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View Full Version : Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVI



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Incanur
2018-10-01, 11:58 PM
As far as weapon hierarchies go, both Pietro Monte and Antonio Manciolino thought longer was better. Monte only wrote in generalities, as seen above, but Manciolino gave a few specifics.

Manciolino: Lancia (12-14+ft?) > spiedo (8ft), partisan > two-handed sword, both given as instances of the general principle of longer being better.

So it wasn't just English fencers who ranked weapons, though it does appear to have been a particular English approach that George Silver took to its most comprehensive.

I doubt it's a mere coincidence or noise that so many historical martial artists wrote about how much reach matters.

VoxRationis
2018-10-02, 12:26 AM
I don't think we have records of arrow shot versus casualties. Lots of battles the records don't even agree on how many troops were there on either side, or how many casualties were inflicted. Even if we did know the total casualties of say, the French at Agincourt, how many died from arrows versus how many were killed in melee or killed afterwards when the English thought they were under threat of counter attack, we don't know. Most medieval records tell us the important casualties, but don't give hard numbers for common troops

For comparatively recent wars, like the ACW, we have detail records of ammunition from quartermaster reports, and of casualties from the war department. Medical records can also help differentiate casualties from, say artillery versus musketry, or bayonet and sabre injuries, which were a small percentage in the ACW.

Even a modern war where one side used arrows, like, say the Battle of Little Bighorn, we know how many US troopers were killed or wounded, but not how many arrows the Sioux shot, or how many men were killed by arrows versus by other means. Most forces that were still using bows didn't keep detailed records. The number of Indian losses at Little Bighorn is a matter of conjecture, pieced together from various accounts from Indians who were there, and who don't always agree.

I agree it would be interesting to know, I just don't think we have reliable sources to get that specific.

Yeah, I kind of expected as much.

Brother Oni
2018-10-02, 03:30 AM
I agree it would be interesting to know, I just don't think we have reliable sources to get that specific.

The only record I know of with arrows shot versus casualties dealt is from WW2, but that's an outlier by any stretch of the imagination (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Churchill).

He was 1 for 1 by the way (Belgium, May 1940) (https://www.wearethemighty.com/articles/the-bagpipe-playing-soldier-who-killed-a-nazi-sergeant-with-a-longbow).

Galloglaich
2018-10-02, 08:43 AM
The only record I know of with arrows shot versus casualties dealt is from WW2, but that's an outlier by any stretch of the imagination (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Churchill).

He was 1 for 1 by the way (Belgium, May 1940) (https://www.wearethemighty.com/articles/the-bagpipe-playing-soldier-who-killed-a-nazi-sergeant-with-a-longbow).

I never get tired of reading about that guy. Why haven't they made a Biopic yet?

G

rrgg
2018-10-02, 11:20 AM
Pointing out that reach confers an advantage (all other things being equal) isn't the same thing as making a strict hierarchy of weapons or pointing out how one is better than all others -what Silver and Swetnam did.

Monte also certainly understood the advantages of shorter weapons like single sword & dagger.

G

That kind of is the exact same thing as "the vantages of weapons" aka weapon hierarchies.

On the previous page you sort of were arguing that, aside from training, a longsword was straight up better than a saber or backsword.

Incanur
2018-10-02, 01:58 PM
{Scrubbed}
Let's look at what these historical masters wrote. Emphasis added!


But those who embrace great art have a great advantage or security by one fingerís weapon-length.


Longer weapons are to be preferred to shorter ones: therefore, the spear is to be preferred to the spiedo, holding it against the latter not by the butt (dangerous because of the weaponís length) but at mid-haft and with good advantage. Similarly, it is better to take a partisan rather than a two-handed sword.


First I will begin with the worst weapon, an imperfect and insufficient weapon, and not worth the speaking of, but now being highly esteemed, therefore not to be unremembered. That is, the single rapier, and rapier and poniard.

The single sword has the vantage against the single rapier.

The sword and dagger has the vantage against the rapier and poniard.

The sword & target has the advantage against the sword and dagger, or the rapier and poniard.

The sword and buckler has advantage against the sword and target, the sword and dagger, or rapier and poniard.

The two handed sword has the vantage against the sword and target, the sword and buckler, the sword and dagger, or rapier and poniard.

The battle axe, the halberd, the black-bill, or such like weapons of weight, appertaining unto guard or battle, are all one in fight, and have advantage against the two handed sword, the sword and buckler, the sword and target, the sword and dagger, or the rapier and poniard.

The short staff or half pike, forest bill, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of perfect length, have the advantage against the battle axe, the halberd, the black bill, the two handed sword, the sword and target, and are too hard for two swords and daggers, or two rapier and poniards with gauntlets, and for the long staff and morris pike.

The long staff, morris pike, or javelin, or such like weapons above the perfect length, have advantage against all manner of weapons, the short staff, the Welch hook, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of vantage excepted, yet are too weak for two swords and daggers or two sword and bucklers, or two rapiers and poniards with gauntlets, because they are too long to thrust, strike, and turn speedily. And by reason of the large distance, one of the sword and dagger-men will get behind him.

The Welch hook or forest bill, has advantage against all manner of weapons whatsoever.

Yet understand, that in battles, and where variety of weapons are, among multitudes of men and horses, the sword and target, the two handed sword, battle axe, the black bill, and halberd, are better weapons, and more dangerous in their offense and forces, than is the sword and buckler, short staff, long staff, or forest bill. The sword and target leads upon shot, and in troops defends thrusts and blows given by battle axe, halberds, black bill, or two handed swords, far better than can the sword and buckler.

The morris pike defends the battle from both horse and man, much better than can the short staff, long staff, or forest bill. Again the battle axe, the halberd, the black bill, the two handed sword, and sword & target, among armed men and troops, by reason of their weights, shortness, and great force, do much more offend the enemy, & are then much better weapons, than is the short staff, the long staff, or the forest bill.


