Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Early Great Sword Reply to topic
This is a Spotlight Topic Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next 
Author Message
Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,699

PostPosted: Wed 15 Nov, 2006 7:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
By the way, Jared, I agree with you regarding the use of these swords. These weren't swords to be used in any sort of complicated fencing technique; they were too ponderous for that. They aren't only heavy (3 and 3/4 to 4 pounds), but they balance further down the blade (toward the point) than their smaller kin. Oakeshott did a good job in eloquently describing how these swords were used to deal slow, ponderous, heavy blows. You swing them using a stiff arm, and use your back as well. They are not the sort of sword for someone who wishes to "fence", there are better tools to use for that sort of sword play.


I strongly disagree. We shouldn't judge a swords characteristics or capabilities based upon our own physical limitations or capabilities. Swords of this type are some of my favorites and I've spent a good deal of time handling and cutting with accurate replicas, as well as having hands-on study of a couple of originals over the years. They are far from slow and hardly ponderous and they are certainly not meant to be used like an axe. (use an axe for that) 3-4 pounds is hardly heavy for a sword of that size, provided the mass distribution is properly done. We've made quite a bit of effort over the past few years in trying to get people to look beyond the static weight of a sword when judging its qualities. There's so much more going on than just that, so let's not take a few steps backward by propagating these ideas. Albions Svante, while a much later design, weighs four pounds but is hardly slow or ponderous, being easily used with one hand due to its excellent distribution of mass. Albions Baron is an excellent example of a medieval Grete Swerde and is also hardly slow and ponderous, nor is their Duke, Steward or Count. These types are dynamic in their handling and perfectly suited to the intended task. Sword techniques of the high medieval period were just as dynamic and complex as those of the later medieval period and renaissance. Different but hardly crude or simplistic. Manuscripts like the I.33 prove that. While that manual regards sword and buckler fighting there's no reason to believe this was a lone abberation of complexity.

Ewart Oakeshott was a great man who had great influence on many of us and continues to do so after his passing. However, he was far from perfect and made mistakes, so we should be extremely careful when vigorously quoting him verbatim as an imperical source. Ewart was a very slight man who may very well have seen swords like these as slow and ponderous due to his own perspective. He was also a man who loved to evoke feeling through his use of anecdotal writing, hardly technical from a scholarly point of view. (one of my favorite writing styles none the less) This isn't a criticism, far from it. On the other hand, we shouldn't automatically assume it's coming from the burning bush just because Mr. O wrote it.
View user's profile Send private message
Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,576

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 2:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For comparison, I've got a Lutel longsword in my bucket of arms. (Yes, it is a bucket... My room isn't big enough for my equipment...)
It has a 93cm (37 inch) blade, and weights around 1,6-7 kg.(a bit more than 3 ibs.) I can, and have, fought with it as a single hander. However, it has a couple of drawbacks. The long handle gets in the way when used with a shield, and the weight means that recovery time is rather slow.
However, this does not mean that the strikes themselves are slow; You can still land a swift, whippcrack blow in 0.1 sec.
The difference lies in the second and third blows; these will, by necessity be rather wide, because you need more time to redirect the energy of the weapon.
A lighter sword can be stopped in the air; Heavier blades must be turned with the momentum of the blade.

Thus, a cavalryman with a greatsword, or long Type XI, for that matter, would probably start of his attack with a fast blow, then use his wrist to recover, and strike large on the second blow, should the first miss, or the target have the bad sense to be still standing.

"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
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger
Richard Fay




Location: Upstate New York
Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Reading list: 256 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 782

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Patrick,
I meant relatively slow and ponderous (perhaps not the best words to use) as compared to the later war swords of types XVa and XVIIIa, and certainly as compared to their smaller brethren! I think you will agree that different swords handle differently!

I don't think you can compare the Svante to these type XIIIa's, it's like comparing apples to oranges. Even XIIa's must handled a bit different, sine they exhibit a bit of a taper to their blades. A better comparison would be Arms & Armour's 12th Century Sword. I believe you may have handled that one. Does it handle the same as the Svante?

Yes, the big swords could still be wielded effectively (even Oakeshott stated that they handled well if handled correctly), but I doubt they would be used in a complicated fencing technique. The smaller swords were better suited for that! The big great swords were designed to deliver devastating downward blows, often from horseback. The description of the battle of Benevento, and scenes in period art, both seem to indicate this type of usage for this type of sword. The Germans must have raised their arms significantly for the French to stab them in the armpits, implying that the Germans raised their big swords up over their head, or thereabouts, and brought them "crashing" down in a downward blow. The figure from the Tenison Psalter that Oakeshott showed in almost every one of his books also shows the sword being swung in a similar fashion. This movement is roughly similar to the way an axe is wielded, but of course a European sword is not an axe. Of course, we can just throw out all period art as unreliable, but I think we then lose a valuable tool for study (and one that has been utilized by scholars in the past).

