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Matthew
2010-11-21, 11:14 AM
On the subject of television series, did anybody else happen to catch the Pillars of the Earth (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1453159/)? The fight arrangement for the duel between Richard and Walter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWt4i0hvGkM) towards the end had a couple of nice pieces, particularly the disarming of the latter by the former, I thought, but then I am no expert when it comes to these nitty gritty elements! There was quite a lot of questionable costuming, but nothing that hugely detracted from my enjoyment (though perhaps that had more to do with an engaging plot than anything else, and of course Lovejoy). Anybody else care to comment?

Spiryt
2010-11-21, 12:44 PM
Very fine scene indeed, for movie standards, with some quite sensibe economy of moves - at least without gross level of flailing around like in most productions, some half swording, grappling, and generally without very polite distance keeping prevalent in most cases. :smallamused:

Too bad that even to my untrained eye, costumes are indeed quite horrible.

"Mails" hanging from people in weird ways, some weirdly elvish garments, particularly on long haired duelist.

Swords are unfortunately downright fictional - with proportions, pommels, guards that maybe could exist in 15th century, not really probably, but I won't even try to suggest that I've seen them all. :smallwink:

What's obvious, that they're completely wrong for 12th century.

But as far as action goes, nice for television.

Yora
2010-11-21, 06:19 PM
You don't see a Mordhau that often. And here it's twice. :smallbiggrin:

I also noticed the costumes and armor when I first saw them. The mail coifs look weird.

Caustic Soda
2010-11-22, 03:47 AM
I can't remember if this question has been asked before, but would you need gauntlets/thick gloves to do a Mordschlag? or could you get by with the right technique?

Spiryt
2010-11-22, 03:54 AM
There are quite numerous depictions of many halfswording techniques (not only Mordshlag) being done with bare hands. People also tried it with sharp replicas with no problems.

Although less cut oriented sword would be generally preferred for such operations, I guess. Or a glove, of course.

Psyx
2010-11-22, 07:05 AM
I can't remember if this question has been asked before, but would you need gauntlets/thick gloves to do a Mordschlag? or could you get by with the right technique?

Remember that the lower part of the blade is often not sharpened.
Personally, I'd want at least a thick leather glove, though!!



On history education in the US, I happen to be a high school student here and I think that you guys being a little unfair.

You seem to be an exception, rather than the rule. Having worked almost exclusively with Americans for several years I'd state that based on pretty extensive experience, an American's knowledge of the history of their own Nation and government is excellent (to the point where it puts the British knowledge of the UK to shame). And that extends to facets of world history that affected the birth of your nation (Magna Carta, for example). However; outside that area, there seems to be an enormous gap in knowledge. For example: Mention 1812 to anyone in the USA and you'll get a blank look if you then mention the word 'Moscow'. Which is fine for an isolationist country, but not-so-fine for a generation who need to be more aware of world politics and cultural divides than ever before.




Anyway, when I was in Europe last summer the Spanish and French teenagers I talked to said that they never learned anything but Spanish and French history.


The French are still enormously isolationist in education and outlook. They put a lot of effort into doing so!



They also tend to put villains in uniforms which I find annoying. Especially when those uniforms are armor that doesn't work!


Now imagine 70% of competent movie bad guys ever made being of your nationality (Even the Nazis are played by English, normally...), and your entire country universally portrayed by America as the bad guys pretty much every time... Oh, and if we do achieve anything significant, Hollywood re-writes history so it was done by an American instead... /rant



Speaking of which, this film was a case of the technical details (that armor works for example, or what lances are) underrmined the overall plot


Probably not to the common man, though. It's a case of having specialised knowledge. You'd probably sit through...erm... a climbing movie without batting an eyelid, while climbers in the audience were weeping into their pop-corn due to inaccuracies.


Best UK WW II film was I think The Longest Day (based on an Irish book), A Bridge Too Far (based on another book by the same Irish author), The Bridge over the River Kwai, and The Guns of Navarrone

I'd also recommend Dambusters, The Eagle has Landed, A Bridge Too Far, Reach for the Sky, Ice-cold in Alex, Sink the Bismark and 633 Squadron. All classics.

And one of the finest WWI films made has to be Lawrence of Arabia, of course.


And it still doesn't explain why they haven't really done any good pre-17th Century period films in England since the mid 20th Century, since presumably the English don't think 100 years is a long time.

There have been a few historical films that have been good, but I suspect that they probably went straight to DVD in the States. There was Kenneth Branagh's excellent adaption of Henry V for example. And there was Black Death, which was released this year. It was French, but Brotherhood of the Wolf is a must-see movie. Waterloo, Charge of the Light Brigade and Zulu are 'old', but excellent... These films exist, but never cinema hits. American audiences (and that's where the money lies) are generally not interested in historical films which have no bearing on the US and no US actors. The Upcoming 'Ironclad' manages to potentially interest the US audience by mention of the Magna Carta.

The UK would need a functional film industry for there to be many such films, and for it to be a 'big' movie. Pretty much every English-language film industry in the world outside of Hollywood is on it's knees, and has been for years.
The British film industry is far better off sticking to James Bond and Rom-Coms with dithering male leads, in order to keep itself financially solvent.

That said: If you want historical drama, look to British TV: Sharpe obviously springs to mind, and The Tudors has been widely acclaimed. And one positively can't move for Jane Ayre interpretations and historical soppy sap - all very well done and with a reasonable budget.

Matthew
2010-11-22, 07:37 AM
That said: If you want historical drama, look to British TV: Sharpe obviously springs to mind, and The Tudors has been widely acclaimed.

I rather enjoyed The Devil's Whore (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1050057/) as well.

Psyx
2010-11-22, 08:21 AM
Oooh.. that was another good one. There's normally at least one good historical series per year.

Stephen_E
2010-11-22, 10:59 AM
There is that marvelous British movie - The Duelists
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Duellists

The real events the film was based on -
---------
In The Encyclopedia of the Sword, Nick Evangelista wrote:

As a young officer in Napoleon's Army, Dupont was ordered to deliver a disagreeable message to a fellow officer, Fournier, a rabid duellist. Fournier, taking out his subsequent rage on the messenger, challenged Dupont to a duel. This sparked a succession of encounters, waged with sword and pistol, that spanned decades. The contest was eventually resolved when Dupont was able to overcome Fournier in a pistol duel, forcing him to promise never to bother him again.[2]

They fought their first duel in 1794 from which Fournier demanded a rematch. This rematch resulted in at least another 30 duels over the next 19 years in which the two officers fought mounted, on foot, with swords, rapiers and sabres
-------------

Also -
-------
The film is lauded for its historically authentic portrayal of Napoleonic uniforms and military conduct, as well as its generally accurate early-nineteenth-century fencing techniques as recreated by fight choreographer William Hobbs.
------

Stephen E

fusilier
2010-11-22, 11:53 AM
I have Carla Rahn Phillips' Six Galleons for the King of Spain. She found invoices for the private construction and supply of galleons and has specific costs for everything, ranging from sails to rations. Unfortunately, gunpowder and cannon were the purview of Royalty, so she didn't have specific costs for gunpowder.

She did have costs from a planned expedition to Africa in 1577-1578 where the average cost of the ball, powder and fuse for each artillery shot was estimated at 2.9 ducados. She also has a quote of 4.2 ducados for each hundredweight of cannonballs, though it's unclear if this is the same time period as the previous estimate.

Her source for the gunpowder states that in 1633 a private manufacturer took over production of gunpowder from the Royal Monopoly. The source is I.A.A. Thompson's War and Government in Habsburg Spain, p. 234-255, but I'm unsure if there's an additional information there about the cost of gunpowder.

Hope this helps.

Gunpowder and Galleys didn't pan out either I'm afraid. I didn't have much time to research, as the library was closing, but all I saw was the standard claim of falling gunpowder prices during the period. This is starting to become somewhat irritating -- there are many sources which claim that gunpowder prices fell during this period, but nobody is citing examples!

The book you may be looking for (for late 14th to 15th century) might be this one:
Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology, and Tactics

pg. 58 might have exactly what you are looking for. I say might because you can search the book on Amazon, and it will show some truncated results, but will not actually display that page.

Galloglaich -- is this the kind of info you are looking for? You haven't responded to any of my posts on this subject, so I don't know if they have been helpful or not.

Galloglaich
2010-11-22, 12:29 PM
Dambusters is a fantastic film, I forgot about that one ... as is the Duelists, one of my favorites. Rob Roy is good too, one of the few from that pre-inndustrial era, I think that is a British film, Kubrick right?

@Psyx Zulu, the Man Who Would be King etc. are all great films but that is the Victorrian era. I was talking about before that. Also I think you did repeat a few of the ones I also mentioned. Henry V is an excellent film, but that is more Theater than history, it's Shakespeare, there are some battle scenes but it's all about the dialogue.

I also think that a lot of the reason for the distortions of which we see Americans have about European history (Magna Carta etc.) is that we are actually seeing it through a British lens. Until about 30 years ago it seemed like 9 out of 10 military historians who I ever saw on the media were English, largely due to our own lack of ability with foreign languages, as well as our national origins, your history is very much our history. I think we need to break out of that though because American pop culture distortions are being reflected back to the rest of the world and amplifying many of the very same cliches we often deal with in threads like this one.

As for British actors playing the villains, that's understandable and a long-standing complaint from Britain, but I think it was due to cultural reasons to some extent during the Cold War, with the recent Terrentino film we will finally probably be able to see German actors being able to play Nazis for example, and we have had a lot of Russian and Eastern European 'heavies' for a long time now. And on the flip-side, Americans are not often portrayed in a sympathetic light in British films either. We are usualy cartoonish buffoons. Which some us Americans are, to be fair.

Finally, I very much disagree about the notion that only people who are technical experts will have a problem with plot holes caused by technical mistakes. I had a big debate with my wife about this for a while, regarding an American made WW II movie about the Battle of the Bulge, I thought the tanks and other gear looked too American, she said it didn't matter; until we saw another film with the real German tanks (or a reasonable faximile) and she agreed wholeheartedly. As for Kingdom of Heaven, it wasn't a hugelypopular film, I think it got 39% on Rotten Tomatoes. The other good historical movies we all mentioned, Dam Busters, Lawrence of Arabia, Kellys Heroes etc., all did really well both with (non historian) Critics and audiences both.

@Fusellier I like where you have started with this but so far it's not down to enough detail. I need to know the price of gunpowder for individual firearms. But I appreciate everything you have posted so far because I learned a lot already.

G.

Heliomance
2010-11-22, 01:10 PM
Is there a Chinese weapon that could be considered roughly equivalent to the rapier - a one handed sword whose use emphasises finesse and technique over choppy stabby strength?

fusilier
2010-11-22, 01:21 PM
@Fusellier I like where you have started with this but so far it's not down to enough detail. I need to know the price of gunpowder for individual firearms. But I appreciate everything you have posted so far because I learned a lot already.

G.

Often times, authors actually like to present that information, in the form of: "it cost x ducats per shot" -- that usually includes the projectile itself though. You will need to know how much gunpowder your particular weapon used, then figure out how much gunpowder cost per pound. Using the "look inside" feature of amazon in Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe:

"Gunpowder was still expensive in the 1370s. Supplies procured for use at St-Sauveur cost on average 10 sous (one-half livre) per pound."

Of course what kind of pound meant is not clear.

Similar information can be found in Medieval Sieges & Siegecraft
http://books.google.com/books?id=OHdFeAPa080C&pg=PA65&lpg=PA65&dq=%22gunpowder+prices%22&source=bl&ots=mzy16q1-CE&sig=HYDEnXWN34fZlkKvF51iWxKDTms&hl=en&ei=Ua_qTLrQCIu4sQPdzpGyCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CFUQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=%22gunpowder%20prices%22&f=false

"Between about 1385 and 1425 in France, the price of gunpowder fell by 50 percent and by the 1480s, French gunpowder cost less than 20 percent of what it had a century earlier. Prices for Frankfurt saltpeter fell even more rapidly, from 41 florins per hundredweight in 1381-83 to less than 10 florins by 1440. All the data for England show a similar trend."

So if we use this information together. In the late 14th century powder cost about 10 sous a pound. It dropped to 5 sous by 1425 and 2 sous by the late 15th century. How large a pound is still a question. I think the medieval Paris pound could be twice as much as a modern English pound. The cost of powder per shot now becomes a matter of knowing how much powder the particular weapon in question uses. Replica firearms will probably provide a reasonable estimate. I can't help any further, unless I know what specific firearms you are looking for.

Hope this helps!

Spiryt
2010-11-22, 01:28 PM
Is there a Chinese weapon that could be considered roughly equivalent to the rapier - a one handed sword whose use emphasises finesse and technique over choppy stabby strength?

I fear that your question is very badly written.

EVERY "bad intentions" weapon emphasizes on technique, be it 'cruciform' sword, rapier, axe, or whatever.

Sometimes, technique is relatively simple "choppy stabby" but it doesn't mean that such technique cannot be executed well.

You really don't usually need to chop as strong as you can with sword, in most of it's uses. Although certainly it can sometimes help.

It seems that standard fantasy "finesse vs strength" franchise causes great discord. :smalltongue:

As for chinese weapon similar to rapier, I'm not aware of any...

Generally, weapons with similar baskets/guards whatever like in typical rapier weren't used much outside Europe, neither were stout, long, thrusting one handed blades.

But I don't know much about chinese weapons.

Psyx
2010-11-22, 01:33 PM
Rob Roy is good too, one of the few from that pre-inndustrial era, I think that is a British film, Kubrick right?

Oh god, no. Not if you mean the fairly recent one. It was a horrible US re-write of history with (once again) the Scottish being portrayed as very much the brilliant heroes, and the English once again horribly vilified.
Awesome duel scene, though. [Despite the fact that one is very specifically not allowed to grab a sword in a duel, which kinda ruined it.]


There's still Black Death... although I've not seen it myself (still), and the release due next year... that's two UK historical films in the last two years with fairly major releases.



I think we need to break out of that though because American pop culture distortions are being reflected back to the rest of the world and amplifying many of the very same cliches we often deal with in threads like this one.


No kidding: To successfully rule the world, one must actually understand it.




As for British actors playing the villains, that's understandable and a long-standing complaint from Britain, but I think it was due to cultural reasons to some extent during the Cold War


I think a lot to do with it is also down to the quality of a few British actors in particular. They're so damned good at doing it. Who'd NOT want Gary Oldman as the BBEG? America demands a US lead more often than not, for the sake of identity. But for your charismatic bad guy, you might as well open the field up and audition on talent alone. Given the shortage of really good and available actors in Hollywood at any given time, it's no wonder that the lead villain - with a lower paycheck, non-US requirement and less time needed on-set - often outshines the protagonist in quality.

The real irritant is history being horribly re-written.




Finally, I very much disagree about the notion that only people who are technical experts will have a problem with plot holes caused by technical mistakes.

Not only... but nine times out of ten it's the case. And indeed in your own example, you drew attention to the point and made the information available to the person in question. Without that information, most would simply be ignorant of the fact. My misses has been cheerfully watching swordfights in movies for years... it was only when I pointed out that none of the blows were aimed at anything other than the other person's blade that she's started being critical of them.

If one doesn't know any better... it all looks ok. Like I said: She moans like crazy the moment there's anything resembling hairdressing going on, yet I'd never know unless she'd have mentioned it.





@Fusellier I like where you have started with this but so far it's not down to enough detail. I need to know the price of gunpowder for individual firearms.

Wouldn't you simply need to know the size of charge for them, and work it from there?

Psyx
2010-11-22, 01:38 PM
Is there a Chinese weapon that could be considered roughly equivalent to the rapier - a one handed sword whose use emphasises finesse and technique over choppy stabby strength?

The Jian, I guess: a straight, lightweight cut-and-thrust sword, and a gentleman's/noble's weapon.

It lacks a basket hilt, is shorter than a rapier (but you probably mean 'small sword', rather than an actual rapier anyway...), and has two proper edges, but it's pretty much as close as you can get, and certainly a fast weapon.

As stated: Every weapon requires technique and speed over brute strength. It's just some weapons require a little more strength and stamina to use effectively.

Spiryt
2010-11-22, 01:41 PM
The Jian, I guess: a straight, lightweight cut-and-thrust sword, and a gentleman's/noble's weapon.

It lacks a basket hilt, is shorter than a rapier (but you probably mean 'small sword', rather than an actual rapier anyway...), and has two proper edges, but it's pretty much as close as you can get, and certainly a fast weapon.

As stated: Every weapon requires technique and speed over brute strength. It's just some weapons require a little more strength and stamina to use effectively.

Well, I thought about jian too, but aside from the fact that "jian" is even broader term than "the rapier", even in basics use would be much different, as you stated.

Guard is rather minimal instead of elaborate, as whole much shorter than most rapiers blades, won't even start at harmonics and balance.

Don't know much about them, but I would guess that usage would be completely different than rapiers.

Galloglaich
2010-11-22, 02:36 PM
gunpowder cost less than 20 percent of what it had a century earlier. Prices for Frankfurt saltpeter fell even more rapidly, from 41 florins per hundredweight in 1381-83 to less than 10 florins by 1440. All the data for England show a similar trend."

So if we use this information together. In the late 14th century powder cost about 10 sous a pound. It dropped to 5 sous by 1425 and 2 sous by the late 15th century. How large a pound is still a question. I think the medieval Paris pound could be twice as much as a modern English pound. The cost of powder per shot now becomes a matter of knowing how much powder the particular weapon in question uses. Replica firearms will probably provide a reasonable estimate. I can't help any further, unless I know what specific firearms you are looking for.


Hope this helps!

That helps enormously. 2-5 sous a pound is quite expensive! This is what I needed though. I want the cost by weight, I can get the amount of powder per particular weapon for each shot.

Are we talking corned powder here you think or the kind you have to mix before usinig?

G

Mike_G
2010-11-22, 03:06 PM
Oh god, no. Not if you mean the fairly recent one. It was a horrible US re-write of history with (once again) the Scottish being portrayed as very much the brilliant heroes, and the English once again horribly vilified.


I think that's an oversimplification. Most of the characters, good and bad guys, are Scots. The Dukes, IIRC of Montrose and Argyll, are Scottish nobles, but the Scottish nobility was very much under the thumb of the English crown at the time.

Tim Roth's character is very English in speech and mannerisms, but I think he's at least half Scottish, if raised and educated south of Hadrian's Wall.

Most of the heavies are Scots.

The redcoats (who were historically likely Scots regiments since they are men in service to the Duke of Montrose (or Argyll-I forget who's the badder guy)) will always be the bad guys (unless they are fighting Zulus or Napoleon) since the redcoats are always occupying some other guy's country. The underdog is generally the hero.

I did see a Canadian made movie about the War of 1812 where the Americans are clearly the bumbling evil invaders, and a squad of intrepid Redcoats are the heroes. It was made pretty cheaply. The uniforms and weapons were pretty good, the acting and production was a bit low budget. But, hey, they had to find actors who would work for Loonies.



Awesome duel scene, though. [Despite the fact that one is very specifically not allowed to grab a sword in a duel, which kinda ruined it.]


I don't know that that is always true. There are awful lots of techniques that do allow it, and The Duelists shows an attempt at sword grabbing in the first scene, and that movie is generally very respected for its swordplay.

Galloglaich
2010-11-22, 03:25 PM
One would have define "single combat" as there are so many forms of it... As well as what sword and what polearm we exactly talk about.

Modern reenacting steel fights suggest that polearms from spears to glaives are actually very potent in duels, from obvious reach striking possibilities. Of course, such "fights" have tonnes of reason as for why they can't resemble "real thing", but nothing changes basic handling qualities.

Generally, the more armor swordman has, the easier he can handle the reach and polearm ability to counter his closing in with short stab or whatever.

But again, the more armor involved, the less useful most swords become.

So in all, as always in such broad matters, nothing can be called simply better than something else.

Polearms are very effective in duels in HEMA as well, but the shield is an effective antidote for polearms, they become about equal. I think where the sword particularly excels is when there is relatively little room for the polearm wielder to move, and in large confused fights when the line has broken up. You have to be very skilled with a polearm to deal with multiple opponents. You also have to be very skilled with a longsword to deal with a polearm. An aggressive sword and shield guy can really even the odds though, even without a huge amount of training.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-11-22, 03:28 PM
The Jian, I guess: a straight, lightweight cut-and-thrust sword, and a gentleman's/noble's weapon.

It lacks a basket hilt, is shorter than a rapier (but you probably mean 'small sword', rather than an actual rapier anyway...), and has two proper edges, but it's pretty much as close as you can get, and certainly a fast weapon.

As stated: Every weapon requires technique and speed over brute strength. It's just some weapons require a little more strength and stamina to use effectively.

I would agree... it's not really a stabby sword, (it's a cut-thrust weapon but I think the emphasis is a bit on slicing) though there were an enormous number of variations of the Jian going back to the Bronze Age, but the tactical and social role of the Jian were both similar or analagous to that of the Rapier and later, the smallsword* The Jian was an aristocrats weapon, required formal training to use well, was fairly expensive to make, and was a sign of rank and status.

G.

(*the Jian even tended to get shorter from the Middle Ages to the early Industrial era.)

fusilier
2010-11-22, 03:56 PM
That helps enormously. 2-5 sous a pound is quite expensive! This is what I needed though. I want the cost by weight, I can get the amount of powder per particular weapon for each shot.

Are we talking corned powder here you think or the kind you have to mix before usinig?

G

Hmmm. That's a good question. Certainly the 14th century stuff is dry-mixed, and that's probably still true by 1425 (although there are references to corning as early as 1420s, the general impression I get is that it wasn't common until the end of the century).

By the 1480s, however, it *could* refer to corned powder. I'm not sure if corning added much to the cost. The process of dry-mixing is described as being fairly laborious, involving basically grinding/mixing everything together with a mortar and pestle, until everything was a really fine powder. Sieges & Siegecraft claims that it was in this process that water (or other liquids) started to be introduced to aid in "incorporation" of the ingredients. So, assuming the cost of the ingredients used to wet the mixture (which could be just water, but earlier tended to be wine or vineagar with other ingredients, like camphor) wasn't too much, then amount of extra labor would really just be grinding the lumps into grains.

On the other hand, if corning did add significantly to the price, this was probably more than offset by the fact that corned powder was much more efficient, and therefore less was needed.

To be honest, I don't know. But I would assume that it is referring to dry-mixed powder, and the cost (by the late 15th century when just water was being used) was probably about the same. For all I know the prices above are averages, and may include both kinds of powder.

Psyx
2010-11-23, 06:34 AM
Well, I thought about jian too, but aside from the fact that "jian" is even broader term than "the rapier", even in basics use would be much different, as you stated.

I think it's what the OP is after though: A fast, light 'finesse' type blade for dealing with lightly armoured foes, gentlemanly/swashbucklery and looks good on the hip.

I doubt you could blag a 18-20 crit range, though...



I think that's an oversimplification.

When one compares the film to history though, one discovers that the two bear rather little in common.


I don't know that that is always true. There are awful lots of techniques that do allow it, and The Duelists shows an attempt at sword grabbing in the first scene, and that movie is generally very respected for its swordplay.

The reason one fences with a hand behind the body is so that it cannot be used to block or grab, because it's illegal in fencing. This stems from duelling rules, where hands needed to be kept back and away. Tying them so they couldn't be used thus wasn't unheard of, and the penalties for using a hand under some duelling codes were terminal. Of course, duels varied in their rules, but I believe it was excepted practice in the period NOT to use the hands.

Autolykos
2010-11-23, 08:11 AM
@Jian vs. Rapier: This (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Jian_(sword).jpg) one (first pic I found on Wiki) already looks awfully close to a rapier. And there are probably even thinner versions.
The problem is that Jian pretty much describes any straight Chinese bladed weapon (as opposed to the curved Dao) - so you can find versions that look more like a migration era sword, or versions like the one linked above...

Spiryt
2010-11-23, 08:35 AM
The reason one fences with a hand behind the body is so that it cannot be used to block or grab, because it's illegal in fencing. This stems from duelling rules, where hands needed to be kept back and away. Tying them so they couldn't be used thus wasn't unheard of, and the penalties for using a hand under some duelling codes were terminal. Of course, duels varied in their rules, but I believe it was excepted practice in the period NOT to use the hands.

I believe it's not really the case in Rob Roy's times, so see no problem here.

Can't be wrong, but I haven't seen much mention in manuals, fechtbuchs and other stuff dealing with duels about forbidding techniques, let alone forbidding grabbing, grappling or whatever.

So I wouldn't be surprised at all if in the beginning of XVIII century in Scotland they cared about it at all.


This one (first pic I found on Wiki) already looks awfully close to a rapier. And there are probably even thinner versions.

To be honest, it in fact doesn't really look like rapier at all... Can't be said much, but blade is obviously tapering almost at all, while starts with some ridge near the handle, is generally rather flat, and ends with quite probably lenticular, and certainly rounded point. Looking at proportions of handle and blade, it's rather short sword too.

And of course, there are only few most visible things about sword...

So even if it was much thinner, it still wouldn't be like rapier at all.


BTW, am I the only one who experiences terrible lags with all things Wikipedia?

Psyx
2010-11-23, 09:11 AM
So I wouldn't be surprised at all if in the beginning of XVIII century in Scotland they cared about it at all.


I'd disagree. There is obviously a formal duelling code in place, by the very nature of the duel. The whole scene is a formal duel, complete with rules. If they didn't care for such things, the scene would not have been shot as it was.

In a duel to the death where use of the hand is legal or not specifically illegal, one would expect to see the hand extensively employed. Because it's common sense, as well as human instinct. That's why stabbing victims suffer defensive wounds to the hands and arm.
Obviously if the use of hand was not legal, we shouldn't see the hand used. We don't see a hand used until Rob Roy uses his (as best I remember). So either two experienced swordsmen are doing it wrong, or one of them is in some manner breaking with etiquette and the rules.

It's a good fencing scene, spoiled by a very poor ending.

Spiryt
2010-11-23, 09:22 AM
I'd disagree. There is obviously a formal duelling code in place, by the very nature of the duel. The whole scene is a formal duel, complete with rules. If they didn't care for such things, the scene would not have been shot as it was.

In a duel to the death where use of the hand is legal or not specifically illegal, one would expect to see the hand extensively employed. Because it's common sense, as well as human instinct. That's why stabbing victims suffer defensive wounds to the hands and arm.
Obviously if the use of hand was not legal, we shouldn't see the hand used. We don't see a hand used until Rob Roy uses his (as best I remember). So either two experienced swordsmen are doing it wrong, or one of them is in some manner breaking with etiquette and the rules.

It's a good fencing scene, spoiled by a very poor ending.

I'm not saying that there are no rules. Rules were stated at the very beginning. Something about not throwing blades, or using anything other than weapons agreed.

And :

- Rob uses his hand to grab the sword in two hands at one point
- duel to death or, it's not stabbing in dark alley, and it's not really obvious that Rob could have done anything with his hand about being wounded, or if he would risk even worse injury to the hand, protecting at all cost against blade.
- also, he quite visibly bats away the opposing blade with his arm at one point AFAIR.

Finally, do you have any evidence, that there were any rules against using the second hand in those times, at those places? :smallconfused: Or any rules save the one pictured in the movie?

Psyx
2010-11-23, 10:47 AM
I believe Cohen's 'By the Sword' mentions the topic, but I'm at work, so don't have it to hand.

leakingpen
2010-11-23, 01:06 PM
Is there a Chinese weapon that could be considered roughly equivalent to the rapier - a one handed sword whose use emphasises finesse and technique over choppy stabby strength?