[H]e that is perfect in the low guard, may with a Staffe encounter against the Welch-hooke, Holbert, Partizan, or Gleave, and I hold that a Staffe with a Pike to have oddes against any such long weapon, being equally matched in length, for oddes in length with any weapon is verie much advantage, where I wish if any doe appoint the field with any of these aforesaid weapons, it is not amisse for the one of them to condition to bring a hatched or some other edged toole into the field to cut the longest staffe, except you match them before hand.

[Y]et I must needes confesse, there is great oddes in the Staffe, if the Staffe-man bee verie skillful, but otherwise the Rapier and Dagger hath the oddes being furnished with skill.

Also a short sword is good to encounter against a naked man, I mean a man unweaponed, and it is good to serve in the wars on horse-backe or on foote, yet a Rapier will doe as good service in the wars as a short sword, if a skilfull man have him in hand: we have divers examples of those which come out of the field sore wounded, and they will say it was because their enemy had a handfull or a foot ods in length of weapon upon them; wherefore I say one inch is great ods and enough to kill a man, if they both have skill alike, and doe observe a true distance.

Silver's weapon hierarchy was specifically for unarmored single combat in the open. He praised the short staff, forest bill, & buckler for that purpose but considered them unsuited for the battlefield and against armor ("armed men") in general.

Silver obviously knew shorter weapons than his short sword were better under the correct circumstances. For example, in his instructions for pike against pike, you drop the pike and draw a dagger at certain times.

Willie the Duck
2018-10-02, 01:59 PM
I have a real world weapons and armor question. Or rather a weapons and armor materials question --

My GM and I are designing a homebrew fantasy game system.
The world is going to have varying tech levels based on culture (possibly with some being bronze age, while others would be iron age or medieval), as well as different social mores, access to ore, etc. Weapon type and metal quality are going to be part of it. I am looking for 3-4 quality levels for each of copper/bronze, iron, and steel that weapons and armor might be made out of. What kind of distinctions matter for weapons and armor or for production (cost/time/material), and what should those look like? I've started doing some research on premodern metalcraft, but am only just starting (thought I'd go here and get some good references, etc.)

I was thinking something like:
For copper/bronze:
copper (improvised/ceremonial)
arsenic bronze (works fine as weapon, kills smelters)
mild bronze (bronze not intended for weapons)
classic bronze (what you'd want)
something else above or below the norm(?)

For Iron:
pig iron
meteoric iron
bloomeried (bloomed?) iron
wrought iron
cast iron

For steel
Wootz Steel/ Damascus/tamahagane
fined (finery?) steel
Crucible steel
decarburized cast iron
carburized wrought iron
(not even sure if all of those are completely distinct)

But I'm not sure if those are really the right categories, or what each should imbue/infer for the items.
Also, if people have some more resources to read up on these distinctions (beyond Wikipedia), that'd be great!
Thanks!

Incanur
2018-10-02, 03:49 PM
{Scrubbed}

Incanur
2018-10-02, 04:41 PM
You haven't actually shown anything, you just quoted some tidbits.

Tidbits that show that Silver understood that which weapon was best depends on the context.


He is actually going against the common notion that reach confers benefits and declares unequivocally that the "short sword" (basically an arming sword) of England is better than the Italian or Spanish rapier, or the "long sword".

His short short had a blade length of 37 inches for men of mean stature and 39-40 inches for men of tall stature. It was only short in context of the late 16th century. The "long sword" is just a sword that's long, specifically longer than Silver's perfect length. Silver's short sword doesn't actually appear to have been a super common weapon in his day, though a few extant example of similar weapons exist, & presumably many have been lost to time.

Silver was of course a xenophobic English nationalist and had personal grudges against various Italian fencing instructors. And obviously Silver placed a limit past which length no longer granted an advantage, but it was a rather high limit except for his period. (Most single-handed swords across history had blades shorter than Silver's short sword.)


It's simple enough to enter a tournament and find out for yourself kid. Let me know if you do.

Oh, they're doing tournaments with sharps now, fought to the death? And dagger against halberd?

Current WMA/HEMA tournaments are fascinating, but they ain't quite equivalent to fighting in earnest. For one thing, many rule sets encourage aggression and weak attacks. In a duel with sharps, you don't get reset & go again after a double kill.

I'm 36, by the way. I wish were a a kid!


But nobody will actually "settle the question" for once and all because it's not possible to do so, the human factor is too significant. A weak, fearful, uncoordinated man can have the finest sword in the world and a strong, confident, well trained person will beat him with a broomstick... unless there is some strange quirk luck of course, and luck does always play a role as well.

It would settle the question in the same way that Magic tournaments settle the question of what's the best deck in whatever format. There's always some uncertainty, and some folks win with funky lists, but with enough data you can get a decent picture.


All this one weapon better than the other stuff is fun to a point, but I want to clarify a bit further, when I say I think this or that weapon has an edge in a given type of situation, I am by no means suggesting that it can confer automatic victory. At best it's a slight advantage. You still have to fight.

Obviously! Giacomo di Grassi thought that true martial skill meant being capable of fighting with whatever was available.

Galloglaich
2018-10-02, 04:59 PM
To clarify a bit more aside from all the vitriol - (which I admit, I ain't happy about)

Silver is known among historians and HEMA people, and has been for decades, as someone who is a bit biased. Even people who like Silver openly recognize this. In large part because he had such a chip on his shoulder specifically about the Rapier and about Italians, which had to do with things going on during his lifetime.

His Paradoxes of Defense is, in spite of his flaw (the bias) considered a pretty interesting fencing manual worth reading anyway. So I would say Silver is respected albeit with awareness of his somewhat significant flaw.

Swetnam is even more biased, (he was a raging mysogynist) and not as respected as a fencing master since he is largely perceived as derivative.


When Mike G mentioned he was frustrated by the idea of "perfect weapon" or this hierarchical mentality, I thought it worth pointing out that most Medieval masters didn't really talk in such terms. Joachim Meyer doesn't call a rapier an "ape weapon", Talhoffer doesn't denigrate the dussack over the messer and so on.