I'm not trying to resurrect or propagate the old myth that medieval swords were unwieldy. I know enough to know that they weren't crowbars! What I am saying is that these big great swords had a specific purpose. Were they slower? I believe slightly, relatively speaking. I think Elling nailed it on the head when he talked about recovery time, and maybe I should have specifically said that these swords were slower in respect to that. Physics dictates that an object weighing 4 pounds, regardless of it's "dynamic properties", will have more more inertia and more momentum than an object weighing 2 pounds (momentum = mass x velocity). A warrior would have to overcome that additional inertia to get the blade moving. Also, he would have to overcome that added momentum to change the direction of his swing, or recover quickly. Also, geometry dictates that the larger sword will cut a larger arc, if used in an "overhead" downward blow. If a sword 45 inches long is swung at the same rate as a sword 35 inches long, the larger sword will take more time to reach the same point (rate=distance/time), since the radius of the arc is larger, and the arc therefore will be larger. It might be only a fraction of a second difference, but the larger sword will be relatively slower!

I don't own any Albions, I don't have the means to afford one right now, and maybe that alone is enough to convince some that I shouldn't even take part in this discussion. However, I do own several MRL swords, including one old MRL Del Tin. My MRL Del Tin, the "Man-at-Arms Sword", roughly a type XVIII, weighs about 3 pounds, but feels much heavier than my newer Windlass MRL swords. My MRL Schwert actually feels better in the hand, even though it is roughly a type Xa. My Arbedo is a true hand-and-a-half sword; it's a tick slow in one hand, but remarkably fast in two. My generic Windlass War Sword (not the one that was recently in the catalog, but one they discounted a while back) is almost a two-handed sword; I can wield it in one hand, but not as well as my one-handed swords. It feels much better in two, but it seems to want to move in a great downward arc. It feels best when swung in that fashion.

Yes, I don't own any "quality" replicas, but I've been reading about this stuff, and examining period artwork, for years. Most artwork shows these swords used in the same fashion, a great downward blow. Yes, they were capable of sophisticated maneuvers during sword play, as evidenced by l.33, but my argument is that the big great swords weren't designed for that sort of sword play. They were specifically designed to deal devastating blows in the hurlyburly of the battlefield. Do you believe that complicated fencing techniques were really appropriate for the melee? These were called war swords for a reason, they weren't the "everyday" sword of the knight, but swords specifically designed for the battlefield.

There have been a lot of talk lately about the capability of swords against mail. Most backyard testers have concluded that mail could not be cut or otherwise defeated by swords. I believe that this is wrong, since the Germans with their great swords seem to have been able to mow down the French as Benevento. I know many find period art to be suspect, but period art also shows many examples of knights being cut down by swords. I believe these big swords were designed, in part, to defeat mail. How did they do this? Did they use a diagonal cut? It's more likely that they used a "crushing" downward blow, as implied by the description of Benevento, and period art such as the Tenison Psalter. This is similar to the way an axe is wielded. Of course, the swords may have broken bones instead of defeated the mail itself. A smashed shoulder would certainly put a knight out of action! Still, this implies a powerful crushing blow, not a "glancing cut"!

It was implied that the French swords at the battle of Benevento were quicker, as compared to the German great swords. Yes, they used the thrust instead of the cut, and it could be the difference between the distance a cut must travel versus the distance a thrust must travel. However, we're also back to physics and geometry: the French had less inertia and momentum to overcome with their smaller swords, and their blades cut a smaller arc. Their swords were better at sophisticated sword play than those wielded by their German adversaries!

I hope this helped to clarify my position! If not, I guess we will have to agree to disagree!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
View user's profile
Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,699

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:

Patrick,
I meant relatively slow and ponderous (perhaps not the best words to use) as compared to the later war swords of types XVa and XVIIIa, and certainly as compared to their smaller brethren! I think you will agree that different swords handle differently!


Thank you for the clarification, it does make your position a bit clearer. However, "slow and ponderous" are really incorrect terms for describing these kinds of sword, in my opinion.

Quote:
I don't think you can compare the Svante to these type XIIIa's, it's like comparing apples to oranges.


No it's not. I was using the sword as an example of the importance of mass distribution in relation to a swords static weight, not as a direct comparison to high medieval warswords. I believe I was clear in that.

Quote:
Even XIIa's must handled a bit different, sine they exhibit a bit of a taper to their blades. A better comparison would be Arms & Armour's 12th Century Sword. I believe you may have handled that one. Does it handle the same as the Svante?


I've owned A&As 12th century sword. I do indeed find it a bit "slow and ponderous". Then again, I don't consider it an outstanding example of that kind of sword due to some deficiencies in it's distribution of mass. It is a bit of a boat anchor in that respect.

Quote:
What I am saying is that these big great swords had a specific purpose.


I agree, as are most weapons.

Quote:
Were they slower? I believe slightly, relatively speaking. I think Elling nailed it on the head when he talked about recovery time, and maybe I should have specifically said that these swords were slower in respect to that. Physics dictates that an object weighing 4 pounds, regardless of it's "dynamic properties", will have more more inertia and more momentum than an object weighing 2 pounds (momentum = mass x velocity). A warrior would have to overcome that additional inertia to get the blade moving. Also, he would have to overcome that added momentum to change the direction of his swing, or recover quickly. Also, geometry dictates that the larger sword will cut a larger arc, if used in an "overhead" downward blow. If a sword 45 inches long is swung at the same rate as a sword 35 inches long, the larger sword will take more time to reach the same point (rate=distance/time), since the radius of the arc is larger, and the arc therefore will be larger. It might be only a fraction of a second difference, but the larger sword will be relatively slower!


I agree, they aren't as agile as later period designs, but again this hardly makes them slow and ponderous. They were designed to perform a specific task in a specific environment and they seem to have done that very well.

