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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Jan, 2006 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I see it, combat is about directed agression.
Technique and skill is about directing that agression in a efficient way; When to attack, when to move, where to strike, what to do next...
I have never been in a proper fight either, but I try to remind myself that what we do when we train is abstractions, and not reality. To many martial artists or fencers forget this. In the end, the only thing that matters is taking down the opponent. Exactly how to do this is a subject of eternal discussion.
Which just proves that weapons and technique are all less important than other factors; If one of them was clearly superior, there would be nothing to discuss.

A slight correction to the above statement; Automatic firearms are superior to everything else. Otherwise, soldiers would still carry swords. Or pyjamas, according to some.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Hank Reinhardt
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PostPosted: Sun 08 Jan, 2006 12:57 pm    Post subject: Viking Halberd         Reply with quote

Elling I think you have pretty much nailed it. I remember my early days in the SCA, back about 1969, and they were fighting on one knee. I objected to this, but everyone thought they were heroes beyond belief and would continue fighting with a missing leg. Several months later one of the warriors got a severly mashed finger in an accident, and remarked on how he had fainted. No one saw the slightest inconsistencey.
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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Sun 08 Jan, 2006 3:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
In the end, the only thing that matters is taking down the opponent.


That's pretty much it. I'm quite sure the imperial knights were all trained in swordsmanship and other martial arts. Nevertheless they got beaten by a bunch of Swiss peasants on more than just a few occasions.
The Swiss army back then consisted of normal people, none of them could afford to take fencing lessons and I doubt they were training a lot together before Moorgarten and Sempach. But they were determined to win and came up with very effective ways of using their halberds. Holding the line and not stopping in front of an army of heavily armored knights.....I don't know if I could do that.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Jan, 2006 3:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well bravery or recklessness factor in the willingness to mix it up and in a warrior culture the values of honour, loyalty, self-sacrifice, training will minimize the normal effects of fear, hesitating to attack won't come from fear of death or injury but more from the fear of making a mistake and loosing the fight: As Patton said " You are not here to die for your country but to make the poor bastard on the other side die for his country " Razz

No point being bold if being too bold makes you the looser.

Getting back to the Atgeirs and what it might be ?

1) Very large spear head similar in function to a partizan or bigger than average Winged spear.
2) Axe like but long blade very close to the shaft using a short sockets.
3) Something resembling the Irish Kern axe: Very long axe with the top point extending far beyond the shaft.
4) Proto Bardiche.
5) Sword staff: Swordlike blade mounted on a long shaft.
6) Glaive like blade.
7) Something else totally unknown ???

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2006 2:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
No one saw the slightest inconsistencey.


Hank, I think psychology factors in big here. Many combatants go into mild shock even prior to contact with the enemy, then behave accordingly. Weather that be a beserker frenzy or shellshock varys greatly, and noone knows until that very moment. The expectation of massive bodily harm isn't present for re-enactors, so they tend to behave accordingly, i.e. as a rational person who reacts to pain. "Ow! ow ow owiee!" or my favorite "Agh! Razzafrazzlebragdagnabbit$&%#&%rrr..."

Of course the flip side to this is that in the SCA, at least, 90+ percent of the participants would be considered berserkers in period, because they act like they cannot really die, or if they do they'll get right back up and do it again. I can't speak to other reenactors because I don't know any.

Back to halberds...

Thanks for listing the options out, Jean. For some reason it helps to categorize, then weed out the less probable.

The "T" axe looks like one used for shaping planks and planing. Most of the examples I've seen were found with carpentry tools, but I can't cite my source, just my observation. I have seen this style especially from near-east finds, but not in NW europe, at least not in an obvious martial application.



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Hank Reinhardt
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2006 8:51 am    Post subject: Viking Halberd         Reply with quote

Gavin, what you say about fighting is pretty much correct. There are some additional things that one also has to take into account. One is the prevailing ethos and cultural climate, duty, religion,sense of honor, etc. All of these things apply. Also is just how the individual feels at any particular time. The Spanish have a saying, translates as "he was a brave man that day."
You never know until it hits the fan.
The T shape axe has always been considered a wood working tool, but then so are the short bearded axes. I do believe that there are two weapons, more a hunch than any definite proof. A large T shape will do all the the "halberd" did, and it also answers the question asked when the warrior was described as having hand axe with a head shaped like a halberd.

Elling, Interesting that there is a name for the Berdiche. I've never seen it called anything else. They come in several shapes, and in the past we reproduced several. I'm working on one now that I think will fit the bill (pun intended-I'm not a nice person). The main question is which shape fits better, the T axe or the berdiche or variant?

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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2006 12:38 pm    Post subject: Illustartions of some possibles         Reply with quote

Here are some illustartions of some axes and such that may pertain.