While they will of course acknowledge that reach is advantageous, generally speaking, most medieval and Continental fencing masters (there really aren't any from England prior to the 16th Century except for some fragments) tended to equivocate about which weapon was best, for the rather obvious reasons I already outlined at length.


https://modernsurvivalblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/semi-auto-or-revolver-for-concealed-carry.jpg

The analogy of swords, which were usually sidearms 5 centuries ago, can be compared with the sidearms we use today, i.e. guns. The main military weapon of today would generally be a rifle, squad machine gun, or some kind of crew served weapon. Not all troops even carry sidearms. Those who do usually carry them carry whatever the military issues, typically a fairly simple automatic like the old .45 ACP we carried or the 9mm that came later.

In civilian life similarly, people might have a "long gun" (shotgun, rifle) for the home or for hunting, and a sidearm some people carry on their person or say, in their car. These tend to be lighter.

For a less trained person, a small .22 or a simple .38 special revolver with 5 shots may be the best bet - it carries less ammunition but also has less likelyhood of jamming. A more trained person might opt for a sidearm with large magazine capacity and a bigger round. A Glock 23 .40 cal with a 16 or 22 round magazine say. Or even something like a machine pistol or SMG if you wanted to take the legal risk.

A bigger gun with a longer barrel and a larger magazine may, arguably, confer some advantage in a shootout, but there are too many other factors to suggest that it would automatically win out or even that it would be the most important factor. What matters a lot more is the shooting skill of the people involved and their determination, courage, coolness under fire and so on. As well as say, who got the drop on the other guy.

You can measure individual traits of each weapon, fps, bullet drop, trigger pull, rifling of the barrel, rate of fire, ammunition capacity, damage to ballistic gel per bullet, all kinds of other details. But ultimately it's kind of subjective. We know that a .22 is a bit less of a threat out in the open ... usually, than an Uzi, but when you get in between those extremes it starts to get very slippery. That's not me "evading" or "dancing" it's just acknowledging a basic fact about human violence - it is often too complex to quantify in any simple way.

Yes you can say very generally that a bigger gun with more bullets and a longer barrel may confer an advantage out in the open, but in some circumstances, smaller is still better.

So I would say going back to the original debate, very generally speaking a longsword or a rapier as a sidearm is analogous to either a larger clip or a longer barrel in a pistol, vs. something simpler like a revolver. But neither one nor the other could possibly guarantee victory. Hopefully that analogy makes some sense.

G

rrgg
2018-10-02, 05:21 PM
We'll just say that we're too dense to understand what you're trying to get across and how exactly that differs from what Silver was saying about everything aside from the extra-long, hilt-less type of rapier.

Anyways, this isn't me trying to debate, but I wanted to go back and comment on a couple of points.

-It's true as far as I know that with two-handed polearms there doesn't seem to have been much interest at the time in exactly how far from the end they were gripped, with the one exception of dueling with a full length pike. In that situation there does seem to have been some disagreement between those who would prefer to start with the pike held closer towards the midpoint and those who would prefer to try fencing with the pike at the very end, at least in the beginning of the fight.

- The main problem that comes up with either weapon hierarchies or "rock, paper, scissors" explainations is that the categories still tend to leave a lot of unexplained gaps. For instance, if something like a 3-foot-sword or a longsword would make a much better self-defense sidearm overall and a short dagger would be a much better weapon in very close quarters or in a press, then what would be the reason for instead carrying just a short, 2-foot sword like a katzbalger or just an extra long dagger? And while Silver and John Smythe both claim that it's much better to have a short, heavier, halberd or bill only 5-6 feet long when fighting in a pell mell or when fighting from within a pike formation, while a much longer, lighter halberd or bill would be better for dueling or loose skirmishing, why is it that the Swiss and Landsknechts towards the start of the 16th century seem to have instead preferred halberds which were both long and heavy, even when stationed in the very center of a pike square?

-the polish koncerz brings up sort of an interesting topic. The "tock" or estoc when brought up by western european authors in the 16th century usually is mentioned in the context of it being a cavalry weapon. Additionally, despite what "common sense" might tell us about cutting vs thrusting swords, there's evidence that the perception during this period may have been completely the other way around. For instance Mendoza hints that the cavalry falchion/cutlass could be carried at the saddle instead of the mace as a dedicated anti-armor weapon while the estoc could be carried at the waist instead of an arming sword which would have been primarily used against less well-armored opponents. Montluc in his commentaries claims that the large curved swords carried by the gendarmes in his day were made for cutting through morions and mail sleeves. And in the 17th century, Beauplan apparently claimed that the sabers carried by horsemen in eastern Europe were also able to cut through mail.

-As far as Xenophobia and suspect ideas go, that kind of tends to be the case with a lot of historic fencing masters. Pietro Monte's fighting philosophy can make a good deal of sense on it's own, but it's also heavily intwined with pseudo-biological beliefs about the different effects of climate on a person's temperament and how the germans/swiss were tall but slow and too cowardly to fight as individuals.

Incanur
2018-10-02, 06:41 PM
The main problem that comes up with either weapon hierarchies or "rock, paper, scissors" explainations is that the categories still tend to leave a lot of unexplained gaps. For instance, if something like a 3-foot-sword or a longsword would make a much better self-defense sidearm overall and a short dagger would be a much better weapon in very close quarters or in a press, then what would be the reason for instead carrying just a short, 2-foot sword like a katzbalger or just an extra long dagger?

Some of it was probably just people making suboptimal choices for winning a fight, whether out of ignorance or valuing other things higher (convenience, social status, etc.). Based on both period sources & surviving examples, folks used all sort of dubious & downright bad weapons at times. This was especially true of lower-quality weapons & armor crafted from poor metal (slaggy iron). Sir Roger Williams noted how both many English bills & many French halberds were made of naughty stuff (to use his words).