The point of a rapier (no pun intended) is to pierce armor, especially chain. The armors traditionally worn in chinese armies were not weak to the piercing point, so such a blade would have been worthless.

(rapiers require as much if not more strength and brute force to use, to punch through things. They are NOT finesse weapons. FENCING rapiers, which were less weapons and more tools of duels and honor. )

In regards to JIAN's, not really. A Jian is still a flat, double edged sword. Its an excellent stabbing weapon, but its a ribbon. A rapier is a rod. Most were triangular or diamond in cross section. Think of it as the difference between stabbing with a chisel, or stabbing with a screwdriver.

Yora
2010-11-23, 01:36 PM
Are you sure you're not mixing something up? All the rapiers I've seen in museums and online articles had very clerly visible flat blades. And they explicitly refered to as both thrusting and cutting weapons.

Spiryt
2010-11-23, 01:45 PM
Rapiers could be more or less "flat" but obviously, towards the point, they were more robust and "squarish" than most other swords. Flat ones may in fact be very early "rapiers" or some swords with rapier like hilts, but not really rapiers.

Just one example (http://www.myarmoury.com/albums/displayimage.php?album=18&pos=213)

Example of sword with similar guard and hilt, with non rapier blade (http://www.myarmoury.com/albums/displayimage.php?album=15&pos=40) - most probably much different in cross section to the very tip.

And I have really no idea where the notion that rapier is made for thrusting against mail comes from. :smallconfused::smallconfused:

Rapier evolved as a purely civilian weapon in the times and places where mail armor was pretty much not used anymore, especially not in everyday situations.

Rapiers were not intended to " pierce armor", not mail nor any other.

Galloglaich
2010-11-23, 01:56 PM
The point of a rapier (no pun intended) is to pierce armor, especially chain. The armors traditionally worn in chinese armies were not weak to the piercing point, so such a blade would have been worthless.

(rapiers require as much if not more strength and brute force to use, to punch through things. They are NOT finesse weapons. FENCING rapiers, which were less weapons and more tools of duels and honor. )

In regards to JIAN's, not really. A Jian is still a flat, double edged sword. Its an excellent stabbing weapon, but its a ribbon. A rapier is a rod. Most were triangular or diamond in cross section. Think of it as the difference between stabbing with a chisel, or stabbing with a screwdriver.

This is ... completely wrong. Rapiers were used in a civilian context and not meant to deal with armor at all (you are thinking, perhaps, of an estoc).

Maybe I misunderstood this, but you seem to be implying Chinese armor was superior to European armor or to Mail, which is ... I don't mean to be rude but that is ridiculous.

You seem to be repeatedly confusing smallswords for rapiers when you for example talk about the blade shape. Rapiers did not have triangular blades, they were primarily thrusting weapons but did in fact have edges.

The term 'fencing rapier' is meaningless, you are probably referring to a smallsword, or a foil or an epee.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-11-23, 02:03 PM
I'm not saying that there are no rules. Rules were stated at the very beginning. Something about not throwing blades, or using anything other than weapons agreed.

And :

- Rob uses his hand to grab the sword in two hands at one point
- duel to death or, it's not stabbing in dark alley, and it's not really obvious that Rob could have done anything with his hand about being wounded, or if he would risk even worse injury to the hand, protecting at all cost against blade.
- also, he quite visibly bats away the opposing blade with his arm at one point AFAIR.

Finally, do you have any evidence, that there were any rules against using the second hand in those times, at those places? :smallconfused: Or any rules save the one pictured in the movie?

In Marrozo and Fabris and all of the other manuals by Italian Masters I have seen, using the off-hand and grabbing the opponents blade (usually after a bind) are both explicitly encouraged. By the 18th Century 'Classical' fencing period with smallswords there were many more formal rules in place though. I'm not sure what the local rules in Scotland would have been at that time.

Regarding the famous duel scene in Rob Roy... I hate to disparage it since it was one of the best sword-fight scenes in a modern film, but it was really only good on Tim Roths side. Tim was using real historical smallsword techniques, but Liam Nisson was fighting without any technique at all. It was basically just Liam Nisson, 20th Century actor, trying to fight with a sword. So I'm not as impressed with it as some people are. The fight scenes in the Deluge for example are much better (with historical techniques on both sides).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBTtq2Gzm6w

Sorry to keep bringing it back to Polish stuff but those films are actually what got me interested in all that... largely because of those scenes.

G.

Spiryt
2010-11-23, 02:04 PM
Unfortunately, most rapier pictures easily available tend to concentrate on the hilt, but even Here (http://wallacelive.wallacecollection.org/eMuseumPlus?service=direct/1/ResultLightboxView/result.t1.collection_lightbox.$TspTitleImageLink.l ink&sp=10&sp=Scollection&sp=SfieldValue&sp=0&sp=0&sp=2&sp=Slightbox_3x4&sp=216&sp=Sdetail&sp=0&sp=F&sp=T&sp=224) you can see that blade which is flat at the ricasso, quickly starts to turn into rather thick diamond shaped cross section.

Spiryt
2010-11-23, 02:06 PM
Sorry to keep bringing it back to Polish stuff but those films are actually what got me interested in all that... largely because of those scenes.


Huh, this scene from Potop dubbed as "best movie sabre duel" ?

That's quite nice, and indeed it's a good scene.

leakingpen
2010-11-23, 02:07 PM
They look flat in pictures, because of how they lay.

http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~wew/fencing/blades.html has several , and mentions the blade shape. and they can still cut, the spines are generally sharpened, but its more to prevent your opponent grabbing your blade. Capoferra preferred to only sharpen from midpoint to tip, while the estoc variety were completely sharpened (does more tearing damage on the pierce)

Also, remember that the term Rapier today refers to a wide variety of swords. I'm reffering to the earlier rapiers, known as espadas generally (literally, sword.) that were worn as side swords. Most warriors using them also used broads or longs, and the side sword was for situations where you wanted to punch through something. It was an evolution of the stilletto or dirk, used mostly to punch through chain, or to find holes in between fittings of plate.

So, I apologize, I was both over generalizing and over specifying. Chinese warfare, what was originally being asked in comparison, never had a fine bladed gentleman's sword such as the dueling rapier (or epee), so I was discussing more of the early, large scale warfare rapiers.


Galo, Estoc is generally considered a breed of Rapier. By fencing rapier, yes, I'm reffering to the grouping of civilian weapons, such as epee's. Sigh. Nomenclature....

Galloglaich
2010-11-23, 02:12 PM
The reason one fences with a hand behind the body is so that it cannot be used to block or grab, because it's illegal in fencing. This stems from duelling rules, where hands needed to be kept back and away. Tying them so they couldn't be used thus wasn't unheard of, and the penalties for using a hand under some duelling codes were terminal. Of course, duels varied in their rules, but I believe it was excepted practice in the period NOT to use the hands.

Actually, that is incorrect. Your hand is kept behind your body in most historical fencing so that your hand doesn't inadvertently get cut. However, you will also see a common stance with one hand held close to the chest, palm down, which is to be in position to displace the blade. They even used to make mail-lined gloves to make this easier.

As I stated previously, in both Rapier fencing and in Classical Fencing with smallswords the hand is very much used both to grab the opponents blade and to deflect it. There were various dueling codes which may or may not have forbidden this for certain fights, duels could have all sorts of crazy rules.

But it is very common in fencing. Also to use a hat, a cloak, or any other object in your off-hand to displace with if you don't have a dagger or a buckler to use.

I think you are confusing real classical fencing with colegieate / olympic sport fencing actually.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-11-23, 02:18 PM
They look flat in pictures, because of how they lay.

http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~wew/fencing/blades.html has several , and mentions the blade shape. and they can still cut, the spines are generally sharpened, but its more to prevent your opponent grabbing your blade. Capoferra preferred to only sharpen from midpoint to tip, while the estoc variety were completely sharpened (does more tearing damage on the pierce)

Estoc is a completely different weapon, it has nothing to do with a rapier



Also, remember that the term Rapier today refers to a wide variety of swords. I'm reffering to the earlier rapiers, known as espadas generally (literally, sword.) that were worn as side swords. Most warriors using them also used broads or longs, and the side sword was for situations where you wanted to punch through something. It was an evolution of the stilletto or dirk, used mostly to punch through chain, or to find holes in between fittings of plate.

The dirk is a Scottish dagger, the stiletto is a dagger and has nothing to do with a rapier. The "sidesword", a modern term used to refer to certain early rapiers, were very explicitly cutting as well as thrusting weapons, and were designed for the unarmored civilian duel.

There was also another type of sword which was used in warfare called a "cut-thrust" sword by modern collectors which was used in armored warfare but it was not an armor-piercing weapon. The rapier was never an armor piercing weapon. You are apparently confusing a rapier with an estoc or kanzer.



So, I apologize, I was both over generalizing and over specifying. Chinese warfare, what was originally being asked in comparison, never had a fine bladed gentleman's sword such as the dueling rapier (or epee), so I was discussing more of the early, large scale warfare rapiers.



Galo, Estoc is generally considered a breed of Rapier. By fencing rapier, yes, I'm reffering to the grouping of civilian weapons, such as epee's. Sigh. Nomenclature....

Epees and foils are only for sport (although 'epee' is also a generic French word for 'sword'). The estoc (aka tuck, toc, kanzer) isn't related to the rapier, you have been misled there. There is a lot of confusion in modern gaming circles and pop culture between different types of swords, but that is part of what we are here to clear up.

G.

fusilier
2010-11-23, 02:31 PM
Estoc is a completely different weapon, it has nothing to do with a rapier

These terms seem to have been muddled historically. With references to tucks (or estoc, stocco, etc.) in the early 17th century appearing to reference what we would call a rapier. Many of these terms have been applied retroactively (like "cut-and-thrust" swords) to clarify the situation for collectors. Unfortunately, sometimes this is done poorly, with people defining what a rapier is by it's hilt (seriously, I've seen that argument made). Might want to double check with the original post to see what was meant by "rapier"

Also, I know the Chinese did have mail armor. I'm not sure how widespread it was, but I recall a reference to the Imjin War which claimed that the Japanese found their katana to be ineffective against the mail worn by Heavy Chinese cavalry.

Galloglaich
2010-11-23, 02:38 PM
There's still Black Death... although I've not seen it myself (still), and the release due next year... that's two UK historical films in the last two years with fairly major releases.

The criteria isn't historical films, there are plenty of those... it's "good" historical films. Those are sadly, extremely rare.

Well I haven't seen Black Death, I have already seen enough of "Ironclad" to be confident it's going to be a pretty bad, or at least, unhistorical.



No kidding: To successfully rule the world, one must actually understand it.

The same can be said of the British, both in the educated level of society (many of our blind spots about Continental Europe were inherited directly from the UK) and in the pop culture (I saw an excerpt from a UK reality show last year in which the contestants thought Winston Churchill was a rap star, among other travesties)



I think a lot to do with it is also down to the quality of a few British actors in particular. They're so damned good at doing it. Who'd NOT want Gary Oldman as the BBEG? America demands a US lead more often than not, for the sake of identity. But for your charismatic bad guy, you might as well open the field up and audition on talent alone. Given the shortage of really good and available actors in Hollywood at any given time, it's no wonder that the lead villain - with a lower paycheck, non-US requirement and less time needed on-set - often outshines the protagonist in quality.

There were quite a few very good Enligsh actors, used both as heroes and villains, Star Wars wouldn't have really worked without both Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing. But I think it's really a matter of needing actors who were A) foreign, B) aristocratic and C) spoke English. We don't have many aristocrats in this country and those few with East Coast aristocratic accents we used to use (like say, Clark Gable) seem to have mostly died out, though we have a few who continue the tradition like Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce, but they have a fairly small niche.

So for a long time I think Hollywood relied on English actors to play aristocrats, especially the shakespearian trained actors who seem to do this better than the Method Actors of the American schools. But you don't see a lot of English actors with broad cockney accents playing villains, they are usually cast as say, Roman Centurians or Butlers.


Not only... but nine times out of ten it's the case. And indeed in your own example, you drew attention to the point and made the information available to the person in question. Without that information, most would simply be ignorant of the fact.

I really couldn't disagree with this more. And I want to make a point of it because it's a real fundamental position I have held for about 10 years vis a vis the gaming industry, it's the reason I wrote the Codex to prove my point after a big debate about the role of realism in gaming on The Forge.

I believe those details contribute to verisimilitude and atmosphere which make the film (or the game) better, whether the audience knows anything about those details or not.

In the example I cited, the film in question is not very well known, it was called (I thnk) Battle of the Bulge. It was mediocre, in spite of having good actors and a decent director, I thnk largely due to problems introduced by the relatively poor quality kit and overall research. The film I was comparing it to to my wife was Kellys Heroes, and followed again by Cross of Iron, and Saving Private Ryan. I kind of have mixed feelings about that last film but they were all better grounded in realistic kit (the tanks in particular) than the first film, and perhaps more significantly to this argument, they all did much better at the Box Office, and with (non historian) film critics, despite the fact that neither the film critics nor the general audience know the difference between a Tiger tank and an M48.



Wouldn't you simply need to know the size of charge for them, and work it from there?

Yes I think I can work it out now from the data fusiilier provided.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-11-23, 02:44 PM
These terms seem to have been muddled historically. With references to tucks (or estoc, stocco, etc.) in the early 17th century appearing to reference what we would call a rapier. Many of these terms have been applied retroactively (like "cut-and-thrust" swords) to clarify the situation for collectors. Unfortunately, sometimes this is done poorly, with people defining what a rapier is by it's hilt (seriously, I've seen that argument made). Might want to double check with the original post to see what was meant by "rapier"

The terms have occasionally been confused, in period typically swords of all kinds were just called 'swords' (or epee, espada, mec, etc.) more specific terms like 'rapier', 'estoc', 'spadona', 'espada ropera') were occasionally used at best. But by modern (post Oakeshott, who reintroduced the idea of classifying the blades in the 1960s) classifications, we can clearly see the difference between a rapier and an estoc and we know their very different origins and purposes. You won't find an estoc in Marrozo.


Also, I know the Chinese did have mail armor. I'm not sure how widespread it was, but I recall a reference to the Imjin War which claimed that the Japanese found their katana to be ineffective against the mail worn by Heavy Chinese cavalry.

Katanas would be ineffective against any steel or iron armor I would imagine.

The idea that rapiers were used to pierce European armor but couldn't pierce Chinese armor is completely absurd on a whole bunch of different levels. European armor was better, (in fact by the late Ming dynasty the Chinese were buying European mail as much as they could from the Portuguese) rapiers were not ever armor-piercing weapons, neither were jian, the shape of a rapier is for winning unarmored duels by stabbing the other guy first, not to punch a hole through a breast plate or a haubergeon....

When you are talking about an earlier rapier or "sidesword" or espada ropera, the similarities to the Jian are even more striking, since both are probably equally used for thrusting, slicing, and cutting against unarmored targets. Both are double-edged cut-thrust swords which require a similar level of training to use effectively. The main difference is actually the hand protection on the sidesword which allows it to be used more aggressively (more hand-forward guards)

Jian came in many different varieties, they were also for example made in two-handed sizes up to 1.5 meters long, down to short sword sizes of 30 centimeters or less. They were of varying quality and varying levels of flexibility, some were very stuff and primarily for thrusting, others slightly more flexible but nothing like the modern Wushu swords we see today. Sadly there are very few surviving Jian of real vintage since they were increasingly controlled in China especially from the Manchu Dynasty onward (mid 17th Century). Soldiers for example were not allowed to use Jian of any kind. Most of what still survives are really ceremonial swords owned by Government officials. Occasionally a really nice Ming dynasty vintage Jian shows up in auction site.

G.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-11-23, 03:01 PM
I've a question about this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBTtq2Gzm6w). Late in the scene, guy number one (in the dun colored outfit) starts switching his blade between his right and left hands. Would this be accurate technique? Why would this be done? Because his right arm is tired? To press an advantage? I know in Olympic fencing it is good to have a left handed fencer or two in your club, because unfamiliarity with the technique for defeating a south-paw can be lethal. Was that the case in HEMA?

And another question, are there techniques for fighting left handed? I know (well, I have been told) that there was cultural bias against the left handed historically in Europe (and there is still bias in East Asia, as far as I know), but it seems to me being able to fight with a blade in one's left hand would be advantageous, for all the reasons it is advantageous in Olympic fencing.

Galloglaich
2010-11-23, 03:03 PM
Huh, this scene from Potop dubbed as "best movie sabre duel" ?

That's quite nice, and indeed it's a good scene.

Yeah, it's awesome... hardly anyone in the West has seen the (excellent) film but almost all HEMA people I know are familiar with that duel scene beause it's probably the best sword fight in any modern film, you have to go back to the 40s' to find anything as good.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-11-23, 03:05 PM
I've a question about this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBTtq2Gzm6w). Late in the scene, guy number one (in the dun colored outfit) starts switching his blade between his right and left hands. Would this be accurate technique? Why would this be done? Because his right arm is tired? To press an advantage? I know in Olympic fencing it is good to have a left handed fencer or two in your club, because unfamiliarity with the technique for defeating a south-paw can be lethal. Was that the case in HEMA?

Switching hands, in the film, is just done to taunt the other guy, as he is completely outclassed. In the end the guy who was losing asks the guy in the dun colored outfit (who is supposed to be a very famous fencer) to 'finish it'. Which he does with a fairly light cut to the head which turned out not to be fatal. You wouldn't do that in a real fight normally.

A lefty in fencing has about the same advantages or disadvantages as in collegiate fencing or boxing.



And another question, are there techniques for fighting left handed? I know (well, I have been told) that there was cultural bias against the left handed historically in Europe (and there is still bias in East Asia, as far as I know), but it seems to me being able to fight with a blade in one's left hand would be advantageous, for all the reasons it is advantageous in Olympic fencing.

I don't know of any specific techniques, though it's a good question.

G.

Spiryt
2010-11-23, 03:13 PM
AS mentioned, the short guy is playing with the villain, and in the books switching hands quickly was mentioned as masterful and quite practical technique.

Now, author of the books, was not, in absolutely any sense well versed in fencing, but it obviously went to the movies too. :smallsmile:


As far as left handed techniques go, I recall that in fact in some of the 15th century fechtbuchs, there are mentions about difference in techniques for left handed guys.

Some messers also are for left handed guys, while most are obviously for righties... There's difference. If I find some details, I will post them later.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-11-23, 03:23 PM
How prevalent was fighting with the left hand then? The techniques would have to be different - the way you parry (at least in my *Olympic* fencing experience) is very different, as is how you attack, and the angles at which you can attack. Defending your leg (against a leftie) is much more important than against a rightie, at least in my experience, because it is much closer to the point of their blade. That said it has always seemed easier for me to catch a left handed fencer in the 'pocket' of his elbow, for much the same reason.

Galloglaich
2010-11-23, 03:28 PM
the difference is the nagel, I should have thought of that....


http://www.ritterschlag.net/schantz_lang08/hauswehr_01.JPG

That is sort of a knuckle-guard as you see on this hauswehr, it protects the hand from going over the blade during a thrust and also blocks cuts to the hand somewhat. It is a feature of all messers (sometimes replaced by a sidering) and many 'peasant knives' such as the hauswehr, baurenwehr, rugger etc

There are similar features on the hilts of many sabers which would require them to be used with one hand or the other. Or many weapons with a complex hilt (though some are made ambidextrous).

Conversely a typical longsword or arming sword can be used with either hand.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-11-23, 03:33 PM
How prevalent was fighting with the left hand then? The techniques would have to be different - the way you parry (at least in my *Olympic* fencing experience) is very different, as is how you attack, and the angles at which you can attack. Defending your leg (against a leftie) is much more important than against a rightie, at least in my experience, because it is much closer to the point of their blade. That said it has always seemed easier for me to catch a left handed fencer in the 'pocket' of his elbow, for much the same reason.

It's probably more pronounced in collegiate fencing because everything is so linear, you basically move back and forth in a strait line right? In Classical Fencing, which is the direct predecessor of collegeiate fencing using smallswords, you would move all over the place, circling, stepping tangentally with every thrust or parry, attacking from all directions, and yeah also using that off-hand or a cloak or a hat or whatever to interfere with thier thrusts. And you'll also get into grappling, strikes, throws and all sorts of dirty-fighting.

But anyway my point is that in less restricted forms of fencing you have to attack from all directions with your weapon, we have some guys in our group who are lefties actually and they fight with both hands, I haven't found it very different though it can be a bit disconcerting.

It's probably worth looking into further what specific techniques are in the manuals for left handed fencers, I'm curious myself now....

G.

Spiryt
2010-11-23, 03:35 PM
I cannot find any pictures, but I read that there's effigy of Jan Koniecpolski and his two sons in one of the churches near Łódź.

It's dated to circa 1475, and presents them as a knights fully armed, with their swords.

Sword of Jan and one of the sons is strapped to his right side, while second son has sword hanged classically, at the left side.

So it seems that there was no problem with portraying such individual traits, so it doesn't seem like a bias towards left handed people.


There are also some parts of the Le Jeu de la Hache (http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/NotesLEJEUDELAHACHE.htm) that deal with fighting against left handed opponent.

EDIT: As far as messers go, modern high quality replicas makers specifically ask if messer should be left or fight handed, obviously.

fusilier
2010-11-23, 04:14 PM
Last month I finally picked up a dagger for my circa 1600 Spanish soldier impression. The general inspiration for my impression has come from De Gheyn's Exercise of Armes, which I'm sure some of you are familiar with.

Anyway, the calivermen in that book are the only ones depicted with a dagger clearly displayed. It is worn on the belt, at the back with the hilt to the right. It appears to be far enough back that it could not be drawn by the left hand. The fashion of the time had very high waistlines, and the belt is correspondingly high. If the dagger was moved much farther forward it would be hit by the right elbow in normal caliver procedures.

So my question is: would the dagger be drawn with the right hand then passed to the left, before drawing the sword? Or perhaps were their simply times when only a dagger was needed/desired (as there is nothing about this dagger to indicate that it can only be used in the left hand)? Are there other sources from this time which show an alternate way of carrying the dagger?

Thanks.

Fhaolan
2010-11-23, 04:34 PM
So my question is: would the dagger be drawn with the right hand then passed to the left, before drawing the sword? Or perhaps were their simply times when only a dagger was needed/desired (as there is nothing about this dagger to indicate that it can only be used in the left hand)? Are there other sources from this time which show an alternate way of carrying the dagger?


Based on my experience as a horseman, I would say the dagger is there for time where only a dagger is needed/desired. When working with horses, I always have a sharp knife or dagger where I can reach it quickly and easily. A horse is a large, strong animal, but can get tangled in reins, straps, ropes, and whatever quite easily and with very horrible effect. Being able to cut those the instant you realize there's a problem can be a lifesaver, both for you and the horse.

fusilier
2010-11-23, 04:59 PM
Based on my experience as a horseman, I would say the dagger is there for time where only a dagger is needed/desired. When working with horses, I always have a sharp knife or dagger where I can reach it quickly and easily. A horse is a large, strong animal, but can get tangled in reins, straps, ropes, and whatever quite easily and with very horrible effect. Being able to cut those the instant you realize there's a problem can be a lifesaver, both for you and the horse.

Yeah, I thought it would have utilitarian uses also. That reminds me of a story related by an ACW artillery reenactor. He was at an event where they had a full limber team (six horses). Something happened - I don't remember what exactly - I think a nearby lightning strike startled the horses. When they got everything under control they discovered that one of the horses from the center pair had somehow managed to turn himself 180 degrees, and was now facing backwards but was still in his harness! They had to cut the horse out of there. :-)

Ok, so I have another more practical question. The scabbard for this dagger is too loose, and the dagger is so butt heavy that it will invariably turn itself upside-down and fall out at the first opportunity. I have placed a small thin piece of leather at the mouth of the scabbard on the inside. This holds the dagger in very well, but I'm unsure what would be a good way to attach the piece of leather permanently - it will sometimes fall-out when the dagger is being drawn, or, worse yet, be shoved farther into the scabbard when the dagger is returned. Stitching is out of the question. My first inclination is to glue it in place (possibly with elmer's wood glue?), but I'm not sure which glues are appropriate for leather. As the mouth of the scabbard has a metal collar, I also considered placing it in a vise, bending the collar inward and closing the mouth enough that I shouldn't need to glue any leather in place at all. However, that's kind of a last resort option.

Fhaolan
2010-11-23, 05:43 PM
Ok, so I have another more practical question. The scabbard for this dagger is too loose, and the dagger is so butt heavy that it will invariably turn itself upside-down and fall out at the first opportunity. I have placed a small thin piece of leather at the mouth of the scabbard on the inside. This holds the dagger in very well, but I'm unsure what would be a good way to attach the piece of leather permanently

Rubber cement is usually the best for glueing leather. If you need a brand name, 'Barge Cement' is this one I recommend.

And I have that problem with a roundel dagger which wants to turn upside-down. I had to make a special frog constructed so that if the sheath did turn, it would have to twist the belt it was attached to.

fusilier
2010-11-23, 05:50 PM
Rubber cement is usually the best for glueing leather. If you need a brand name, 'Barge Cement' is this one I recommend.

And I have that problem with a roundel dagger which wants to turn upside-down. I had to make a special frog constructed so that if the sheath did turn, it would have to twist the belt it was attached to.

Thank you. Yeah, I just tied it to the belt using a leather thong. That seems to work pretty well, and the belt has to twist in order for it turn upside down -- which it will do when I'm taking the belt off. Also the dagger is worn inclined to the right, more horizontal than vertical, so other events could easily have knocked the dagger out of its scabbard.

Psyx
2010-11-24, 07:19 AM
sorry to keep bringing it back to Polish stuff but those films are actually what got me interested in all that... largely because of those scenes.

That's because they're awesome pieces of film.



Actually, that is incorrect. Your hand is kept behind your body in most historical fencing so that your hand doesn't inadvertently get cut. However, you will also see a common stance with one hand held close to the chest, palm down, which is to be in position to displace the blade. They even used to make mail-lined gloves to make this easier.


I was very much under the impression that if one could (legally) use the hand one would do so -especially in a terminal duel - for the reasons given: A slash to the arm is better than a punctured lung. Several centuries of fencing manuals featuring all manner of off-hand seem to follow that logic.

As the rapier gave way to small-sword, the hand was moved back and the practice of using the hand went -eventually- by the wayside... often the reason for balance is cited. I personally reason that the practical aspect behind this change would partly be a training one - both to prevent the hand getting cut in practice, and at the insistence of instructors ['get that bloody hand out the way and concentrate on what you're doing with the blade!'] during formal coaching, which became massively prevalent.

That would lead to a cultural shift where using the hand was 'wrong' and ceased to become the norm. Certainly some later duelling codes I've seen insist that the hand is kept back, and may be tied back in order to prevent interference. I suspect that allowing use of the bare hand also would be disapproved of because of exactly the reason seen in the film: A bad fencer who had no right to win could -in a very crude manner- run through the 'better' man. Obviously the people who got themselves into regular duels and fencing masters (ie the most influential people on the duelling 'scene') would not be keen on this happening because it somewhat blunted their edge, which may have accelerated the shift in etiquette.

This shift in etiquette did not occur in a vacuum and a simple change from 'using the hand and whatever you happen to have in it at the time is fine' to 'using the hand isn't fine because you might get a cut on it while fighting for your life' . The two are in contradiction, pointing to there being more to it.

