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Martin Wallgren




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 3:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Martin Wallgren wrote:
Is there any clasification like Oakeshots refering to the swords discussed here?

Not like Oakeshott's as far as I am aware, due to his typology being about blade properties, but The Rapier & Small-Sword: 1460-1820 by A. V. Norman has an exhaustive typology of hilts, pommels, etc.


Ah! It was the bladepropertys I was thinking of. May be a frontierprodject for this site perhaps?

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 6:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin Wallgren wrote:
May be a frontierprodject for this site perhaps?


Just to be clear: We have no shortage of ideas (this is among them). We have shortage of writers. Care to volunteer for this one? Happy

Happy

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Martin Wallgren




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 6:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Martin Wallgren wrote:
May be a frontierprodject for this site perhaps?


Just to be clear: We have no shortage of ideas (this is among them). We have shortage of writers. Care to volunteer for this one? Happy


I would gladly do it, if I had the knowlage to do so, but alas I don´t! Blush

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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 7:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This thread is getting more and more interesting Happy

Here's an article by Chris Evans on the Rapier. He seems to be rather critical of this weapon.

Quote:
The rapier appeared in the early renaissance and was a civilian weapon. Contrary to popular belief, by modern standards it was a heavy and cumbersome sword, capable of attacks only and ill-suited to defense, a role usually relegated to the left hand or an auxiliary implement held in it. In time it evolved into the small-sword, a shorter and much faster weapon, one equally capable of attack and defense.


Full Essay: http://www.swordforum.com/articles/ams/char-rapier.php


Since I've never handled a Rapier I can't comment, but I'd like tohear what the people who have done so think about this.
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Moss wrote:
Indeed, but I believe we don't quite understand one another. When I said the thrust would kill, whereas the cut wouldn't, I was merely talking in the context of the smallsword, which has no cutting ability whatsoever. Cutting with a longsword is a very good thing -- cutting with a smallsword may seem rather stupid.


Adding context always helps.

I now understand you, and I agree with you. Cool

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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wolfgang Armbruster wrote:
This thread is getting more and more interesting Happy

Here's an article by Chris Evans on the Rapier. He seems to be rather critical of this weapon.

Quote:
The rapier appeared in the early renaissance and was a civilian weapon. Contrary to popular belief, by modern standards it was a heavy and cumbersome sword, capable of attacks only and ill-suited to defense, a role usually relegated to the left hand or an auxiliary implement held in it. In time it evolved into the small-sword, a shorter and much faster weapon, one equally capable of attack and defense.


Please indulge a brief, non-personal rant:
The full article is less dogmatic (and less misleading) than the section quoted here suggests. However, this particular quote preserves a myth. It seems to proceed from the discredited belief that the smallsword (or the later epee) is the pinnacle of an edged-weapons evolution that began with big, heavy, slow weapons that supernaturally strong men used to artlessly hack each other to pieces. The author subsequently, and rightly, pillories the Victorians for imposing sport-fencing values and standards on the study of earlier arms, but he does the same thing when he describes the rapier as "heavy and cumbersome". Heavy and cumbersome ompared to what? The author says only "by modern standards". But I don't think it's appropriate to judge the weight of an historic weapon by "modern" standards, whatever that means. The Victorians shouldn't have done it, and neither should we. Rather, we should judge the weight of a weapon relative to its peers. A five-pound rapier of ca. 1600 is heavy, but only compared to other rapiers of that period, and we can say absolutely nothing about whether or not it is "cumbersome." Moreover, it matters not one whit that a rapier of 1600 is heavier or lighter than under-informed people might expect. It was what it was, and we have to assume that it was that way for a perfectly sound martial reason, even if we don't understand that reason.