However, there are undoubtedly some specific melee configurations & specific indoor environments where a katzbalger with a 2ft blade has the odds over either a hand-&-half sword or a dagger. Katzbalgers, cutlasses, messers, & similar seem excellent for brawling in a tavern or in cramped quarters on a ship.


And while Silver and John Smythe both claim that it's much better to have a short, heavier, halberd or bill only 5-6 feet long when fighting in a pell mell or when fighting from within a pike formation, while a much longer, lighter halberd or bill would be better for dueling or loose skirmishing, why is it that the Swiss and Landsknechts towards the start of the 16th century seem to have instead preferred halberds which were both long and heavy, even when stationed in the very center of a pike square?

What evidence do you have for this preference? The early 16th-century halberds I've seen in museum collections tend to be surprisingly light, & aren't always that long. For example, this one (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/32352) is 7ft long and weighs little over 5lbs.

This (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/25898?searchField=All&sortBy=relevance&when=A.D.+1 400-1600&what=Halberds&ft=*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=1) late-15th-century example is a bit shorter & lighter still!

This (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/26192?searchField=All&sortBy=relevance&when=A.D.+1 400-1600&what=Halberds&ft=*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=4) one's a bit of a monster but still weighs under 6lbs.

This one (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/27868?searchField=All&sortBy=relevance&when=A.D.+1 400-1600&what=Halberds&ft=*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=7) from 1450-1460 is just over 6ft & weighs 5lbs, 11oz. That's probably about what Smythe & Silver had in mind.

This one (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/29012?searchField=All&sortBy=relevance&when=A.D.+1 400-1600&what=Halberds&ft=*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=10) from 1510-1520 is very similar.

Etc. The vast majority are under 6lbs and some are under 5lbs. Length ranges from around 6ft to nearly 9ft. Of course, I'm not sure if the shafts are original, what state they're in, & whether they've been shortened.


-the polish koncerz brings up sort of an interesting topic. The "tock" or estoc when brought up by western european authors in the 16th century usually is mentioned in the context of it being a cavalry weapon. Additionally, despite what "common sense" might tell us about cutting vs thrusting swords, there's evidence that the perception during this period may have been completely the other way around. For instance Mendoza hints that the cavalry falchion/cutlass could be carried at the saddle instead of the mace as a dedicated anti-armor weapon while the estoc could be carried at the waist instead of an arming sword which would have been primarily used against less well-armored opponents. Montluc in his commentaries claims that the large curved swords carried by the gendarmes in his day were made for cutting through morions and mail sleeves. And in the 17th century, Beauplan apparently claimed that the sabers carried by horsemen in eastern Europe were also able to cut through mail.

Huh. Juan Quijada de Reayo listed the estoc right after the lance for cavalry combat, targeting the gaps, of course. He did interestingly put the arming sword next, & only after it the hammer, followed finally by the dagger.

That passage from Mendoza is pretty ambiguous & doesn't explicitly say anything about armor: "These encounters being made, the pistoll still remayneth with the light horse, which most carrie at the saddle pummell, in steede of a mace or fawchion which they were wonte to hange thereat, and the tucke or sworde at the girdle, which is no lesse readie then if it were in the rayne hande, where it must needes be a trouble for him which gouuerneth the horsse." That's from the 1597 English translation. I don't know that I've seen the original.

There are so many stories of swords/sabres cutting helmets on horseback from across time & space that I tend to believe some of them. I bet a mighty blow could penetrate a reasonably light or poor-quality helmet.

Galloglaich
2018-10-02, 07:41 PM
The estoc for cavalry wasn't always so much an anti-armor weapon necessarily so much as a shorter range but indestructable type of lance. The Polish Kanzer / Koncerz tend to be ridiculously long.

http://www.kismeta.com/diGrasse/images/koncerz.jpg

The three common swords of the Hussar - the Kanzer, the Pallasch and the Szabla are just specialized for thrusting, cutting (and fencing), and slicing or draw cutting respectively. The Longsword by contrast was supposed to be pretty good at all three, incidentally. But the Polish Hussars got used to carrying a lot of weapons so preferred to have two specialized weapons instead of one generalized one. Either way it takes a bit more training I think (if only to manage all that gear!). In addition to two or sometimes three swords they also routinely carried 4-6 pistols and their lance, and sometimes a mace or a hammer, and a lasso.

None of the other stuff is a mystery. The katzbalger as a short chopping weapon was preferred by less trained peasants, which most Landsknechts were at least initially (specifically most of the early Landsknecht companies were recruited from very poor parts of Swabia). Some far more skilled Landsknechts used big two handed swords that still mimicked the katzbalger guard. It became a symbol of the Landsknechts ... most were around a little less than 3 feet long.

Smaller weapons are just easier to use, very generally speaking, and short cutting weapons easier still. You can be effective at a lower skill level. Similar short weapons (messers, baselard swords, dussacks and so on) were found all over Europe usually among the less skilled / trained fighters.

There was also a kind of fashion in Germany at the time, in part derived from urban laws against thrusting weapons in informal duels, that cuts were better than thrusts. Meyer is not such a bigot as Silver or even Monte, but he says things like "we Germans don't stab" and so on. And he is very delicate in how he explains thrusting in his longsword fighting (it's basically relegated to the rapier section).

The informal and formal / written rules governing dueling culture in the Central European towns were probably in part due to the limitations of medicine in that era, they were surprisingly good at healing even very severe cuts but if you were stabbed say in the gut or the lung the prognosis was grim. There was also a (perhaps mythical) concept mentioned in some kriegsbuchs and fencing manuals warning that swords thrust into someones body could get stuck there long enough for you to be killed.

In part though I think it was just fashion. There were cultural differences between different regions of Europe.

When Monte is talking about the humors and how these people are phlegmatic and those people are sanguine and so on, that's Aristotlean medicine based on the four humors and the four elements, it's connected to the numerology and astrology that was just pervasive in the medieval world. Their idea of science. Jungian psychology and the personality archetypes he talks about (later used in the infamous Myers-Briggs psychological tests) are in part based on this same thing.