Quote:
I don't own any Albions, I don't have the means to afford one right now, and maybe that alone is enough to convince some that I shouldn't even take part in this discussion.


Please don't make this a personal thing. Everyone owns what they own for their reasons. I used Albion swords as an example because I feel they are the most historically accurate swords in the production market, in terms of replicating how the originals handled. No one's saying "if you don't own an Albion you can't have an opinion."


Quote:
Yes, I don't own any "quality" replicas, but I've been reading about this stuff, and examining period artwork, for years. Most artwork shows these swords used in the same fashion, a great downward blow. Yes, they were capable of sophisticated maneuvers during sword play, as evidenced by l.33, but my argument is that the big great swords weren't designed for that sort of sword play. They were specifically designed to deal devastating blows in the hurlyburly of the battlefield. Do you believe that complicated fencing techniques were really appropriate for the melee? These were called war swords for a reason, they weren't the "everyday" sword of the knight, but swords specifically designed for the battlefield.


I agree, artwork is an invaluable tool. However, we shouldn't try to extrapolate how a sword was used simply from a single motion being portrayed in a still-life illustration. We also need to spend time examining originals and handling accurate replicas (swords from either Del Tin or MRL are not outstanding examples of that) to get a clear indication of how they were used. Regarding melee combat: things tend to get rather simplistic in that kind of environment. However, I do believe there was quite a bit more to the use of these swords than a simplistic downward chop-chop technique.

Quote:
There have been a lot of talk lately about the capability of swords against mail. Most backyard testers have concluded that mail could not be cut or otherwise defeated by swords.


When people try to prove an opinion they often interperate test results to an extreme measure in order to prove a point. This leads to false analysis, in my opinion. Was mail an effective defense in it's day? Yes, I've worn it enough and done enough mock-fighting in it over the years to assure myself that it is and was. If it hadn't been effective it wouldn't have been used for over two thousand years. However, it can be defeated, just like any body defense. I believe the great war swords of the high middle ages were effective in doing this or they wouldn't have been as popular as they were.

Quote:
It was implied that the French swords at the battle of Benevento were quicker, as compared to the German great swords. Yes, they used the thrust instead of the cut, and it could be the difference between the distance a cut must travel versus the distance a thrust must travel. However, we're also back to physics and geometry: the French had less inertia and momentum to overcome with their smaller swords, and their blades cut a smaller arc. Their swords were better at sophisticated sword play than those wielded by their German adversaries!


If we have any disagreement I think it's one of the verbiage being used, not neccessarily a disagreement on how these swords were used. As an author I'm sure you're aware of the importance of verbiage, especially in an electronic medium like this one where it's all we have to use in communicating. You might want to consider cutting down on the use of exclamation marks, it appears you're shouting.

Quote:
I hope this helped to clarify my position! If not, I guess we will have to agree to disagree!


Yes it has, thank you. I think we're largely in agreement on the broader points.
View user's profile Send private message
Richard Fay




Location: Upstate New York
Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Reading list: 256 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 782

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 1:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

Regarding Oakeshott and his descriptions of how the great swords handled: I think he was speaking relatively as compared to smaller and lighter examples. As I already pointed out, he commented that these big swords handled well if handled correctly. He could be responsible for some hyperbole when commenting on the "slow and ponderous" nature of these swords; that's the risk one takes when adopting a "conversational" style of speech. Perhaps I'm guilty of the same fault; I have spent years honing my "creative writing" skills. Perhaps my years in science are becoming a distant memory, and I'm becoming more of an "artists" than a "scientist". I'm sorry for that, but I think it makes things far more interesting!

Oakeshott himself was one of the authors who tried hard to debunk the myth of the heavy and unwieldy medieval sword. Pardon my falling into the same flaws I was guilty of earlier, but I will quote from Oakeshott once more:
Ewart Oakeshott wrote:

It is often said that these swords were heavy and clumsy and almost impossible to handle, but this is not so. The average weight was less than three pounds, and, as I have said, each weapon was balanced in such a way that it was easy to handle. Mind you, to a modern person, even three pounds of sword seems an awful lot to wield for hours on end, especially with the force needed in a fight. But remember that these warriors were trained to use such weapons from the age of about ten; every day a boy of the proper class would practice with a sword...

The size of these weapons varied a good deal, much as the size of the men who wielded them. Some are quite small and light, some are quite big and heavy...

The war sword was, as its name implies, not carried about on everday occasions, but reserved for the field of battle. It was essentially a horseman's weapon, since a long sword was generally needed when fighting on horseback. With such a sword a fighter could be sure of reaching his opponent without having to get very close to hoim. The average weight of such swords was about 4 1/2 to 5 pounds.


Are we to discount Oakeshott's observations because he was a "slight" man? I have a great uncle who grew up on a farm, a short and thin man, but sinewy. He could punch a cow in it's back and floor the poor animal, knock it to it's knees! One handed, mind you! Imagine what he could have done if he was trained in the use of a sword, and if he had a sword in his hand! I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end, even though I'm of a much broader build!