So, the fact is, rapiers were not significantly heavier, if at all, than other long edged weapons, as the author points out. So, presumably, the author wouldn't argue that all swords up until the smallsword were "heavy and cumbersome". He seems to express some surprise that rapiers were on a par, weight-wise, with single-hand swords of the period. Why is that so shocking? A complex-hilt rapier has as much, if not more, metal in it as a simple cross-hilted sword with a broad blade. The surprise seems to touch on the Victorian myths about the weight of medieval single-hand swords. So, of course it would seem shocking to some that the rapier, supposed ancestor of the smallsword, would weigh as much as those weapons (note that we're talking about perhaps a pound-and-a-half, if that much, in difference between the weight of a smallsword and the weight of a medieval single-hand sword or a later rapier). But it doesn't require much research to learn that the old myths about the "heavy and cumbersome" medieval swords have been thoroughly discredited by extensive textual and graphic evidence, not to mention extensive and widely available statistical data and carefully researched modern reproductions. So why does the myth of the "heavy" rapier persist? Few who have seen high-quality, historically accurate modern longsword or rapier sparring would describe the weapons used as appearing to be "heavy and cumbersome".

Ineffective weapons tend not to survive. The earliest rapiers, with more-or-less equal cutting & thrusting ability, were effective in their time and context. Ditto for the long, dedicated thrusting rapiers of the late 16th c. and later. Ditto for smallswords. Ditto for large medieval war swords. Ditto for estocs. Ditto for Cinquedae. Ditto for Viking-type swords. Ditto for every weapon in long-term use.

I want to make clear that I'm not attacking the author of the article in question or trying to set off another endless flame-war on the subject of rapiers. I'm just frustrated by the persistence of the evolution myth. Oh, how I wish we could get away from this pervasive and misguided notion of "evolution" in this field. It has its (limited) uses as a concept, but seems to do more harm than good. Allow me to make a 180 degree turn from my usual religio-philisophical position and suggest that everything we're discussing here is the result of intelligent design, with special emphasis on intelligent. Let's all give the original users of these weapons a little credit. Their lives depended on getting the right technology for a given martial context. Let's trust them to have known better than we what they needed to survive.
Rant off. Big Grin

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Thu 12 Jan, 2006 11:54 am; edited 5 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter,
That was really interesting stuff. Thank you!

Wolfgang Armbruster wrote:
Here's an article by Chris Evans on the Rapier. He seems to be rather critical of this weapon.


I've never been too fond of that article. I agree with the premise that there is a misconception of the rapier being a super lightweight "flashy-slashy" weapon that is seen in classic Hollywood movies. But it does not sound to me like the author really understands it's use. I fully agree with Sean's opinions.

For starters, he fell into the trap that we're discussing here: Assuming that "rapier" means one specific type of sword. Happy But he talks about how the rapier was purely offensive, with little capability to defend. If that were true, what the heck were all of these fencing manuals droning on and on about for hundreds of pages? Happy It is, after all, called the art of defense.

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Eric Wargo




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Jan, 2006 10:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:

I want to make clear that I'm not attacking the author of the article in question or trying to set off another endless flame-war on the subject of rapiers. I'm just frustrated by the persistence of the evolution myth. Oh, how I wish we could get away from this pervasive and misguided notion of "evolution" in this field. It has its (limited) uses as a concept, but seems to do more harm than good. Allow me to make a 180 degree turn from my usual religio-philisophical position and suggest that everything we're discussing here is the result of intelligent design, with special emphasis on intelligent. Let's all give the original users of these weapons a little credit. Their lives depended on getting the right technology for a given martial context. Let's trust them to have known better than we what they needed to survive.


I agree, but we should add to the martial context the cultural context, because the social/symbolic functions of weapons also influence their form over time.

I’ll make a radical suggestion: This whole argument about the rapier only exists because of the even weirder aberration of sword evolution, the longsword. During one window in European history, namely the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, a single weapon happened to fulfill not only the thrusting, cutting, and blocking/defensive role of earlier specialized implements (i.e., arming swords for cutting, spears for thrusting, and shields/bucklers for blocking incoming blows), but also happened to be both a battlefield weapon and a civilian sidearm and general symbol of manly/martial virtues. It was the Swiss Army Knife of weapons (and in my group we joke that the perfect longsword would also double as a laser rifle and electric guitar). The unique practical as well as symbolic versatility of this one object at the end of the Middle Ages distorts our perception of later objects like rapiers that inherited some, but not all, of the longsword’s many functions.