War by the was was associated with Mars (and considered bad, basically)

Mars from Housebooks and Tarrocchi / Trionfi


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/ff/Hausbuch_Wolfegg_13r_Mars.jpg/800px-Hausbuch_Wolfegg_13r_Mars.jpg

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/3e/0c/2e/3e0c2e624cb04e62861f1fc8f2bf507e.jpg

http://patrimonioediciones.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/08-desfera-1.jpg




..while fencing and martial arts were associated with Sol (and considered good)

Sol from Housebooks and Trionfi

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/06/Hausbuch_Wolfegg_14r_Sol.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/Sol_-_De_Sphaera_-_Biblioteca_Estense_lat209.png

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_temperaments

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trionfi_(cards)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_sphaera_mundi

G

gkathellar
2018-10-02, 07:41 PM
Going back to where this started for a moment:


I think I may have had a thought about "cut vs thrust" and why many people seem to have continued to prefer short cutlasses, axes, or using muskets as clubs over a long thrusting sword. Perhaps which is better depends a lot on exactly how a particular soldier responds during a high-pressure, life or death situation. For instance, the rapier might be a much better weapon if the soldier using it is able to remain perfectly calm, but when a surge of adrenaline hits perhaps it get's easier to swing harder and faster with an axe, but much harder to keep the hands steady and put the point of a long rapier on target with any sort of precision.

I think it's not so much a cut vs. thrust thing as it is a function of how difficult it is to learn to use a weapon reflexively. One of the last things you want to do in a fight is forget how to use whatever you're holding, and until the use of a weapon becomes natural and ingrained in the body's reflexes, that tends to happen. Bruce Lee commented on this, noting that until a martial artist achieves a decent level of proficiency, they may actually be less able to fight than someone untrained, because they keep stopping to think about their technique instead of relying on their body to do what it knows how to do. With respect to weapons, the time required to achieve this level of proficiency is not equal, for reasons relating to length, cross-section, balance, grip design, weight distribution, and number of edges (among other things).

As an example, I'll submit the jian and the dao, since these are the swords I'm most familiar with. While the jian is more generally suited to thrusting and the dao to chopping, both swords can be and are used for the other body of techniques, and in fact many of the techniques employed with either are at least superficially identical. However, the dao is in many ways a far easier weapon to use, even for thrusts, and the jian is, even for cuts and chops, far more immediately demanding. I would argue that the same dynamic that's been discussed with respect to rapier vs. saber is in play here, not because of any intrinsic characteristic of slashing swords or thrusting swords, but rather as a result of the way either sword is used and how it interacts with the wielder.

The dao is a very straightforward weapon. You slam it into things until they dead. Even without learning martial arts, most of us know, instinctively, how to hit something with a stick, and the dao takes that reflex and runs with it. Almost all of its techniques elaborate on things you probably already have some limited sense of how to do - thrusts, for instance, feel and operate a lot like punches (it's fairly trivial to modify a dao form to perform unarmed, and critically, it still feels pretty much the same). With some of its longer chops, the movement of the arm is virtually identical to the way one would throw a fastball or American football. The pace is constant and flowing, which is physically demanding but also really easy to wrap your head around. I would never claim it's an easy weapon to become skilled with, but it's an easy weapon to achieve a baseline degree of reflexivity with because it uses reflexes that lots of people already have. And the weapon itself, because of its shape and forward balance, contributes by providing obvious and immediate feedback with every thrust and chop.

The jian, on the other hand, is not like anything you're likely to have done outside of the martial arts. The thrusts are delicate and typically involve immediate transition to another technique without bothering to recover. The chops rely on very precise body mechanics and awareness of the proper order of things, and demand you commit your body while relying little or not at all on momentum. Many techniques of either type involve moving the body forward, and then continuing that motion with the point of the sword once the body has stopped - possibly the least intuitive type of kinetic linkage. Cuts with the false edge involve a flicking motion that is great for transitioning back to the guard and terrible for learning how to do it right. Once you really know what you're doing, the sword becomes exceptionally elusive and has great mobility, but up to that point it often just feels uncooperative. The symmetrical cross-section provides superb balance and control, but at the cost of the sword really giving you a natural sense of how it's supposed to be used.

I hesitate to say that either the jian or the dao is a better weapon or even that one has an advantage over the other. Both have techniques that could trivialize the opposite sword if given the chance (mostly by controlling distance). Both weapons permit a high level of mastery, although I think the jian is probably more versatile in the long run. That said, I'm confident that if I were a general in ancient China considering what sidearm to give my troops and train them in, I wouldn't give the jian a second glance. It's too demanding and nonintuitive, and the training process involves it feeling weird in your hand in new, interesting ways every time you learn something - by contrast, someone can learn how to swing a dao in a couple of days (not well, but adequately). And if one of my soldiers comes saying, "oh but I know how to use a jian, see," I'm going to look askance at him, because chances are decent that he knows a jian looks really cool and not much else of value.

The point here is that it's not strictly a question of short versus long, or cutting versus thrusting, or whatever particular rubric you want to look at. It's a question of overall mechanics and properties of the weapon, and of how they intersect with the realities of the human body, time-to-proficiency, and what most people are good at. Short, single-edged cutting swords can be easy to learn because they build on reflexes most people already sort of have. A spear can be easy to learn because well before you get to the sophisticated tactics and defensive maneuvers come in, at a ground level, it boils down to "stick 'em with the pointy end." Longer swords with symmetrical cross-sections can be godawful to learn because they do things almost as counterintuitively as possible.

Galloglaich
2018-10-02, 07:50 PM
I should also add- you can reach very high skill levels with weapons like sabers, messers and dussacks - and no doubt katzbalgers too. Certainly with the former three we have sufficient fencing manuals that get into their sophisticated use. Lekuchner's messer fightbook for example is just as sophisticated as any other medieval fencing manual.