Roth's fencing is excellent and that as a competent fencer I find it a struggle to consider that the character wouldn't use his hand and arm as a ward at some point in the combat if it was ok to do so, as it was very much known practice. It essentially becomes a question of 'Was Roth's character a bad fencer, or did Rob Roy cheat?'. I'm gonna pull Occam's razor out on that one, but either answer slightly marrs what is otherwise a fine bit of fencing.




I think you are confusing real classical fencing with colegieate / olympic sport fencing actually.


No; we're discussing the same thing. Just from different perspectives.



and in the pop culture (I saw an excerpt from a UK reality show last year in which the contestants thought Winston Churchill was a rap star, among other travesties)

Ah... good old TV. How dull it would be if they only showed the answers people gave to questions that were right. Instead, it parades idiots in front of us in order to make us feel smug about our own intellect. Think how stupid the average person is... now remember half of them are dumber than that... :smallbiggrin:



We don't have many aristocrats in this country

Apart from all those rich people ;)
What, with America being a classless society and all...



But you don't see a lot of English actors with broad cockney accents playing villains, they are usually cast as say, Roman Centurians or Butlers.

Usually lower-calibre mooks. Don't you know: Everyone from England is either from the Home Counties and privately educated, or from the East end of London...



I really couldn't disagree with this more. And I want to make a point of it because it's a real fundamental position I have held for about 10 years vis a vis the gaming industry, it's the reason I wrote the Codex to prove my point after a big debate about the role of realism in gaming on The Forge.

Try looking at it from another perspective... pick a few films that you love but know nothing about technically. Now watch them with an expert in the field and ask them to point out every little flaw that annoys them while watching it. Essentially, this puts you in the shoes of the 'ignorant masses', and you'll be surprised what you've unknowingly been tolerating. As long as it seems half-reasonable to the untrained eye, we accept it.

'Battle of the Bulge' is quite well known, surely? It's the film that famously uses Shermans as Tigers... :smallbiggrin:



Katanas would be ineffective against any steel or iron armor I would imagine.

Surely they'd cut through them like butter, and the guy wearing it, and the three guys behind him...

...KIDDING!!!



but it seems to me being able to fight with a blade in one's left hand would be advantageous, for all the reasons it is advantageous in Olympic fencing.

Left-handedness is most advantageous when fighting another left hander... for both parties, as neither will have had much practice fighting left-handers! It's sometimes a comedy of bad parries.

Generally lefties have an advantage because people haven't sparred as much with them, while they'll have sparred a lot against right-handers. For a right-hander to learn how to fight left handed wouldn't be as useful at all.

Definitely no left-handed swordsman in Japan, though. You learn with the right, regardless of natural predilection.

I believe in some Viking sagas 'two handed men' could fight with the left, though I think this was more of a passing of the blade over to the other hand for an attack as part of a feint. Can't remember though, as it was a loooong while since I've read any of that stuff, and it may be melding with historical fiction!



So my question is: would the dagger be drawn with the right hand then passed to the left, before drawing the sword?

A dagger is both a tool and a weapon that you'd want to draw as fast as possible, because you're either in close quarters or disarmed. So for both daily use and for life-or-death situations, I'd want it somewhere it can be drawn fast with a right hand.

Raum
2010-11-24, 10:04 AM
As the rapier gave way to small-sword, the hand was moved back and the practice of using the hand went -eventually- by the wayside... often the reason for balance is cited. I personally reason that the practical aspect behind this change would partly be a training one - both to prevent the hand getting cut in practice, and at the insistence of instructors ['get that bloody hand out the way and concentrate on what you're doing with the blade!'] during formal coaching, which became massively prevalent. I'm curious...does this correlate with the move to dueling to first blood as the cultural norm?

Apart from all those rich people ;)
What, with America being a classless society and all...Someone has probably written papers on it but, culturally, Americans tend to view 'rich' differently from much of the world. There's often the thought - "if I were better / luckier / or worked harder, I'd be just as rich."

'Battle of the Bulge' is quite well known, surely? It's the film that famously uses Shermans as Tigers... :smallbiggrin:I haven't seen it mentioned yet, but I enjoyed HBO's Band of Brothers and, to a lesser degree, The Pacific.

Psyx
2010-11-24, 10:33 AM
I'm curious...does this correlate with the move to dueling to first blood as the cultural norm?

First blood is a little bit of a myth as regards what we'd regard as a duel, and certainly wouldn't be the cultural norm in a rapier or smallsword duel. Duelling until one side was unable to continue was more the norm.
The concept of duelling to first blood might have slipped into the mass conciousness via Mensur - European acedemic fencing, where the point was to cut the other practitioner's face, or from Singlestick bouts, where the point was once again to cause blood to flow from the head.




Someone has probably written papers on it but, culturally, Americans tend to view 'rich' differently from much of the world. There's often the thought - "if I were better / luckier / or worked harder, I'd be just as rich."

90% of the world's population view 'rich' as knowing where the food is coming from for the next year, able to afford modern medical treatments, and having hot and cold potable running water... But that aside, I was sort of being ironic. America is far from being a classless society: It's as class orientated or more-so than many other nations. However, America assesses and judges class predominantly via the trappings of wealth and income, which is quite unusual anthropologically.

Yora
2010-11-24, 12:03 PM
Someone has probably written papers on it but, culturally, Americans tend to view 'rich' differently from much of the world. There's often the thought - "if I were better / luckier / or worked harder, I'd be just as rich."
We actually did discuss this with our professor in university. But since the reason for it lies in the religious history of America, the forum rules forbid us to talk about it.
You might want to look up the "double predestination" of Calvinism and supposed you understand it (most of us didn't and we deal with this stuff every day) you should see the connection with the idea that you should work hard to get very rich.

fusilier
2010-11-24, 01:09 PM
Someone has probably written papers on it but, culturally, Americans tend to view 'rich' differently from much of the world. There's often the thought - "if I were better / luckier / or worked harder, I'd be just as rich."

The corollary to this is if you are not rich, it's because you don't work hard enough --> i.e. the poor are poor because they are lazy.

I'm trying to trace exactly how we ended up on this subject.



I think a lot to do with it is also down to the quality of a few British actors in particular. They're so damned good at doing it. Who'd NOT want Gary Oldman as the BBEG? America demands a US lead more often than not, for the sake of identity. But for your charismatic bad guy, you might as well open the field up and audition on talent alone. Given the shortage of really good and available actors in Hollywood at any given time, it's no wonder that the lead villain - with a lower paycheck, non-US requirement and less time needed on-set - often outshines the protagonist in quality.
There were quite a few very good Enligsh actors, used both as heroes and villains, Star Wars wouldn't have really worked without both Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing. But I think it's really a matter of needing actors who were A) foreign, B) aristocratic and C) spoke English. We don't have many aristocrats in this country and those few with East Coast aristocratic accents we used to use (like say, Clark Gable) seem to have mostly died out, though we have a few who continue the tradition like Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce, but they have a fairly small niche.

I don't think you necessarily need a foreign aristocratic type for a villain, what you need is a good "character" actor. The British media seem to put far more stock in character actors than American media. That's not to say that America is devoid of good character actors, instead they get less attention and there are probably fewer of them as a result.

Galloglaich
2010-11-24, 09:29 PM
That's because they're awesome pieces of film.

Agreed!




I was very much under the impression that if one could (legally) use the hand one would do so -especially in a terminal duel - for the reasons given: A slash to the arm is better than a punctured lung. Several centuries of fencing manuals featuring all manner of off-hand seem to follow that logic.

Whether that is true depends on the weapon. If it is a very efficient cutting weapon like a messer you really want to keep your off-hand out of the way, because this can be the result

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1f/De_Fechtbuch_Talhoffer_226.jpg/400px-De_Fechtbuch_Talhoffer_226.jpg

Even if that were your off-hand, you are basically dead at that point.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f7/De_Fechtbuch_Talhoffer_222.jpg/400px-De_Fechtbuch_Talhoffer_222.jpg

However even with the messer you do use your hand offensively, first you get a bind

http://de.wikisource.org/wiki/Datei:De_Fechtbuch_Talhoffer_222.jpg

...then trap the blade like this

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1b/De_Fechtbuch_Talhoffer_223.jpg/400px-De_Fechtbuch_Talhoffer_223.jpg
In the above sequence you start with your off-hand up near your chest, as far away from the other blade as possible, then drop it down when you get the bind. it's something like the waiting position you see in rapier manuals, and even in quite a few smallsword manuals like in this picture

http://www.hickoksports.com/images/1739fencing.jpg

where the fencers seem to have their off-hands positioned to displace.



As the rapier gave way to small-sword, the hand was moved back and the practice of using the hand went -eventually- by the wayside...

My understanding is that this assertion is incorrect when it comes to Classical Fencing, this change only took place in sport-fencing. Big difference. From what I have been told by HEMA people who do Classical fencing, the fighting still heavily involves grappling, striking, and grabbing the blade with the hand which is quite a viable tactic with the smallsword. This was all taught because of course, one may have to use the smallsword for defense against robbers or assassins and etc., rather than merely for gentelmanly play in the salon.

Like I said, there may have been some special rules in some dueling codes but I don't think there was anything like a general rule against using your off-hand in the real world, quite to the contrary.

But maybe at this point we should start finding some sources to back up our respective positions.



Roth's fencing is excellent and that as a competent fencer I find it a struggle to consider that the character wouldn't use his hand and arm as a ward at some point in the combat if it was ok to do so, as it was very much known practice. It essentially becomes a question of 'Was Roth's character a bad fencer, or did Rob Roy cheat?'. I'm gonna pull Occam's razor out on that one, but either answer slightly marrs what is otherwise a fine bit of fencing.

Seeing as the directors couldn't be bothered to find out even the basic guards of backsword fencing which Liam should have been doing, I think Occams razor tells me they got someone to train Tim Roth in modern collegiate sport fencing, didn't know a thing about any kind of historical fencing, and / or didn't bother to fill that particular plot hole.


Apart from all those rich people ;)
What, with America being a classless society and all...

I'm the last person to suggest United States of America is a classless society; in fact I'd say at this point USA and UK have an about equally stratified society, but in the US we don't have a lot of Old-money Aristocrats, which is not the same thing as just being rich.

In a nutshell, in the UK one can tell a great deal about someones position in society (and what schools they attended) by their accent, which is what makes it relevant to the film industry. In the US it's not immediately obvious. One would never know George W. Bush was from a Billionaire family or attended Yale from his accent.


Usually lower-calibre mooks. Don't you know: Everyone from England is either from the Home Counties and privately educated, or from the East end of London...

Well, it's a bit of a cliche, but then again, that can be said for most identifiable ethnic groups (and yanks are as I've pointed out, rarely portrayed with anything close to sympathy in UK films and TV, quite to the contrary) and actually UK actors often play American characters now, sometimes with rather odd composite accents.



Try looking at it from another perspective... pick a few films that you love but know nothing about technically. Now watch them with an expert in the field and ask them to point out every little flaw that annoys them while watching it. Essentially, this puts you in the shoes of the 'ignorant masses', and you'll be surprised what you've unknowingly been tolerating. As long as it seems half-reasonable to the untrained eye, we accept it.

I find most films I like have some verisimilitude and I usually find out they were based in something real, though I'll admit there are exceptions (and having an historical or scientific grounding by no means guarantees a good film)



'Battle of the Bulge' is quite well known, surely? It's the film that famously uses Shermans as Tigers... :smallbiggrin:

M48s I think :)



A dagger is both a tool and a weapon that you'd want to draw as fast as possible, because you're either in close quarters or disarmed. So for both daily use and for life-or-death situations, I'd want it somewhere it can be drawn fast with a right hand.

I agree with that. Dagger often comes out in an emergency or when you need it for some quick work.

G.

Psyx
2010-11-25, 06:55 AM
Seeing as the directors couldn't be bothered to find out even the basic guards of backsword fencing which Liam should have been doing, I think Occams razor tells me they got someone to train Tim Roth in modern collegiate sport fencing, didn't know a thing about any kind of historical fencing, and / or didn't bother to fill that particular plot hole.


Judging again by Roth, someone on the set had a vague idea of what was supposed to be going on. But Liam's fighting is pathetic in comparison. Essentially there's a plot hole: Ross is clearly the better man, so a situation needs to be engineered where Liam wins, but in a way that shows how butch, manly and cool he is, rather than a dishonourable dog, or simply by luck. So the director shows a way that does so to the audience that is actually fairly ridiculous.

Again, regardless of the whys and wherefores, there are essentially two positions: Either use of the hand in the duel was fine, in which case why was Roth fencing better and alert to that. Or it wasn't and Liam cheated and should have been run through afterwards. Either - for me - spoils the fight.




I'm the last person to suggest United States of America is a classless society; in fact I'd say at this point USA and UK have an about equally stratified society, but in the US we don't have a lot of Old-money Aristocrats, which is not the same thing as just being rich.


Anthropologically, the UK is more class-orientated than the USA, but the UK does its best to pretend not to be and to not allow it to bias social interactions. Whereas America's class system is based almost completely on income, the UK's is also a lot more complex than that.

For example, in the US, one ascertains a lot about someone's place in the class structure by their income, so it is common practice to ask people early on in a social relationship about their work and then perhaps their salary. Then you know what class they are and how to treat them.
Whereas in the UK it would be VERY rude to discuss salary because it would be partially pinning down someone's class. You'd get an evasive answer ['I'm doing alright', 'it pays the bills' or 'nothing, after the wife's spent it on shoes!']. Establishment of class level in the UK is done via the medium of an exchange of peripheral questions which are answered in vague and evasive manners by all but the most class-climbing of the middle classes.



In a nutshell, in the UK one can tell a great deal about someones position in society (and what schools they attended) by their accent, which is what makes it relevant to the film industry.


Not strictly true. You can tell their parent's class and level of education but there's a lot more to it than that. Selection of words [napkin/serviette, sofa/couch, what/pardon] and a few specific pronunciations are a much better guideline than a regional accent or lack thereof.

I'm digressing, but this is a subject that fascinates me.


UK actors often play American characters now, sometimes with rather odd composite accents.

Although never as bad as Kevin Costner's attempt at an English one...



M48s I think :)

M47s apparently... We're both wrong.

Stephen_E
2010-11-25, 07:17 AM
I was very much under the impression that if one could (legally) use the hand one would do so -especially in a terminal duel - for the reasons given: A slash to the arm is better than a punctured lung. Several centuries of fencing manuals featuring all manner of off-hand seem to follow that logic.


If the duel is to 1st blood u would of course not want the hand where it could be easily pinked.

Even in a death duel there is a good argument for keeping the hand tucked away until you really need it.
If you slash or stab a persons hand it will bleed, and in the action of a fight continue to bleed. Aside from the distraaction of the pain the blood loss will sap your endurance. In effect it can become a death wound.
There is a difference between grabbing your opponents weapon and letting him stab it.

And finally most duels weren't to the death. The history behind the film "The Duelists" was that the 2 men fought approximately 30 duels!
So people will be taught not to get their hands cut up as a matter of course.

Regardless of arguments of logic, as has been pointed out there are numerous fensing manual that refer to grabing blades, so clearly it was a legal tactic in many duels. Thus with out specific period infomation there is no support to claim in a particular duel that it would've been illegal.

Stephen E

Stephen_E
2010-11-25, 07:25 AM
A further note on grabbing a sharp blade with your hand.

It is fine to say this is a taught technique, but the simple truth is it will hurt and you will be cut. Easy as it is to say, it's a lot more difficult to do. A significant number of fighters are simply going to avoid doing it.
Lets not kid ourselves, cutting yourself is not an easy thing to do, and consequently it is quite possible people (fencers) may form blindspots on the issue.

My comment is not based on a knowledge of fencing, but rather a abservation of people.

Stephen E

Psyx
2010-11-25, 08:26 AM
If the duel is to 1st blood u would of course not want the hand where it could be easily pinked.

Although the concept of duelling to first blood is predominantly a cultural invention, as per an earlier post.



Even in a death duel there is a good argument for keeping the hand tucked away until you really need it.

The duel in question was indeed very much to the death.
A hand tucked away isn't going to be where you need it when you need it though. It's like carrying an unloaded back-up firearm.
As to bleeding: There are no major arteries in the hand. It would bleed, it would hurt, but it would bleed less and hurt less than a punctured spleen.
If a hand is all you have between you and a blade, it's used instinctively. This is why defensive wounds happen.


In effect it can become a death wound.

Again: Better a slow-bleeding and painful debilitating cut than a rapier in the lung.




And finally most duels weren't to the death. The history behind the film "The Duelists" was that the 2 men fought approximately 30 duels!
So people will be taught not to get their hands cut up as a matter of course.


The one in question was though.

During the 19C, duels became rather formalised and somewhat less lethal. Pistols were commonly deliberately discharged wide of the mark, particularly in Western Europe. Using light cavalry sabres in sabre duels instead of heavy cavalry 'killing' swords was also an integral safety feature. Even though duels were usually not terminal, they COULD easily be.
And remember that the situation in The Duellists was itself an extreme one, hence it being notable.



Regardless of arguments of logic, as has been pointed out there are numerous fensing manual that refer to grabing blades, so clearly it was a legal tactic in many duels.


Yes, and those fight manuals depicting techniques are rather my point: It was a very much known and used technique. Again: Roth's character as the clearly superior swordsman should at least have been slightly prepared for the matter and using his own hand to some degree. It's like watching a boxer punch with one arm for five minutes and then be surprised when their foe pulls their left out from behind their back, and delivers a cross with it. For me it ruins the otherwise great scene.

Although don't forget that fight manuals aren't only about duelling: They are about self defence. the streets of the time were extremely deadly, and so an 'anything goes' attitude towards self-defence was taught. What is seen in a fight manual should not generally be taken as the scene of a duel.



Thus with out specific period infomation there is no support to claim in a particular duel that it would've been illegal.

...apart from the manner in which it was conducted, of course. It's hard to ignore indicative evidence under one's eyes.

Interestingly William Hobbs coordinated both the fights in The Duellists and Rob Roy...

Psyx
2010-11-25, 08:30 AM
It is fine to say this is a taught technique, but the simple truth is it will hurt and you will be cut. Easy as it is to say, it's a lot more difficult to do. A significant number of fighters are simply going to avoid doing it.

I'd have to disagree with that one. Plenty of untrained people turn up in morgues with defensive wounds on hands and arms: They managed to do it. Humans have strong survival instincts.

Furthermore, it's a well-know commentary in martial arts circles that it doesn't matter how good you are: If you get in a fight with someone carrying a knife, you're probably going to get your arm cut open.

Yora
2010-11-25, 10:36 AM
When everpossible, do not get into a fight with knives.

Psyx
2010-11-25, 11:07 AM
Knives frighten the heck out of me. The person using it invariably has no idea how to use it, which makes matters all the more unpredictable. And it's far too easy to kill someone with a knife; even if you don't mean to.
So basically: Don't ever carry one unless you don't mind picking up a murder charge at some point, and don't fight someone who has one if you can possibly run away!

Galloglaich
2010-11-25, 11:24 AM
Again: Roth's character as the clearly superior swordsman should at least have been slightly prepared for the matter and using his own hand to some degree. It's like watching a boxer punch with one arm for five minutes and then be surprised when their foe pulls their left out from behind their back, and delivers a cross with it. For me it ruins the otherwise great scene.

I think Roth was actually wise to keep his hand away, because Liam was using a cutting weapon which would cause a serious as opposed to a superficial wound to his hand if he got cut.

And just because you know of a technique doesn't mean you can beat it.


Although don't forget that fight manuals aren't only about duelling: They are about self defence. the streets of the time were extremely deadly, and so an 'anything goes' attitude towards self-defence was taught. What is seen in a fight manual should not generally be taken as the scene of a duel.

Yes that is true.

G

Galloglaich
2010-11-25, 11:34 AM
Hey I hope this isn't too off-topic, and it's not a question or an answer to a question, but I wanted to share this with the group.

As most of the regular folks in this thread probably know I'm a member of a small HEMA club in New Orleans. I founded it ten years ago with another buddy from this area. Over the years we have gradually improved our equipment and technique, and made contacts around the world.

We are still a small, marginal club compared to most HEMA groups, we only have 6 members (compared to 40 or 50 for many of the European groups) we have relied on fechtbuch interpretations and translations from other groups for the most part, and we don't have the excellent kit most serious HEMA clubs have now days. But earlier this year three of us went to the international WMA tournament in Houston, and we did pretty well, I made it to the quarter finals in (nylon) longsword and won five Dussack bouts, and my buddy Henry Rhodes won seven matches in longsword and six in Dussack.

Earlier this month, Henry traveled to Sweden to participate in the Swordfish tournament. He made it to the quarter-finals in longsword, fighting with steel, and he made third place in Dussack. We are real proud of him. So here are two of his bouts I wanted to show y'all.

Henry is the "blue" fighter in both of these bouts.

Steel longsword

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kJyRVtG4e0&feature=related

Dussack

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8nnhl33_ck

We are, I think, only the second American club to place in that tournament.

G.

Norsesmithy
2010-11-25, 11:40 AM
Very cool indeed.

Galloglaich
2010-11-25, 12:12 PM
Ok I checked with some HEMA colleagues who do smallsword and rapier, and learned a few things.

This is a little embarassing to admit, but I haven't seen the film in a few years, but it was pointed out to me Tim Roth was actually using a rapier not a smallsword. :smalleek:

Also 18th Century fencing is NOT considered "Classical Fencing" which is only in the 19th Century, so I was wrong about that too. :smallconfused:

Apparently in 18th Century Scottish law, duels to the death were illegal and were a hanging offense. All duels were to the first blood, if you killed someone intentionally in a duel you were subject to being hanged. If however you cut someone in a duel and they died 2 weeks later from an infection, that was Gods Will and you were off the hook.

Apparently the real Rob Roy only fought one known duel, he wounded his opponent who then attacked him in a crazed manner, forcing Rob to wound him again several times and then finally kill him. This was ruled to be in self-defense however even by the mans seconds.

Duels to the death did still happen however.

There is some argument as to whether Liam would still be considered cheating though since at the point when he had apparently been defeated and Tim Roth was looking to the Laird to check if he could dispatch him, he attacked. But some other people said since he was still alive and active he hadn't actually been defeated.

Grabbing the blade was a legal tactic and appears in numerous manuals of the period, notably Mcbane (the very character upon whom The Deulist was loosely based) includes multitudes of dirty fighting techniques which he specifically warns that Aristocrats will habitually use, throwing dirt in your face etc..

Domenico Angelo (1763) also clearly displays numerous examples of grabbing the blade and disarming:

http://www.fencingonline.com/swashbucklers/Angelo%20%[email protected]%2025%250001.JPG

http://www.rapier-wit.com/images/Angelo%20disarm%20fear.jpg

G.

Spiryt
2010-11-25, 12:20 PM
I'm still not sure what whole argument is about.

Cunningham was not really using his other hand, because he was playing with a food a bit, no to mention that using naked arm when opponent is swinging broadly with cutting sword is not the best idea. :smallconfused:

Rob was not using his hand (except for one or two times when he actually did) because he wasn't really skilled enough and the whole point was that he generally had problems with shortening the distance indeed.

In last scene, obviously, he won by sheer "bad scotishness", and righteous rage :smallcool, and simply, that despite horrible harm, he squeezed the blade so hard, that even when Cunningham pulled it, he couldn't get it free. Before he, being completely surprised, managed to put another coherent thought together, he had already been severely hyperventilated.

Am I getting anything wrong?

Galloglaich
2010-11-25, 12:23 PM
Also for lagniappe, I had forgotten about this but, here is a list of some legal records (Coroners reports) of duels and fights in England from the 16th-18th Centuries

http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/242110-history-mythology-art-rpgs-24.html#post5298005

G.

Galloglaich
2010-11-25, 12:36 PM
We were arguing about whether grabbing the blade was illegal, for the most part.

Regarding whether it was physically possible or safe, I think this demonstration by Hammabourg in Germany is very eye-opening.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E4aSlLyBTo

G.

Psyx
2010-11-25, 01:01 PM
I'm still not sure what whole argument is about.

My point is that an otherwise good fight scene is destroyed for me by a stupid ending. Liam deserved to loose in every sense. He only won by GM Directorial fiat.


Rapier...? I'll have to look at it again, but it looked to be far too small for that.
(It also appear to have been a 'run what you brung' duel, in that neither blade is remotely similar or evenly matched to the other...)


Awesome videos, btw.

Spiryt
2010-11-25, 01:11 PM
My point is that an otherwise good fight scene is destroyed for me by a stupid ending. Liam deserved to loose in every sense. He only won by GM Directorial fiat.


Well, in every sense save the fact that he became opened split?

He was playing with Rob a bit, and payed dearly, as he was able to do "last effort".

It seems that it was absolutely legal, both from period sources, and from the duel itself - I remember Rob using his hand to push aside opponents blade at least once.

As for Cunningham's blade, it seemed like some transitional cup hilt to me - not really smallsword, but much slighter than 'traditional' rapiers. Would probably have to look again though.

Raum
2010-11-25, 03:27 PM
For example, in the US, one ascertains a lot about someone's place in the class structure by their income, so it is common practice to ask people early on in a social relationship about their work and then perhaps their salary. Then you know what class they are and how to treat them.
Whereas in the UK it would be VERY rude to discuss salary because it would be partially pinning down someone's class. You'd get an evasive answer ['I'm doing alright', 'it pays the bills' or 'nothing, after the wife's spent it on shoes!']. Establishment of class level in the UK is done via the medium of an exchange of peripheral questions which are answered in vague and evasive manners by all but the most class-climbing of the middle classes.Straying a bit from the topic here, but this is incorrect. It's still rude to ask someone how much they make. Even here in the US with us hicks. Jobs may well be discussed...or complained about. But salary discussions are reserved for family and, possibly, very close friends.

TheBlackShadow
2010-11-25, 04:14 PM
Okay, so a while ago a DM of mine held a campaign in a homebrew setting. The analogy he used to describe the geopolitics of the continent was if the Roman Empire had not fallen to the barbarian invasions but instead expanded to include Germany, Scandinavia, the remainder of the British Isles, Eastern Europe, pre-expansion Russia (ie, Kievan Rus), and a larger slice of the Middle East and North Africa, and survived all the way through to the Middle Ages. Each of about twenty or so provinces had its own defence forces and contributed auxiliary legions modelled on the forces of its equivalent RL nation, while being ruled over by a central empire, the armies of which were essentially highly evolved Roman legions.

My question is as follows: how do the armour, weaponry, strategy, tactics and organisation of the Roman armies compare to those of the European nations around the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries? If one were to adapt the Roman imperial forces to late Middle Ages / early Renaissance warfare and technology, how could it be done while still keeping them obviously Roman?

Spiryt
2010-11-25, 04:23 PM
I think it's easy to say that typical late Middle Ages stuff could never happen.... Or happen much earlier, but completely different way of history seems more probable.

Plate armor, walls of pikes, pole arms, mounted crossbowmen, Hussite carts, or generally whatever, obviously aren't some "inevitable" things. :smallwink:

Roman Empire lasting so long as some kind of whole Europe hegemony would shape the culture, customs, geography, politics, society of Europe so much differently, that the history of warfare of different cultures would be completely different.

So really, it's completely up to you, such huge idea changes everything completely into fantasy based in our "world" "planet" or whatever.