Evolutionary arguments, whether in material culture (like weapons) or biology, will always run aground if one fails to distinguish the form of a thing (such as a sword) from its different functions. Form and function change independently of each other, and often a certain type of object will lose old functions and acquire new ones, and this will influence its further formal development. The wide range of sword forms that coexisted in the middle ages and later shouldn’t prevent us from trying to make evolutionary arguments; it’s just that we need to be specific about the particular functions or roles we are talking about, and, as Stephen said, be sure that we don’t mistake “evolution” to mean “improvement.”

The rapier directly inherited the longsword's symbolic/cultural role as a gentlemanly sidearm and symbol of manly virtues. The method of using the weapon also is directly descended from the longsword arts (as Bill pointed out, fencing with the rapier is surprisingly close to longsword fencing despite the apparent dissimilarity). But many of the longsword's other functions -- cutting, its role on the battlefield, etc. -- devolved to other types of swords that played different roles. There’s not single strand of sword evolution but many different ones. Those strands happened, during the time of the longsword, to coalesce into a single implement, but they somewhat unraveled afterwards.
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PostPosted: Sat 14 Jan, 2006 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Wargo wrote:
Form and function change independently of each other, and often a certain type of object will lose old functions and acquire new ones, and this will influence its further formal development.


That's a great point, and one that I think we sometimes overlook. We tend to assume "form follows function", but quite often, as Eric points out, one aspect can change while another remains the same due to cultural changes, material changes, or any number of other different contexts.

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Jean-Carle Hudon




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2006 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I never understood where the idea that a rapier was a ''civilian'' weapon came from. If you handle a Papenheimer, which we like to classify as a ''cavalry'' sword, you will notice that the guard handles like that of any rapier, and the weight is in the same ball park as the heavier rapier models, though a bit heavier than the late period rapiers which were being phased out by the smallsword. It is also to be noted that even the small sword was of military issue. Getting back to the rapier. the Mousquettaires were exactly that, soldiers of a musket regiment, and not crazy civilians running amok creating havoc in the streets of good old Paris. Now I don't want to confuse the writings of Dumas with the study of the history of swordmanship, but I have to admit that I have never heard of anyone saying that Dumas didn't know what we wrote so well about. As for the later smallsword being military, just check out the reenactors doing New France. Their side arms are smallswords, made by our own local armorer and swordsmith Michael Dabek, a polish armorer who worked both in his native Poland and then Germany before coming to Canada in the late eighties.
To get back to the rapier vs epee vs spada vs longsword question, we use epee in french as you use sword in english, it is a very broad term, as is spada in italian, now smallsword and courte-epee are synonimous, as are rapiere (french) and rapier (english), but still we see specialized books dealing with military costumes use some words indiscriminately. A good example is Eduard Wagner's beautiful book on the Thirty Years War (Costumes et Coutumes Militaires de la Guerre de Trente Ans,, Artia , Prague 1979, translated to french for Grund, Paris, 1981), many illustrations of what most of us would call rapiers are described as ''epee''. By the way, it has some nice plates on both uniforms and swordplay.
On the question of evolution, well we started throwing stones and now we have Abombs, so there is a role for evolution in there somewhere, and it does seem to have some relationship to being more efficient in the art of killing one's adversary with the least damage to one's self, so abandoning the longsword in favor of the rapier in that long drawn out vicious time span ( think of all the different wars of religion and the aforementionned Thirty Years War) has to be in relationship to a basket of factors which led competent military men to conclude that they were best served by having the rapier as a side arm than a transitional longsword, although the lengths and weights are not that far apart. I believe that the clue resides with the more elaborate guards which demonstrate that protection from both cut and thrust to the hand shows that sword play became more precise, leading to the necessity to better protect the hand, the most advanced target available. As to the use of rapier against armor, you don't target armor, you target those places which remain vulnerable, and again the more precise swordmanship which became possible with the better grip made possible by the rapier went a long way to neutralize the use of body armor, which was also becoming more and more obsolete in face of the improvements in firearms. As I said, a basket of factors, but evolution nonetheless. And I think that was the point being made by the maitre d'armes who choreographed the Rob Roy duel (what a fine piece of work, another nice one is the Duellist, placed in the Napoleonic era). Many of these Maitres D'armes, as Gerald Hubert who trained me way back when, learned their art in the military schools in Belgium or France, and there the art of escrime is not taught as if it popped out of nowhere just in time for the Olympic games, but rather as an evolution of the fine art of defense.
I think that one must guard against anachronism when evaluating the use and history of weaponry. A smallsword makes no sense coming up against a full plate armored knight on horseback, and a hallbarde wasn't of much use at Gettysburg, but each weapon in its own time and with the appropriate targets, wrecked havoc.So, if the swedish army called their pointy metal things with elaborate guards ''rapiers'', as did the french Mousquettaires, I think we should defer to their choice of vocabulary, they were the ones using the darn things.