But saber fencing can also be reduced to simple enough systems that you can teach somebody how to use a saber fairly effectively in say 4 weeks, such as we see in the 19th Century saber manuals. Nobody has ever done that with longsword or rapier so far as I know.

G

Galloglaich
2018-10-02, 07:56 PM
As an example, I'll submit the jian and the dao, since these are the swords I'm most familiar with. While the jian is more generally suited to thrusting and the dao to chopping, both swords can be and are used for the other body of techniques, and in fact many of the techniques employed with either are at least superficially identical.

Jian / Gim and Dao are a good analogy in China, again very broadly speaking for the same kind of rapier vs saber dichotomy. Dao were used by soldiers whereas Jian were (at least in theory) reserved for more elite scholar-warriors and courtiers, and the fencing was different and considered more sophisticated. The swords themselves were also often more beautiful and well made.

Of course there was also beautiful dao and very sophisticated fencing systems for the dao. But there was this kind of equivalent system of the simple vs. the more tricky type of sword.

G

rrgg
2018-10-02, 08:04 PM
What evidence do you have for this preference? The early 16th-century halberds I've seen in museum collections tend to be surprisingly light, & aren't always that long. For example, this one (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/32352) is 7ft long and weighs little over 5lbs.

This (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/25898?searchField=All&sortBy=relevance&when=A.D.+1 400-1600&what=Halberds&ft=*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=1) late-15th-century example is a bit shorter & lighter still!

This (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/26192?searchField=All&sortBy=relevance&when=A.D.+1 400-1600&what=Halberds&ft=*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=4) one's a bit of a monster but still weighs under 6lbs.

This one (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/27868?searchField=All&sortBy=relevance&when=A.D.+1 400-1600&what=Halberds&ft=*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=7) from 1450-1460 is just over 6ft & weighs 5lbs, 11oz. That's probably about what Smythe & Silver had in mind.

This one (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/29012?searchField=All&sortBy=relevance&when=A.D.+1 400-1600&what=Halberds&ft=*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=10) from 1510-1520 is very similar.

Etc. The vast majority are under 6lbs and some are under 5lbs. Length ranges from around 6ft to nearly 9ft. Of course, I'm not sure if the shafts are original, what state they're in, & whether they've been shortened.

I'm mainly getting it from the way that the heads of the "sturdy" kind of halberd is described for instance by Sir roger Williams. There's also what Fourquevaux had to say about them: "The Halberds are armes newly invented as I thinke by the Switzers, which are very good, so that they be strong and sharpe, and not light, as those that the Italians do carry, more to make a faire shewe (as I thinke) then for any goodnesse that is in them, because they are too weake. . ."

There's also Di Grassi who specifically complains about the "new kind" of halberd for being too weak.

It's possible that earlier halberds were just made out of stronger metal, but the emphasis definitely seems to be that the design should prioritize strength, sturdyness, and hitting power over lightness.

When you compare the examples you gave to something like this one (https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/25082?searchField=All&sortBy=relevance&what=Halber ds&ft=*&offset=0&rpp=20&pos=1). You can see how the earlier halberds tend to have much larger cutting blades, shorter, sturdier points that are less likely to break when swinging, and they don't have nearly as many holes punched out or elaborate cut away sections to reduce the weight of the blade even further.

In illustrations from early on in the 16th century and from the late 15th century halberds are almost always depicted with what seems to be a fairly wide, sturdy chopping blade in my opinion. But they're also usually depicted as being a fair bit taller than a man and I think much closer to what Monte says about most poleaxes being as tall as a man can reach or slightly taller.

http://www.artnet.com/WebServices/images/ll00002lldkBRJFgVeECfDrCWvaHBOcEpEF/hans-burgkmair-the-elder-marx-treitzsaurwein,-der-weisskunig-(the-history-of-emperor-maximilian-i-and-his-ancestors)-(cf..jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d0/Bad-war.jpg/800px-Bad-war.jpg

I'm assuming that it was supposed to be a design which would be useful both in a close quarters pell-mell and in an open-order skirmish or one-on-one duel. As opposed to the either-or of Silver's black bill vs forest bill.. Maybe the Swiss and German mercenaries at the start of the century were much more skilled at using a long halberd in a close quarters melee than most soldiers were in Silver and Smythe's time? idk

Incanur
2018-10-02, 09:06 PM
Art can be a good source for weapon details, but I'm skeptical of it for lengths, particularly with staff weapons. Pikes are often too short in art, as Meyer specifically mentions was for lack of space in his manual.

Machiavelli wrote that shafts of Swiss/German halberds were three braccia (arm's lengths), which for Florence was apparently around 70 inches (1.77m). This implies that weapon overall was around seven feet (2.13m), depending on the size of the head. So, somewhat longer than what Smythe & Silver wanted, yes, but maybe a little shorter than Monte's pollaxe length.

Based on surviving examples & art, shaft length varied considerably.

Smythe claimed to have learned about halberds & in their use in formation in part from seeing massive units of Swiss halberdiers during his military career (in the 1560s IRCC, but maybe it was earlier or later).

rrgg
2018-10-03, 01:04 AM
Art can be a good source for weapon details, but I'm skeptical of it for lengths, particularly with staff weapons. Pikes are often too short in art, as Meyer specifically mentions was for lack of space in his manual.

Machiavelli wrote that shafts of Swiss/German halberds were three braccia (arm's lengths), which for Florence was apparently around 70 inches (1.77m). This implies that weapon overall was around seven feet (2.13m), depending on the size of the head. So, somewhat longer than what Smythe & Silver wanted, yes, but maybe a little shorter than Monte's pollaxe length.

Based on surviving examples & art, shaft length varied considerably.

Smythe claimed to have learned about halberds & in their use in formation in part from seeing massive units of Swiss halberdiers during his military career (in the 1560s IRCC, but maybe it was earlier or later).