Oakeshott spent his life studying swords; if he says that the balance point on these great swords is a bit farther down the blade, then I believe his observations! In Records of the Medieval Sword, he stated of Type XIII. 1 that "the sword handles well, but as may be expected of a slashing-sword, the point of balance is well down toward the point. Its weight is just over 3 lbs." In the entry of type XIII. 2, he stated that that particular sword was rather clumsy. Are we to dismiss his observations because it doesn't fit our view of the "prefect" medieval sword? Not all swords handled the same! In the entry of type XIIIa. 2, one that is almost a two-handed sword, he stated that this example was enormous and rather heavy, with a point of balance well down toward the point. He stated that this was ideal for a weapon to deal slow, powerful, slashing blows. Did he mean the sword was unwieldy? No, just that it handled differently, and slower, than it's smaller kin! In the entry to XIIIa. 8, he stated that this sword looked clumsy, but "handles well so long as one swings it in the manner for which it was designed, that is to deal great, slow, slashing blows with a straight arm and swung from the shoulders using the strength of the back to supplement the weight of the sword-nearly 4 lbs-which is centred at a percussion point about one-third of the way up from the point." In the entry to type XIIIa. 9, the sword in the Burrell Collection, he stated that it handled well when handled correctly, but is a relatively heavy sword at 3 and 3/4 lbs. In the multiple miscellaneous, he comments about four different great swords in the Fitzwilliam Museum, and says that number 6 is a heavy weapon, just under 4 pounds, but number 7 is much lighter. He said that number 8, in spite of its size, it a quite light and handy weapon. Medieval swords varied in their characteristics, even within the same general type! It would have been nice if Oakeshott had left us numbers and statistics, but even then, most people say you can't tell a sword's dynamics by the stats alone! Still, it would be interesting to know the POBs and COPs of these swords!

I think Oakeshott had a general idea how these great swords should be handled. I don't believe they handled the same as smaller swords. Just because he states a sword is "heavy" or "designed for slow, slashing blows", I don't think we should discount his observations because they don't fit with the current mindset. I think we must realize that he was speaking in relative terms; he handled several period examples over the years. He was, after all, an advocate of trying to dispell the myth of the overweight medieval sword. Still, some were heavier than others, and handled differently than others! (Look at his descriptions of two almost identical swords; the type XVII (XVII. 2 in Records) that he once owned, and the type XVIIin the Fitzwilliam Museum (XVII. 1 in Records). The once in Cambridge is relatively light and beautifully balanced, while the once he owned weighed nearly four pounds and felt clumsy, with a balance point nearly half-way to the point! He handled both, and was able to see a "dynamic" difference between the two, even though they are the same general type of sword. Still, the relatively clumsy sword is a period example!)

I hope this made sense!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
View user's profile
Richard Fay




Location: Upstate New York
Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Reading list: 256 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 782

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 1:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick,

Sorry if my use of exclamation points seemed like I was shouting, I was just trying to place emphasis on what I was saying. I though all caps was shouting in computer language, but I'm relatively new to this. I'll try and cut down on my exclamation points. (I know it's shouting in proper English, but I didn't realize you would see it that way on-line.)

I just posted another long discussion about this stuff, but if we're basically in agreement, ignore it. I typed it in before I saw your latest response. However, I think it clarified further my view regarding Oakeshott's descriptions. I think he was speaking in relative and comparative terms. I think he may have spent so much time studying this stuff, that he forgot how the terms may look to someone unfamiliar with the dynamic properties of medieval swords.

I didn't think I was trying to make this a personal thing, but I know people sometimes have low opinions of MRL swords. I was just afraid that some may have thought I didn't have the practical knowledge to discuss this issue. I try to direct my posts to the general audience, even if I address individuals. Sorry if you took it as being personal. If it came off that way, I apologize.

I know about the limitations of MRLs and Del Tins, that's why I brought up the point about worrying how people might see my comments based on what I own. However, I was trying to compare them to each other, not necessarily to period examples. I definitely notice a difference between my Del Tin and my better MRLs. I was just trying to relate that to how different period swords could handle differently, not imply that the MRLs or Del Tins handled like period examples.

I would be interested to know how the Arms and Armour 12th Century Sword compared to the original. (It's pretty close to type XIIIa. 9 in Records, the sword in the Burrell Collection). I think some (certainly not all) of these big swords could feel rather heavy, at least based on some of Oakeshott's descriptions. Yes, a well-made great sword should have perfect dynamic properties for what it's meant to do, but the actual period examples did vary a bit.

You know, I've already had some trouble regarding my verbiage on another thread (the discussion about "studded armour"). I admit I was parroting Oakeshott here, and perhaps they aren't the best terms to use. Still, these swords are slower than smaller swords of the same time period. I'm better at planned writing than I am writing on computer forums. I'm trying to write clearly, but it's a whole new world for me!

I'm glad we sorted this out.

Thanks for the reply, Patrick.

Again, sorry if I came off a bit strong (I tend to be passionate about this stuff).

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
View user's profile
Richard Fay




Location: Upstate New York
Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Reading list: 256 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 782

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

Since I've mentioned the type XIIIa great sword in the Burrell Collection more than once, I thought I would post a picture of it. Oakeshott listed the blade length as 36", and stated that it weighed about 3 and 3/4 pounds. He also stated that it was a heavy sword, but handled well if handled correctly. He dated it 1200-1250, but it could just as easily date to the 12th century. The pommel roughly matches some of those found among the Leppaaho Viking swords. Judging by Oakeshott's dating of another Type XIIIa with a similar pommel to either 1200-50, or more likely 1100-50, this one could be just as early.

