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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2006 12:34 pm    Post subject: Albion's "The Dane" - What era?         Reply with quote

Hey guys,

I really like the Danish two-hander that Albion is working on, but I can't figure out exactly when swords like it would have been used. Could someone help me out? Thanks!

http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...hander.htm

Cheers!

-Gregory-

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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2006 1:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Albion's "The Dane" - What era?         Reply with quote

Hey Gregory,

The swords of this family belong to the latter half of the 15th C.
We can note that swords with proportionately very long grips (up to a third of total length) seems to have been popular in scandinavia and perhaps northern germanic areas. This last assumption is because you do see military saints on 15th C altarpeices armed with just such swords in many churches in sweden.The altarpeices were normally made in northern germany an imported to sweden.

It is also interesting to see that swords of similar proportions can be seen in Italy in the same period.

Perhaps the sword with the XXL long grip can be seen all over Europe as a sub class or minority. I don´t know. I have yet to see them prominantly in say England, Spain or France. It would be interesting to see some examples if someone could find them.

As to use...I don´t really know. There are no scandinavian fencing manuals to show why and how these weapons were favoured here.

There are also some subdivisions in the family, so not all were used the same.

1: Strong awl shaped blade with long ricasso. Mostly strong thrusting with some cutting. A very special feel in these. Almost spear-like in a way. This is the type of swords that were isnpiration for the Dane. Many such weapons are found in Danish noblemens graves from the late 15th C.

2: Broad flat blade with one or several fullers that tapers to a narrow spade shaped point. These seem to make a priority for cutting. These do not have a ricasso, but can have very long grips in proportion to the blade.

3: A combination of the two above: a blade without ricasso of medium width and typically rather strong diamond shaped or lenticular cross section. They can have a shallow fuller or a blade of slim type XX or XXa. Seems to be favouring cut and thrust equally.

4: Usually a very sturdy type XX blade with pretzel guard and spherical pommel. Long gripped, but not so much so as some other in this family. These belong to the very late 5th C and mostly early 16th C.

Based on this, it is difficult to get other than very general ideas of the use of these weapons.
Those with stiff thrusting blades and long ricasso would have been favouring techniques that the borad and flat cutters were less suited for.
Long twohanded grips and moderate to long blade length does seem to be a unifying aspect of these swords.
Does this hint at them being used in rather loose formations? Is this a result of fighting being more of skirmish nature? Does it say anything of the typical armour encountered in scandinavia at this time?
Why do we find weapons of the same size and proportions in Italy at the same time?
I would very much like to know more about this.

I think we have to start with questions like this to develop a better understanding for these weapons.
One of the reasons I wanted to design the "Dane" for the NG line is to see what uses modern practitioners will find for this kind of swords.





Gregory J. Liebau wrote:
Hey guys,

I really like the Danish two-hander that Albion is working on, but I can't figure out exactly when swords like it would have been used. Could someone help me out? Thanks!

http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/ne...hander.htm

Cheers!

-Gregory-
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2006 6:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, you did a fine job of answering that, Mr. Johnsson! Thank you very much!

-Gregory-

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2006 11:22 pm    Post subject: Re: Albion's "The Dane" - What era?         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:


As to use...I don´t really know. There are no scandinavian fencing manuals to show why and how these weapons were favoured here.


My personal, and quite unfounded theory, is that scandinavians where used to medium length tow handed weapons, like the broadaxe, or the handaxe, wich would also have a quite long shaft.
This could have caused them to favour a "broad" two handed grip, with a lot of leverage.

On the down side, these would have been quite inconvenient to carry around, as the handle is to long for the sword to balance properly in a belt scabbard...

"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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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2006 12:15 am    Post subject: Re: Albion's "The Dane" - What era?         Reply with quote

Interesting!

That is perhaps a possibility.

You can carry these sword in a scabbard. No porblem.
Or, not a very big problem...

Point of balance tend to be close to the guard, becuase of the long grip, but not so much so, that you cannot carry them in a belt scabbard.
That woud make the grip poke up almost to chest hight when worn at the belt, however.

Dolnstein shows in his drawings (AD 1502) scandinavian levy armed with swords of this type carried in a scabbard at the belt (and you can see he thought it looked kind of silly...).

I guess it woul take some getting used to....





Elling Polden wrote:
Peter Johnsson wrote:


As to use...I don´t really know. There are no scandinavian fencing manuals to show why and how these weapons were favoured here.


My personal, and quite unfounded theory, is that scandinavians where used to medium length tow handed weapons, like the broadaxe, or the handaxe, wich would also have a quite long shaft.
This could have caused them to favour a "broad" two handed grip, with a lot of leverage.

On the down side, these would have been quite inconvenient to carry around, as the handle is to long for the sword to balance properly in a belt scabbard...
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Herbert Schmidt




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2006 3:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't speak with authority here on the topic of the long grips but one reason may be speed. If you have ever used a fencing feather (Fechtfeder) like the one illustrated in Mayer (which also have an unsusually long handle) you know that you can make lightning fast attacks with this leverage. When standing for example in a Von Tag you are so fast in making a zornhau that you usually just suprise your opponent who won't have the time to get a proper countertechnique done.

Just an idea but maybe these northerners liked fast fencing?

Herbert

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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2006 3:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm surprised. I always thought that swords like the Dane were actually real two-handers and too big to be carried in a scabbard. So they were'nt as long as the 16th century Bidenhänder commonly were?