Cheers,

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Stephen Hand




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2006 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean-Carle Hudon wrote:

I never understood where the idea that a rapier was a ''civilian'' weapon came from. If you handle a Papenheimer, which we like to classify as a ''cavalry'' sword, you will notice that the guard handles like that of any rapier, and the weight is in the same ball park as the heavier rapier models, though a bit heavier than the late period rapiers which were being phased out by the smallsword.


Pappenheimer is a modern curatorial term for a hilt style. The sword used by Gustavus Adolphus at Lutzen when he was killed by Pappenheim's troopers would today be classified as a Pappenheim, though the Swedes obviously didn't name their weapons after German generals.

I have seen a wide variety of blades on swords with Pappenheim hilts. Some are rapiers, some, like Gustavus's sword have blades identical to an Oakeshott Type XV and are demonstrably not rapiers. You cannot define what a sword is by the hilt. It is the blade which defines how a sword handles and how it should be used. I have yet to see evidence of rapiers used in battle by anyone other than amateurs who supplied their own weapons (as in Sir James Turner's beautiful comment about the English Civil War, that "in the time of the late troubles in England long rapiers were used for a while, and then laid aside." (Pallas Armata, Book III, Chapter IV, p. 171)).

Quote:
So, if the swedish army called their pointy metal things with elaborate guards ''rapiers'', as did the french Mousquettaires, I think we should defer to their choice of vocabulary, they were the ones using the darn things.


But did they? I have yet to see evidence that the Swedes called their military swords, rapiers. As for the King's Musketeers, I hardly regard Dumas as a primary source. Even if elite guardsmen did carry rapiers around town, this has little relevance to what they carried in battle. They didn't carry their muskets in town, did they, and military swords would have been just as socially unacceptable.

So, we are back to the same impasse, those who claim that some military issue swords were rapiers need to provide evidence. Thus far none has been offered.

If you want something long and pointy in battle, get a spear and like Turner's ECW amateur soldiers, accept that the rapier is an utterly wretched weapon for use on the battlefield.

Cheers
Stephen

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Jean-Carle Hudon




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2006 5:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, if you do take a look at what the Mousquettaire regiments were issued, as seen in the work I previously referred to,you will notice plates showing the rapiers as side arms while the primary weapon giving its' name to the said regiment, is carried on the shoulder. Just as the later regiments Franche de la Marine and such were issued smallswords. The previous military rapiers had gone out of fashion with those in charge of supplying the troops. Some of these rapiers could be seen carried by the Carignan Sallières officers who served against the Iroquois in the late seventeenth century. Depictions of Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec in 1608, show him with rapier at his side. Seems to me that, whatever the swedish military chose to do at the same period, it couldn't have been that different from what the french were doing, and none of the aforementionned activities have anything to do with gentlemen walking through the rough sections of town. As for this business of the hilt not being pertinent, you don't see that many rapiers without quillons and swept metal bars and/or bell cups or other elaborate hand protections, do you ? I don't mind repeating the mantra that the blade is all important, but the rapier is still an ensemble and not just a blade. Also the blades do come in quite a variety of shapes and lengths, though it does make sense that a footsoldiers side arm would not require the same weight as a cavalry trooper's which often relies on pure momentum.
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2006 10:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jean-Carle,
There are indeed some rapiers with simpler hilts, particularly earlier ones. In fact Agrippa's manuscript shows a fairly simple hilt with only the finger rings.