Here's the picture, from Records of the Medieval Sword (there is a small colour photo of this sword in Swords and Hilt Weapons by Michael D, Coe, et al):



 Attachment: 11.47 KB
Sword from the Burrell Collection, from Records of the Medieval Sword.JPG
Type XIIIa. 9 from Records of the Medieval Sword

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
View user's profile
Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,699

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 2:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard,

I'm certainly not going to look down my nose at you because you own MRL and DT swords. You obviously have a passion for our shared hobby and have spent a good deal of time researching it. My own collection is about 50/50 custom and production. There are plenty of collectors who look down on production swords and more still who snub their nose at anything that isn't an antique. I don't think you'll find any of those people here. The only disadvantage you'll get from lower end swords is they won't really give you a true feel for what the originals were like, but in the end we simply do the best we can based on our own needs and priorities.

One of the things I was trying to hint at is that we shouldn't put all of our eggs in on basket regarding who or what we look to for feedback. Oakeshott did an immense amount of work on dispelling the many myths of the medieval sword, but he isn't the only, or necessarily the best, source for many of these things. When we form an opinion based solely on one source, be it an author or a sword itself, we often deprive ourselves of the opportunity to experience a broader range of knowledge. I agree that Oakeshott wrote in very relative terms that were very subjective. This makes for entertaining reading but less than perfect scholarly work, in my opinion.

At the beginning of the year I wrote this article:
http://www.albion-swords.com/articles/norman.htm

I intentionally used the same type of anecdotal and subjective writing style here. I wanted to give the reader a broad view on the subject while still making it entertaining, rather than dry and academic. My primary intention was to spur the readers interest and make them want to go find out more on their own. This is the same approach Oakeshott used and I think it works very well in that context. However, it does fall a bit short when we try to use his writings as a piece of technical substantiation. We shouldn't discount Oakeshotts work, far from it. However, we should put into into its place in the larger picture.

Regarding A&As 12th century sword: I think A&A makes many fine products, especially their rapiers. Unfortunately I don't consider this particular sword to be one of them. Even though these swords are large and massive (better than slow and ponderous?) they still possess a dynamic nature in their handling that belies their size. I've seen this in the two originals of this type that I've handled, as well as the better recreations. Peter Johnsson has told me that he has experienced the same properties in the originals he has handled, and he's probably examined more originals than any of us, perhaps including Oakeshott himself. Other makers who seriously study the medieval sword have told me the same thing as well. The originals well invariably possess certain design qualities that are essential to their function. These qualities will make them seem to live in your hand (how's that for relativity?), rather than having that dead feel of your lower-end repros. For whatever reason A&As sword falls a bit short in these areas. It's certainly not a bad sword but I wouldn't rate it as an excellent recreation of the type.

In the end my opinion on the medieval Grete Swerde is this: They are large and massive swords that were designed to deliver decisive shearing blows against mail clad opponents. I wouldn't call them nimble nor would I call them ponderous. They are dynamic weapons perfectly suited to their intended task.

Regarding your posting style: I wouldn't worry about it too much. Many of us have wasted years in cyberspace Wink so we have a pretty good feel for when one of us is being humorous, sarcastic, upset, what have you. In that respect we "know" each other pretty well. It's just a matter of becoming familiar with someones writing style.
View user's profile Send private message
Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 3:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I will also clarify a little to make sure the wrong impression is not given.

I would not prefer one handed use of a great sword in foot combat (within a tight shield wall, or some other situations.) I am too weak to wield one competitively in that manner. From horse back, I could utilize that extra 6" of blade length to add power and reach, and generally would have to do things a little slower to time it right on a horse anyway. If chopping down a fleeing enemy from behind (something cavalry sometimes did) wide sweeping chops with extra reach would be desirable. I see the great swords as offering something different and potentialy useful in cavalry use, not being exclusively limited to foot combat.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
View user's profile Send private message
Richard Fay




Location: Upstate New York
Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Reading list: 256 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 782

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 3:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!
Patrick Kelly wrote:

In the end my opinion on the medieval Grete Swerde is this: They are large and massive swords that were designed to deliver decisive shearing blows against mail clad opponents. I wouldn't call them nimble nor would I call them ponderous. They are dynamic weapons perfectly suited to their intended task.

Patrick,
I think your statement sums it up perfectly! (And this time the exclamation point is to give my statement a very positive emphasis.) Large and massive might be better terms than ponderous and heavy.

Maybe I did over use Oakeshott as a source, but his works are the ones I'm the most familiar with. I wish I had more practical experience with better reproductions, or even actual period examples, but I am not in a position right now where that is really possible. I have to rely heavily on printed sources, and Oakeshott is one of the primary sources for knowledge about swords, flawed though it may be.

Thanks for the kindly reply. It's greatly appreciated.

By the way, do you think I've really spent a good deal of time researching arms and armour? Wink
(My wife sometimes thinks I spend way too much time on this stuff! Eek! )

Thanks again!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
View user's profile
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,199

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 4:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
Hello again!
Patrick Kelly wrote:

In the end my opinion on the medieval Grete Swerde is this: They are large and massive swords that were designed to deliver decisive shearing blows against mail clad opponents. I wouldn't call them nimble nor would I call them ponderous. They are dynamic weapons perfectly suited to their intended task.