Autolykos
2010-11-25, 05:04 PM
Also don't forget that the Romans were pretty good in copying any effective weapon they encountered (if it fit to their tactics) - so their legions will probably look a lot like the (heavy) infantry of their most effective enemies.
However, they tended to do poorly against competently used cavalry, so I find it highly doubtful that they could expand into Russia and keep it (at least without such drastic changes to their kit that nobody would recognize them as Roman legionaries anymore).
I think deploying a force based on spearmen and crossbowmen with pavises (you know, like the Italian city-states actually did) would be the most probable course of action.

Storm Bringer
2010-11-25, 05:48 PM
thing is, with the roman aptitude for adaption, a medieval roman army would more than likey just look like a unsually well equipped medieval army.

also, due to the more cohesive nature of europe, the pace of mititary development would be much slower, as their would be less warfare to drive progess in martial matters forward.

but, to answer the question:


how do the armour, weaponry, strategy, tactics and organisation of the Roman armies compare to those of the European nations around the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries?

taking the 'classic' legionare equipment, and compareing it, would result with somthing along the following lines:

armour: assuming your using the 'classic; lorica segmentica, and that quality of metal is the same (i.e. the lorica is not made of 1st century iron but 14th century steel), then it would do fine over the areas it cover, but compared to medieval stuff, it has poor coverage of teh shoulders and arms. upper legs are unarmoured, lower legs may have greaves (which would be equal to medieval stuff). roman tower shields would be less useful agianst higher powered bows of the time.

Weaponry: gadius is a good, short, stabbing sword, would likey do alright agianst mail, but its not gonna cut it agianst plate. the roman long-sword design was a slashing sword. and equally weak agianst plate and mail. I can't say if the pulim would still be effective, but massed use of javalins was not a feature of medival warfare, so i think it may be less effective.

strategy (by which i mean the actions of generals): romans were at least the equal in strategy, and, due to their more standardised officer training (hell, due to them having officer training), would likey be better at large scale strategy

tactics (how the troopers fought): the roman armys fearsome displine was the evny of medival armies. they wished they were as well trained as the legionares.

Spiryt
2010-11-25, 05:57 PM
Actually, the "classic" Roman armor would still be hamata, so a mail. :smalltongue:

Since about ~50 AD to 200, segmentata was pretty popular too, but never really became dominant AFAIK.


but massed use of javalins was not a feature of medival warfare, so i think it may be less effective.

Well, massed use of javelins was most probably feature of warfare trough the most of "Dark ages" - many argue that in Polish - Teuton wars throwing javelins was pretty common too.


roman tower shields would be less useful agianst higher powered bows of the time.

Is there any evidence that medieval bows would be "higher powered"? Famous english guys indeed seemed to employ heavy ones, but there's no reason to assume that ancient professional archers wouldn't use strong bows too.

And BTW, roman scutum wasn't really very akin to "tower shield" or pavise in late medieval meaning of the word.

Galloglaich
2010-11-25, 07:21 PM
I think it's easy to say that typical late Middle Ages stuff could never happen.... Or happen much earlier, but completely different way of history seems more probable.

Plate armor, walls of pikes, pole arms, mounted crossbowmen, Hussite carts, or generally whatever, obviously aren't some "inevitable" things. :smallwink:

Roman Empire lasting so long as some kind of whole Europe hegemony would shape the culture, customs, geography, politics, society of Europe so much differently, that the history of warfare of different cultures would be completely different.

So really, it's completely up to you, such huge idea changes everything completely into fantasy based in our "world" "planet" or whatever.

I agree with Spyrit, I don't think the innovations of the late medieval period would have happened under Roman rule, and contrary to the opinions of some of the other folks here, I don't think the Imperial era Roman Army was actually that flexible... they certainly were during the Republican era of course but they seemed to have a tough time adapting to both Germanic Barbarian infantry and to Hun and Parthian cavalry during Imperial times.

All the major military innovations of the late Medieval period; plate armor, cannons, the halberd / pike / crossbow armies of the Swiss, the firearms / howitzers / war-wagons of the Hussites, the mighty navy and intelligence / trade network of the Venetians etc. would have never happened under the rule of a strong Monarchy or Empire.

However I do think the question of how would traditional Roman infantry fare against late medieval armies is quite interesting. I think the latter would have some qualitative advantage over say 1st Century AD Roman Legions, but not by much, and the Romans were capable of raising and training much larger armies. An army in the 14th -15th Century while featuring very well trained, very heavily armored and well protected specialist troops compared to a Roman Legion, typically amounted to units in the range of 5,000 - 10,000 warriors; 20,000 - 30,000 was a really large army by Medieval standards.

By comparison, each Legion had roughly 5,000 heavy-infantry, plus roughly 6,000 auxiliaries including light infantry and cavalry, for a total of 11,000; elite Legions may have had half again as many (up to 15,000 troops total). The Romans fought several battles in the Early Imperial period with between 4-8 Legions, or roughly 40,000 - 80,000 troops. That would be a formidable force indeed by Medieval standards. At the end of Augustus reign the entire Roman army consisted of 25 Legions and 250 auxiliary units of various types and sizes.

Roman armies in this period did also have heavy cavalry of their own (Clibinari) as well as artillery (torsion spear and rock throwers and counterweight trebuchets) horse-archers (sagitarii) and light cavalry similar to the type used by the Lithuanians quite successfully through the 14th-16th Centuries. And the Romans were also highly disciplined infantry which wouldn't break easily and had very effective "C3I" and command and control on the battlefield which was probably equaled only by the Mongols in this period.

I think the biggest two deficiencies the Romans would face would be in high-energy missiles (longbows and heavy crossbows and firearms, which would force them to rethink their scutum at least somewhat) and of course heavy cavalry. But I think the advantages of those over a Legion are incremental rather than exponential...

I'm ready to see the fight... who has a mod for this on Medieval Total War?

G.

Galloglaich
2010-11-25, 07:25 PM
I can't say if the pulim would still be effective, but massed use of javalins was not a feature of medival warfare, so i think it may be less effective.

Actually that isn't entirely true, weapons like Pilum were in fact used, and other types of javelins and darts were widely used throughout the Medieval and Renaissance era, though they took a back seat somewhat to higher-energy missile weapons like crossbows, longbows and firearms. One example is the Soliferrum, the solid iron javelin, which was widely used by the Almogavars as a highly effective armor-piercing weapon, as well as various remnants of the angon which was simply a pilum, and it's close relative the awl-pike which was a thrusting spear version of the same thing, and a direct descendant of the pilum.



strategy (by which i mean the actions of generals): romans were at least the equal in strategy, and, due to their more standardised officer training (hell, due to them having officer training), would likey be better at large scale strategy

I think that is probably true in many cases, although by the Renaissance you do have some professional Condottieri who have raised the art to equal or surpass that of the ancients. Many Aristocratic leaders do not share this level of skill (witness the French at Pavia or Agincourt)



tactics (how the troopers fought): the roman armys fearsome displine was the evny of medival armies. they wished they were as well trained as the legionares.

Few medieval armies had that much effective discipline; although some quite famously did. I think a Swiss pike or halberd phalanx would give a Roman Legion a good fight indeed.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-11-25, 07:27 PM
Actually if you wanted to know what a Medieval Roman Army looked like it was the Byzantines and they did fight with the Northern Europeans quite a few times, as well as with the Turks and Arabs and Tartars and etc.

G.

a_humble_lich
2010-11-26, 01:13 AM
Few medieval armies had that much effective discipline; although some quite famously did. I think a Swiss pike or halberd phalanx would give a Roman Legion a good fight indeed.


While I agree, wouldn't a Swiss phalanx have the same mobility problems that Greek phalanxes (phalanktes?) had against Rome?

fusilier
2010-11-26, 01:53 AM
Straying a bit from the topic here, but this is incorrect. It's still rude to ask someone how much they make. Even here in the US with us hicks. Jobs may well be discussed...or complained about. But salary discussions are reserved for family and, possibly, very close friends.

This is far from universal in the US. Businesses do not like their employees discussing their salaries and often have rules against them sharing such information -- I suppose this is primarily done so that managers and directors don't have to answer "awkward" questions about pay by their employees (even though they should be able to explain why person A gets paid more than person B). My father worked at a company where the employees clearly eschewed the rules: within hours of raises being announced, everybody's salary would be posted on the walls and bulletin boards. :-)

fusilier
2010-11-26, 02:06 AM
Actually if you wanted to know what a Medieval Roman Army looked like it was the Byzantines and they did fight with the Northern Europeans quite a few times, as well as with the Turks and Arabs and Tartars and etc.

G.

This is exactly what I was going to point out. The Byzantines called themselves "The Roman Empire" until the end (other Europeans called them Greek).

However, it may depend upon the divergence point. I really don't want to open this bag of worms again, so I'm going to try to do it as delicately as possible. Some authorities believe that the Roman Army was basically in decline as a result of the Military Anarchy, and the Late Empire Army would have looked very much like an early Dark Ages army. If you subscribe this theory, and your divergence point is after the Anarchy, then the Byzantines would probably be an excellent model. If the Military Anarchy never happened then things are potentially different. On the other hand, if you do not subscribe to this theory, and the Roman Army declined for different reasons (if you even accept that it did decline), then the Byzantines probably serve as a good example, regardless of whether or not the Military Anarchy took place.

Matthew
2010-11-26, 08:32 AM
I agree with Spyrit, I don't think the innovations of the late medieval period would have happened under Roman rule, and contrary to the opinions of some of the other folks here, I don't think the Imperial era Roman Army was actually that flexible... they certainly were during the Republican era of course but they seemed to have a tough time adapting to both Germanic Barbarian infantry and to Hun and Parthian cavalry during Imperial times.

It depends on what period of Imperial rule you are looking at. The early to late principate remains pretty flexible, but after the second century AD it would be fair to say that the Roman army is a shadow of its former self.



However I do think the question of how would traditional Roman infantry fare against late medieval armies is quite interesting. I think the latter would have some qualitative advantage over say 1st Century AD Roman Legions, but not by much, and the Romans were capable of raising and training much larger armies. An army in the 14th -15th Century while featuring very well trained, very heavily armored and well protected specialist troops compared to a Roman Legion, typically amounted to units in the range of 5,000 - 10,000 warriors; 20,000 - 30,000 was a really large army by Medieval standards.

By comparison, each Legion had roughly 5,000 heavy-infantry, plus roughly 6,000 auxiliaries including light infantry and cavalry, for a total of 11,000; elite Legions may have had half again as many (up to 15,000 troops total). The Romans fought several battles in the Early Imperial period with between 4-8 Legions, or roughly 40,000 - 80,000 troops. That would be a formidable force indeed by Medieval standards. At the end of Augustus reign the entire Roman army consisted of 25 Legions and 250 auxiliary units of various types and sizes.

One thing important to bear in mind is that the Roman army had a paper strength and a real strength. Certainly they had operational forces numbering in the tens of thousands, but Caesar's conquest of Gaul, for instance, was done with an army similar in size to that with which Alexander invaded Persia, which is to say of the order of 30,000-40,000. Interestingly, that is of a similar order to the numbers thought to have participated in the really large crusades. So, whilst it is true that the Romans routinely fielded very large armies, it is all relative to the scale of the undertaking.



I'm ready to see the fight... who has a mod for this on Medieval Total War?

Heh, heh. Or perhaps Field of Glory (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=140793)?



Actually if you wanted to know what a Medieval Roman Army looked like it was the Byzantines and they did fight with the Northern Europeans quite a few times, as well as with the Turks and Arabs and Tartars and etc.

Indeed; the biggest question marks for me vis-ŕ-vis the Roman army 1500 years later would be whether they would ever have developed the couched lance technique and the crossbow. Pike phalanxes and composite bows were already available to them, technological improvements like plate armour are more up in the air.

Psyx
2010-11-26, 09:23 AM
Straying a bit from the topic here, but this is incorrect.

There's a possibility that it's a regional thing, then: I've only lived in a couple of parts of the US. Or I may be interpreting it differently. Certainly enquiries as to wealth levels are a LOT more unsubtle in the US than the UK. Certainly, American don't mind asking what specifically one does for a living, rather than dancing around the point a little.
Which has always been amusing, because my natural and polite reaction as regards my own cultural norms is to repeatedly deflect such enquiries with vagueness, and you can see the frustration in the other party building as it occurs!


Weaponry: gadius is a good, short, stabbing sword, would likey do alright agianst mail, but its not gonna cut it agianst plate.

Would they encounter foes with plate, though? Looking at what was outside of Europe and the later-day Empire, I'd guess not.

The pace of military advance and changes are normally bought on by what the enemy threat is. And I'm guessing that the thing that would require the most tactical development would be dealing with mobile mounted archers.

Galloglaich
2010-11-26, 02:43 PM
While I agree, wouldn't a Swiss phalanx have the same mobility problems that Greek phalanxes (phalanktes?) had against Rome?

During their decline period, against a very late Swiss phalanx (after 1525 AD) maybe, but against an early phalanx I would say definitely not.

At the height of their power in the 15th Century, the Swiss formations were a roughly even mix of pikes and halberds, with substantial numbers of heavy crossbowmen, gunners, two-handed swordsmen and light skirmishers (with rocks and javelins) plus mounted crossbowmen and knights. Plus many of their halberdiers and pikemen carried longswords and schwiesersabels as sidearms, the rest carrying baselards. The Swiss as a result excelled both in the battle of static organized pike ranks as well as in the chaotic aftermath of a disorganized unit. This was an extremely dangerous type of combined-arms force vastly more flexible than the rather crude phalanxes of the Classical Greeks, which I think would have probably made mincemeat out of an equivalent sized 1st Century AD Legion (halberds and heavy arbalests vs. scutum, I think is an uneven match).

Now of course that might be different however if your hypothetical Roman Legion has gone through some kind of modernizing "Marian Reform" for Renaissance combat. They might for example need to change to a steel shield and adopt some heavy crossbows, longbows, recurves or firearms. And maybe something like pikes to fend off heavy cavalry. But I also think the principle weapon of Roman Heavy infantry (the pilum) actually was still viable at close enough range. Also the Roman Legionaires considerable ability as combat engineers would prove very useful (you don't need pikes if you can make ditches quickly for example)

The Swiss also had superb command and control and C3i in spite of using very decentralized command structure; in all their major battles in the 15th Century they had better battlefield intelligence / situational awareness than their various opponents did, and they made instant decisions to deploy making the most of the terrain and the effects of shock and surprise. Rather than basically only walking forward or holding a given position like a Classical or "pike and shot" era Phalanx, the Swiss excelled at complex battlefield maneuvers executed swiftly with an almost telepathic degree of coordination and could sustain this through brutal conditions, they seemed to always hit before the enemy was ready and could keep the pressure on for hours and hours if necessary.

They also have a record for excellent battlefield discipline which arguably exceeds even the Romans. They never as far as I know left a battlefield in disorder during their heyday, even at Marignano in the 16th Century when they were decimated with cannonfire they retreated in good order off the field.

G.

Matthew
2010-11-26, 04:53 PM
At the height of their power in the 15th Century, the Swiss formations were a roughly even mix of pikes and halberds, with substantial numbers of heavy crossbowmen, gunners, two-handed swordsmen and light skirmishers (with rocks and javelins) plus mounted crossbowmen and knights. Plus many of their halberdiers and pikemen carried longswords and schwiesersabels as sidearms, the rest carrying baselards. The Swiss as a result excelled both in the battle of static organized pike ranks as well as in the chaotic aftermath of a disorganized unit. This was an extremely dangerous type of combined-arms force vastly more flexible than the rather crude phalanxes of the Classical Greeks, which I think would have probably made mincemeat out of an equivalent sized 1st Century AD Legion (halberds and heavy arbalests vs. scutum, I think is an uneven match).

If Polybius is to be believed the Roman legions defeated the Greek phalanx by never taking them on head to head, but deferring to broken terrain where the pike phalanx was unable to operate effectively. More important, perhaps, was that the successor state Greeks were no longer using the phalanxes as Alexander had, in particular neglecting the cavalry arm that had previously been such an important part of its employment as a combined arms force. That said, the Greek pike phalanx hardly operated by itself, nor lacked side arms, armour, experience or discipline. In my opinion, in its heyday it would not compare as unfavourably to the Swiss phalanx as you seem to imply.

Galloglaich
2010-11-26, 10:37 PM
It's a very interesting question ... we should dig into this comparison a bit more I think, maybe we will all learn something. I admit I'm only guessing based on a fairly vague estimate of their relative capabilities.

My understanding was that the Macedonian phalanx was a lot more like pike phalanxes from the era of pike and shot, from what I read (mostly in John Gibson Warys Warfare in the Classical World and in Hans Delbruck), was that the Classical pike formations were not very flexible and indeed had trouble on rough terrain, rather like the old Hoplite formations. It would be interesting to compare some specific battles that the Swiss and the Macedonians fought.

I do know that the Swiss operated in broken terrain as a matter of course, they won several battles by coming unexpectedly through forests and narrow passes all of the sudden... they were a combined -arms unit in their own right and did have some cavalry, but they were predominantly (70-80%) made up of heavy infantry and did not require a heavy cavalry arm to win battles.

As for the sidearms... I think a guy with a bastard sword or a schwiesersabel has a huge advantage over a guy with a short sword or a dagger or a hand-axe in a one on one fight. (Just as a guy with a cranequin arbalest has a big edge over a peltast). This was one of the main reasons the Swiss were so dominant over other infantry in their own day (and why they dragged around such large sidearms over hill and valley) whenever a battle got to that chaotic stage with broken up formations, the Swiss always won as far as I know, and I think the sidearms played a major role in that. On top of that in the 15th Century many if not most Swiss soldiers, certainly those in the outer fringes of the formation and in all the small formations ("forlorn hope" etc.) were very heavily armored by Classical standards, (in mail, half-armor or even full plate harness) giving them another further advantage.

G.

fusilier
2010-11-27, 06:18 AM
My understanding is that phalanx formations were basically linear, whereas Swiss pike were formed up in deep columns. Columns, by their nature, can handle rough terrain better than lines and can also be faster, but run the risk of being uneconomical in terms of manpower.

Romans used shortswords in formation, which is a feat that I believe was never replicated. For one-on-one or a chaotic melee a longsword is probably superior.

Yora
2010-11-27, 08:53 AM
I'm not really sure if they used their gladiuses in formation. They also carried spears, which are much more practical in such situations. I believe the swords were for situations, in which the spear could no longer be used.

Matthew
2010-11-27, 09:43 AM
Let us not forget we are talking specifically about the Roman army of the third century BC here, the so called "Polybian legion" (because he deigns to describe its theoretical organisation in some detail).

The Polybian legion:

300 Equites
600 Triarii
1200 Principes
1200 Hastati
1200 Velites

By the time of Polybius the equites were equipped in the Greek fashion as a sort of "medium" cavalry, probably mail armour shield, spear and sword. The triarii were similar to hoplites in that they fought in close formation as heavy infantry, probably armoured in mail, bearing long spears and shields with the "Spanish sword" as a side arm. They were typically a reserve force, so much so that "down to the triarri" (to paraphrase) was a Roman saying. The principes and hastati reflected two age or wealth grades, but were basically equipped the same, with some body armour (mail for the wealthiest) a large shield, Spanish sword and two javelins (one light, one heavy). Their role was essentially that of medium infantry, by which I mean they had a multi purpose function, able to fight as light or heavy infantry as the situation required. The velites were much more lightly equipped, a sword of some type (the Spanish sword is not specified in their case), three javelins and a small shield. If they wore any body armour it wouldn't have been more than the small bronze chest plate. I forget if they wore helmets, but they wore animal skins. The youngest or poorest class of soldier, they fought as skirmishers, either accompanying the cavalry or in front of the main battle line, behind which they retired before contact.

For every Roman legion there was supposed to be an allied Latin legion, the details about which are more vague, but with the same number of infantry and treble the number of cavalry than that of the Romans (so 900). The Romans also used other allies or mercenaries, such as archers from Crete, at this time.

With regards to method of fighting we do not know a whole lot, but Polybius seems to suggest that the Roman legions fought in a fairly open order, each occupying a frontage of perhaps six feet (unlike the three feet of Vegitius' legions). Moreover, the Spanish sword of this time seems to have been rather longer than later Roman swords, getting towards the length of the spatha. So, perhaps it is not too surprising for Polybius to present them in "open order" by default. His comparison with the phalanx has been linked here many times before, but for those who have not read it: Polybius Book 18.28-32 (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/polybius-maniple.html). The organisation of the Roman army referred to above can be found here: Book 6 (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/polybius6.html).

Spiryt
2010-11-27, 10:02 AM
I'm not really sure if they used their gladiuses in formation. They also carried spears, which are much more practical in such situations. I believe the swords were for situations, in which the spear could no longer be used.

Eh, not really, you're talking about more ancient Roman legion, when they were indeed fighting in formations with spears, often in something akin to hellenic phalanxes.

But as soon as hastati etc. times approaches, and trough the long time, sword had become main close combat weapon.

Info about spears or whatever is rather scarce, possibly were used to face cavalry, for example.

Javelins, so "pila" and throwing them held extremely important role in combat, even very "main" according to some historians, but swords were main melee weapons of Roman legions ~ 300 BC - 250 AD.

There are numerous indications about pillum being used as melee weapon if need had risen, but it wasn't typical, certainly.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-11-27, 02:46 PM
I've got a question that came out of another thread on these boards, namely, was the Sabre ever used with a Main-Gauche? I would think not, given the Sabre's history as a cavalry weapon (where you would need one hand for the reins). But I am no expert, so I thought I would ask.

Spiryt
2010-11-27, 02:56 PM
I've got a question that came out of another thread on these boards, namely, was the Sabre ever used with a Main-Gauche? I would think not, given the Sabre's history as a cavalry weapon (where you would need one hand for the reins). But I am no expert, so I thought I would ask.

Many different weapons all over the world were called "sabre" and were often used as foot, or everyday weapon.

They were pretty much "standard" noblemans weapon in Poland, Lithuania and Hungary in era of rapier in Western Europe, but I'm not aware of any sources about fighting with it and any second weapon, main gauche or not.

As for cavalry use, reins would be small problem, the bigger one would be that while on foot two weapons could have sense, it would be simply silly on horse.

Galloglaich
2010-11-30, 03:43 PM
I was thinking of the post Marian reform Legion with the pilum, we all have our favorites I guess :)

When do you think the Roman Republic or Empire was at it's military / power peak?

G.

Autolykos
2010-12-01, 05:13 AM
When do you think the Roman Republic or Empire was at it's military / power peak?
Well, physics (applied to a totally non-physics topic) would suggest that this was the case at the time of its greatest territorial extension, or slightly before (depending on how much this is inertia driven vs pressure driven). This would be around 100 AD, clearly after the Marian Reforms.

Storm Bringer
2010-12-01, 06:44 AM
however, it was the pre-marain legions that took on and defeated all the existing powers on the mediterranean sea. carthage, the greek city states, they fell to the old legions.

Matthew
2010-12-01, 08:44 AM
Well, physics (applied to a totally non-physics topic) would suggest that this was the case at the time of its greatest territorial extension, or slightly before (depending on how much this is inertia driven vs pressure driven). This would be around 100 AD, clearly after the Marian Reforms.

I was going to say something similar about the end of the first century being a time of significant military might, but I am still mulling the question over, as manpower, wealth, and political organisation have a heavy influence. Also, there is the tendency by Romans historians themselves to look on past glories as more significant than contemporary ones. So, for instance, Livy living in the time of Augustus looks back on the war with Hannibal as a time of the greatest Roman virtue.

Certainly after the first century we are looking at a time of military decline, though there are some high points, so I think we can definitely narrow the period to be considered down to somewhere between 300 BC and 100 AD. From that point onwards there are probably three phases to consider:

1) Pre Marius: Legions are made up of landowning Romans
2) Post Marius: Legions are made up of poor Romans expecting land as a retirement.
3) Post Augustus: Legions are increasingly made up of "Romans" recruited from outside of Rome.

Have to think about this some more, time permitting!

Galloglaich
2010-12-01, 11:23 AM
This is a bit ponderous but there is some really good information in it, plus some exquisite armor toward the end

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqC_squo6X4

Aux-Ash
2010-12-05, 12:37 AM
Hello

I was discussing armour the other day and I became a bit curious as to just how protective it was. I know that it both could be a lifesaver and that a good hit could mean it was all over.

But I found myself curious. What were the most common injuries sustained while wearing armour? I am well aware that people aimed for weak spots and tried to circumvent armour, what I am mostly curious about is what kind of injuries were caused despite armour. Do you know (or do you know where I could learn more about it?)

EDIT: While I wouldn't mind pictures, I don't think it'd be a good idea to post them here. Don't want anyone to get into trouble

Incanur
2010-12-05, 12:52 AM
This depends upon the armor in question. Your classic high-quality fifteenth or sixteenth century suit of full plate provides nearly complete protection in practice. Only a heavy stroke to the head from a two-handed polearm could reliably incapacitate a man so armed through the metal - and even that is debatable (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=20987).

Fortinbras
2010-12-05, 05:16 AM
This is a very broad question but how much ammunition can combat soldiers realistically be expected to carry in combat?

How many rounds on average?

How many magazines?

How does this very from infantry to engineers to medics etc.?

What about side arms and ammunition for them?

Again, I know its a broad question but just some general info or analysis of factors involved.

Yora
2010-12-05, 05:58 AM
I did some quick internet search, and apparently soldiers in the US army carry 7 magazines of 30 rounds in their standard equipment. They also often carry part of the ammunition for the machine guns of their squads, which I believe in the US Army us the same type as their personal rifles, so it can also be used to reload empty magazines.

Storm Bringer
2010-12-05, 06:09 AM
This is a very broad question but how much ammunition can combat soldiers realistically be expected to carry in combat?

How many rounds on average?

How many magazines?

How does this very from infantry to engineers to medics etc.?

What about side arms and ammunition for them?

Again, I know its a broad question but just some general info or analysis of factors involved.

okay, best answer i can give you is taken form the mouth of a british infantry sargent, speaking mid 2003. He said he went on patrol with 10 fully loaded 30 round magazines, and another 150 rounds in stripper clips stashed in his patrol sack. So, he went out with 450 rounds of 5.56mm, plus hand grenades, a belt of 7.62mm link for the GPMG, smoke grenades (both for cover and for marking targets for fast air), and maybe 40mm grenades for a underslung grenade launcher.

as far as i know, side arms are not routinely issued. generally, if a soldier as a rilfe, he won't get a pistol.



How does this very from infantry to engineers to medics etc.?

maybe. a medic in a patrol will be as well armed as everyone else, because he is a soldier frist and a medic second. Likewise, an engineer is going to be carrying signifcant ammounts of ammo when out of the bases, because if he is attacked, he needs to not only defend himself, but possibly counter attack and take the fight to the enemy. Thats the reason the US Marines have thier whole "every marine a rifleman" thing.

however, I have not been on tour, so i may be wrong about that.


They also often carry part of the ammunition for the machine guns of their squads, which I believe in the US Army us the same type as their personal rifles, so it can also be used to reload empty magazines.

It can be. I don't know how common the M249 SAW is compared to the M240 GPMG, which is a 7.62mm weapon. I think a squad can have both, with belts of disintgrating link for both.

Mike_G
2010-12-05, 08:31 AM
The SAW is 5.56, same as the M16. Plus it can accept M16 magazines as well as the belts. You'd rather use the belt, but you can in an emergency just grab a spare M16 mag and put it in the gun. It's only 28 rounds, but that's better than nothing.

In practice, you only load 28 rounds in the 30 round mag, because over time, a full load will weaken the spring, and eventually it will fail to feed. New mags work fine, but the older ones won't, and there's no good way to tell an old one from a new one, so...28 rounds that will feed beats 30 that might not.