It makes sense that pikes would be shortened to save space when drawing them, but it doesn't make sense that they would draw halberds too long so often. One foot in length creates a pretty clear visual distinction if it means the difference between the halberd only coming up to about the top of the wielders head vs being a whole foot or more taller.

I'm 5'10" and as tall as my hand will reach seems to be about 7'4"-ish which would fit into the ~7 foot range that seems to have been so common.

George Silver was a bit less particular about the "weapons of weight" saying that they didn't really have any ideal length even though he recommended around 5-6 feet: "In any of these weapons there needs no just length, but commonly they are, or ought to be five or six foot long, & may not well be used much longer, because of their weights, and being weapons for the wars and battle, when men are joined close together, may thrust, & strike sound blows, with great force both strong and quick. And finally for the just lengths of all other shorter or longer weapons to be governed with both hands, there is none. Neither is their any certain lengths in any manner of weapons to be used with one hand, over or under the just length of the single sword. Thus ends the length of weapons."

It might be that Smythe and Silver were simply incorrect about longer halberds being too difficult to use in close quarters. Although, one other explaination might be because the nature of the typical "push of pike" had changed between the start of the 1500s and end of the 1500s to favor even shorter melee weapons. Remember Robert Barret wanted bills and halberds removed from pike formations alltogether claiming that in a tight press they often became completely useless, with even short swords becoming difficult to use in such a tight space. He even defines "pellmell" as the soldiers becoming literally mingled together chest against chest.

At the end of the century, most infantry were now armed with firearms that were devastating at close range. This meant that any time a push of pike did occur, it would be in both sides' best interest to settle the matter as quickly as possible before the musketeers had time to reload and start firing into the mass at point blank range again. A good way to do this would be to get in close very quickly and stay there while doing as much damage as possible with short weapons such as short, heavy halberds. Which was basically Smythe's strategy.

Conversely, in the early 16th century and the 15th century arquebusiers still generally played a much smaller role overall and the "push of pike" seems to have usually lasted much longer. It might be that instead of trying to rely on just one, all-out press these melees instead still resembled the pulse model to some extent, with alternating periods of intense, close-quarter pressing, followed by periods where the pressure lessened somewhat and there would be a bit more breathing room to fight with slightly longer halberds or longswords.

rrgg
2018-10-03, 01:27 AM
Machiavelli apparently also considered the Swiss and German halberds too long in a very close quarters press, along with any other weapon longer than 4 feet. Perhaps what prevented his proposed roman legionaries from ever really sticking was that he underestimated how much melee combat at the time was spent with soldiers literally pressed up against each other.

We know that at Flodden, once the Scottish pike squares' advance was stalled and disordered, even the Scots carrying targets and broadswords don't seem to have been enough to stop the English billmen, even though quite a few later authors including Silver agree that the sword and target should be about equal to if not better than the bill or halberd in a pell mell.

snowblizz
2018-10-03, 05:57 AM
I have a real world weapons and armor question. Or rather a weapons and armor materials question --

My GM and I are designing a homebrew fantasy game system.
The world is going to have varying tech levels based on culture (possibly with some being bronze age, while others would be iron age or medieval), as well as different social mores, access to ore, etc. Weapon type and metal quality are going to be part of it. I am looking for 3-4 quality levels for each of copper/bronze, iron, and steel that weapons and armor might be made out of. What kind of distinctions matter for weapons and armor or for production (cost/time/material), and what should those look like? I've started doing some research on premodern metalcraft, but am only just starting (thought I'd go here and get some good references, etc.)

I was thinking something like:
For copper/bronze:
copper (improvised/ceremonial)
arsenic bronze (works fine as weapon, kills smelters)
mild bronze (bronze not intended for weapons)
classic bronze (what you'd want)
something else above or below the norm(?)

For Iron:
pig iron
meteoric iron
bloomeried (bloomed?) iron
wrought iron
cast iron

For steel
Wootz Steel/ Damascus/tamahagane
fined (finery?) steel
Crucible steel
decarburized cast iron
carburized wrought iron
(not even sure if all of those are completely distinct)

But I'm not sure if those are really the right categories, or what each should imbue/infer for the items.
Also, if people have some more resources to read up on these distinctions (beyond Wikipedia), that'd be great!
Thanks!

I'll give this a punt while all the swordfighting goes on. I'm no expert by any means.
First, I think you may be going a bit too specialised with categories. The problem is going to be that they probably overlap a lot. Also ancient people were good (after lots of trial and error) in saying what worked but they'd not be able to tell why. Arzenic bronze would mean nothing to them. You might want to go slightly more broadstroke. Say basic, medium, advanced bronzeworking. Which would represent roughly ability to use copper/bronze and make small items and simple weapons (knifes, spearheads, arrows, axes). Medium where you could make good weapons and stuff (roughly bronze age Mediterranean) and advanced where you can differentiate between various types of bronze and combined them in a weapon, and make large complex bronze pieces (basically the chinese dyansties whose names I don't dare guess at the moment). They'd not know why ore from one place makes sword-bronze or know why some additives work but they could take advantage of some materials science learned by accident and trial and error. Bronze is promarily something that is cast and not forged so lends itself to such items. It's going to be more expensive and required extensive trading as you don't get both parts needed in the same places. It's also heavier by volume than iron and generally speaking softer (so hit iron with broze and iron usually "wins"). But simple items can be made easily in large numbers. When you have a mould it doesn't really require as much physical work as iron.

Similarly with iron/steel (I don't think it's desirable to separate the two), at the base it is all Fe potentially (normally) combined with other stuff. You can theoretically use any iron-source to make any iron product but in practice need fairly advanced technology and skills to separate out some of the undesirable stuff. Which is why historically there were better and worse iron (some things, IIRC sulphur is difficult to remove). Most types of iron it's a matter of how much or little you heat, reheat, smack, and heat again you do. That's where iron is good, since it's malleable, you can take it from one extreme to another by working it in a forge since the main additive is carbon.