Patrick,
I think your statement sums it up perfectly! (And this time the exclamation point is to give my statement a very positive emphasis.) Large and massive might be better terms than ponderous and heavy.

Maybe I did over use Oakeshott as a source, but his works are the ones I'm the most familiar with. I wish I had more practical experience with better reproductions, or even actual period examples, but I am not in a position right now where that is really possible. I have to rely heavily on printed sources, and Oakeshott is one of the primary sources for knowledge about swords, flawed though it may be.

Thanks for the kindly reply. It's greatly appreciated.

By the way, do you think I've really spent a good deal of time researching arms and armour? Wink
(My wife sometimes thinks I spend way too much time on this stuff! Eek! )

Thanks again!

Stay safe!


Richard I said it before, I think, but I enjoy your long posts and you actually reply to what was written as opposed to replying to what you think was said or meant: A lot of people don't really know how to listen. ( Not aimed at people here in particular: Just a general opinion about human communication. Wink Big Grin )

As to ponderous swords my handling is limited to waiving my swords in the air trying to not decapitate too many lamps but I don't find a heavier sword like the Tritonia difficult to move around and change directions. A lighter more agile sword like the Sovereign does feel faster after using the Tritonia for a few minutes.

Good use of timing is more critical with the heavier sword as recovery will be a bit slower but the big difference, I suggest, might be after some minutes of fighting the heavier sword will tire you faster everything else being equal. Before fatigue becomes a factor a heavier sword may take more energy or strength but would only be slightly slower than with a lighter sword. ( Hypothesis: Does this makes sense to you ? Idea ).

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Richard Fay




Location: Upstate New York
Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Reading list: 256 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 782

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 5:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!
Jean Thibodeau wrote:

Richard I said it before, I think, but I enjoy your long posts and you actually reply to what was written as opposed to replying to what you think was said or meant: A lot of people don't really know how to listen. ( Not aimed at people here in particular: Just a general opinion about human communication. )

Jean,
Thanks! Sometimes I wonder if all the time I spend here is worth it. It's nice to know that the effort I put in is appreciated.

Fatigue might have been an issue, but the medieval warrior was very fit, and very well trained in the use of his weapons. Knights were raised learning how to wield their weapons. Also, medieval battles tended to be rather short (relatively speaking), although there are exceptions (Hastings lasted the better part of a day, as did Towton, and Bannockburn took place over the course of two days). Still, there were pauses in battles, giving the warriors a chance to rest before they plunged back into the fray.

A properly made medieval sword will handle well, provided it's handled properly. I'm not saying that the great swords handled badly, just that they handled differently than their smaller kin. Sort of the point of the description of the battle of Benevento; the German great swords swords were a tick slower than the smaller French swords.

You do bring up an interesting point about strength. Even though a heavier sword could feel well-balanced, wouldn't it require slightly more power to get it moving? (We're back to inertia and momentum again). The difference may be slight, and compensated in part by the counterbalance of the longer grip, but it could make a difference if the sword is handled over a considerable amount of time. A fit warrior might not see that much of a difference, since it would be a natural movement for him, but it might require just a bit more muscle power (including the back muscles in the swing instead of just the arms muscles). None of this means that the great sword were overweight or unwieldy, just that they required a bit more work ("oomph" if you will) to wield repeatedly. It's just a thought, but one based on my basic understanding of inertia and momentum (momentum=mass x velocity; more mass means more momentum, which means more of a tendency to stay in motion once in motion, and more resistance to a change in "velocity", which can be either a change in direction or speed).

Of course, this implies one-handed use. Two-handed use would be different; these swords could be wielded in one or two-hands, and two-handed use would have given the warrior more power in the stroke.

Sorry if I'm rambling now; I think I have thought about this topic a little too much!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
View user's profile
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,199

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard;

You might want to have a look at this topic thread I started a long time ago about the possibility that some of the bigger one handed swords may have been used in a twohanded fashion at times and maybe leading to the idea of making this easier with longer handles. ( Evolved from or separately developed ? )

The topic does sort of drift to other things as these topics usually do, but most of the first page is on topic.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ded+swords

I would add with this topic the thought that very early " greatswords " may have had grips varying from the normal size of a onehander to longer handles in part to improve balance and in part because a longer handle makes using both hands easier. But I do find that cupping the hands or holding on to a pommels sort of works with short handles: But longer is better.

The custom sword I'm having made by Ollin should be one of these " greatswords " with short handles and I'm curious to see if my idea works. http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=8131 One reason why I'm having such an extreme design made. Wink Laughing Out Loud Loosely based on a the Pontirolo sword described by Oakshotts as a huge onhander with a 40" blade.

In any case, I think these topics are at least related to the present topic and not too " Off-topic " to the present discussion.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,699

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 8:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
Patrick,
I think your statement sums it up perfectly! (And this time the exclamation point is to give my statement a very positive emphasis.) Large and massive might be better terms than ponderous and heavy.


Thanks!

Quote:
Maybe I did over use Oakeshott as a source, but his works are the ones I'm the most familiar with. I wish I had more practical experience with better reproductions, or even actual period examples, but I am not in a position right now where that is really possible. I have to rely heavily on printed sources, and Oakeshott is one of the primary sources for knowledge about swords, flawed though it may be.


Oakeshott is an excellent resource. His work may be flawed but not excessively so. I've yet to see a single source that isn't flawed in some way. That's why it's important to use a range of them. There are several translations of period training manuals now available. Some of these might help as a resource for gaining insight into the swords properties.