Standard load is 7 30 round magazines, loaded with 28 rounds, so 196 rounds. Everybody carries extra, because you're nuts not to. A rifleman will almost always carry more ammo, whereas a different specialty will have their own gear to hump, and probably will carry less extra ammo.

Something like an anti armor weapon or a mortar tube or baseplate or ammo, or the big med kit, or 40 mm grenades for your M203 are all heavy, and would cut into any spare 5.56 ammo you might otherwise carry.

In current operations like Iraq or Afghanistan, water is a big part of the combat load as well. Water is fairly heavy and bulky, the armor makes you sweat gallons of the stuff that needs to be replenished.

Soldiers hate to carry any more weight than they have to, but will usually accept the extra burden for ammo or water.

RationalGoblin
2010-12-05, 10:58 AM
So I've become interested in the Hussite Wars, partially because I heard that Jan Ziska (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_%C5%BDi%C5%BEka) used very innovative tactics for the time.

So please, tell me any information you have on the tactics created and refined in the Hussite Wars. I'd especially enjoy info on the tabors as a weapon.

Incanur
2010-12-05, 12:00 PM
The wagon fort or laager was fundamental tactic employed by various early militaries. In Firearms: A Global History to 1700 (http://www.amazon.com/Firearms-Global-History-Kenneth-Chase/dp/0521822742) by Kenneth Chase, the author presents the wagon laager and pike block as the two key ways to enable firearm usage in the field. The Ottoman Empire made heavy use of wagon laagers throughout the period.

Norsesmithy
2010-12-05, 01:57 PM
The SAW is 5.56, same as the M16. Plus it can accept M16 magazines as well as the belts. You'd rather use the belt, but you can in an emergency just grab a spare M16 mag and put it in the gun. It's only 28 rounds, but that's better than nothing.

In practice, you only load 28 rounds in the 30 round mag, because over time, a full load will weaken the spring, and eventually it will fail to feed. New mags work fine, but the older ones won't, and there's no good way to tell an old one from a new one, so...28 rounds that will feed beats 30 that might not.

Standard load is 7 30 round magazines, loaded with 28 rounds, so 196 rounds. Everybody carries extra, because you're nuts not to. A rifleman will almost always carry more ammo, whereas a different specialty will have their own gear to hump, and probably will carry less extra ammo.

Something like an anti armor weapon or a mortar tube or baseplate or ammo, or the big med kit, or 40 mm grenades for your M203 are all heavy, and would cut into any spare 5.56 ammo you might otherwise carry.

In current operations like Iraq or Afghanistan, water is a big part of the combat load as well. Water is fairly heavy and bulky, the armor makes you sweat gallons of the stuff that needs to be replenished.

Soldiers hate to carry any more weight than they have to, but will usually accept the extra burden for ammo or water.

Mike, loading to 28 ceased to be necessary when they switched to the green follower in the magazine. My friends in the services report that the everyone fills their mags all the way full, and I've only heard of one or two buddies having a crusty old sergeant who still loads to less than capacity.

Of course, they all say they are also using brand new, fresh out of the wrapper mags, and loading to 28 might still be necessary for a trooper who is issued old and worn out mags for stateside training.

And like you said, 7 is how many they tell you to carry, I know of at least one guy who carried 20 on his person, plus one in the rifle, plus on ON the rifle some kind of silly clamp that held the mag to the side of the magwell and dropped it when you hit the mag catch.

Needless to say, this was not a man who conducted foot patrols.

Mike_G
2010-12-05, 03:02 PM
Mike, loading to 28 ceased to be necessary when they switched to the green follower in the magazine. My friends in the services report that the everyone fills their mags all the way full, and I've only heard of one or two buddies having a crusty old sergeant who still loads to less than capacity.



Ah. After my time. We always short loaded because some of the magazines kicking around had been in service since the Tet Offensive.



Of course, they all say they are also using brand new, fresh out of the wrapper mags, and loading to 28 might still be necessary for a trooper who is issued old and worn out mags for stateside training.



I joined up during the Reagan administration, so my info is out of date, but since we're still using the M16, and since the goivernment never throws out anything, we were always leery of getting some worn out spring and having the bottom half of the magazine not feed. I fogure some of those mags might still be out there. Maybe if the armorers are replacing springs as the old ones surface, it's not an issue.




And like you said, 7 is how many they tell you to carry, I know of at least one guy who carried 20 on his person, plus one in the rifle, plus on ON the rifle some kind of silly clamp that held the mag to the side of the magwell and dropped it when you hit the mag catch.

Needless to say, this was not a man who conducted foot patrols.

That's the most I've heard of. I've seen guys carry ten to twelve as a matter of course, or a hundred rounds to reload the mags with.

I never trusted the mags taped together, or clamped to the rifle, since it's too easy to whack it on something or dive for cover and dent the mouth of the mag or get dirt in it and have the rounds fail to feed. I'd rather have a short mag or take an extra second to dig a nice protected one out of the pouch for the confidence that when I pulled the trigger, rounds would be going downrange.

Crow
2010-12-05, 04:00 PM
Loading to 28 will still extend the life of your mags. If you have your own at home, it's not a bad course of action since you'd have to replace them with your own cash when they wear out.

As far as carrying 20 mags...I've never had enough space to carry that many unless they were stuffed away in a ruck. 10-12 is easy enough though. I guess some guys just don't have much other kit to carry!

Norsesmithy
2010-12-05, 04:33 PM
Everything I know about springs leads me to believe that so long as you have quality mags and springs (like a USGI with a green follower and a CS spring, or any of the other quality options out there) that your mags and springs will experience much more wear from being cycled, (IE loaded and used) than they will from being loaded to full capacity or stored loaded to full capacity.

Having said that, many old mags or cheap mags don't have quality springs that are properly heat treated, and they might benefit from many of the "voodoo" old "tips" regarding magazine care.

fusilier
2010-12-06, 03:02 AM
Question about full plate armor:

Looking at Osprey's Condottiere 1300-1500 they show some images of full plate armor from the 15th century. At the back of the helmet near the base of the neck there is a curious piece of armor that looks a lot like a little satellite dish. What exactly is this for (at best it may be protecting a leather strap)? And why is it dish shaped?

I would expect a dish to take a thrust and direct it toward the center of the dish -- although they may not have been expecting a thrusting attack.

I admit that I have not finished reading the book (too many other things going on), but I've found no explanations in the text or captions.

Thanks.

Spiryt
2010-12-06, 04:57 AM
Like this?

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/images/h2/h2_20.150.1.jpg


It was pretty standard issue with early Armets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armet), and it was simply mechanism of closing the helmet. Wiki text isn't obviously very good, but has some illustrations.

Here (http://www.thorkil.pl/armet.htm) modern reconstruction.

Myth
2010-12-06, 05:30 AM
Hello

I was discussing armour the other day and I became a bit curious as to just how protective it was. I know that it both could be a lifesaver and that a good hit could mean it was all over.

But I found myself curious. What were the most common injuries sustained while wearing armour? I am well aware that people aimed for weak spots and tried to circumvent armour, what I am mostly curious about is what kind of injuries were caused despite armour. Do you know (or do you know where I could learn more about it?)

EDIT: While I wouldn't mind pictures, I don't think it'd be a good idea to post them here. Don't want anyone to get into trouble

Depends on the period. For the purpose of this question I'll assume you are talking late Dark Ages until the Renaissance. The later the period, the better the craftsmanship became. Mail is somewhat vulnerable to slashing and bludgeoning weapons, and offers some protection versus arrows. It's by no means a "bad" type of armour but as the time went on it was used as a compliment to full plate. If you are talking the highest quality armours made by German or Italian masters, they pretty much made you invulnerable to cuts from swords and piercing damage from arrows.

The most common injuries were either dealt with bludgeoning weapons such as a mace, pick or hammer (they ignore the armour and deal horrid internal injuries to the bones/organs), or with halberds, bills and other polearms (dubbed the medieval can opener). A one handed mace or hammer was a common sidearm for heavy cavalry (using the momentum of your mount to add to the power of a one-handed strike).

Fighting versus an opponent clad in full plate is hard if you are using a sword or other slashing weapon. Usually what you would want to do is grab the blade and use it as a spear, jabbing at the weak points of the armour (the mail where the joints connects, such as the elbows or armpits). That's not easy to do though, especially if your opponent has a shield. The thing is that experienced men-at-arms knew what to guard with their shield and which strikes to just take (a sword will more likely chip it's own edge than do any damage to the breastplate or hip guards).

Spiryt
2010-12-06, 05:38 AM
Depends on the period. For the purpose of this question I'll assume you are talking late Dark Ages until the Renaissance. The later the period, the better the craftsmanship became. Mail is somewhat vulnerable to slashing and bludgeoning weapons, and offers some protection versus arrows.

Eh.... :smallconfused:

Mail is practically invulnerable to any slashing impacts with melee weapons, and it's very good against arrows. Although it all depends what do you mean by "some".


The later the period, the better the craftsmanship became.

Hugely general statement, would depend on particular place and social group in which different craft would be practiced.

Generally, quality always depended on the price, skills, amount of tailoring, time, and again money which wearer was able to spent to posses quality armor.



The most common injuries were either dealt with bludgeoning weapons such as a mace, pick or hammer (they ignore the armour and deal horrid internal injuries to the bones/organs)

"Ignore" is extremely strong and inappropriate word here.

Myth
2010-12-06, 07:05 AM
I have seen mail with slashes across the abdomen or chest in museims. That hardly counts as invulnerable in my book. An axe or a cutting sword, like say a messer would go trough it should a solid strike be placed.

Better craftsmanship has a higher price, I saw no need to clarify it. The later periods saw the craftsmen having access to higher quality steel and could improve on the work of previous smiths. Or am I wrong in saying this?

Ignore is the right word to use when a graze by a longsword does nothing but scratch your plate, but a strike from a mace will shatter your kidney or break your arm. Are you an actual practitioner of RMAs?

Psyx
2010-12-06, 07:21 AM
Mike, loading to 28 ceased to be necessary when they switched to the green follower in the magazine.

Odd to hear Americans bemoaning a 28 capacity. Over here, it's the Enfield mags that only held 28, and everyone was always on the scrounge for the metallic-finished American Colt mags that would load 30 without a problem.

In answer to the OP: Never enough. There is no such thing as too much ammunition. Ever. Even a competent soldier, using aimed semi-automatic fire only will never really have enough.
This especially extends to grenades. Given that they are the preferred weapon in close quarters, it's simply impossible to ever have enough of them.



I was discussing armour the other day and I became a bit curious as to just how protective it was. I know that it both could be a lifesaver and that a good hit could mean it was all over.

Very. Consider for a moment how far infantry have to carry their kit, and then consider for how much of mankind's history infantry have loaded themselves down with heavy armour and walked hundreds of miles in it. Infantry doesn't carry anything which isn't useful, given any choice. It's not so much that good armour will stop a glancing hit from killing you: It will stop a GOOD hit from killing you, too.

The effectiveness of armour and shields is drastically downplayed and under-rated in most RPG.

Simply: A protagonist equipped with the cutting edge armour of their period tended to be pretty much immune to pretty much any normal combat blow that landed on the armour, reducing their chances of incapacitation down to that of receiving a very lucky blow which missed the armour, or a very well aimed one - very possibly a coup de gras, after being put on the ground by other means. Forget everything you've ever seen about swords hacking clean through mail and chopping up the bloke inside: It's just not how it happens - katanas slide uselessly off mail.

Additionally, armour was NOT simply bypassed by maces and the like. If cutting edge armour could be defeated by a commonly used weapon, then everyone would carry the weapon, and nobody would bother with the armour.
Humans aren't stupid enough to carry on using fatigue-inducing armour in combat a century after it's been rendered moot by a cheap hand weapon, and maces laying low any armoured foe is a myth.
All armour is worn in addition to padding, which helps protect the wearer. Furthermore - as I'm sure you'll see by hitting a plate of metal with a hammer - armour spreads the force of the blow and lessens the impact even of blunt weapons. Even mail will spread a blunt trauma.
Well-made mail is also far from useless against piercing weapons. Plate armour is of course even better, as it deflects the force of the blow. For every pointy-weapon hit that manages to pierce the armour, dozens would simply be deflected by the curvature of the armour.

Matthew
2010-12-06, 08:43 AM
I pretty much agree with what Psyx and Spiryt are saying, though I probably would not go quite as far as to say invulnerable, but certainly very well protected. There is an endless controversy over the effectiveness of armour fuelled by the proliferation of substandard tests, often by people with an axe to grind. I agree with Psyx that armour was worn because it was effective, and would not have been worn if it was not. Plutarch gives us a nice example of the importance attached to armour as a safeguard by the Spartans:



It is said that the ephors crowned him with a garland for this feat of arms, and then fined him a thousand drachmae for being so foolhardy as to risk his life by fighting without armour.

That is not to say that armour cannot be pierced, bypassed or otherwise overcome, just that it makes a big difference. What would be deadly strokes can be rendered harmless.

Yora
2010-12-06, 08:52 AM
There is an endless controversy over the effectiveness of armour fuelled by the proliferation of substandard tests, often by people with an axe to grind.
So true. The last thing I saw was a compairision between a katana slicing leather and a longsword hacking on leather. Or attemting to cut through a broadsword with a katana and to cut through a broadsword with a broadsword.
Armor tests are probably as bad as that.

Psyx
2010-12-06, 09:07 AM
Armour tests often either fail to use decent and accurate armour (such as butted mail), use armour without padding, place armour in an immobile position (real people move back and absorb energy when struck. Testing armour against a brick wall isn't realistic) or deliver to armour blows that although are technically feasible (such as a full-power-overhead-two-handed-swing), aren't actually feasible in a fight on an armed foe, because they'd get you skewered.


Metal armour often took a VERY long time to make and was VERY expensive: Another reason why it would not have been utilised unless it was effective.

Morithias
2010-12-06, 09:11 AM
This is going to seem really really random and I really hope it hasn't been asked already.

Would it actually be possible to make a shield that could bounce off walls like Captain Americas? Obviously you could not have it return to you all the time, but just able to bounce like that?

Spiryt
2010-12-06, 09:20 AM
I have seen mail with slashes across the abdomen or chest in museims. That hardly counts as invulnerable in my book. An axe or a cutting sword, like say a messer would go trough it should a solid strike be placed.



Care to share any pictures? Any "slashes" I can think of are result of age, rust, and general falling up. Or solid thrust.

I have hard time imagining how anything you mentioned could sever hundreds of individual links, every one slightly differently angled, every one bouncing differently from the strike...

Modern "test" with crappy riveted mail suggest that even heavy poleaxe won't do any slashing, in fact.

So if you have any evidence of mail being actually cut with slashing strike, against laws of physics we're dealing with here.

I mean - torn mail where damaged fragment is visibly result of something bursting open line of the rings at the same time....

Considering that we in general have tiny amount of surviving mail, I would be very interested in seeing something like that.



Better craftsmanship has a higher price, I saw no need to clarify it. The later periods saw the craftsmen having access to higher quality steel and could improve on the work of previous smiths. Or am I wrong in saying this?

Mail was very often not made from steel, but from bloomery iron, pretty optimal material for it.

But generally yes - later having tempered, hardened, homogeneous pieces of steel of interesting qualities would be easier and cheaper - thus different pieces of armor from helmets to gauntlets would be more widely used.

Top quality stuff would be also more widespread.



Ignore is the right word to use when a graze by a longsword does nothing but scratch your plate, but a strike from a mace will shatter your kidney or break your arm. Are you an actual practitioner of RMAs?

Not really, more like enthusiast. Why?

And on this topic, maces are used plenty by guys here in Eastern Europe in hools like medievalish brawls called buhurts, where dudes are bashing each other to put them on the ground.

If maces were "ignoring" armor, they all will be dead, but instead they can do it every weekend. So it's not very good word, as I said.



Would it actually be possible to make a shield that could bounce off walls like Captain Americas? Obviously you could not have it return to you all the time, but just able to bounce like that?

Probably yes, just make it out of well prepared rubber. Of course no matter how you make it, it will bounce differently from different surfaces et cetera.

The question is - what for? :smallwink:

Morithias
2010-12-06, 09:30 AM
Care to share any pictures? Any "slashes" I can think of are result of age, rust, and general falling up. Or solid thrust.

I have hard time imagining how anything you mentioned could sever hundreds of individual links, every one slightly differently angled, every one bouncing differently from the strike...

Modern "test" with crappy riveted mail suggest that even heavy poleaxe won't do any slashing, in fact.

So if you have any evidence of mail being actually cut with slashing strike, against laws of physics we're dealing with here.

I mean - torn mail where damaged fragment is visibly result of something bursting open line of the rings at the same time....

Considering that we in general have tiny amount of surviving mail, I would be very interested in seeing something like that.



Mail was very often not made from steel, but from bloomery iron, pretty optimal material for it.

But generally yes - later having tempered, hardened, homogeneous pieces of steel of interesting qualities would be easier and cheaper - thus different pieces of armor from helmets to gauntlets would be more widely used.

Top quality stuff would be also more widespread.



Not really, more like enthusiast. Why?

And on this topic, maces are used plenty by guys here in Eastern Europe in hools like medievalish brawls called buhurts, where dudes are bashing each other to put them on the ground.

If maces were "ignoring" armor, they all will be dead, but instead they can do it every weekend. So it's not very good word, as I said.




Probably yes, just make it out of well prepared rubber. Of course no matter how you make it, it will bounce differently from different surfaces et cetera.

The question is - what for? :smallwink:

Next year's Halloween costume, plus my friend works on artificial metals and is attempting to make a bullet proof metal. He thinks coating the outsides of a shield that you're using to block fire, with bouncing stuff could be useful if the firing made you drop it, because it might bounce and block the next shot giving you enough time to get behind something more stable.

And before anyone asks, yes we are also looking into making Iron Man suits but we're having a LOT of power source trouble, so don't expect them in military use unless someone else invents them first or we get VERY lucky.

Myth
2010-12-06, 09:37 AM
Spiryt: You seem to be very knowledgeable, hence me asking. I've seen damaged mail in the Royal Armories in Leeds, perhaps it was indeed pierced rather than slashed trough.

On the subject of maces: the ones I'm referring to are metal, one handed, and used from horseback. Striking at the enemy with the momentum of your horse added to the metal head is enough to do internal damage without actually making a hole in the suit of armor (just a dent). Same for other variations of the weapon.

There are some interesting two handed spiked staves and maces in the Tower of London, although I saw no actual example of how they were used.

I'll check out the Wallace Collection later on this month, I'll be sure to ask about mail.

Galloglaich
2010-12-06, 09:54 AM
Eh.... :smallconfused:

Mail is practically invulnerable to any slashing impacts with melee weapons, and it's very good against arrows. Although it all depends what do you mean by "some".



Hugely general statement, would depend on particular place and social group in which different craft would be practiced.

Generally, quality always depended on the price, skills, amount of tailoring, time, and again money which wearer was able to spent to posses quality armor.




"Ignore" is extremely strong and inappropriate word here.

What he said.

G.

Morithias
2010-12-06, 09:56 AM
What he said.

G.

Whenever someone says a piece of armor was "invulnerable" remember, they almost always mean for it's time. Chainmail could takes swords and arrows like a pro, but give the mythbusters a few weeks and they could give you an arrow launcher that could shoot straight through 3 people lined up.

Psyx
2010-12-06, 10:01 AM
This is going to seem really really random and I really hope it hasn't been asked already.

Would it actually be possible to make a shield that could bounce off walls like Captain Americas? Obviously you could not have it return to you all the time, but just able to bounce like that?


No. Shields are heavy. And thick. If they weren't, they wouldn't stop blows.

Now try it for yourself and get a heavy object and see if you can bounce it off the wall. Try a brick, maybe. Truth is that it hits the wall and drops like a stone. Even if you use something circular and impart spin on it, gravity and physics easily overcome any sideways force, and it doesn't work.
Also: Walls are not elastic, and nor are shields. Without some elasticity, stuff doesn't bounce very well.


Don't try to bounce grenades off wall either. It doesn't work in real life for exactly the same reason.

Morithias
2010-12-06, 10:05 AM
No. Shields are heavy. And thick. If they weren't, they wouldn't stop blows.

Now try it for yourself and get a heavy object and see if you can bounce it off the wall. Try a brick, maybe. Truth is that it hits the wall and drops like a stone. Even if you use something circular and impart spin on it, gravity and physics easily overcome any sideways force, and it doesn't work.
Also: Walls are not elastic, and nor are shields. Without some elasticity, stuff doesn't bounce very well.


Don't try to bounce grenades off wall either. It doesn't work in real life for exactly the same reason.

What if you coated the outside of the shield with the bouncy stuff, but still has the inside be metal?

Spiryt
2010-12-06, 10:12 AM
No. Shields are heavy. And thick. If they weren't, they wouldn't stop blows.

Now try it for yourself and get a heavy object and see if you can bounce it off the wall. Try a brick, maybe. Truth is that it hits the wall and drops like a stone. Even if you use something circular and impart spin on it, gravity and physics easily overcome any sideways force, and it doesn't work.
Also: Walls are not elastic, and nor are shields. Without some elasticity, stuff doesn't bounce very well.


Actually, depends on the shield. Many were made from quite springy wood, and not heavy at all.

Still I can't imagine visible bouncing effect, but....

Morithias
2010-12-06, 10:13 AM
Actually, depends on the shield. Many were made from quite springy wood, and not heavy at all.

Still I can't imagine visible bouncing effect, but....

Spiryt is right, many old weapons and shield were quite light, because their lives relied on having light-easy to use equipment, while it still being effective. Knights could perform handstands in full-plate if I recall my history books right.

Psyx
2010-12-06, 10:17 AM
Why would you want to throw a bit of incidental armour IRL anyway? By the time you got it off your arm (Because it'd need to be attached in some way, if only by loops), you could have pulled a much-more-useful-as-a-weapon-with-more-than-one-shot back-up piece and tapped the guy!

If you need shield to be a weapon, build a pistol into it!



What if you coated the outside of the shield with the bouncy stuff, but still has the inside be metal?

It still doesn't bounce because it's very heavy and physics doesn't work like that.
Erm... ok, another thought experiment: Imagine getting a ball-bearing weighing 15lb. Coat it in rubber. Throw it against the wall. It might fall a foot from the wall, but that's of no real use nor significance. Coating something heavy in rubber doesn't make it fly, unfortunately.



On the subject of maces

This is why padding is used in armour. And hitting someone at full charge on horseback with one is rather different from swinging it normally. A normal combat blow against a plate harness that's suitably padded will certainly not rupture a kidney nor break an arm. If it did then everyone would have carried a mace, and then nobody would have bothered with plate armour.

Basic science shows that the force of a flanged short-handled mace is rather a lot less than that of a two handed blow from a bladed polearm, which has heck of a lot more leverage. So if maces were great against plate harness, then any bladed polearm would also have ruptured kidneys/broken arms by impact damage alone. This is also clearly not the case.

It's actually best to aim mace blows at the outside of joints (of the body) and other hard spots. Not only are elbows and knees very delicate, but the bone is near the skin which means the weapon is more effective.

Spiryt
2010-12-06, 10:18 AM
Still, I would probably stand by rubber for such original idea. :smalltongue:

Properly made rubber shape could be springy enough to bounce of some surfaces, and if heavy enough would still work as somehow passable shield, just as tires are quite tough and hard to tear apart.

Psyx
2010-12-06, 10:19 AM
Actually, depends on the shield. Many were made from quite springy wood, and not heavy at all.

Still I can't imagine visible bouncing effect, but....

Ok... get a block of wood and bounce it against a wall... doesn't go far at all, does it? :smallwink:

This is very easy to test.

Morithias
2010-12-06, 10:22 AM
The bounce for the actual combat shield isn't to use it as a weapon, it's so that if you drop it from losing grip due to being fired on, it might bounce up and block enough shots for you to get behind better cover. Basically a potential "Second chance".

You're never going to get a triple bounce to the back of the end effect with current materials, but a single bounce we think might be possible. XD

Psyx
2010-12-06, 10:30 AM
If someone was shooting at me, and I needed to get into cover, I would NOT want to drop a large, heavy, bouncy object anywhere near my feet! :smallbiggrin:

There's more chance of tripping over it that it being useful. I'd rather keep it on my arm, where it might do something and won't break my neck...

Morithias
2010-12-06, 10:31 AM
If someone was shooting at me, and I needed to get into cover, I would NOT want to drop a large, heavy, bouncy object anywhere near my feet! :smallbiggrin:

There's more chance of tripping over it that it being useful. I'd rather keep it on my arm, where it might do something and won't break my neck...

It's not that you "want" to drop it. It's more "That lucky enemy shot just knocked it out of your hands cause it was getting loose after the last 30 shots."

Galloglaich
2010-12-06, 10:43 AM
Care to share any pictures? Any "slashes" I can think of are result of age, rust, and general falling up. Or solid thrust.

I have hard time imagining how anything you mentioned could sever hundreds of individual links, every one slightly differently angled, every one bouncing differently from the strike...

Modern "test" with crappy riveted mail suggest that even heavy poleaxe won't do any slashing, in fact.

So if you have any evidence of mail being actually cut with slashing strike, against laws of physics we're dealing with here.

I mean - torn mail where damaged fragment is visibly result of something bursting open line of the rings at the same time....

Considering that we in general have tiny amount of surviving mail, I would be very interested in seeing something like that.



Mail was very often not made from steel, but from bloomery iron, pretty optimal material for it.

But generally yes - later having tempered, hardened, homogeneous pieces of steel of interesting qualities would be easier and cheaper - thus different pieces of armor from helmets to gauntlets would be more widely used.

Top quality stuff would be also more widespread.



Not really, more like enthusiast. Why?

And on this topic, maces are used plenty by guys here in Eastern Europe in hools like medievalish brawls called buhurts, where dudes are bashing each other to put them on the ground.

If maces were "ignoring" armor, they all will be dead, but instead they can do it every weekend. So it's not very good word, as I said.


Again... what he said. And I am an RMA practitioner. That guy seems like a Troll...

G.

Galloglaich
2010-12-06, 10:47 AM
Whenever someone says a piece of armor was "invulnerable" remember, they almost always mean for it's time. Chainmail could takes swords and arrows like a pro, but give the mythbusters a few weeks and they could give you an arrow launcher that could shoot straight through 3 people lined up.

Yes but that doesn't change the fact that a person couldn't cut through mail armor with any non-mechanized hand-weapon. Period.

Maybe you could do it with a machine, or undoubtedly with a mechanized diamond saw or something like that. But that isn't relevant to the discussion.

And actually, I wish mythbusters would do some serious testing on weapons and armore it would clear up a lot of confusion in the pop-culture and probably be very interesting. Somebody start sending them some emails!

G.

Galloglaich
2010-12-06, 10:49 AM
Actually, depends on the shield. Many were made from quite springy wood, and not heavy at all.

What he said ! (this is getting repetitious)



Still I can't imagine visible bouncing effect, but....


Me either. Except in a comic book.

G.

Incanur
2010-12-06, 11:20 AM
Basic science shows that the force of a flanged short-handled mace is rather a lot less than that of a two handed blow from a bladed polearm, which has heck of a lot more leverage. So if maces were great against plate harness, then any bladed polearm would also have ruptured kidneys/broken arms by impact damage alone. This is also clearly not the case.

It's actually best to aim mace blows at the outside of joints (of the body) and other hard spots. Not only are elbows and knees very delicate, but the bone is near the skin which means the weapon is more effective.

In fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe, at least, short-handled maces were used almost exclusively by cavalry. Striking from horseback increases the impact somewhat.

Karoht
2010-12-06, 12:21 PM
The effectiveness of armour and shields is drastically downplayed and under-rated in most RPG.

Simply: A protagonist equipped with the cutting edge armour of their period tended to be pretty much immune to pretty much any normal combat blow that landed on the armour, reducing their chances of incapacitation down to that of receiving a very lucky blow which missed the armour, or a very well aimed one - very possibly a coup de gras, after being put on the ground by other means. Forget everything you've ever seen about swords hacking clean through mail and chopping up the bloke inside: It's just not how it happens - katanas slide uselessly off mail.Agreed.
Although it should be noted that one still takes the blunt force impact of the blow against chain mail. There is padding underneath, but it is quite a realistic threat to have a broken arm, rather than a hacked off arm.

As for thrusts, depending on the sword tip (and the size of rings), you still can achieve some small measure of puncture. It is enough to pierce padding, but probably not enough to penetrate the body any further than half an inch, or at the very least cause some kind of deep cut. Still, that is enough.
We tested this with a dagger. With a 3/8ths diameter ring, the tip of the dagger made it approximately half an inch. With a 5/16ths diameter (the more common approximate size so far as I am aware) it only penetrated about 1/4 of an inch. The padding I wear compresses to about 1/4 of an inch, so give or take some play, I'd probably be fine beyond a scratch or light cut. Again, variable to the tip of the weapon, naturally.


Additionally, armour was NOT simply bypassed by maces and the like. If cutting edge armour could be defeated by a commonly used weapon, then everyone would carry the weapon, and nobody would bother with the armour.
Humans aren't stupid enough to carry on using fatigue-inducing armour in combat a century after it's been rendered moot by a cheap hand weapon, and maces laying low any armoured foe is a myth.Take a hammer to a knee or a greave and tell me that. =) If you're still standing, great. If you aren't limping, great. If you're still able to walk comfortably, wow.


All armour is worn in addition to padding, which helps protect the wearer. Furthermore - as I'm sure you'll see by hitting a plate of metal with a hammer - armour spreads the force of the blow and lessens the impact even of blunt weapons. Even mail will spread a blunt trauma.Not to the degree I think you are thinking, but yes.


Well-made mail is also far from useless against piercing weapons. Plate armour is of course even better, as it deflects the force of the blow. For every pointy-weapon hit that manages to pierce the armour, dozens would simply be deflected by the curvature of the armour.Bingo. Deflection is where quite a bit of your protection comes from. Don't forget however, that deflection is also where some source of injury comes from. I once saw a tournament lance (designed to break) deflect along the brestplate, up under the helmet. That guy was lucky to be alive after that, and it wasn't even a weapon designed to kill someone the way a real lance would.
None the less, you are correct in that deflection helps protect the wearer, along the armor distributing the impact force.


EDIT:
Myth Wrote:
I have seen mail with slashes across the abdomen or chest in museims. That hardly counts as invulnerable in my book. An axe or a cutting sword, like say a messer would go trough it should a solid strike be placed.I won't argue the capacity of a slashing weapon, but I question that those 'slashes' in the armor were from slashing blows or not. The damage you describe is way more likely to come from a thrust than a slash. Not saying it isn't possible though. I'm curious if a slashing blow was somehow verified as the source.
Again, not saying you are wrong, just curious.

Yora
2010-12-06, 12:25 PM
That's why most suits of plate armor have special plates made precisely to prevent any pointed thing slipping into the gaps at the neck.

Mike_G
2010-12-06, 12:26 PM
In fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe, at least, short-handled maces were used almost exclusively by cavalry. Striking from horseback increases the impact somewhat.


I'm not sure how true that is.

Maybe, since cavalry don't tend to use two handed weapons, the short handled mace was the most effective one handed weapon against plate.

I think short melee weapon would not be used in the charge with momentum, but in the melee. The lance would be the weapon of choice for the charge, so that benefits from the momentum. After you've used the lance, and are mingled with the enemy armored cavalry, you take up your mace and bash away, using the strength of your arm, not the momentum of the charge.

I'd think a poleaxe would be tough to use on horseback, but it would be a better choice for fighting a guy in plate.

Cavalry would want a long weapon as well, to be able to reach infantry. Hard to hit a guy on the ground with a short mace, unless you lean way the heck over. Chances are the footman has a bill or a pike or halberd and is taking your horse apart like a Christmas goose by the time you can get close enough to bop his peasant brains out with your mace.

Karoht
2010-12-06, 12:40 PM
The bounce for the actual combat shield isn't to use it as a weapon, it's so that if you drop it from losing grip due to being fired on, it might bounce up and block enough shots for you to get behind better cover. Basically a potential "Second chance".

You're never going to get a triple bounce to the back of the end effect with current materials, but a single bounce we think might be possible. XD

Problem: Shield might drop.
Your Solution: Make it bounce?
Normal Solution: Strap the shield to the arm like a normal shield?

Problem solved?

Psyx
2010-12-06, 12:42 PM
^ Horseman's picks were the mounted version of the tin-opener of course.

Obviously not as useful as a pole axe, though.

But we were originally discussing maces in melee, rather than a blow delivered by a charge. Heck: If we're talking about charging, then the real weapon of choice is obviously going to be the couched lance!

I'll stick by my comment that a lump of metal on a stick does not render 2000 years of metallic armour development useless. A normal blow striking a plate harness in melee, with appropriate padding, is not going to rupture a kidney.



Although it should be noted that one still takes the blunt force impact of the blow against chain mail. There is padding underneath, but it is quite a realistic threat to have a broken arm, rather than a hacked off arm.

True enough, but it's also a lot less of a blunt trauma than people imagine. Mail and padding does distribute the blow quite well. Broken arms are still going to happen, but I'd still much rather be wearing the mail than not!


We tested this with a dagger.

Interesting. Tell us more. How was the blow delivered, and what was supporting the armour? Was the blow a lateral or horizontal one?



Take a hammer to a knee or a greave and tell me that.

Which is why I specifically mentioned the targeting of joints (ie knees!) and areas where the bone lays close to the skin.



It's not that you "want" to drop it. It's more "That lucky enemy shot just knocked it out of your hands cause it was getting loose after the last 30 shots."

Alternatively: Don't just hold it in your hand. Shields are strapped to arms and have been for 3000 years to prevent this kind of thing happening.

Incanur
2010-12-06, 12:48 PM
You see flanged maces everywhere in the sixteenth century, though eventually the pistol displaced this traditional cavalry weapon. Military writer Fourquevaux, for instance, considered the mace standard equipment for heavy horsemen. I agree it would have been used after lances broke, but the horse still adds power. Details on cavalry combat are famously scarce, but fifteenth-century writer Dom Duarte suggested constant motion for the tournament melee. I doubt men-at-arms stood still and duked it out when they could avoid this. A seventeenth-century source explicitly recommended using the axe (presumably a short horseman's version) instead of the sword against armored foes, so I bet such mass weapons could accomplish something under the right circumstances.

As for the effectiveness of infantry staff weapons against cavalry, sometimes yes (http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/bsb00007894/images/index.html?id=00007894&fip=71.37.151.246&no=40&seite=340) and sometimes no (http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/bsb00007894/images/index.html?projekt=1063203003&id=00007894&fip=71.37.151.246&no=29&seite=348).

Karoht
2010-12-06, 12:56 PM
I'll stick by my comment that a lump of metal on a stick does not render 2000 years of metallic armour development useless. A normal blow striking a plate harness in melee, with appropriate padding, is not going to rupture a kidney.100% correct. I hang out with some of the jousters here in Calgary from time to time, they say that for what they do, padding is just as important as the armor. And man do they spend money on armor.



Mail and padding does distribute the blow quite well. Broken arms are still going to happen, but I'd still much rather be wearing the mail than not!True that.



Interesting. Tell us more. How was the blow delivered, and what was supporting the armour? Was the blow a lateral or horizontal one?What we first did was we just lightly draped the chain over top of the dagger. With minimal to no force, and no damaged or broken links (admittedly, butted mail) the tip was already through by the afformentioned measurements. When we suspended it in mid-air (clothesline and clothing pins were surprisingly strong), we did a few strikes, horizontally. We discounted any broken or damaged links (again, butted, not riveted), and only achieved minimal difference, to a variance of maybe 1/8th of an inch in penetration on the 3/8ths diameter, and almost no noticable difference on the 5/16ths diameter. This was with the same dagger in all cases, I forget the type and maker.

That demo, along with what I have read here, has convinced me that my next armor purchase is going to be a riveted shirt of 5/16ths diameter, and a much thicker, more padded gambeson or jerkin. And I might toss a wool tunic over the gamb as well.



Which is why I specifically mentioned the targeting of joints (ie knees!) and areas where the bone lays close to the skin.Which I missed. Whoops.

Psyx
2010-12-06, 01:08 PM
Butted mail makes me cry :(

Although given the first test it wouldn't make much difference I guess, as no force was used and no links broken... it was measuring the natural 'holeyness' of the mail.

I'd be really interested in seeing tests with some actual 'proper' mail, but they are few and far between.

Morithias
2010-12-06, 01:12 PM
Problem: Shield might drop.
Your Solution: Make it bounce?
Normal Solution: Strap the shield to the arm like a normal shield?

Problem solved?

Taking a sword to a shield, might work, but let's face facts. Most guns fire with more force than older swords. Not strapping it, is done so the force from the bullet doesn't break your arm by going through the shield. We're trying to work around that too, the bounce thing is kinda an "extra" feature, cause if it doesn't remove from the primary effect, you can never have too many bonuses. (Unless it gets too costly).

Spiryt
2010-12-06, 01:25 PM
Butted mail makes me cry :(

Although given the first test it wouldn't make much difference I guess, as no force was used and no links broken... it was measuring the natural 'holeyness' of the mail.

I'd be really interested in seeing tests with some actual 'proper' mail, but they are few and far between.

The problem is that riveted mail made with accurate methods is damn hard to get and expensive obviously. And stuff commonly available is going to be meh as an armour, or maybe too tough, if somebody overbuilds it grossly, or whatever, but in any way it won't be accurate.

I think I've read that Erik Schmidt is going to sell some really close to "period" haubergeons for not much more than 1000 $ or something like that. And that's the "wow cheap" thing.

So it's not weird that if somebody buys a piece of something like that, even small, taking a hammer to check how long will it take to destroy it, is not exactly his first priority. :smallwink:

Psyx
2010-12-06, 01:38 PM
Taking a sword to a shield, might work, but let's face facts. Most guns fire with more force than older swords.

This is not true, I'm afraid.

The kinetic energy of most bullets is a lot, lot lower than the kinetic energy delivered by someone hitting you with a sword. Bullets just hit a much smaller area. If you check out the reverse of this ballistic shield, you'll see the way it attaches to the bearer.

http://www.bodyarmour.co.za/images/shields/large/ballisticshieldb.jpg

The bullets have zero chance of breaking an arm if they don't penetrate. Bullets simply don't hit hard enough to do that.

Myth
2010-12-06, 01:55 PM
Whenever someone says a piece of armor was "invulnerable" remember, they almost always mean for it's time. Chainmail could takes swords and arrows like a pro, but give the mythbusters a few weeks and they could give you an arrow launcher that could shoot straight through 3 people lined up.

A scorpion or ballista could do this? :smallbiggrin:


Again... what he said. And I am an RMA practitioner. That guy seems like a Troll...

G.

Excuse me but that was uncalled for! Where do you practice? Are you with ARMA? Or do you swing a stick in your back yard? Don't go calling names, especially when I admit when I am wrong (like admitting the holes in the mail were probably done by piercing rather than slashing as was suggested as i have no evidence to the contrary).


Strapping your shield on your arm, done for 3000 years etc.This.. I'm not sure how to go about this. I have no historical sources atm. Check this video: one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdHo-1jbX1A) and this one: two (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__mH8Xa7Sto). It seems to me it is not always the best idea to strap your shield to your arm in two places. He also makes a point about mail: here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RssIl2v0C1k), here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lahyhBeBsys) and here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-syLrpHt8w).

Spiryt
2010-12-06, 01:59 PM
This is not true, I'm afraid.
The kinetic energy of most bullets is a lot, lot lower than the kinetic energy delivered by someone hitting you with a sword. Bullets just hit a much smaller area. If you check out the reverse of this ballistic shield, you'll see the way it attaches to the bearer.


Actually, that statement's not true at all.

Javelins thrown by best Olympic hurlers will generally approach 400 J of kinetic energy, for example.

Generally, with most sword strikes, we will be dealing with no greater to much lesser energies, at least usually.

Most bullets mean much more kinetic energy, as you certainly know.

The thing is that comparing stuff just by 'energy' is pointless, football kicked by Roberto Carlos is going to have times greater kinetic energy than any arrow ever.

Is it going to be more efficient at breaking arms/puncturing stuff/killing than arrow?

Similarly, comparing bullet to sword is even more pointless, as one is usually going to be rotating piece of lead and copper flying trough air at some trajectory, will mechanics of piece of steel swung by humans body is going to be much different... And of course much more complicated.

Galloglaich
2010-12-06, 02:21 PM
Excuse me but that was uncalled for! Where do you practice? Are you with ARMA? Or do you swing a stick in your back yard?

I am not 'with ARMA' though I did defeat a senior former-ARMA instructor in a dussack match in a tournament in Houston earlier this year.

ARMA isn't really very significant in the WMA / HEMA world any more, sinnce most of their senior membership left last year and created the HEMA Alliance.

Anyway. I don't swing a stick in my back yard, I run a HEMA club in New Orleans. What do you do, pray tell?



Don't go calling names, especially when I admit when I am wrong (like admitting the holes in the mail were probably done by piercing rather than slashing as was suggested as i have no evidence to the contrary).

I'm glad you conceded the point since it was rather far out on a limb (as it's pretty common knowledge now from numerous tests that you can't really cut through mail) but your post struck me as Trollish.

If you don't know the answers you should ask questions, there is nothing to be ashamed of in that. We all ask questions here when we don't know, including me.

G.

Karoht
2010-12-06, 04:48 PM
Taking a sword to a shield, might work, but let's face facts. Most guns fire with more force than older swords. Not strapping it, is done so the force from the bullet doesn't break your arm by going through the shield. We're trying to work around that too, the bounce thing is kinda an "extra" feature, cause if it doesn't remove from the primary effect, you can never have too many bonuses. (Unless it gets too costly).


Wait wait wait.
So you think that a braced arm with a shield strap is going to sustain LESS force than holding it in one hand with no strap?

If you are holding the shield in 1 hand, you are thereby relying on your wrist strength alone instead of your shoulder. I'm pretty sure the shoulder can take more force and still stabilize the shield better than your wrist can. If you feel the opposite is true, by all means swing a baseball bat with nothing but your wrist strength, we'll see how that works out for you.


Moreover, lets say I 'drop' this shield while someone is firing at me. The shield is now in freefall. That means any impact that isn't to it's balance point will cause it to tip. That means it will hit the ground off center, meaning it isn't going to bounce upward, it's going to bounce another direction. Even if the bounce were centered and managed to bounce back up 50% of the drop height, now it's going to be even less given the angling, and will bounce in another direction.

JaronK
2010-12-06, 05:48 PM
On this whole slashing through mail thing, I think I know where that's from. I remember seeing a show on the History Channel where they attacked chain male with a bunch of weapons (arrows, swords, axes) and the stuff tore like tissue paper every single time. However, they never said what kind of mail it was. I would assume cheap butted mail. It was a hilarious show, where they basically said "yeah, chain mail was useless in its time."

JaronK

Galloglaich
2010-12-06, 07:14 PM
So I've become interested in the Hussite Wars, partially because I heard that Jan Ziska (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_%C5%BDi%C5%BEka) used very innovative tactics for the time.

So please, tell me any information you have on the tactics created and refined in the Hussite Wars. I'd especially enjoy info on the tabors as a weapon.

The Hussites and Taborities and Jan Ziska are all almost unknown in the West, and would be totally unknown except for the fact that their remarkable military accomplishments put them on the radar of war-gamers. Among whom they are starting to gradually grow in esteem as more and more filters out of their remarkable accomplishments.

http://i52.tinypic.com/33a5op2.jpg

This is probably the best single easily accessible source for them, actually one of the better Osprey titles:

http://www.amazon.com/Hussite-Wars-1419-36-Men-at-Arms/dp/1841766658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1291679588&sr=8-1

The importance of the Bohemian Hussites and their innovative wagonberg tactics keeps becoming more and more significant the more I learn about Eastern Europe. They seem to be the only type of infantry which could stand up both to both Western European style heavy cavalry (i.e. knights) and Central Asian style (Mongol and Ottoman) horse-archers with equal success. Their only downside was the difficulty in controlling them.

I recently learned how important they were to the history of Europe, due to their role as elite infantry in the service of Matthias Corvinus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthias_Corvinus) in his famous Black Army, considered one of the first truly efficient modern combined arms army in Medieval Europe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Army_of_Hungary

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:dqMXLnGqDqMfhM:http://img335.imageshack.us/img335/7982/hussitehandcannoneersangx8.jpg

http://img109.imageshack.us/img109/222/hussitewarwagonshx2.jpg

Their famous wagonberg went along with several other related inventions.

They invented this remarkable early form of highly mobile field howizter called the houfinice (just means howitzer, it's the root of the word), about 200 years before Gustavus Adolphus made them famous.

They invented the 'pistala', a shortened version of the hand-culverin popular at the time with a built-in touch hole (before that handgonnes were often fired by sticking a match into the barrel)

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:wdgUMtWe00jSPM:http://i91.photobucket.com/albums/k312/StSatan/Hussite.jpg

The hussite flail

http://getasword.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/hussite-with-flail-and-pavise.jpg

You can see several detailed drawings of how the Hussite war-wagons were used here:
http://www.e-stredovek.cz/upload/ulozene/vh03.jpg
http://www.e-stredovek.cz/upload/ulozene/vh05.jpg
http://www.e-stredovek.cz/upload/ulozene/vh06.jpg
http://www.e-stredovek.cz/upload/ulozene/vh08.jpg
http://www.e-stredovek.cz/upload/ulozene/vh07.jpg
http://www.e-stredovek.cz/upload/ulozene/vh09.jpg

There is a good quasi-academic article about the Hussites in military history here:

http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=effects_hussites

They do a good job summarizing the significance of the Hussites to military history:

The story of the Hussites, though first the story of Hus, is primarily the story of Zizka. This remarkable man is unparalleled in military history for the range, scope, and enormity of his accomplishments. He conceived the idea of the modern tank in his war wagons, giant moving armored fortresses filled with crossbowmen and hand cannoneers. Despite the effectiveness of this tactic, it was largely forgotten to military scientists and only revived by different minds in the early 20th century. He was one of the first Europeans to use artillery and guns in battle, instead of the previous use of them solely in sieges, and the first to use an organized system of them.[4] To this day we use the words pistol, howitzer, and harquebus, each of which come from Czech words first applied in Zizka’s day[5].

I think they give a little bit too much credit to Ziska specifically, but that is a whole nother argument. There is no doubt he was a remarkable figure, like a Clint Eastwood character from a Western.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-12-06, 07:40 PM
Some depictions of Jan Ziska and the Hussites fighting the Teutonic Order and the Crusaders from Communist-era 1950s films:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpaeyIbk8N8&feature=related

Nice lance charge too, the type of which you never ever seem to see in any modern American or British film about Medieval times for reasons I cannot fathom....

G.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-12-06, 10:38 PM
Some depictions of Jan Ziska and the Hussites fighting the Teutonic Order and the Crusaders from Communist-era 1950s films:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpaeyIbk8N8&feature=related

Nice lance charge too, the type of which you never ever seem to see in any modern American or British film about Medieval times for reasons I cannot fathom....

G.

So I take it the typical lance charge wasn't done in formation? Or was that (loose) formation charging?

RationalGoblin
2010-12-06, 11:22 PM
Thanks for the info, guys! It's very interesting, and useful as I plan to make an alternate history narrative based on the Hussites. :smallsmile:

fusilier
2010-12-07, 12:01 AM
Like this?

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/images/h2/h2_20.150.1.jpg


It was pretty standard issue with early Armets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armet), and it was simply mechanism of closing the helmet. Wiki text isn't obviously very good, but has some illustrations.

Here (http://www.thorkil.pl/armet.htm) modern reconstruction.

Thank you. According to wikipedia the "satellite dish" is called a rondel, and they're not sure why it was put there.

Incanur
2010-12-07, 12:43 AM
I have a feeling cavalry charges tended to be much more organized than in that video. Plenty of period texts stress discipline and cohesion. Charging a wagon fort isn't the smartest use of horsemen, though.

Matthew
2010-12-07, 06:15 AM
Heavy cavalry charges are supposed to have been pretty well organised, the main difficulty seems to have been in reforming for a second or third attempt. The military orders seem to have paid especial attention to "getting it right", but that is not to say that haphazard and imperfect charges were unknown or even infrequent, but they are often heavily criticised, as at Arsuf or Mansurah.

Stephen_E
2010-12-07, 06:48 AM
2 issues -

1) Bouncing metal objects.

Yes metal balls so bounce. All that is required is that the surface the netal ball is hitting is sufficiently strong/immovable that the object will bounce rather than go through it. Then the Kinetic Energy is reflected.

Basic physics. The KE has to go somewhere. If the wall isn't moving or deforming, and the ball isn't deforming, and the sound isn't sufficient to account for the energy, then the ball will bounce. Admitedly stell isn't particuly elastic so energy loss will be higher, but it will still bounce.

And I have bounced steel balls the size of marbles of walls.
Making the ball larger doesn't change the physics.
Heavier objects don't fall faster ect.

The Shield bouncing is unlikely to work, but for other reasons,

Grenades can indeed be bounced of walls, but it would require the grenade to have sufficient energy to afford to lose a lot throug poor elasticity and the wall to be be strong enough and hard enough to stop the grenade going into the wall or pulverising the wall.


2) Bullets have vastly more KE than melee weapons. This is because the low speed equation for KE is KE = 1/2 MxVxV
Thus velocity is the main component of KE.

Melee weapons will probably have far more momentum. Because the equation for momentum is = MxV.
So Mass is as important as velocity and weapons have far more mass than bullets.

Stephen E

Psyx
2010-12-07, 09:58 AM
So I take it the typical lance charge wasn't done in formation? Or was that (loose) formation charging?

Cavalry charges were formation movements. We know period texts that riders rode stirrup to stirrup with one another. Quite a feat in the circumstances.




The thing is that comparing stuff just by 'energy' is pointless, football kicked by Roberto Carlos is going to have times greater kinetic energy than any arrow ever.

We were talking about the transfer of momentum essentially, though. And a strapped ballistic shield certainly isn't going to be blown out of the user's hands by a few rounds striking it. It might do if it wasn't strapped, but that's what they're for!

Galloglaich
2010-12-07, 10:14 AM
So I take it the typical lance charge wasn't done in formation? Or was that (loose) formation charging?

No it was done in formation I think, the video was good in the sense that the kit was fairly accurate (some of the armor looked more 14th Century but 14th Century armor was still around in the 15th) the Hussite side was pretty realistic, but it's a Communist era film so they made it very one-sided.

Like an old US John Wayne Cowboy movie where the Indians are just kind of movable targets. In reality the early Hussite victories were never even close to that easy. Later one when their reputation had been established they were able to sometimes win a battle without even fighting (the other side would run away) but whenever there was an actual fight the Hussites took plenty of casualties too, armored knights are not so easy to defeat.

I was just pleased to see an actual lance charge though, however sloppy, because for some reason I can't fathom they never actually show them in Western films any more (I guess maybe they are too dangerous to film?)


G.

endoperez
2010-12-08, 09:19 AM
This is one of my favourite threads, and has taught me a lot. Thank you all for interesting discussions!


I've thought of two-handed swords as something that an armored knight would use, and that if he came across another armored knight he could half-sword it. However, I just now realized that this means most of the longsword techniques (everything but half-swording?) were to be used against UNarmoured opponents. Then again, several videos I've seen show two unarmoured men with longswords.

So, what kind of situations were longswords (= two-handed European swords) used in?
Were they something armored knights used in knightly duels, or did unarmoured people carry them for self-defense in case someone tried to mug them? Were they a general-purpose weapon suitable for many different roles, or a specialized weapon only used in e.g. duels or as a part of specific military formations (e.g. the Swiss doppelsöldner)?

Yora
2010-12-08, 09:29 AM
Swords were expensive and making larger swords that don't break require more steel of a higher quality, so my intuitive assumption is, that longswords were probably among the most expensive weapons you could get at the time.
Talking about the actual two-handed longsword here. The more generic one-handed arming sword or broadsword would be cheaper, but still highly expensive.

In addition to the cost of getting one, and the associated risk of having it stolen, swords are rather cumbersome to carry around with you. So unless you knew you would need it or you were expected to carry it as a symbol of your social status, people would probably not carry it around all the time. A knife or dagger is much more practical, and also much more cheaper.

The sword is the common "glorious" weapon, but the real all-star for most of human history was the spear. It's easy to make, cheap, easy to use, and extremely effective. The perfect weapon you want to put in the hands of your not very well trained soldiers. Lots of ancient heroes use spears, and the samurai kept using them as their primary weapon for a long time after the katana was introduced.

The great thing about swords, when in the hand of a well trained warrior, is that they are extremely good general purpose weapons that can be used for and against almost anything. The versatility is very high if you know what you're doing, which makes them a very good choice, if you can afford the weapon and the training.
The large longswords were certainly weapons of war and not used for much else. I think most either didn't have any sheaths, or if they did, they were always carried by the knights horse. Anything used to carry a longsword on the back or something like that are modern inventions. (You just can't get a sword from your back relyably in a fight, and it's basically impossible with longswords.)

Psyx
2010-12-08, 09:36 AM
Large weapons are seldom used for self-defence in 'civilian' situations due to awkwardness. A self-defence weapon that you put down somewhere, or take off while you're doing something is essentially a useless one.
A greatsword is very much a weapon of war, but judicial duels certainly would sometimes see them used, too.

The greatsword is a complete weapon system. The pointy end might predominantly used for half-swording against an armoured foe, but that still leaves a wide variety of throws, pommel strikes and suchlike as demonstrated in manuals, and still suitable for use against armour.

Remember that most of the fight-books on which greatsword techniques are based on or imitated come from a fairly 'late' period, so we suffer a little perceptual bias in estimating techniques and usage, I believe. By the real late period of usage foes on the battlefield would often be be partially or lightly armoured (ie pikemen). Even in earlier periods, not everyone could afford decent or full armour, by a long-shot. So cuts to wrists, legs et al would still be valid and useful.

Incanur
2010-12-08, 10:04 AM
Swords weren't terribly expensive at the height of the longsword in the fifteenth century. By the sixteenth century, at least, every soldier and many civilians (depending on the country) had swords as a matter of course. The German longsword saw common use as sporting weapon by the time Meyer wrote. Nearly every short of military arm saw employment outside of mass conflict during the period; fourteenth-century death records from England include various deaths from polearms. The larger two-handed swords specifically were carried by guards and others who expected to encounter multiple opponents. See Giacomo di Grassi (http://www.musketeer.org/manuals/diGrassi/digrass3.htm#19) and the Iberian montante tradition (http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=13877&start=0) on the subject. They saw considerable use as self-defense weapons though not exactly as personal sidearms.