I'm a little confused... are you citing the 1979 book for the terminology? If so, please keep in mind that many people nowadays use terminology that was not in use at the time period, which is what the discussion at hand is about. Case in point is the term pappenheimer, as Stephen pointed out.

I also wanted to address your point about the evolution of the sword due to hand protection: The rapier wasn't the only sword to have hand protection. Many forms of basket-hilted swords existed alongside it, and in fact George Silver even criticized the rapier for having insufficient hand protection. Also I would strongly argue that the rapier grip does not allow anything more precise than a longsword, or any other form of sword for that matter. The Victorians developed the myth that swordsmanship started out crude and was later refined in the Renaissance, but current research shows medieval fencing with weapons such as the longsword was every bit as sophisticated, extra hand protection or no. (one could even go as far to make the argument that the lack of hand protection required even more precision).

Just some food for thought. Happy

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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jan, 2006 4:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Jean-Carle,

Wagner's book (published in English as European Weapons and Warfare 1618-1648) is hardly a primary source. It does not list what regiments were issued with. It is in fact just a massive collection of line drawings from period artwork. Hence there are two levels of possible corruption - is the original artwork accurate and is the line drawing an accurate representation of the artwork? It is also very generic. In almost no cases does the book state who the artwork represents (major figures like Gustavus Adolphus are an exception). I don't recall seeing any rapier armed infantry depicted in it. Men with swords that had complex hilts, yes, but rapiers no.

I would be interested to see the depictions of officers carrying rapiers that you mention, but there are two problems here, firstly artwork often gives a stylised representation of what commanders are wearing and officers typically supply their own weapons. Just as in Turner's comment about privately equipped men using rapiers in the early part of the English Civil War, it is entirely possible that officers used non-standard equipment that they supplied personally. I shudder to think that in 300 years someone might be looking at Patton's ivory handled revolvers and suggesting that they were standard equipment in the US army in WWII.

What we need are actual records of what was issued, eyewitness accounts and surviving weapons. In his Pallas Armata, Turner notes that the French cavalry used "broad swords, which were so well edged, that they could cut through Sleeves and Caps of Male", obviously not a rapier. Unfortunately he doesn't state what sort of sword was used by French infantry but he makes a general comment that infantry carry swords, and later notes that he has seen rapiers, sabres, two handed swords, hangmen's swords, javelins and morning stars used in the defence of towns and forts, but not in the field, where swords are used alongside musket or pike.

The evidence that I can gather is that the rapier was a civilian tool that was sometimes used by individuals in warfare. Turner's beautiful comment about them being laid aside suggests that they weren't found to be very useful by those individuals. I have seen no evidence to suggest that rapiers were ever issued by governments or generals to their men.

Cheers
Stephen

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Jean-Carle Hudon




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jan, 2006 6:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen,
In Leslie Southwick's Price Guide to Antique Edged Weapons, Baron Publishing, Suffolk England 1982, p.34 , there is a beautiful saxon musketeer's rapier (1600-1610), from the Victoria and Albert Museum. This compendium of edged weapons shows different rapiers, over 20 pages worth, with a great variety of blades, some adapted to civilian duels, others of a more military mien. Also we see some fine examples of the transitional espada ropere, and tucks , and other rapiers with very simple ring guards as pointed out by Bill. So, all these weapons are conceived at a period where the simple quillon heavy bladed sword is phased out. The fact that the rapier evolves in roughly the same time period as the basket hilted schiavonnas or mortuaries or scots does not contradict the general idea that swordplay was more precise, on the contrary, it shows that the protection of the hand became a priority, though not for long as the shortsword will revert to minimal protection within a very short time span. By the way, I have verified and I must correct a mistake I made : the Carignan Sallieres regiment which came over in the mid 1600's were already using the smallsword as standard military issue, though fifty years before Champlain clearly used a rapière.
I am certainly not one to underestimate how deadly the longsword, or any other sword can be when in the proper hands, but I remain convinced that fighting men don't change a tried and true method of combat and defense unless there is some overiding reason to do so, which brings us back to the dreaded and politically charged concept of evolution. This does not cause much problem in most of the european french texts I read, there only seems to be a reticence in the anglophone world to accept the evolution dogma. That's fine, to each his own, but the notion that the use of the sword evolves through time is not limited to the victorian anglophone world, other nations also used swords and understood , each in their own way, how some models became obsolete. Now there are some differences that can be seen here and there within the same time frame. The english civil war had its own local products, as you have pointed out, French documents will refer to the english style as the Epee Wallonne (see Calizzano, Charles. Le Grand Livre des Armes Blanches, Editions de Vecchi, Paris 1989), which is downright funny as the Wallons are basically Belgian...
Anyway, my basic point, in aid to our swedish friend's comments, were that the french infantry known as musketeers were known to use rapiers as their swords, and it is of such general knowledge in France that people such as Dumas, Feval and de Rostand, waxed poetic about it without ever raising a peep of criticism amongst french people, who are renowned for their love of criticism, so there has to be something to it, n'est-ce-pas? I mean , can you imagine an american novelist getting away with Paul Revere in a SUV, or Washington crossing the Delaware in a Drakkar ? So, I conclude that this escrime loving nation embraced the stories of the three aforementionned authors because there was a certain ring of truth to the story, however romantic itmay have been. These people weren't much for anachronisms, a much later devellpoment in western literature.
Keep it coming, I love this stuff.
Me Jean-Carle Hudon.

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PostPosted: Thu 19 Jan, 2006 11:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Again you discuss a weapon without posting a picture. That "rapier" wouldn't happen to be the one in the attached picture would it? This sword was issued to the guard of the Elector of Saxony. I have seen them described as rapiers by museum curators. Have you ever handled one? I think that watching someone try rapier fencing with one of these short, point heavy, broad bladed cutting swords would be quite comical.

I'll say it again, I don't care what some modern curator who has never fenced calls a sword based on its hilt. A broad bladed cutting sword is not a rapier. Please start using period sources, not modern curatorial labels.

Please help me, the comment that the French people KNOW that musketeers used rapiers, that was a joke, correct, not a serious piece of evidence? Most people KNOW that Vikings wore horned helmets and KNOW that knights had to be hoisted into their saddles with cranes.

Jean-Carle, I am presenting quotes from historical sources and you're presenting modern curatorial labels and "race-memory". Forgive me if I don't take this discussion seriously any more.



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Wolfgang Armbruster





Joined: 03 Apr 2005

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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 3:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's an interesting article by Christoph Amberger.
It's mainly about rapier swordplay and and eskrima, but there's quite some interesting stuff about rapiers not being used as military weapons.
If the rapier was really such a good weapon suited for war then why did they use swords like the Palasch, Haudegen, Sabers and other broad-bladed weapons. The weapons shown in the Wallhausen manual may have complex hilts, but the blades are essentially broad bladed cutting desings with a point.

http://www.swordhistory.com/excerpts/eskrima.html


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The Spanish rapier is at its core a civilian weapon whose practical use in military actions was controversial at best.

Silver, for one, wonders aloud "what service can a souldier do with a Rapier, a childish toy wherewith a man can do nothing but thrust, nor that neither, by reason of the length, and in every moving when blowes are a dealing, for lacke of a hilt is in danger to have his hand or arme cut off, or his head cloven?"
.
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Outside the duelling ground and fencing school, the rapier and rapier and dagger would only find real-life action in urban brawls and scuffles. While most Southern European aristocrats were learning rapier techniques by the late 1500s, some of the most basic sword and dagger, sword and buckler, and sword and target techniques underlying the systems of Marozzo (1536) and Agrippa (1553) probably still formed the core edged weapons skills of the colonists as they set up Spanish rule in the Philippines during the mid-1500s.
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Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Never said they where good. Just that they where issued.
A Webley revolver is a lousy weapon to fight a war with; it does not change the fact that they where issued to british officers through WWII, often as their only weapon.

