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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 27 Apr, 2007 5:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip C. Ryan wrote:
Earlier swords were not actually very well balanced at all. These swords were designed as hacking/slashing weapons....made to splinter wooden shields and crush through the advanced maille armors of the time. Even into the "Viking Age", swords were still "end heavy". It wasn't until the introduction of more advanced, stronger, and more impenetrable armors like coats-of-plates and full plate harnasses, that swords developed into more balanced weapons. They had to be, as getting around, or through, the armor now required more thrusting and point work. This resulted in smiths designing a more balanced...i.e.controllable....weapon.


I would disagree with this statement. Swords were "end-heavy" because that makes an effective cutting sword, balanced appropriately for its intended task. Against light armour and mail, it was an effective design. When armour became more widespread, the need for using the point increased, so dimensions and balance changed to suit.

They weren't ill-balanced, they were just balanced for a different task than later swords. Why would our ancestors (who actually depended on these things for their lives) use something that wasn't well-balanced?

I heartily disagree with the notion that they weren't well-balanced. They just were balanced differently, and wholly appropriately for the armour they faced, and the tactics and techniques used to employ them.

No one should expect swords that were made hundreds of years apart and to face different circumstances to handle the same. These were purpose built tools built by people with a far better practical understanding of them than most of us will ever have.

Happy

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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Apr, 2007 5:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
I heartily disagree with the notion that they weren't well-balanced. They just were balanced differently, and wholly appropriately for the armour they faced, and the tactics and techniques used to employ them.


I agree with Chad. The balance by itself cannot really be wrong, it's all about it being consistent with the geometry of the weapon, and both being adapted to the intended use.

In other words an axe and a foil can both be well balanced, but a foil with the balance of an axe would feel completely wrong and would not perform very well (note, it's probably not easy to build such things anyway Happy )

For all I know there is no definite way to say whether a weapon is well balanced or not, independently from its type and shape (in case anyone wonders, yes, I did actually look for that Wink ), and I too believe that the weapon makers of the past did the best they could...

Regards

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Alexander Hinman




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Apr, 2007 5:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip C. Ryan wrote:
Earlier swords were not actually very well balanced at all. These swords were designed as hacking/slashing weapons....made to splinter wooden shields and crush through the advanced maille armors of the time. Even into the "Viking Age", swords were still "end heavy". It wasn't until the introduction of more advanced, stronger, and more impenetrable armors like coats-of-plates and full plate harnasses, that swords developed into more balanced weapons. They had to be, as getting around, or through, the armor now required more thrusting and point work. This resulted in smiths designing a more balanced...i.e.controllable....weapon.


I second Chad's disagreements, and would also like to point out that swords were not designed to splinter shields or crush armour. I mean, aside from the fundamental issue of the foolishness of attacking a shield when there's a much more obvious and dangerous target before you, it's also impractical to do with a thin-bladed weapon like a sword.

Regarding armour: Swords (of the period) were made for almost exclusively for cutting, and they do that pretty darn well. Crushing is what maces are designed for. That isn't to say that swords didn't inflict blunt trauma when they struck mail-armoured opponents, but they weren't really designed for that.
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David Sutton




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Apr, 2007 1:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, I think that pretty much answers my query. A point that occured to me though, is that earlier swords nearly always seem to have been used in conjunction with a shield. So the fact that a sword was blade heavy and designed give powerful cuts and was therefore not as fast didnt matter, as you could parry attacks with the shield rather than your sword. I've never tried any drills with sword and shield so don't know how plausible this is.
'Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all'

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Michael Mercier




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Apr, 2007 3:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip C. Ryan wrote:
Earlier swords were not actually very well balanced at all. These swords were designed as hacking/slashing weapons....made to splinter wooden shields and crush through the advanced maille armors of the time. Even into the "Viking Age", swords were still "end heavy". It wasn't until the introduction of more advanced, stronger, and more impenetrable armors like coats-of-plates and full plate harnasses, that swords developed into more balanced weapons. They had to be, as getting around, or through, the armor now required more thrusting and point work. This resulted in smiths designing a more balanced...i.e.controllable....weapon.


Phil,
The way you make it sound is that swords going into the late 14th and into the 15th century were the ones that were more balanced. I don't believe that was your intention, but think of the typical Oakeshott type XI. This was a mid 11th to 12th century sword and was really not blade heavy. The size of the pommel helps balance it as you know. (Think of my Del Tin you've handled) Even the Petersen viking type X is a fairly balanced weapon. Now, I have only handled one original single hand sword from around that time, and it did not seem "end heavy" to me. The blade was very light and quite well balanced. My best comparison to it, although a poor one would be like holding the Paul Chen practical arming sword.

Are there any out here that have personally held an original viking blade that can inform us of the actual balance? Any visitors to the Oakeshott Institute?

Mike
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Apr, 2007 4:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Weren't the Migration Period swords shorter than the later Viking/Frankish and Medieval models, though? This means that their point-heavy balance wouldn't have been such a disadvantage, and of course the presence of a shield certainly helped a great deal with the defense while the wielder was busy recovering the sword from a missed blow.
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