Quote:
By the way, do you think I've really spent a good deal of time researching arms and armour? Wink
(My wife sometimes thinks I spend way too much time on this stuff! Eek! )


So does mine, but it keeps me out of her hair. Big Grin

Regarding your posts: I agree with Jean. When you reply to me, much of what you say is preaching to the chior as I've read those books too. Wink However, there are many people who lurk and never post who haven't read these things. Consequently, your posts have great value for the general readership. Keep it up!
View user's profile Send private message
Richard Fay




Location: Upstate New York
Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Reading list: 256 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 782

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 8:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!
Patrick Kelly wrote:

Regarding your posts: I agree with Jean. When you reply to me, much of what you say is preaching to the chior as I've read those books too. However, there are many people who lurk and never post who haven't read these things. Consequently, your posts have great value for the general readership. Keep it up!


Thanks, Patrick! I always assume, since this is a forum, that others will be reading my posts, too. I figured you've read Oakeshott's books. I can get a bit obsessive about posting (as I think you can tell). I literally spent all day today on the computer (day-off from home school - I value an education so much, that I have taken it upon myself to educate my daughter, the main reason I'm a poor aspiring author. She's in ninth grade this year; I started home schooling her in the second half of first grade).

I've got the Talhoffer book. What else would you recommend? (I'm also a book freak; just look at my reading list!)

Okay, I think I've said enough on this thread for one day. (Really, I have.)

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
View user's profile
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,199

PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard;

You might want to get these DVDs, seeing the full motion helps a lot in understanding instruction books as well as original sources. I haven't put in the effort to seriously study swordmanship but these DVDs are helpfull getting a feel for the motion involved. ( Better than a series of still pictures in a book. )

http://www.revival.us/index.asp?PageAction=VI...ProdID=252
http://www.revival.us/index.asp?PageAction=VI...ProdID=242

Also here is a site with training sessions and bouts that is very interesting.
http://www.ericwargo.com/sword/
http://www.ericwargo.com/sword/bouts/index.html

These have been mentioned and posted here before but it can be difficult to find stuff ( search ) one doesn't even know exists. ( luckily I saved Bookmarks for these when they were first posted. )

You should enjoy looking at the bouting.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Angus Trim




Location: Seattle area
Joined: 26 Aug 2003

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 870

PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just a very quick point on the handling of antiques vs modern repros.....I've handled enough to tell you that many handle like crowbars.......

Today, many of us swordmaking types have been "taken to the barn" over handling of "historically accurate" pieces, so many of us now concentrate on the more "lively" pieces. That however leaves us a less than full picture of what existed .......

I wouldn't discount the accuracy of the handling of the A&A piece...... rather it tends to represent a different segment of the medieval world than the Albion mentioned.......

Very simply, every sword type had different blade geometry, and a sword with a very convex distal taper, is going to handle very differently {read slower and more ponderous} than a sword with a very concave distal taper......both are correct with the XIIIa's.........

I'm not going to get into which swords are better swords, that's a subjective thing today.........

swords are fun
View user's profile Send private message
Angus Trim




Location: Seattle area
Joined: 26 Aug 2003

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 870

PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 4:21 pm    Post subject: specs........         Reply with quote

Specs won't tell you everything about a sword, but you can get some pretty good idea what the handling potentially would be like, if you have experience with similar pieces........

I have not handled either one of these, they're {the antiques} both in Europe}. Specs were sent to me years ago by folks helping me build up a library of specs.

Both XIIIa's

1. has a blade length of approx 37 inches, is 1.9 inches wide at the base, is 6.5mm thick at the base, and is still 4 mm thick 2 inches back from the point. I only have four measurements on the thickness along the length, the distal taper appears to be linear........

2. has a blade length of just under 36 inches, is 1.85 inches wide at the base, 9mm thick at the base, and 2.2mm thick 2.5 inches back from the point. The distal taper is steep to start with and flattens out as it extends toward the tip..... what I would consider a very concave distal taper.........

There's a lot of things missing from this for now {edge geometry, fuller depth., length, flat bevels vs lenticular, etc}, but this should help me illustrate something........

#2 is going to be an excellent cutting sword {edge geometry willing}, and should recover and handle fairly quickly.
#1 isn't going to be near as quick in recovery, and the handling is liable to be "ponderous" in comparison to #1. However, its liable to hit with a lot more authority.........{may not cut better, because of the thicker blade, depends on "edge geometry"......

In my view, these things have different purposes, even though they're both XIIIa's. One is a cutting sword, meant more for cutting down unarmored opponents. The other could also do that, but is more likely to handle heavy blows to a maille and padding armored foe {and make more of an impact on said foe too}.......

The problem with our current way of classifying these weapons, well its two dimensional for the most part. It doesn't really give you the rest of the story....

How does one judge these two weapons? Well, subjectivity enters the picture now....... I personally refuse to judge many of these now, because I live in the 21st century, and really can't judge matters 600+ years ago........

swords are fun
View user's profile Send private message
Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,699

PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 5:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
I literally spent all day today on the computer (day-off from home school - I value an education so much, that I have taken it upon myself to educate my daughter, the main reason I'm a poor aspiring author. She's in ninth grade this year; I started home schooling her in the second half of first grade).