Myth
2010-12-08, 10:06 AM
Swords were expensive and making larger swords that don't break require more steel of a higher quality, so my intuitive assumption is, that longswords were probably among the most expensive weapons you could get at the time.
Talking about the actual two-handed longsword here. The more generic one-handed arming sword or broadsword would be cheaper, but still highly expensive. You want to sound scholary but use the term broadsword :smallbiggrin: The historical broadsword term did not come until after the Renessance and was a reference to curved blade swords used by sailors. Anything else is DnD fantasy.


In addition to the cost of getting one, and the associated risk of having it stolen, swords are rather cumbersome to carry around with you. So unless you knew you would need it or you were expected to carry it as a symbol of your social status, people would probably not carry it around all the time. A knife or dagger is much more practical, and also much more cheaper.Most illustrations of the middle ages (see the Bayeux Tapestry for example) show nobles and men at arms carrying swords on their hips. I agree that a commoner has no use to carry one when going to the tavern though, as a simple knife or dagger can kill and is better to use in tight melee fights with little room to swing. The poorer part of the populace would carry saves however, when journeying. So it's more a matter of price than a general unwieldiness of the weapon.


The sword is the common "glorious" weapon, but the real all-star for most of human history was the spear. It's easy to make, cheap, easy to use, and extremely effective. The perfect weapon you want to put in the hands of your not very well trained soldiers. Lots of ancient heroes use spears, and the samurai kept using them as their primary weapon for a long time after the katana was introduced. True. But that was for formation fighting. For a one on one fight (or one on more than one, which basically means you are screwed already) they did not work that well. See here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixm6sXe1TYE) 2:16 to be precise.


The great thing about swords, when in the hand of a well trained warrior, is that they are extremely good general purpose weapons that can be used for and against almost anything. The versatility is very high if you know what you're doing, which makes them a very good choice, if you can afford the weapon and the training.
The large longswords were certainly weapons of war and not used for much else. I think most either didn't have any sheaths, or if they did, they were always carried by the knights horse. Anything used to carry a longsword on the back or something like that are modern inventions. (You just can't get a sword from your back relyably in a fight, and it's basically impossible with longswords.)True. lindybeige has examples of this here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IocQ_DZVAU0). He also makes a great point about drawing from your right side here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94c88HfACfQ).

On true two handed swords (claymores, zweihanders etc.) I was always under the impression that they were used to break up spear formations or cleaving the legs off of charging horses? That's just hearsay though so don't jump all over me :smallbiggrin:

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 10:10 AM
Specifically during the time the longsword as such (by which I mean a hand-and-half or two-handed sword between 3.5 and 4.5 feet long weighing 2-4 pounds) it was a multi-purpose weapon (I'm distinguishing here between a longsword and other larger weapons like a true-two hander or a greatsword of 5' or longer). The longsword was in use in Europe roughly between 1200 AD and 1600 AD, they were around both before and after but much more rare outside of that time span. The heydey of the longsword is roughly between 1350 and 1550 AD, which also corresponds with the heydey of armor in Europe.

One of the problems people have understanding armor-piercing vs. non-armor piercing weapons (and techniques) is they tend to think of armor as all or nothing. You are either naked as a jaybird or you are in cap-a-pied plate harness.

http://www.lib-art.com/imgpainting/4/6/9464-paumgartner-altar-right-wing-albrecht-d-rer.jpg

The reality is most people on the battlefield would wear partial armor protection, just like our soldiers today. Most troops do not go around in EOD suits, but just have a flack jacket and a helmet. It was the same in period, though for reasons of expense rather than utility. That is why non-armor piercing weapons like falchions, swords, axes, messers etc. remained popular as sidearms. These weapons work quite well, you just have to go around the armor. That doens't mean the armor is useless, it's harder to have to pick your targets so carefully.

Against someone wearing complete armor protection, which was less common but non exactly unusual on a late Medieval battlefield, a weapon like a longsword would indeed be used with half-swording techniques. There is a complete alternate fighting system for dealing with fully armored opponents called "Harnischfechten". The unarmored HEMA fighting you see much more often in videos is called "Blossfechten", but it's a misnomer really to call that unarmored fencing, it's fencing for anything other than complete cap-a-pied protection. As long as there is an unarmored part of their body, their face, their arms, their hands, their legs, you can use Blossfechten.

The truth is that (depending on the specific period and region in the world) longswords were fairly ubiquitous. They were (and are) extremely versatile weapons suitible in most variations both for civilian self-defense, duels, and battlefield combat, against armored or unarmored targets, useful on foot or on horseback, in a one-on-one duel or an open fight with multiple opponents. The longsword was in fact arguably the most versatile hand-to-hand weapon of it's day. They were the preferred weapons of knights, generally speaking, and of the most elite mercenary soldiers.

They were expensive but by no means out of reach for most mercenary soldiers or common townsfolk. In the 15th Century Baltic for example a longsword could sell for around 30 Kreutzer*, equivalent to 1 Livre Tournais, or 1/2 of a Gulden or Florin, or 1/8 of a Venetiaan Ducat. By comparison, an armored cuirass cost about 45 Kreutzer, a "Proofed" Half-Armor cost 90 Kreutzer, and a full milanese Harness cost 424 Kreutzer. Horses could be the most expensive kit of all... a Destrier (charger) could cost as much as 40 Florins (2400 Kreutzer!) An ordinary Horse might cost as little as 5 Kr.

A Mercenary could be paid as much as 4-5 Florins (240-300 Kreutzer) per month so most could afford a sword if not a warhorse.

I suspect the biggest impedement to carrying a longsword was the skill required to effectively use one. Longsword is not a simple weapon, it really requires some formal training to use, somewhat like a rapier (though not quite to that extent). Nevertheless we know from literary sources and a great deal of artwork that ordinary mercenary soldiers did in fact carry longswords quite often. The fencing fraternities would certify soldiers as master fencers (for a fee) which would then allow them to recieve double pay (as a so-called 'Dopplesoldner').

Anyway, I hope that answers some of your questions.

G.

*Some other longswords listed as being made for Aristocrats however of superlative quality could cost up to 400 Kreutzer or nearly 7 Gulden which is a rather vast sum. These were probably gilded as well as being made a masterpiece forged by a top Master. Like one of these:

http://pics.myarmoury.com/ornate_swords02a_s.jpg

Incanur
2010-12-08, 10:11 AM
The prevalence of swords depends on the period. By the sixteenth century everybody and their brother had one. Commoners with a bit of money regularly practiced martial arts - often from paid instructors - and fought duels.

endoperez
2010-12-08, 10:14 AM
Even in earlier periods, not everyone could afford decent or full armour, by a long-shot. So cuts to wrists, legs et al would still be valid and useful.

However, as Yora said, longswords would have been expensive weapons. Good, fitted plate armour would certainly have been even more expensive, but someone using an expensive weapon could probably afford good armour, too.

Also, I fail to see what a two-handed sword offers to a poorly armored soldier, when compared to a one-handed sword and a shield. Unless greatswords had a specific role in a group of infantry, I assume a soldier would have chosen a shield for extra protection, instead of a bigger sword for more versatility in offense.


edit: ninjaed several times, and those images look nice!

edit2: Wow, thanks a lot! Galloglaich's examples of the cost of a longsword compared to the cost of different types or armor was especially helpful. It looks like a decent armour and a longsword would have been afforded by soldiers for whom a full plate armour would still be a big expense.

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 10:18 AM
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. A skilled longsword fighter has an advantage over a sword and shield guy because he can usually hit him first. But it al depends on the circumstances. Even in the 15th and 16th Centuries you still see shields a lot in the artwork especially around sieges. It was largely a matter of circumstances, and the individual training and personal taste of the soldier in question.

But during that period (say 1350 -1500) you would not find a lot of completely unarmored soldiers on the battlefield. Most in fact would have at least some armor.

This changed through the 16th Century as pike and shot got simplified sufficiently that much larger, less well trained armies were possible, and armor gradually fell by the wayside.

G.

Incanur
2010-12-08, 10:21 AM
The Swiss infantry made considerable use of rather longswords (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=19028) as sidearms for pikemen. Pikemen didn't usually carry shields though certain authors (particularly Fourquevaux) thought this a good idea.

Spiryt
2010-12-08, 10:23 AM
As mentioned by Galloglaich, longswords were carried plenty by the hip in scabbards, and they were quite a bit practical in civilian situations, as they were reaching, two handed weapons, and yet infinitely more bearable than long spear or axe.


Also, I fail to see what a two-handed sword offers to a poorly armored soldier, when compared to a one-handed sword and a shield. Unless greatswords had a specific role in a group of infantry, I assume a soldier would have chosen a shield for extra protection, instead of a bigger sword for more versatility in offense.

They generally didn't have "specific role" in the group of infantry, as infantry man definitely wouldn't be the one to use it, infantry man will be, generally using polearms.

Longsword in battle would be generally used as sidearm, and generally by higher class combatants - on more "brawlish" occasions too, most probably not in the formation.

Generally, that's how longsword evolved - as a more hefty and lengthy cavalry sword, which eventually could serve as two handed weapon in case of dismounting.


EDIT: Here some pretty well known images, portraing the use of the longsword, in this case in naval combat.

http://www.britishbattles.com/100-years-war/sluys/battle-of-sluys.jpg

Myth
2010-12-08, 10:42 AM
Pretty pictures!

Galloglaich that was really informative! Where did you get the info on pricing?

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 10:47 AM
From a variety of sources, mostly books and academic articles which are not online, but here is a website which has a lot of prices especially for armor:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/medievalprices.html

There is also a great Medieval currency converter here:

http://www.pierre-marteau.com/currency/converter/rei-fra.html

G.

Spiryt
2010-12-08, 10:59 AM
Table from this (http://www.ibidem.com.pl/katalog/isbn83-912403-6-3.html) :

Shows not overly detailed, but informative comparison for the end of XV century, price :

Link to the table (http://www.historycy.org/index.php?act=Attach&type=post&id=10705)

Translation:

Piechur - Infantryman
Strzelec - Mounted archer
Kopijnik - mounted lancer

Miecz - Sword (interesting for us now)
Napierśnik - Breastplate
Koń - Horse

Left column is worse quality item, right better quality one.

EDIT: Prices in this it seems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague_groschen)

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 11:01 AM
Table from this (http://www.ibidem.com.pl/katalog/isbn83-912403-6-3.html) :

Shows not overly detailed, but informative comparison for the end of XV century :

Link to the table (http://www.historycy.org/index.php?act=Attach&type=post&id=10705)

Translation:

Piechur - Infantryman
Strzelec - Mounted archer
Kopijnik - mounted lancer

Miecz - Sword (interesting for us now)
Napierśnik - Breastplate

Left column is worse quality item, right better quality one.

Wow Spyrit, thanks, that is an excellent resource! Rare to see that much data all in one place. What denomination is the currency? German Groats?

Also some more translation... a Tarcza is a shield right? a Szabla is a saber. Pika is a spear or a pike. Kusza is a crossbow, wlocznia is Spear.

Maybe we should just translate this whole table...?

G.

Myth
2010-12-08, 11:17 AM
I'm Bulgarian some of the words are similar to our own. My guess:

Napiersnik - thumb ring
Luk - bow
Kusza - scythe
Kopia - javelin (plural)
Kon - horse
pelna zborja plytowa - that cloth (is it a piece of the horses' barding?) that covers the mount. Usually coloured, you remember which one right?
szabla - saber
sidlo s dodatkami - saddle with the things that hang on the side where you put your legs (don't know the Enlgish word for them)

Spiryt
2010-12-08, 11:17 AM
Płaty - plates, since it's supposed to represent end of the 15th, I assume that it's imprecise term here, probably "brigandine" would be better, although I suppose that larger plates weren't still completely forgotten, especially as cheaper option.

Pełna zbroja płytowa - full plate armour.

Naręczaki i ochrony nóg - arm and leg armor

Łuk - Bow

Ladry - Horse armor

Kopia - Lance

Rząd koński - Horse tack

Siodło - Saddle (with other stuff)

Ostrogi - spurs

^^^ Some sound similarly, but some differ quite a bit. :smallbiggrin:

Myth
2010-12-08, 11:19 AM
Lol I was close :smallsmile:

Psyx
2010-12-08, 11:26 AM
I
pelna zborja plytowa - that cloth (is it a piece of the horses' barding?) that covers the mount. Usually coloured, you remember which one right?

sidlo s dodatkami - saddle with the things that hang on the side where you put your legs (don't know the Enlgish word for them)

Caparison for the cloth.
And stirrups.

Thanks for the translations. Awesome.

Spiryt
2010-12-08, 11:26 AM
I guess I should add that translations of szabla, tarcza, kusza and włócznia that Galloglaich had already found are indeed correct. :smallwink:

Psyx
2010-12-08, 11:28 AM
However, as Yora said, longswords would have been expensive weapons. Good, fitted plate armour would certainly have been even more expensive, but someone using an expensive weapon could probably afford good armour, too.

Not that expensive, when compared to the full panoply of a nobleman. And - as seen by the excellent 'pricing guide' - well within the budget of a professional soldier. And of course... you keep what you kill.



Also, I fail to see what a two-handed sword offers to a poorly armored soldier, when compared to a one-handed sword and a shield. Unless greatswords had a specific role in a group of infantry, I assume a soldier would have chosen a shield for extra protection, instead of a bigger sword for more versatility in offense.


They did sometimes have a specific role in later periods, but it's *lack* if a specific role which is actually their strong point. It's versatile and useful in pretty much any circumstance.

And a two handed sword is very versatile in defence as well.
Shields are of course brilliant pieces of kit, but also remember that an awful lot of their advantage is in dealing with ranged weapons. By later periods, ranged weapons are very high powered, and so the shield becomes somewhat less useful.

Spiryt
2010-12-08, 11:35 AM
And a two handed sword is very versatile in defence as well.
Shields are of course brilliant pieces of kit, but also remember that an awful lot of their advantage is in dealing with ranged weapons. By later periods, ranged weapons are very high powered, and so the shield becomes somewhat less useful.

Actually, I believe that higher powered crossbows and stuff weren't really main problem - even if bolt or something can go trough, chances that it will penetrate completely to harm you are not great...

In fact, big pavises became very basic defense of the common infantry.

Decline of the shields in case of more professional troops had more to do with complete armor becoming more widespread - shield always offers much, but since defense is already covered well by the armor, more combatants were choosing the advantages of two handed weapon.

That's common, simplified theory at least.

Mordaenor
2010-12-08, 11:49 AM
I got a question. Did anyone ever actually wear a swod on their back? I can think of countless fictional characters in TV, Movies, and Video Games who have done it, but I don't think I've ever see an historical portrayal of a weapon worn that way. AND I would think it would be ridiculously hard to re-sheath a weapon that way.

Incanur
2010-12-08, 11:57 AM
Did anyone ever actually wear a swod on their back?

Generally no, but sometimes yes (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=5792&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0).

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 11:58 AM
I got a question. Did anyone ever actually wear a swod on their back? I can think of countless fictional characters in TV, Movies, and Video Games who have done it, but I don't think I've ever see an historical portrayal of a weapon worn that way. AND I would think it would be ridiculously hard to re-sheath a weapon that way.

I've never seen it in any historical source (or art) even once. Be interested to see if anyone can find an example.

G.

Yora
2010-12-08, 12:01 PM
You could strap a sheathed sword to your back for transport, similar to just putting it into your backpack and having it stick out at the top. But you would have to remove the entire thing to get your hands at both the hilt and the sheath before you can draw it.

Something like the blades of Legolas in the movies might work, but even those seem a bit too long for that. And when you are suprised, you probably don't want to fumble with a blade behind your neck.
Having it on the belt, or at least a knife strapped to your chest would also be much more practical an safe.

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 12:07 PM
Actually, I believe that higher powered crossbows and stuff weren't really main problem - even if bolt or something can go trough, chances that it will penetrate completely to harm you are not great...

In fact, big pavises became very basic defense of the common infantry.

Decline of the shields in case of more professional troops had more to do with complete armor becoming more widespread - shield always offers much, but since defense is already covered well by the armor, more combatants were choosing the advantages of two handed weapon.

That's common, simplified theory at least.

I actually agree with Psyx more on this one though it could be argued both ways (and has been) by informed people.

Certainly the in heydey of shields, during the Iron Age and back to the Classical period, missiles like javelins and darts were by far the greatest threat on the battlefield.

In the later Medieval / Renaissane period think it also varies by region. In the Baltic, Poland and Central Europe you see those "mini-pavise" style laminated shields which I think were invented by the Lithuanians, they seem to have had some utility against heavy crossbows and early firearms. They were not as well known in Italy, France or England. But certainly by the late 15th Century firearms and cannons (and the steel prod crossbows) were making any kind of shield increasingly obsolete (except for very heavy steel bullet proof shields like you see the Ottoman heavy infantry using, and somewhat in Italy and Germany during sieges)

I think another reason to ditch the shield ultimately is mobility and utility. A full-sized shield means you can't really use a crossbow, a gun, a pike, a glaive or a halberd. With a longsword at your side (or a buckler on your belt) you can still use a two-handed weapon and have a reasonable self defense kit as a backup --- which can be very very imortant given the reality of the two handed weapons in question --- but you aren't forced to lug around a shield all day. I think a shield also gets in your way a little bit for running around, jumping in and out out of ditches, climbing ladders, getting on and off horses, climbing over obstacles etc.

But it is also true that arrmor got better, cheaper, and more ubiquitous at the same time that shields declined somewhat, and good armor made shields less critical.


Personally I think if there is a big messy fight going on with a lot of bolts and bullets flying, a shield would be nice to have, a lot of the rest of the time you might really prefer having something like a longsword or a kriegsmesser... or a sword and dagger.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 12:08 PM
You could strap a sheathed sword to your back for transport, similar to just putting it into your backpack and having it stick out at the top. But you would have to remove the entire thing to get your hands at both the hilt and the sheath before you can draw it.

Something like the blades of Legolas in the movies might work, but even those seem a bit too long for that. And when you are suprised, you probably don't want to fumble with a blade behind your neck.
Having it on the belt, or at least a knife strapped to your chest would also be much more practical an safe.

You can definitely draw a sword from a back-sheath, I've just never seen any evidence it was done historically. Not certain why...


G.

Incanur
2010-12-08, 12:12 PM
Later sixteenth century shields were often proofed against guns and thus so heavy nobody wanted to carry them for more than hour. Various writers like Sir Roger Williams suggested lighter shields designed for hand-to-hand combat but I don't know how much action such targets actually saw. The Spanish made a name for themselves with their shields in close combat against pikemen early in the century but targetiers never really caught on the way pikemen and gunners did.

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 12:17 PM
Yes, we've discussed them before, the Rotella men of the Spanish Tercio.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tercio

They used small steel shields which were mainly for hand-to-hand combat but would also have some utility against missiles.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 03:16 PM
I guess I should add that translations of szabla, tarcza, kusza and włócznia that Galloglaich had already found are indeed correct. :smallwink:

So the currency... the prices listed are in German Groschen? I don't understand the bit at the bottom. I'm going to try to translate the whole chart and post it.

G.

Spiryt
2010-12-08, 03:38 PM
So the currency... the prices listed are in German Groschen? I don't understand the bit at the bottom. I'm going to try to translate the whole chart and post it.

G.

I think it was Prague_groschen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague groschen), as it was very popular in Poland in 15th century.

The bit on the bottom is some attempt to translate those prices into the PLN as in 2008... So something rather silly and not that much worth attention. :smallwink:

Gavinfoxx
2010-12-08, 03:41 PM
You can definitely draw a sword from a back-sheath, I've just never seen any evidence it was done historically. Not certain why...


G.

Don't you need some kind of break-away sheathe to do this, since you can only pull it out as long as your arm is? Does anyone have any image of something that looks kind of like a break away sheathe that might do this?

Karoht
2010-12-08, 03:45 PM
You can definitely draw a sword from a back-sheath, I've just never seen any evidence it was done historically. Not certain why...


G.

A friend of mine decided to make 'knife armor' by basically using knives in place of splints in splint armor. The guy was armed to the teeth with long knives, daggers, throwing knives, eating utensils, and 1 small piece he nicknamed the toothpick. His chest was only armored with chain maille, as was his head.

Surprisingly comfortable, and offered decent protection. Non-sharp, all of them. And before you ask, it was a halloween costume that got way out of hand.

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 03:54 PM
I think it was Prague_groschen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prague groschen), as it was very popular in Poland in 15th century.

The bit on the bottom is some attempt to translate those prices into the PLN as in 2008... So something rather silly and not that much worth attention. :smallwink:

Ok thanks, what is a Kon? a horse?

G

Spiryt
2010-12-08, 03:59 PM
Yes, a horse.

fusilier
2010-12-08, 04:19 PM
You can definitely draw a sword from a back-sheath, I've just never seen any evidence it was done historically. Not certain why...


G.

Looking at the link to myarmoury (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=5792&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0), there does seem to be some evidence that swords were carried on the back. But it was very rare. Unfortunately the conversation devolves almost immediately into speculation on back-sheaths, whether or not it is better to fire a pistol one-handed or two-handed (?), and if the Durer pictures of Landsknechts show "sheathed zweihanders" being carried over the shoulder (apparently they do). Anyway . . .

From the very first post:

I am sure that much of what we see is nonsense but I recently read in "The Moors" [an Osprey publication] that Arab foot soldiers regularly carried their swords on their backs.

And other posts:

I have a picture (actually a drawing maybe made on the basis of an original picture) of a Japanese asigaru (light infantryman) carrying a no-tachi on his back. From the other hand, in the old Japanese field manuals (in modern words) was recomended the sword to be carried on the back when the samurai was climbing walls during sieges.


I think that there is a lot to this. I've seen 16th, 17th and 18th Century illustrations of armies on the march in which various soldiers have removed their waist-belts or baldrics and thrown them over their shoulders to change the load for a while. I suspect that this is where much of the modern concept of "wearing" a sword over the back comes from. It wasn't actually worn there, but just carried there for a short while, and the illustrator thought it looked nifty enough to capture. And some more recent illustrator thought it looked nifty enough to copy.

So there seems to be *some* historical evidence for carrying a sword on the back -- although not for typical battle purposes. The very last entry does show a photograph of a samurai with a back mounted sword. (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=5792&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=160)

Yora
2010-12-08, 04:33 PM
Well, it's a photo. Even with samurai, the late 19th century is already quite deep in slipping from historical traditions to modern myths... :smallwink:

And the Japanese have a very long tradition of imitating foreign ideas that are apparently cool that goes far longer back than the 20th century. :smallbiggrin:
While not claiming that guy on the photo had no idea what to do with a sword, I'd say an influence by modern misconceptions is certainly a posibility.

fusilier
2010-12-08, 04:56 PM
Well, it's a photo. Even with samurai, the late 19th century is already quite deep in slipping from historical traditions to modern myths... :smallwink:

And the Japanese have a very long tradition of imitating foreign ideas that are apparently cool that goes far longer back than the 20th century. :smallbiggrin:
While not claiming that guy on the photo had no idea what to do with a sword, I'd say an influence by modern misconceptions is certainly a posibility.

Unfortunately, there isn't a description, but it's possible that's a mid-19th century photo from the pre-Meiji era. Anyway, I'm not sure when the popular image of wearing a sword on the back developed, and the photo is backed up by a claim that manuals suggested wearing the sword in a similar manner in certain circumstances. The question isn't whether or not the Japanese were imitating somebody else, but whether or not wearing a sword on the back has any basis in history.

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 05:28 PM
They were expensive but by no means out of reach for most mercenary soldiers or common townsfolk.

In the 15th Century Baltic for example
a longsword could sell for around 30 Kreutzer*, equivalent to 1 Livre Tournais, or 1/2 of a Gulden or Florin, or 1/8 of a Venetiaan Ducat.

By comparison,
an armored cuirass cost about 45 Kreutzer,
a "Proofed" Half-Armor cost 90 Kreutzer,
and a full milanese Harness cost 424 Kreutzer.

Horses could be the most expensive kit of all...
a Destrier (charger) could cost as much as 40 Florins (2400 Kreutzer!)

An ordinary Horse might cost as little as 5 Kr.

A Mercenary could be paid as much as 4-5 Florins (240-300 Kreutzer) per month so most could afford a sword if not a warhorse.

http://www.systemdarmes.com/sda/Portals/0/Gallery389/Misc%20Photos/_fixed/BalticEconomyCosts.jpg

http://www.systemdarmes.com/sda/Portals/0/Gallery389/Misc%20Photos/_fixed/BalticEconomyCosts.jpg

This is a conversion of Spyrits chart, I put the price in German Kreutzer (Kr) next to the price in Prague Groschen (Pg) the rate for Florins or Guilder is 1 Florin = 60 Kreutzer.

Some very interesting things raised here. What are the different types of swords, horses, crossbows.... some interesting questions. I have a few theories.

Thanks Spyrit for posting this you almost doubled my hard data on prices for this equipment, I'm going to use this for the Codex Baltic supplement I'm working on. You have my email right? Send me an email I want to touch base with you.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 05:34 PM
Looking at the link to myarmoury (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=5792&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0), there does seem to be some evidence that swords were carried on the back. But it was very rare. Unfortunately the conversation devolves almost immediately into speculation on back-sheaths, whether or not it is better to fire a pistol one-handed or two-handed (?), and if the Durer pictures of Landsknechts show "sheathed zweihanders" being carried over the shoulder (apparently they do). Anyway . . .




So there seems to be *some* historical evidence for carrying a sword on the back --

I stand corrected!

G.

fusilier
2010-12-08, 06:00 PM
I stand corrected!

G.

I would really like to see some more study into carrying swords on the back, though. That thread really missed out on a good opportunity there by being overwhelmed with unrelated responses. Most people who did chime in on back-sheaths seem to have completely missed the evidence for them. What we have seems to be very scant evidence for it.

It does make sense to me to carry a large sword slung on the back on a march. Not a handy way to go into battle, but probably more comfortable. Likewise, a smaller sword carried on the back might be convenient when climbing walls.

Tvtyrant
2010-12-08, 06:04 PM
The most effective army in the later 14th and early 15th century was the Hussites, and they used no heavy cavalry, few pikemen and lots of shields. Of course they accomplished it by using armored wagons that they made into a little mini-fort, but the massive shields were extremely effective as a defense against returning fire. Its just that they were too big to use in a set piece style battle, which is needed for offense.

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 08:26 PM
The most effective army in the later 14th and early 15th century was the Hussites, and they used no heavy cavalry, few pikemen and lots of shields. Of course they accomplished it by using armored wagons that they made into a little mini-fort, but the massive shields were extremely effective as a defense against returning fire. Its just that they were too big to use in a set piece style battle, which is needed for offense.

Yeah we have been on and on about the Hussites in this thread, scroll up a page or two. They did not exist in the 14th Century though Jan Hus wasn't executed until 1415.

The massive shields you are talking about are called 'pavises' they predated the Hussites by quite some time. And really have nothing to do with the shield discussion we were having. The principle Hussite hand-weapon was the flail.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-12-08, 09:49 PM
http://www.systemdarmes.com/sda/Portals/0/Gallery389/Misc%20Photos/_fixed/BalticEconomyCosts.jpg

http://www.systemdarmes.com/sda/Portals/0/Gallery389/Misc%20Photos/_fixed/BalticEconomyCosts.jpg

This is a conversion of Spyrits chart, I put the price in German Kreutzer (Kr) next to the price in Prague Groschen (Pg) the rate for Florins or Guilder is 1 Florin = 60 Kreutzer.

Some very interesting things raised here. What are the different types of swords, horses, crossbows.... some interesting questions. I have a few theories.

Thanks Spyrit for posting this you almost doubled my hard data on prices for this equipment, I'm going to use this for the Codex Baltic supplement I'm working on. You have my email right? Send me an email I want to touch base with you.

G.

Ok so, there are three swords issued here, one for 32 Groschen for horse archers, one for one for 72 for a lancer, and one for 120 in the 'very nice' category, also for a lancer.

Interestingly swords are only for cavalry here, infantry only get 'sabers' (probably messers) but more about that in a second.

So I'm guessing the sword for a horse-archer may be a strait Polish sword called a pallasch (http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/images/Battles/palasz_hussar.jpg), or possibly a kanzer (http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/images/koncerz.jpg) which is something like an estoc. But these were not really common until later if this is the late 15th Century. The top level sword, I would suspect, is a longsword or possibly just a very nice quality pallasch, perhaps with some hand protection (15th Century wouldn't be a basket-hilt like some later pallasz but it could have a knucklebow and a clamshell hilt like like this one
http://archive.liveauctioneers.com/archive4/auctionsimperial/15292/0137_1_lg.jpg

or this
http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/images/Battles/hupal4A.jpg

There are two crossbows, one for footmen (48 Gr.) one for horsemen (60 Gr.). The more expensive one for horsemen is, I bet, a "German winder" or cranequin crossbow. That is about the only type of military crossbow you can use on horseback because you don't have to span it with a stirrup. A small but very heavy crossbow with a steel or laminate / composite prod like this one (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/German_16th_century_crossbow_CAC.JPG) .

http://www.amoskeag-auction.com/77/thumbs/3578-11SILO.jpg http://rodes.pagesperso-orange.fr/cranequin.bmp

The other one is probably what the Germans called a knottlearmbrust, a stirrup crossbow with a thick solid yew prod, like this one (http://images.artfinding.com/lot/_240/peter_finer_gothic_south_german_crossbow_122941684 42938.jpg)

There are three types of sabers, the infantry one for 8 Gr is, I bet, a messer (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=10963) or a Hungarian infantry szalba like this one (http://www.swordsales.eu/images/Hungarian-or-Polish-16C-17C-Sabre-1.jpg) you see both on period images of Polish and Czech troops. The saber for light cavalry may be a Ruthenian (Cossack) shashka (http://www.tsarsarsenal.com/long_w/31_1905_silv_shashka_vivath/31_1905_silv_shashka_vivath.htm)

http://www.tsarsarsenal.com/long_w/31_1905_silv_shashka_vivath/31_1905_silv_shashka_vivath_0.jpg

The very expensive one for the lancer could be a Turkish Killij, or a Swedish heavy saber, or a a Karabella (http://www.tsarsarsenal.com/long_w/16_ukr_karabella/16_ukr_karabella_0.jpg), or a really nice quality Polish or Hungarian Szalba (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=184056) with a complex hilt, like this one:

http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r139/MatthewGMK/szabla3.jpg.

The cheaper horses are probably a schweik or a zhmud, the more expensive would be coursers or destriers. Expensive!

I was also impressed with how expensive the brigandine was. But that jibes with my other numbers too. For some reason a brigandine was considerably more expensive than a basic cuirass. Maybe because it was more flexible and less bulky?

G.

Acero
2010-12-08, 11:14 PM
Don't know if this thread can also be used for modern weapons, but if it does, I got a question.

3 round bursts. What's the point of them? If the first bullet is going to miss, the other two are also. Most bullet wounds are fatal by themselves.

Norsesmithy
2010-12-08, 11:26 PM
Don't know if this thread can also be used for modern weapons, but if it does, I got a question.

3 round bursts. What's the point of them? If the first bullet is going to miss, the other two are also. Most bullet wounds are fatal by themselves.

The vast majority of bullet wounds are not fatal. A little more than half the people shot with a rifle will survive it, and almost 80% of people shot with a handgun will live.

Also a fatal bullet wound may not take your enemy out of the fight as quickly as you'd like.

Three round burst is intended to allow a person to fire more than one round very quickly, like full auto, and to eliminate the need to train a person to "feel" the sear and keep their bursts short (and therefore accurate).

The biggest issue with 3 round burst is that it adds moving parts to the fire control group, and this is evident mostly in single fire, where the rifle will have a trigger pull that is not the same every time, due to the action of the burst cam on the sear. This inhibits accuracy.

Mike_G
2010-12-08, 11:35 PM
Don't know if this thread can also be used for modern weapons, but if it does, I got a question.

3 round bursts. What's the point of them? If the first bullet is going to miss, the other two are also. Most bullet wounds are fatal by themselves.

You're not understanding the concept. Firing a burst doesn't put all the rounds in the same hole.

At range, or at night, or in dense terrain like woodland, you may not have a good view of the enemy, or just be aiming at a muzzle flash, or be trying to suppress the enemy in an area. A burst provides a "beaten zone" rather than one single point of impact. One round could very well hit where the other two don't. It's like using a shotgun, or a machine gun burst. You saturate the target area with rounds.

Limiting the burst to three round prevents the "full mag burst" popularized in Vietnam by giving everybody an assault rifle. That tended to burn all your ammo and mostly just annoy the birds. The first three round will be more or less in the target area, before you walk the rounds off into the air.

If you have a clearly visible target in effective range, you shoot semi auto, well aimed shots at center mass.

If you are clearing a room with an MP5, you may use bursts precisely because single bullet wounds are often not fatal, at least not instantly fatal, and any enemy in the same room as I am cannot ever be dead enough fast enough.

Autolykos
2010-12-09, 05:16 AM
Has anyone of you actually *tried* to draw a sword from your back? I tried with my arming sword (72cm blade length), and while it certainly is possible, it feels pretty awkward, is slower and leaves you in a pretty vulnerable position for quite some time. Nothing I'd want to do while some armed guy who wants to kill me is standing right in front of me. Doing the same with a longsword or zweihänder might well be impossible (without taking the sheath off your back first), but will at least be even more awkward and dangerous. You might carry a sword on your back if you don't expect to use it anytime soon (or to look awesome - until you actually try to draw it), but I definitely wouldn't do so with a sidearm in battle.

Spiryt
2010-12-09, 09:28 AM
There are three types of sabers, the infantry one for 8 Gr is, I bet, a messer (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=10963) or a Hungarian infantry szalba like this one (http://www.swordsales.eu/images/Hungarian-or-Polish-16C-17C-Sabre-1.jpg) you see both on period images of Polish and Czech troops. The saber for light cavalry may be a Ruthenian (Cossack) shashka (http://www.tsarsarsenal.com/long_w/31_1905_silv_shashka_vivath/31_1905_silv_shashka_vivath.htm)

http://www.tsarsarsenal.com/long_w/31_1905_silv_shashka_vivath/31_1905_silv_shashka_vivath_0.jpg

The very expensive one for the lancer could be a Turkish Killij, or a Swedish heavy saber, or a a Karabella (http://www.tsarsarsenal.com/long_w/16_ukr_karabella/16_ukr_karabella_0.jpg), or a really nice quality Polish or Hungarian Szalba (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=184056) with a complex hilt, like this one:

http://i143.photobucket.com/albums/r139/MatthewGMK/szabla3.jpg.



Those are great picutures, although generally stuff like palash would be much later. Karabela would be form of saber appearing more like in 17th century, for example.

Like you can see, the illustrations on MyArmoury show sabres from around 1557 as an example.

Only sword price for lancer shown in table is for just "sword" - could indeed be like this one (http://www.muzeumwp.pl/emwpaedia/miecz-druga-polowa-xv-pocz-xvi-wieku.php).

Szabla and similar stuff was becoming popular, especially in Hungary, but classic cruciform sword still held strong. I guess that high price could have just come from great quality and renowned blade manufacturer and hilt artist.

Of course, prices for some things, and not for other are probably just effects of data (un)availability.

Storm Bringer
2010-12-09, 10:54 AM
Limiting the burst to three round prevents the "full mag burst" popularized in Vietnam by giving everybody an assault rifle. That tended to burn all your ammo and mostly just annoy the birds. The first three round will be more or less in the target area, before you walk the rounds off into the air.

intresting historical factlet:

the fear of this effect was one of the arguements put foreward agianst magazine rilfes in the 19th century, when it was argued that a soldier with a magazine rifle would just blast off all his rounds at long range, while a soldier with a single shot woapon would wait until he was sure of hitting, as he only had one sure shot.

Psyx
2010-12-09, 11:04 AM
...it was argued that a soldier with a magazine rifle would just blast off all his rounds at long range, while a soldier with a single shot woapon would wait until he was sure of hitting, as he only had one sure shot.

And how right they were!




Actually, I believe that higher powered crossbows and stuff weren't really main problem - even if bolt or something can go trough, chances that it will penetrate completely to harm you are not great...

I was also considering the rise of gunpowder.
Plus the increased number of pole-arm wielding formations.
I completely agree and understand your point of view. It's just that there are more than a couple of elements to the change, I feel.

Myth
2010-12-09, 11:21 AM
Has anyone of you actually *tried* to draw a sword from your back? I tried with my arming sword (72cm blade length), and while it certainly is possible, it feels pretty awkward, is slower and leaves you in a pretty vulnerable position for quite some time. Nothing I'd want to do while some armed guy who wants to kill me is standing right in front of me. Doing the same with a longsword or zweihänder might well be impossible (without taking the sheath off your back first), but will at least be even more awkward and dangerous. You might carry a sword on your back if you don't expect to use it anytime soon (or to look awesome - until you actually try to draw it), but I definitely wouldn't do so with a sidearm in battle.

Youtube video on the subject. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IocQ_DZVAU0) Take it for what it's worth.

Galloglaich
2010-12-09, 12:04 PM
Those are great picutures, although generally stuff like palash would be much later. Karabela would be form of saber appearing more like in 17th century, for example.

Like you can see, the illustrations on MyArmoury show sabres from around 1557 as an example.

Only sword price for lancer shown in table is for just "sword" - could indeed be like this one (http://www.muzeumwp.pl/emwpaedia/miecz-druga-polowa-xv-pocz-xvi-wieku.php).

Szabla and similar stuff was becoming popular, especially in Hungary, but classic cruciform sword still held strong. I guess that high price could have just come from great quality and renowned blade manufacturer and hilt artist.

Of course, prices for some things, and not for other are probably just effects of data (un)availability.

My understanding is that the weapons like the Pallasch and the Karabella were in existence in early 'proto' - form by the second half of the 15th Century, in fact the Polish cavalry went through a lot of development in the 13 Years War leading to what would later become the Winged Hussars.

The early pallasches (which were double -edged, basically arming swords except with a more messer-like or saber-like grip) probably didn't have complex hilts, though they did have crossguards and both clamshell guards and knuklebows existed in the 15th Century so they could have that too.

The karabella is basically just a Hungarian style saber ... the whole idea of Sarmatism which it was so linked with had been popularized or invented the 1460s, by Jan Dolgozs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_D%C5%82ugosz

So I figured they may have had some proto-karabellas by then. You see a lot of sabers like that in period art.

But you are right the expensive sword on the list was very likely a longsword, and that is a very nice example you posted. Unfortunately few weapons from that far back (before the 16th Century) remain in very good condition which is why I often rely on photos from later eras to give people some idea of what the real antiques were like, since replicas so rarely do them justice.

G.

Spiryt
2010-12-09, 12:33 PM
I actually don't think that karabela's had much to do with Hungary, maybe there is some language "loosenes" - most people claim it's Turkish origin, later weapon turned into specific polish form.

Hungarian inspired sabres were known as "węgierka" which simply means "hungarian".

But it indeed seems that something like early karabela was known as early as the beginning of 16th century... Som maybe late 15th too. :smallwink:

Galloglaich
2010-12-09, 12:52 PM
Well, the saber in general (the szabla) seems to have arrived in Europe from Hungary, or so I've read... the Hungarian Magyars had sabers as early as the 9th Century, these were probably some form of Dao. Of course the Mongols also used (Chinese, Dao) Sabers and the Poles and Russians and everyone in the Baltic had direct contact with them from the early 13th Century at the latest, probably other steppe tribes the Baltic Europeans were in contact / conflict with (Kipchaks, Pechenegs etc.) were using sabers too much earlier.

My understanding of the Karabella is that it was a development of the Szalba popularized by or associated with this doctrine of Sarmatism, along with certain articles of dress like the long coat and the fur hat and etc. Does that jibe with your understanding? It's hard to find good information about this in English-language sources.

G.

Spiryt
2010-12-09, 01:37 PM
Eh, like you see, this is generally topic for books...

AFAIU, every style of saber generally was connected with sarmatian dress, culture, and mannerisms. Karabela was very popular, classic form indeed though.

As for those early times, I suppose there could be simply a bit of chaos in terminology - there is quote from around 1497, describing quest against Turks "„Debit in ondum currum ad servandum mensole, coclevia, carrabella y dlatha" - "carrabella" is named in Latin as part of equipment. What it exactly means is different matter.

Paintings like this one (http://pl.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Plik:Battle_of_Orsha.jpg&filetimestamp=20060903221904) show us relatively straight, broad saber, that is thought to be typical Hungarian form. Karabela is defined as of Armenian or Turkish origin, and differently looking.

And on the other hand again, here (http://alatusmortis.w.interia.pl/index_38.htm), one can see "typical" long, slender, curved karabela, along with different saber, looking very similar to Battle of Orsza ones, only with different guards.

So it's pretty complicated matter to my eyes. :smallwink:

But "stereotypical" karabela is long, lithe and much later in time (17th and 18th century).

BTW. I noticed that I had old, wonky e mail connected with this forum, so I will send you answer from different one (to Galloglaich obviously).

Galloglaich
2010-12-09, 02:48 PM
What are those curved shields called, in Polish?

G.

Spiryt
2010-12-09, 03:18 PM
What are those curved shields called, in Polish?

G.

Only thing I could find is "tarcza turecka" - so "turkish shield", and characteristic quirk being those elongated, raised corners (mainly top rear one).

In one book on the subject it's suggested that it's defense against Tatar arkans (lassos). But it's nothing sure, and I don't really like that theory personally.

Curvature seems to be common too, though.

Galloglaich
2010-12-09, 05:41 PM
Only thing I could find is "tarcza turecka" - so "turkish shield", and characteristic quirk being those elongated, raised corners (mainly top rear one).

In one book on the subject it's suggested that it's defense against Tatar arkans (lassos). But it's nothing sure, and I don't really like that theory personally.

Curvature seems to be common too, though.

Yes it's characteristic of Polish cavalry and Eastern European cavalry (and sometimes infantry) in general. I think the shape is for deflection of crossbow bolts and lances, and bullets. It reminds me of the gunshields which you see in depictions of Bohemian soldiers sometimes. Like this one

http://www.heretic.faithweb.com/heretic.htm

(look for Hussite Handgunner, c.1430, it won't let me directly link to the image)

Notice the curved shape, like the armor on a tank. And like much of the body-armor in this time.

Do you know if those shields were metal as they appear to be or wood?

G.

JaronK
2010-12-09, 06:30 PM
Does anyone know where I could get a cheap cup hilt rapier? I've looked around but all the cheap rapiers seem to be other hilt types. I'm using it for fire dancing, not combat or presentation, so it's fine if the weight is a bit strange (especially if the weight is too far towards the hilt, as I have to add kevlar to the blade).

JaronK

Norsesmithy
2010-12-09, 07:12 PM
Does anyone know where I could get a cheap cup hilt rapier? I've looked around but all the cheap rapiers seem to be other hilt types. I'm using it for fire dancing, not combat or presentation, so it's fine if the weight is a bit strange (especially if the weight is too far towards the hilt, as I have to add kevlar to the blade).

JaronK

Don't know if it's "cheap" enough for you, but hanwei makes a Cup Hilt Rapier called the Taza that you can find for 200 buck (http://kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=SH2035)s or so.

Mike_G
2010-12-09, 07:42 PM
intresting historical factlet:

the fear of this effect was one of the arguements put foreward agianst magazine rilfes in the 19th century, when it was argued that a soldier with a magazine rifle would just blast off all his rounds at long range, while a soldier with a single shot woapon would wait until he was sure of hitting, as he only had one sure shot.


It's also a fact that the actual in-combat hit percentage was better with the Brown Bess musket than the M16.

Now, I'm not arguing for a return to muzzle loaders, but "spray and pray" doesn't really produce many hits. Single shots or short bursts produce more hits per million rounds fired than full auto. So, unless you want to weigh your infantry down with a hundred pounds of ammo each, and strain the bejeezus out of your supply system, you limit the bursts.

The best hits per rounds fired ratio were probably the bolt action turn of the century rifles. Magazine weapons so the savages couldn't just wait behind cover for the volley then rush you and tomahawk/assegai/claymore you to death before you could reload, but not putting 27 round in the trees every time you pulled the trigger.

Fortinbras
2010-12-09, 08:04 PM
Airborne infantry question.

Firstly what role of paratroopers played in recent conflicts? What where they able to do that air assault troops couldn't?

Secondly, I recently read and article that claimed that in the US Army paratroopers were just light infantry who could jump out of airplanes and that they were not in fact that elite. Does anybody know how true this is?

Finally how do paratroopers in other militaries (British, Israeli, etc.) compare to American paratroopers? Are they more elite? More like the Rangers?

JaronK
2010-12-09, 08:14 PM
Don't know if it's "cheap" enough for you, but hanwei makes a Cup Hilt Rapier called the Taza that you can find for 200 buck (http://kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=SH2035)s or so.

Hmm, was trying to get down into the $50 range. It's a prop piece, after all. The cup hilt is just a lot nicer for keeping the heat off my hands during thrusts, when my hand would otherwise be on fire.

JaronK

fusilier
2010-12-09, 10:22 PM
intresting historical factlet:

the fear of this effect was one of the arguements put foreward agianst magazine rilfes in the 19th century, when it was argued that a soldier with a magazine rifle would just blast off all his rounds at long range, while a soldier with a single shot woapon would wait until he was sure of hitting, as he only had one sure shot.

The 1886 Lebel compromised by having a magazine cut-off. Single-shot fire at long range, and rapid-fire when the enemy was close.

fusilier
2010-12-09, 10:28 PM
It's also a fact that the actual in-combat hit percentage was better with the Brown Bess musket than the M16.

I'm not sure if the statistics are that reliable, but it wouldn't surprise me. The Marines were the first to use the Tommy Gun in combat. They would send one man off into a jungle (Nicaragua?) in front of the rest of the squad, and simply spray a clip or two into the jungle -- then see who surrendered. The German FG42 was used full auto in a similar manner.

Norsesmithy
2010-12-09, 10:32 PM
The 1886 Lebel compromised by having a magazine cut-off. Single-shot fire at long range, and rapid-fire when the enemy was close.

Just about every nation had this feature on their service rifle for about a 15 year period.

fusilier
2010-12-09, 10:45 PM
Youtube video on the subject. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IocQ_DZVAU0) Take it for what it's worth.

Don't ninjas use a shorter sword? ;-)

Anyway, what if you threw off the scabbard as you draw the sword? I know I've seen Japanese techniques that use the scabbard as part of an attack, and I think I've seen some European ones? Furthermore the Landsknechts with zweihanders appear to have carried them sheathed, so they must of just dropped the sheaths when they were going into battle. If you are going into combat, once the sword is drawn, it's probably not necessary to sheath it again until the battle is over. So losing the sheath wouldn't matter. The historical basis for wearing a sword on the back is very slight, and seems to simply be ignored by people who are attempting to study it. That's what this video seems to indicate to me.

fusilier
2010-12-09, 10:56 PM
Just about every nation had this feature on their service rifle for about a 15 year period.

Hmmm. I'm not that familiar. The only other one I can think of is the Krag-Jorgensen. Many nations adopted Mannlicher style magazines (M1891 Carcano, 1888 Gewehr, various Steyr-Mannlichers), which didn't allow a cut-off. Could you elucidate some more examples with magazine cut-offs? I know some rifles could be single loaded, even if the magazine was full, but didn't have a cut-off.
Thanks.

Norsesmithy
2010-12-09, 11:18 PM
Perhaps I am incorrect, but I was under the impression that cut offs were available and then deleted on the Mausers and Mannlichers. The traditional magazine on these rifles is not an obstacle to a cutoff device, because the M1903 Springfield had a magazine cut off in it's prototype configuration, and early Mosin Nagants did as well. Lee Enfields were also origially produced with a magazine cutoff.

On further research, it appears that the Models 1888 and 1891 Mausers did have a magazine cutoff, but that it was often removed by armorers. At least if I am reading this correctly, Robert W. D. Ball's Mauser Military Rifles of the World is not a very linearly laid out book, for instance, the M1888 article is surrounded on both sides with articles on magazine conversion model 1871 pattern guns, which definitely had a cutoff (and also had a tube mag under the barrel, but I digress).

So I'd say that the majority of the service rifles adopted between 1883 and 1898 had magazine cut offs.

fusilier
2010-12-10, 04:34 AM
Perhaps I am incorrect, but I was under the impression that cut offs were available and then deleted on the Mausers and Mannlichers. The traditional magazine on these rifles is not an obstacle to a cutoff device, because the M1903 Springfield had a magazine cut off in it's prototype configuration, and early Mosin Nagants did as well. Lee Enfields were also origially produced with a magazine cutoff.

On further research, it appears that the Models 1888 and 1891 Mausers did have a magazine cutoff, but that it was often removed by armorers. At least if I am reading this correctly, Robert W. D. Ball's Mauser Military Rifles of the World is not a very linearly laid out book, for instance, the M1888 article is surrounded on both sides with articles on magazine conversion model 1871 pattern guns, which definitely had a cutoff (and also had a tube mag under the barrel, but I digress).

So I'd say that the majority of the service rifles adopted between 1883 and 1898 had magazine cut offs.

I stand corrected. The 1891 Carcano can only be chambered from the clip, and that's what I was thinking of. However, the 1870/87 Vetterli-Vitali did have a a magazine cut-off.

Myth
2010-12-10, 05:13 AM
Don't ninjas use a shorter sword? ;-)

Anyway, what if you threw off the scabbard as you draw the sword? I know I've seen Japanese techniques that use the scabbard as part of an attack, and I think I've seen some European ones? Furthermore the Landsknechts with zweihanders appear to have carried them sheathed, so they must of just dropped the sheaths when they were going into battle. If you are going into combat, once the sword is drawn, it's probably not necessary to sheath it again until the battle is over. So losing the sheath wouldn't matter. The historical basis for wearing a sword on the back is very slight, and seems to simply be ignored by people who are attempting to study it. That's what this video seems to indicate to me.

Well as far as Western and Central Europe are concerned, professional men-at-arms had assistants (so called pages) to carry their weaponry. It's modern day misconception that one had to march into battle armed like the medieval Rambo. So carrying it off-combat is not an issue AFAIK.

Psyx
2010-12-10, 06:55 AM
Anyway, what if you threw off the scabbard as you draw the sword? I know I've seen Japanese techniques that use the scabbard as part of an attack

I know that no-daishi scabbards were discarded prior to battle. It makes sense to abandon something that would weigh you down or restrict you in any way on the field of battle.

The sword was a back-up weapon to the samurai who actually fought battles. Although it's hard to date techniques sometimes, I believe that many of the techniques using the saya came about after the Sengoku period, when the sword was a 'daily carry' item of self defence and armour was seldom worn.


The best hits per rounds fired ratio were probably the bolt action turn of the century rifles. Magazine weapons so the savages couldn't just wait behind cover for the volley then rush you and tomahawk/assegai/claymore you to death before you could reload, but not putting 27 round in the trees every time you pulled the trigger.

Although of course the British Army was trained for 'mad minute' rapid firing as well; which laid down a very effective beaten zone, yet was still moderately accurate. Having had the chance to practice it myself, I recall it taking chunks out of my fingertips and ripping nails to shreds!

I don't doubt the comparative accuracy of the Brown Bess. It was pretty inaccurate, but wasn't fired at single targets behind cover, but at proverbial barn doors.

I've never really known any military to embrace the fully automatic setting on their rifles. It's generally viewed as a complete waste of ammunition. and you never have enough ammunition. Although handy in FIBUA for dropping people at close range, FIBUA is frighteningly intensive on ammunition anyway, and you'd be dry before clearing a street if you used fully automatic all the time.



Firstly what role of paratroopers played in recent conflicts? What where they able to do that air assault troops couldn't?

Secondly, I recently read and article that claimed that in the US Army paratroopers were just light infantry who could jump out of airplanes and that they were not in fact that elite. Does anybody know how true this is?

Finally how do paratroopers in other militaries (British, Israeli, etc.) compare to American paratroopers? Are they more elite? More like the Rangers?


Not much, to be honest. Paradrops aren't much use in low intensity combat. I think Shri Lankan forces made a drop a few years ago and the US made a couple of drops in Iraq. The Parachute Regiment haven't done a combat drop since 1956.

Parachute training is now really just a way to train and toughen up troops. I don't know about US forces but in the UK the Parachute Regiment is still very much viewed as Elite infantry (along with the RM), but not actually Special Forces. It's commonly joked that the Paras typically get the top 20% of the Sandhurst intake physically, but the bottom 20% academically! Parachute training is just part of a much harder training regimen.

US Airborne forces aren't viewed as special forces. I'm not even sure if they're viewed as elite infantry any more, but it's not my area of knowledge. you'd have to look into the specifics of their training and its duration perhaps.

Yora
2010-12-10, 07:38 AM
I think the role of parachute jumps is today done by helicpoter transport. The main advantage is, that you put down all soldiers and their equipment in the same spot, instead of spreading them over a larger area.
I guess parachute drops would be more useful if you want to drop lots of troops with lots of equipment and don't have the abiltity to transport them on the ground or land them on an airstrip. But these problems shouldn't be much of an obstacle for modern high-tech armies fighting against technologically inferior forces.

Hanuman
2010-12-10, 07:52 AM
Para is mainly for jungle drops, the reason paratroopers need to be a cut above the rest is that stranding yourself in the middle of what could be a completely brutal and inhospitable place for maybe weeks at a time, sleeping on rocks, needing to move around patrols and extreme terrain all while conserving food and water and usually completely alone is hard. Paratroopers may not have a higher BAB or HP or whathaveyou, but they def. have more skillpoints and CON.

Myth
2010-12-10, 08:25 AM
I can't think of any significant use of parachute drops in history apart from D-Day. Although I know for a fact that there was a large para drop regiment on standby in a base in Ukraine, back when the cold war was on. This particular one was responsible for the soviet resonance to any Turkish/Greek agression that crosses the Bulgarian border. Our (the Bulgarian) military was assured that they could be here within the hour.

In that sense speed and logistics are the main advantages right?

Maclav
2010-12-10, 08:40 AM
I am quite certain I wouldn't want to swing or thrust any sword worth $50. Double plus true if its ON FIRE at the time! An on fire broken sword flying though the air... not my cup of tea.



Hmm, was trying to get down into the $50 range. It's a prop piece, after all. The cup hilt is just a lot nicer for keeping the heat off my hands during thrusts, when my hand would otherwise be on fire.

JaronK

Maclav
2010-12-10, 08:45 AM
Fiore shows a couple of plays with a scabbard in defense of a dagger attack. They presume you are holding you scabbarded sword in your hands at the time of the attack.



Anyway, what if you threw off the scabbard as you draw the sword? I know I've seen Japanese techniques that use the scabbard as part of an attack, and I think I've seen some European ones?