These are axe examples from Russ finds

Best
Craig



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The head shapes do vary quite a bit and these types do have a ceratin pole arm quality to some of the shapes

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This type seems to lean in the way of poll axes pretty heavily

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The T style axe

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This one has always seemed a bit like a halberd to me in a way.
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2006 12:44 pm    Post subject: hewing type spearhead         Reply with quote

Here is an example of what I have figured the hewing type spearheads to be like. But as Hank has pointed out we need to find grave finds or context specific archeology that puts something like this in the picture.

This is a 15th C example

Craig



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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2006 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great pics, Craig, where did you get them? Send a link if you still have it.


Hank, I love the Spanish expression. It reminds me of one more factor of courage: vested interest. I know guys that lived for a good fight that got married, had kids, bought a house. Comfortable men can lose their edge. Might have been a small factor in the decline of the Roman military. The flip side of that coin is that a man may fight like a raging bull to protect his vested interest.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2006 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig;

Plausible design and it does seriously reminds me of a Glaive blade and it is still has a lot in common in shape with a spear: If one had only a quick glance at it the first impression is of a spear and the second impression is of a single edge cutter at well as a thrusting weapon.

So functionally we get a halberd type weapon: So as Craig said we still need to find some sort of proof, image or detailed description of what one of these looked like or better yet an archaeological find.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Greyson Brown




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2006 6:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
So functionally we get a halberd type weapon: So as Craig said we still need to find some sort of proof, image or detailed description of what one of these looked like or better yet an archaeological find.


Thing I find strange is that Oakeshott stated (as I previously quoted above) that they had been found; "we read of many different kinds of spear, every one of which has been found in the bogs." In the list that follows that statement, he includes hewing spears and " the 'Atgeir', a kind of halberd." (p.119 in my copy (Barnes & Noble publication)) So, theoretically at least, there should be some archeological evidence floating around somewhere. I just don't know where to look. My first assumption would be in a Scandinavian Museum, but Mr. Reinhardt seems to have pretty well exhausted that. My next guess would be private collections, but I am not knowledgable enough on that subject to even suggest a starting point.

Any suggestions?

-Grey

And, Jean, thanks, that's the second time you've had to get this thread back on track in as many days. Must be tough work being a forum superhero Big Grin (Nathan, I am not trying to discount your claim to superhero-dom in any way) Razz .

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Hank Reinhardt
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2006 7:08 pm    Post subject: Viking Halberd         Reply with quote

IIn talking about this with Ewart he stated that he had heard of a halberd that was found, but didn't know anything about it. Also remember that Burton list a drawing of one, but the drawing is rather fanciful and I seriously doubt the accuracy. I am more inclined to a double edged hewing spear but have no reason other than my own preference. Hey Gray, Mr. Reinhardt sounds so damn old,when I hit 80, if I live that long, you have permission to call me Mr. Other than that Hank is fine.
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Greyson Brown




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2006 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hank (see I did what you asked),

I have no problem addressing you by your first name, but somehow using it in a third-person context just seems weird. I'll try though.

Do you remember anything about where/from whom Ewart might have heard of that piece, or was it just one of those I-heard-this-and-can't-remember-where-things that I am so darn good at?

Do you know where I could find a copy of the Burton drawing you mention? I don't think I have seen it, and embarrassingly, am not familiar with Burton.

When you say you are more inclined to a double edged hewing spear, do you mean for your own personal use? Or you believe that to be what was found in the bogs? I'm kind of unclear on that part of the comment (I've also been awake for 20.5 hours Eek! (and have 4.5 to go; isn't the Army fun!? Razz ) so things that normally makes sense have a tendency to get muddled, especially if the font gets set too small Laughing Out Loud ).

-Grey

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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2006 9:42 pm    Post subject: Sources         Reply with quote

Hey Gavin

I scanned them out of a Russian study on finds in the western and northern areas of The Soviet state. I would have plopped the site but its all in cyrillic (think I spelled that wrong)

The glaive head is from a book in Italian dealing with the development of pole weapons. Not in front of me but I believe the title is " Le Armi in Asta " might not want to quote me on that.

I can see a good solid argument for either double edged spears and single edge pieces similar to what posted, but I think one needs to recognize that the double edge items are documented and the rest is us straining through the vail of time to interpret the exact meaning of a text often based on oral tradition and in most cases having been translated at least once or twice. That is why Elling's posts are so helpful with this type of discussion.

Best
Craig
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Jan, 2006 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Happy

Most of my translation info is based on a summary of Hjalmar Falk's "Altnordishe Waffenkunde". The book is from 1914, and thus sums up the asumptions of translators at the time, and has been the basis for much of the later stuff.

Falk was a Old School Scholar. Wich means that he read EVERY single old norse text, noted every weapon reference, the words used, and so on.