Good luck on the home schooling. It can be quite a bit of work if done properly. My wife's a teacher so I have mixed emotions about the concept but to each his own. as long as the child gets an education. I've been stuck in court all day long on a murder case and I just sat down here myself.

Quote:
I've got the Talhoffer book. What else would you recommend? (I'm also a book freak; just look at my reading list!)


Jean made an excellent suggestion on the Ochs DVD from Chivalry Bookshelf. I have it and it's well worth the money. Any of the books written by Christian Tobler are excellent resources as well. Stephen Hand has also done some very worthwhile work regarding sword and shield techniques.
View user's profile Send private message
Richard Fay




Location: Upstate New York
Joined: 29 Sep 2006
Reading list: 256 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 782

PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!
Patrick Kelly wrote:

Good luck on the home schooling. It can be quite a bit of work if done properly.

Patrick,
It can be quite a bit of work, but I work very hard to ensure my daughter has a well-rounded education. Everyone from her former skating instructors to her current theatre arts instructors (we send her for some out-of-the-home activities) have commented on how well-spoken, smart, polite, and helpful she is, so I guess we're doing something right! With my background in science, my writing skills, my interest in history, and a house full of books, I think we are fairly well equipped to handle it, but it is a lot of work.

Now, back to the topic at hand!

Jean and Patrick,
Thanks for the suggestions. Maybe some of those things would make nice Christmas gifts, if I can convince the wife to purchase them. I am aware of the different longsword techniques, but never really tried to put any into practice. I remember seeing a short bit on the "Arms in Action" series where they showed movements from some of the medieval or Renaissance manuals, and it was very impressive how "nimble" the sword could be.

I do believe that the early great swords were a bit different than the later longswords; the late medieval and Renaissance longswords had more taper to the blades than the parallel-edged great swords. That would make the great swords just a bit (relatively speaking, again) point-heavy as compared to the longswords. Still, longsword techniques do give you an idea of what medieval and Renaissance warriors were capable of.

Angus Trim wrote:

Just a very quick point on the handling of antiques vs modern repros.....I've handled enough to tell you that many handle like crowbars.......
Very simply, every sword type had different blade geometry, and a sword with a very convex distal taper, is going to handle very differently {read slower and more ponderous} than a sword with a very concave distal taper......both are correct with the XIIIa's.........
I'm not going to get into which swords are better swords, that's a subjective thing today.........
[#2 is going to be an excellent cutting sword {edge geometry willing}, and should recover and handle fairly quickly.
#1 isn't going to be near as quick in recovery, and the handling is liable to be "ponderous" in comparison to #1. However, its liable to hit with a lot more authority.........{may not cut better, because of the thicker blade, depends on "edge geometry"......


Angus,
Thanks for the observations, and the stats on the two period examples! This was very illuminating information!

So, if I'm reading this correctly, some XIIIa'a were relatively "slower" and more "ponderous" than others (sorry for using these terms again, Patrick, but I'm just quoting here). I wonder if the "heavier" sword was designed as more of an "anti-armour" weapon, and the "lighter" sword was more to be used against lightly armoured or unarmoured foes. Or maybe one swordsmith just got it right, and another got it wrong.

When you say some swords handle like crowbars, are you referring to modern reproductions only, or do some period examples handle like that? I know some modern reproductions can handle badly; I had a Windlass sword when MRL first switched over, and it was very tip-heavy, and definitely ponderous! Are you saying some period examples might not handle in what most feel is an "ideal" fashion? I'm just trying to make sure I understand you clearly. It seems like that's what the stats you posted would indicate.

This is along the lines of what I've been trying to say, but I've only really had Oakeshott's observations to work on. I believe that there could be some variation in period examples; Oakeshott seemed to observe that some type XIIIa's felt light and well-balanced, while others felt relatively heavy. Medieval swordsmiths were master craftsmen, but they were human, and some period swords do seem to have better dynamic properties than others, at least based on my interpretation of Oakeshott's observations. I know modern customers want the finest blade their money can buy, and they should get just that, but it might not have always been the case with every period example. (Oakeshott showed a type XVIIIa with a significant forge-made bend in the blade. This would be considered a far from perfect blade today. It's XVIIIa. 2 in Records of the Medieval Sword.)

I think medieval warriors may sometimes have looked for different things in their blades than modern customers do today. A heavier sword may have been ideal for a well-armoured knight who fought other well-armoured knights on horseback, but it might be far from ideal for a modern practitioner of western martial arts. That doesn't mean that finely-crafted, well-balanced, easily-wielded great swords didn't exist, it just means that different swords were made for different purposes. Of course, it's all relative, and even the heavier examples would have been fairly well-balanced, or the medieval warrior would have rejected it! Still, the examples that Angus presented, as well as the two type XVII's that Oakeshott discussed (the one he owned, and the one in the Fitzwilliam Museum) show that different swords of the same type could have different handling characteristics. Some might feel that certain swords are heavier than others, but it's all relative, as well as subjective.

I hope nobody thinks I'm slipping back into the realm of "ultra-heavy" medieval swords, I'm just following my train of thought. Let's hope it stays on track, and doesn't derail down the way!

I would love to hear more first-hand observations of period great swords!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar


Last edited by Richard Fay on Fri 17 Nov, 2006 9:07 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Early Great Sword
Page 2 of 4 Reply to topic
Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2019 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum