate about this issue that it MUST HAVE been done. My precise point, as a veteran of two contemporary theaters of conflict, is that ergonomics and logistics create certain compromises vs. combat efficiency.

There are some other things that came up here that I am very interested in, namely weapons maintainence on extended campaign-particularly during the Crusades.

I will probably do a search and maybe start a new thread.



Please feel free to ask questions, I hope it's nothing I said about the subject: Don't forget that there was a bit of friendly kidding around between me and Joe and that the question itself is perfectly O.K. to ask, also that nothing derogatory was intended to be aimed at anyone asking the question and bringing forward arguments for the use of this type of scabbard.

I can see some shoulder carry but mostly the way one could carry luggage on a long march, as I suggested before.

On the negative side the fact is that there is little if any documentation of this kind of back scabbard historically.
On the positive side one can't prove it never happened, but since this doesn't prove anything much we can still debate how a back scabbard would work, and since it doesn't seem very practical except for short blades, this is another way of saying that it probably wasn't done: If one could find great advantages to this mode of carry one could at least wonder why the people then didn't take advantage of the idea. Idea Question

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jul, 2006 8:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my limited experience, when trying to learn about anything medieval it helps to check modern assumptions at the door, no matter how relevant and logical they may seem. Our modern frame of reference is very different than that of our ancestors. Sometimes what seems obvious and logical to us, was not obvious or sensible to them, for very good reasons.

Consensus is that back scabards are modern constructs. You should expect a variety of responses when testing alternate scenarios in a public forum, just as you should expect to get a variety of responses when discussing hypotheticals over dinner with any diverse group of people. Unfortunately, all to often in these online exchanges, offense is seen where it is not intended.

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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jul, 2006 7:45 am    Post subject: Back-Slung Swords documentation         Reply with quote

Somewhere in my sword files I have the only reference that I have seen thus far to the wearing of swords on the back.
I guess I could dig it out when I have time. By memory it was of an Englishman who had visited a Scottish island (Iona?) and reported that.....:" they have large swords which they wear upon their backs."
Im not even sure of the period but I think it was early medieval. This is the only written evidince that Ive seen.

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Kyro R. Lantsberger





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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jul, 2006 8:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
In my limited experience, when trying to learn about anything medieval it helps to check modern assumptions at the door, no matter how relevant and logical they may seem. Our modern frame of reference is very different than that of our ancestors. Sometimes what seems obvious and logical to us, was not obvious or sensible to them, for very good reasons.

Consensus is that back scabards are modern constructs. You should expect a variety of responses when testing alternate scenarios in a public forum, just as you should expect to get a variety of responses when discussing hypotheticals over dinner with any diverse group of people. Unfortunately, all to often in these online exchanges, offense is seen where it is not intended.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it" - Marcus Aurelius


No problem. This site is becoming a daily visit for me. It is very, very rare to find a group like this online of such high level, and deep knowledge on any subject.
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jul, 2006 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kyro R. Lantsberger wrote:
No problem. This site is becoming a daily visit for me. It is very, very rare to find a group like this online of such high level, and deep knowledge on any subject.


Very good, but remember that most of us are novices too. Put us on a pedstal to high and we're likely to hurt ourselves when we eventually fall off. Wink

I do hope you keep visiting, and posting. Happy

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Last edited by Joe Fults on Mon 24 Jul, 2006 12:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bryce Felperin




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jul, 2006 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Been reading this thread for awhile and I finally thought I should weigh in a bit with some of my knowledge.

I have carried weapons slung on my back in the Army and my opinion is that it is a poor way to do it if you are expecting combat. It takes a long time to get off the shoulder and into action, no matter what the weapon is. As others have pointed out before in this thread, you also leave yourself open when pulling weapons off your back, no matter how you do it.

I have five longswords now of various lengths. My largest is a Del Tin 2160 with a 38" blade alone that is a monster to lug around and can only easily be carried suspended on a baldric. There is no way to draw that from any back rig with my arms, even with them being 2" longer in length than normal people (if I didn't have long legs I'd be knuckle walker). :-)

The best way to carry a longsword on your body is by your hip, lower than your waist. At your waist level it puts too much pressure and weight on your back. You need it to ride (with straps or double-wrap belt) just over your hip bone to make it the most comfortable in my opinion. For me this is about three to four inches below my waist. Yes it does bounce around a bit when I walk, but if I'm moving through crowds I'll most likely be guiding my sword out of the way or steady it by using its pommel anyway.

The other way to carry a longsword that I found works the best is to simply carry it in your off hand in the scabbard, about an inch or two from the throat of the scabbard. The bottom of the scabbard is pointing down and across your body's path as you walk. The reason for this is that the scabbard is now an effective tool for parrying any strikes to you and carrying forward allows you to block a downward blow, and draw your sword out with your primary hand while being in the perfect position to draw it out and thrust forward with it. There's a form we practice at our salle that starts this way and it is really effective for both defense and offense. Hard to describe I guess with words though.

As for two swords...too many weapons cause too many problems. First they get in the way of each other when drawing them. Second they add a lot of weight to your body that has to be supported uncomfortably by your back. Third you will have to practice a lot ot get both out smoothly with both hands, its not easy to do if both are long weapons. I have seen a lot of rapier and dagger users do it successfully, but I have never seen someone do it with two swords at once. I especially can't see it working with two long swords! :-)

Well the above are just my comments and observations...take them as you will.

Regards all,

Bryce
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Shamsi Modarai




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Nov, 2006 2:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have nothing amazing to add to the conversation.....I only wish to thank everyone who contributed to it. Thanks to you, I now cringe even more whenever I see a sword worn on the back in movies. Big Grin I had already found such a thing to be somewhat suspcious (a la The 13th Warrior), but this thread has further confirmed the unlikeliness of it all. So...um.....thank you for "ruining" a bunch of fantasy and even some so-called historical movies for me! Razz
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Ciaran Daly





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PostPosted: Sun 26 Nov, 2006 10:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
John Cooksey wrote:
What's impractical about two swords?

Something about getting killed by the guy with one sword seems a bit impractical to me.


Practitioners of many Phillipino styles might disagree strongly with you on that one, Nathan (as might many of the katana or spadroon-wielding fellows they fought).
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Nov, 2006 11:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ciaran Daly wrote:
Nathan Robinson wrote:
John Cooksey wrote:
What's impractical about two swords?

Something about getting killed by the guy with one sword seems a bit impractical to me.


Practitioners of many Phillipino styles might disagree strongly with you on that one, Nathan (as might many of the katana or spadroon-wielding fellows they fought).


I wasn't talking about that. Context. Context.

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Ciaran Daly





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PostPosted: Sun 26 Nov, 2006 11:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like your dry sense of humour Nathan. Happy Context indeed.

Yeah, I can't see wielding two longswords working out so well...
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Will Bowman




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PostPosted: Thu 30 Nov, 2006 6:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In King Arthur..Lancelot had short swords...thus much easier to draw from that position than a long sword. The biggest reason why not have your sword in a bach scabbard would be it's length.
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James Barker




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Dec, 2006 7:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ciaran Daly wrote:
Practitioners of many Phillipino styles might disagree strongly with you on that one, Nathan (as might many of the katana or spadroon-wielding fellows they fought).


Do Phillipino combats use 2 swords or 2 sticks? Apples to oranges.

Two rapiers were used historically but there is not evidence of 2 broad swords used at once, ever seen it used in the SCA? It looks clumsy even in a game with round sticks instead of swords.
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Michal Plezia
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PostPosted: Fri 01 Dec, 2006 8:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my opinion two swords would be not effective against armoured opponent.That is why there are so many techniques for longsword that requires both hand use.Killing an armoured opponent is difficult even with sword and shield or a longsword.When you have two swords you have no protection and attack techniques of the shield and no power and effectiveness of the longsword.
Hovever having two blades when fighting with unarmoured opponent would give uou some advantage...maybe Confused

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Patrick Brown




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Dec, 2006 11:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guy Windsor (in his Swordsman's Companion) discourages the back carry (for the longsword), citing the evidence in Clayton's catalogue of brass rubbings, as well as period portraiture in general. As a relative newcomer to the world of swordsmanship, I don't have many other sources to draw upon; intuitively, I would have to see the sense in his argument. However, as is often noted, absence of proof is not proof of absence.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Dec, 2006 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Incidentally, I've asked a question precisely about the subject of European two-sword styles in the Off-Topic forum. I could certainly use more opinions on it. Wink
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Kyro R. Lantsberger





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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 7:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know this is an old thread, but I actually came across a possible period reference to this.

Swords and Hilt Weapons....published by Barnes and Noble, in Chapter "Barbarians and Christians" by Anthony North p. 34

"THe celebrated Varangian Guard, a Viking elite corps which served the Empire in the tenth century , carried the broad Scandinavian axe and are referred to in contemporary sources as 'those who hang their swords from their right shoulder."
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 9:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kyro R. Lantsberger wrote:
I know this is an old thread, but I actually came across a possible period reference to this.

Swords and Hilt Weapons....published by Barnes and Noble, in Chapter "Barbarians and Christians" by Anthony North p. 34

"THe celebrated Varangian Guard, a Viking elite corps which served the Empire in the tenth century , carried the broad Scandinavian axe and are referred to in contemporary sources as 'those who hang their swords from their right shoulder."


Hanging from the right shoulder could refer to something other than a back scabbard. For example, when I wear a baldric, it hangs from my left shoulder and crosses my body to suspend my sword on my left hip (I'm right handed). Still it hangs from my left shoulder. It could also refer to a simple loop over the shoulder that lets the sword hang to the right side of the body. A loop not unlike a purse or luggage strap for example.

Does North cite a souce(s) for this and does he explicitly say or show back scabbard in this context? Does he give a list of the contemporary sources he is drawing information from? As is, its hard to evaluate the merit of the statement, and what it really refers to.

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James Barker




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Dec, 2006 5:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe nailed it, "Vikings" like Romans wore baldric sword belts and scabbards, the reference is to which shoulder they where the baldric on, look at the art of the time, there are no back scabbard Varangian Guards.

Also calling them "Viking elite corps" makes me worry about the quality of this person’s research since "Viking" means to go on a sailing raid or trade; it is not a reference to soldiers from Scandinavia.

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Phill Lappin




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Dec, 2006 10:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
In my limited experience, when trying to learn about anything medieval it helps to check modern assumptions at the door, no matter how relevant and logical they may seem. Our modern frame of reference is very different than that of our ancestors. Sometimes what seems obvious and logical to us, was not obvious or sensible to them, for very good reasons.

Consensus is that back scabards are modern constructs. You should expect a variety of responses when testing alternate scenarios in a public forum, just as you should expect to get a variety of responses when discussing hypotheticals over dinner with any diverse group of people. Unfortunately, all to often in these online exchanges, offense is seen where it is not intended.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it" - Marcus Aurelius

Good point, remember that medieval people hadn't even invented the pocket yet. It seems silly to us that no one thought of an open cloth sack sewn into their clothes, but they hadn't.

Also from much experience I agree that even for short swords, a scabbard on the back isn't as efficient as a hip scabbard, so they were being very practicle.

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