The mentioned hewing spears types are
"Kesja"; A spear with a heavy, broad head. Fitted with long shaft for stabbing or a shorter one for chopping and throwing. Appears from the earliest sources, until it is known as "big strong spear" or "bearspear" in the 1550's
Bryntvari: A short kesje, especialy made to pierce mail; The word means "Mail Drill". It is described as consisting of a long spike, broadening to a chopping blade.
Atgeir; Also a hewing spear, similar to the Kesje. Hard to say if there is any difference between the two. A atgeir could have a short shaft; Flateyarbok (1394) mentions a man with a atgeir in his belt.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Jan, 2006 5:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I think the translation from the original to "halberd" or "bill" is due more to lack of knowledge about weapons. If something is on a shaft, and you cut with it, they call it a halberd.


Hank, out of curiosity ( and a deepseated belief that definitions matter) how do you define a halberd? at what point do we stop calling a broad spear a spear? How long does an axehaft get before it's a halberd? Someone has pointed out on another thread that the study and categorization of polarms has been deeply dysfunctional for some time, and it seems like an accurate assessment. So what parameters do we set in defining a halberd? is it based on function, features, size, length, or all of the above?

Halberd and Polearm have become very squishy terms, perhaps out of ignorance as you mentioned, but for whatever reasons they're now regularly abused by some very otherwise educated folks. It makes for a lot of difficulty in discussing the topic, especially when most of what we have to go on is words, not artifacts.
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PostPosted: Tue 10 Jan, 2006 5:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling,

It's great to get your input, like Craig said (no, I don't find it strange to use Craig's first name in the third-person, go figure). It may just be that I am puitting too much emphasis on Oakeshott, but he has so far proven to be the most detailed source I own on spears.* I'm sure that a given type of spear had more than one name ( la my firearm analogy above), but Oakeshott lists the hewing spear as being called a "Hggspjt." (still on p.119 in Archeology of Weapons) He doesn't mention Kesja or Bryntvari at all

Am I getting too wrapped up in words, or are Oakeshott and you still talking about the same weapon?

As a general addition,

I finally flipped the page, and read the rest of Oakeshott's description of the Atgeir (he deals with other things after that first list, so I forgot to keep reading). On page 120 (again, mine is the Barnes & Noble publication, so it might be different in your copy), Oakeshott says, "we may perhaps equate the 'Atgeir' with a curious form of head with a broad cutting edge on one side and a sort of barb on the other which is reminiscent of some of the very early Swiss halberds of about 1350."

Sorry, I wasn't trying to hold out on anyone; I was just being stupid. It happens, I admit it.*

-Grey

*I need to rememdy this; any recomendations?

"So long as I can keep the path of honor I am well content."
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Jan, 2006 5:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Hggspyd" is the modern norwegian word for the weapon. Basically Hewing spear in norwegian. Don't know if the word is used in the original sources.
So I guess we are talking about the same.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Hank Reinhardt
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PostPosted: Tue 10 Jan, 2006 9:22 am    Post subject: Viking Halberd         Reply with quote

Let me try to answer some questions. Later on this afternoon I will try to post a description of a halberd contained in a saga, and see who can make heads or tails of it.
Gavin, I was stationed In Kaisersalutern in 57-58, been to Wurzberg a couple of times. Often thought of going back to K-town, but never did...too many memories I guess. Sir Richard Burton was an explorer, spoke about 15 languages, searched for the Nile, but it wa Speike who found it (not sure of spelling, could be Speke). Wrote the Book of the Sword, will try and find it for you. Interesting, but he never finished the second volume. Have heard that it is in existence, but am still checking it out.. Once claimed of being attacked by some Berber bandits on a pilgramige to Mecca (disguised as a Arab). In the melee he cut a bandit diagonally through the neck, but his horse bucked and pulled out his sword and it failed to cut all the way through. Thought that if the horse hadn't bucked, would have cut him in half. I am sure that it was I heard, but don't remember where. When you get our age that is easy. I have a ton of picutres, but don't remember the museums they are from. For my personal use I think I prefer a two edge long wide spear, but the comment was also based on subconsicously always assumed a spear has two edges, even tho some don't.
Craig - I have the Asti book, very good, but don't go back far enough.
Elling, when you get a chance would you email me those definitions again. For that matter, any other that you think of. Maybe one day you might find a strange blade lying in the back of some museum and lo and behold, we have our halberd. I would write the decription, but just got back from the dentist where the had to dig out a root and build a bridge...I am hungry but can't eat...oh well. Hank

Hank Reinhardt
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Hank Reinhardt
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PostPosted: Tue 10 Jan, 2006 9:27 am    Post subject: Viking Halberd         Reply with quote

Whoops, got Gavin and Grey's names confused, and failed to answer the question. I told you I was rather groggy.
I \
'm not sure just how to define a halberd. It has a back fluke or spike, a front spike, on a shaft with langets. But so does a pole axe. In short, I 'm not sure how to define it. I guess it's like pornography, I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. I agree that definitions matter, but in this field it is very confusing. Some weapons we do not know what they looked like, others we know what they looked like, but have no names for them. Then we have different nationalities having different names for the same thing......rather confusing to say the least.

Hank Reinhardt
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