from the glosary in the Features section:
["Rapier is] A term borrowed in the 16th century from the French (rapiere), where it was recorded in 1474 in the phrase epee rapiere, which itself derived from the contemporary Spanish espada ropera, "dress sword," carried daily by gentlemen. If compared with the arming sword, the rapier was a much lighter weapon with a straight double-edged and pointed blade, which, with the development of the art of fencing in the 16th and 17th centuries, finally became narrower and lighter, and thus suitable for thrusts only. The word itself was subject to various definitions with time and place. It soon became obsolete in Spain, where the general term espada prevailed to cover almost all sword forms, and it never was used in Italy. In English and French, it has retained its classical connotation of a light thrusting sword used in the 16th and 17th centuries. The German Rapier had the same meaning in that period, but from a later time up to the present has denoted a fencing foil or fleuret. In this latter meaning the word rapira was also, and still is, used in Russia.

When the blade and the hilt of rapiers underwent great changes in size and form in the late 17th century, the English language reacted to this development by introducing a new term, smallsword."

So, what a rapier is depends on where you are depends on where you are and when.
The masters of Italian or Spanish rapier fencing probably never used the term themselves.
As such it is meaningless to say that a rapier has to be able to execute the manouvers of the italian school to be a rapier.
It might be what we recognize as a rapier. To them, it would be a spada.

"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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Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
Joined: 16 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2006 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To All,
Sorry for not posting the pictures of the weapons I mentionned, I am new at this and for the life of me was not expecting to need to ''scan'' photos, and therefore am not equipped to do so, again, I apologize but did my best in referring to the written material I refer to. I am a fifty-four year old attorney, now a judge, and old habits die hard, so I use big heavy books which I have acquired over the course of years. I do collect armes blanches and still will train occasionally with the local (Montreal, Canada) live steel/ reenactment community, and have had the occasion to handle both the slim bladed swords which are universally accepted as rapieres, which I agree seem to be more adapted to duelling and other related self defense in a non-military setting, and the more robust blades quite similar to the picture shown by Mr Hand, which we also call rapières, as does Mr Southwick's work on Antique Edged Weapons.
I am not as knowledgeable as I would like to be, and so was admittedly impressed by Southwick's list of collaborators which included A.V.B Norman, Master of the Tower Armouries, and a list of distinguished gentlemen who ''allowed me to draw on their wide knowledge of arms and armour in order to improve this work'' (dixit Southwick). I concluded that his choice of vocabulary was therefore the object of a consensus, and frankly saw no reason to attack his credibility on the matter as what he shows as rapiers, with a large variety of blade types, are generally called rapiers in our weapon loving live steel community.
I am not sure that Dumas, Feval and De Rostand drew only on ''race memory'' as they lived in societies where the use of live blades was ongoing, where many well-to-do families would still have the old things hanging on the fireplace, in a very militarized society as France then was. If their writings were going to expose them for their ignorance, as pride and reputation was no laughing matter as any student of the history of duels knows, then I believe it reasonable to conclude that they would have abstained from a faulty choice of weapon for their heroes. After all, they had nothing to proove by using the word ''rapière'' over the word épée, or pallasche, or courte épée, nor even sabre, and their choice of language, with such respected word crafters, is not really open to much debate.
I am glad that Mr. Hand could show a picture and I confirm that the Saxon Musketeer rapier I referred to is quite similar, though the hilt has two sets of rings instead of a swept hilt configuration. The blades are similar in width and could clearly sustain use for cut and thrust, though the design favors the later. In conclusion, I agree with Mr Polden that these rapiers, as race history has left me with no better word to describe them, were issued in military settings, and I would also conclude that those rapiers used in military circumstances were not fitted with the slighter blades more popular in civilian settings. I would not conclude that military rapiers did not exist, neither would I accept to reserve the term rapier to those weapons using only the lighter types of blades.
...but that's just me...and I did come late to the noble art, somewhere back in the eighties...
Regards to all,
Jean-Carle Hudon

Bon coeur et bon bras
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 22 Jan, 2006 10:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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