The Dane's blade screams half-swording. My guess is that these swords were used more like spears (assuming that people fought in massed tight formations). A long grip also helps in setting aside/displacing the enemy's weapon since you can generate more force like on a leverage (as already mentioned).
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Martin Wallgren




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2006 4:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wolfgang Armbruster wrote:
I'm surprised. I always thought that swords like the Dane were actually real two-handers and too big to be carried in a scabbard. So they were'nt as long as the 16th century Bidenhänder commonly were?

The Dane's blade screams half-swording. My guess is that these swords were used more like spears (assuming that people fought in massed tight formations). A long grip also helps in setting aside/displacing the enemy's weapon since you can generate more force like on a leverage (as already mentioned).


I´m right with you there Wolfgang!

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2006 6:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can't say that I agree...
My impression is rather the opposite.

Why make a sword with a grip that long? probably so that you don't have to resort to halfsword at medium and close range. The long handle allows for swift movement and powerful draw cuts, and great hooking/ grappling opportunities up close.

These swords do not have longer blades than "regular" longswords; They are way to short to be used efficiently as spear type weapons in a formation. You might push aside one spear, but there might be as many as five of them attacking you at once...
Scandinavian troops generally didnt wear a lot of armour, and half-sword is used primarily in and against armour; You want to be able to take a glancing hit or two on your way in...

"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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Martin Wallgren




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2006 6:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Can't say that I agree...
My impression is rather the opposite.

Why make a sword with a grip that long? probably so that you don't have to resort to halfsword at medium and close range. The long handle allows for swift movement and powerful draw cuts, and great hooking/ grappling opportunities up close.

These swords do not have longer blades than "regular" longswords; They are way to short to be used efficiently as spear type weapons in a formation. You might push aside one spear, but there might be as many as five of them attacking you at once...
Scandinavian troops generally didnt wear a lot of armour, and half-sword is used primarily in and against armour; You want to be able to take a glancing hit or two on your way in...


Well, I disagree.

Halfswording is often a good choice IMO against thrusting attacks and a long handle is good for halfswording. Better gripp in yor Ringen am Swerde repertoair. This is regardless if the opponent have armour or not. Look into many manuals and you see they do halfswording both in and without aromur in the same manual. And the ricasso also spreak of halfswording.

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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2006 10:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I think this sword is fit to do both cutting and thrusting/halfswording.
The large and thick ricasso is good for gripping it, but to me it looks like it will also take a lot more punishment than the blade itself. It's probably really good for blocking and deflecting.
Having said that I cannot resist to think that I'm looking at the sword-version of an Ahlspiess. In half-swording you'll probably be able to generate more force with that sword compared to others. It has enough mass behind the ricasso to back up and aid the thrust. I could think of countless and very nasty ways to use this special design. Imagine that thing under your armpit as a lance. Grip it at the ricasso and the long grip will help to balance it. Then run it through your enemy. Splitting mail-rings and lots of blood. Eek! Sorry, I'm starting to dream Wink
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Gary Grzybek




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Feb, 2006 6:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin Wallgren wrote:
Elling Polden wrote:
Can't say that I agree...
My impression is rather the opposite.

Why make a sword with a grip that long? probably so that you don't have to resort to halfsword at medium and close range. The long handle allows for swift movement and powerful draw cuts, and great hooking/ grappling opportunities up close.

These swords do not have longer blades than "regular" longswords; They are way to short to be used efficiently as spear type weapons in a formation. You might push aside one spear, but there might be as many as five of them attacking you at once...
Scandinavian troops generally didnt wear a lot of armour, and half-sword is used primarily in and against armour; You want to be able to take a glancing hit or two on your way in...


Well, I disagree.

Halfswording is often a good choice IMO against thrusting attacks and a long handle is good for halfswording. Better gripp in yor Ringen am Swerde repertoair. This is regardless if the opponent have armour or not. Look into many manuals and you see they do halfswording both in and without aromur in the same manual. And the ricasso also spreak of halfswording.



I can definately see how the Dane could be gripped with left hand close to the pommel and the right hand on the ricasso. This would give superior leverage for setting aside various weapons including pole arms. Without actually getting one and trying it I'd say this would be one of it's strong points.

Gary Grzybek
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Feb, 2006 2:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sure, but with the long handle, there you wouldn't have to. It would have enough leverage without exposing your fingers.
There is a reason some german zweihanders are fitted with a extra "mini-crossguard". Being slapped over the fingers with a spear shaft is not very fun.

But, yes, its a possibility that these swords where intended for defence against polearms or spears.
It would make sense, as the primary weapon would be a spear or polearm; You would want a backup weapon that could beat one, or at least keep you alive.

"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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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Feb, 2006 9:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think I tend to side with the half-swording crowd on this, even though we may never know. With such a long weapon it only makes sense that if the enemy closes you'd want to make sure that you can maneuver. Such a long grip is a little less conducive to pommel strikes when the opponent closes with you, but the long grip combined with halfsword would be wonderful at close in grappling, in my opinion.

I can easily imagine making a half-sword thrust to the upper opening, having my tip set aside by my opponent, and passing forward to wrap that long grip around his neck and throw him over my hip.

At the same time having a ricasso like that could very well be intended to make strong parries without much damage to the sword. I tend to think the purpose has a little do with both, but it's all speculation unless if we find some real evidence. Happy

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