Meteoric or bogiron aren't particularly special other than being iron that's much easily available as it's "purer" than most ironore. Basically you can forge it without having to prepare it like ores. Mining ironore in itself in many places was a nontrivial problem.

The ability to actually melt iron (as opposed to just heating it enough you can reshape it) is a funny thing. It comes about relatively early but remains a major issue in steelmaking until the 19th century. And even though bloomeries and blastforges existed in China early the technology doesn't really reach Europe until the early-middle ages in a big way. And may be an independent invention. Other technology also plays in, having waterwheels or windmills powering the furnace or bellows matter a lot. Consider that Chinese were using coke as early as 4th century CE when in the west it took until 1700s England to do the same.

Wootz was made in the Indian subcontinent somehow we aren't quite sure how, in small measures, at a much lower technological level than China or the West ever made steel.

Basically it's not very linear or easily categories. But for iron (and hence steel) I would say the principles were fairly well established, and as a work intensive process technological level is more likely to determine the amounts, and not quality of the iron/steel produced. Triphammers, water/windpower etc all usually contributed to the volume that could be accurately produced. With the understanding that not until modern times can it be accurately determine what other substances the ore has and how to treat it to remove or add impurities as needed. As with bronze smiths learned some tricks as to what worked, and could tell many things through their skill and accumulated wisdom. Basically when they made true damascus steel in Damascus (if it wasn't all Indian wootz anyway) they knew what to do but that skill could not easily be moved and replicated to other circumstances or iron soruces and surrounding resources.

Generally iron/steel is lighter and stronger than bronze, and easier to repair. Easier to get hold of the materials to make "good enough" stuff unlike bronze that always required trading networks to connect copper+alloys. You could more easily make large items out of bronze with the available technology, e.g. plate armour of sorts the famous Dendra panoply, but it would be awkwardly heavy compared to steel plate and not as protecting (all things considered).

rrgg
2018-10-03, 06:42 AM
The halberd thing is again, not that complicated.

There are of course a wide variety of them as it was never an industrialized / fully standardized product like we would have today. But "very generally speaking" you started to see newer types emerge which were much more for thrusting with very long points and had relatively weak striking surfaces. Like this 17th Century Dutch Halberd.

https://p1.liveauctioneers.com/1100/109240/56066159_1_x.jpg?version=1&width=512&format=pjpg&auto=webp&quality=50
http://www.allenantiques.com/images/mini-W-10.jpg http://www.allenantiques.com/images/mini-W-31.jpg http://www.allenantiques.com/images/mini-W-9.jpg

15th - early 16th Century Halberds, particularly those which come from Germany and the Swiss Confederation (where they originated from as a distinct weapon type) tended to be broader and more substantial.

http://home.mysoul.com.au/graemecook/Renaissance/09_Swiss_halberd.jpg

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/31/42/fc/3142fcc0de2f65c091174c84ac26da9c.jpg

http://www.allenantiques.com/images/mini-W-7.jpg

The chopping part is better against flesh that isn't protected by heavy armor, obviously. And horses.


The difference between the two types boils down to different emphasis or specialization.

G

The complicated part is trying to find period sources to actually support your idea that these halberds were each specialized in two different ways. George Silver, Humphrey Barwick, and John Smythe maybe hint that there were two different styles of halberd which were each suited for a different situation.

Most other writers however, if they express any kind of opinion at all, such as Fourquevaux, Roger Williams, and Di Grassi, basically end up describing the two categories of halberd as simply, "the good kind", and "the ****ty kind". So the answer could just as easily be that people started switching to the thinner, smaller bladed halberds later on simply because they thought they looked prettier.

Willie the Duck
2018-10-03, 08:01 AM
First, I think you may be going a bit too specialised with categories. The problem is going to be that they probably overlap a lot.

I'm sure I am. Undoubtedly. As I said, I am just now learning all this stuff (although it is fascinating stuff, and I'm kicking myself for not reading up on it earlier). However, broad categories is what I am looking for. As much as this is a real world question, it is also informing a game where we want characters and cultures to have different technology bases, such that guy #1 is doing high end bronze weapons and armor, while guy #2 is doing low end iron, and what abstracted bonuses to assign them (in terms of material cost or rarity, construction time, and yes of course weapon performance stats or the like).


Also ancient people were good (after lots of trial and error) in saying what worked but they'd not be able to tell why. Arzenic bronze would mean nothing to them.

Well no, they would call it "the bronze making method that the hill folk to the west use. Their smiths die before they turn 30, but they sure have a lot of cheap, good bronze axeheads."


You might want to go slightly more broadstroke. Say basic, medium, advanced bronzeworking. Which would represent roughly ability to use copper/bronze and make small items and simple weapons (knifes, spearheads, arrows, axes). Medium where you could make good weapons and stuff (roughly bronze age Mediterranean) and advanced where you can differentiate between various types of bronze and combined them in a weapon, and make large complex bronze pieces (basically the chinese dyansties whose names I don't dare guess at the moment).

I am all for simple, although some vaguely historic-like words to assign each category instead of basic, medium, and advanced would probably be fun for the group.


Similarly with iron/steel (I don't think it's desirable to separate the two), at the base it is all Fe potentially (normally) combined with other stuff. You can theoretically use any iron-source to make any iron product but in practice need fairly advanced technology and skills to separate out some of the undesirable stuff. Which is why historically there were better and worse iron (some things, IIRC sulphur is difficult to remove). Most types of iron it's a matter of how much or little you heat, reheat, smack, and heat again you do. That's where iron is good, since it's malleable, you can take it from one extreme to another by working it in a forge since the main additive is carbon.

How much you melt down iron ore (and how good the ore is) to remove impurities, rather than heat it up and beat them out of it (plus how little/much carbon get into the iron and how evenly during the process) seems to be a major factor.


Meteoric or bogiron aren't particularly special other than being iron that's much easily available as it's "purer" than most ironore.

Right, and one culture or another might not really have the tech to make non-meteoric iron items, which would be the reason to include it in a list. This is a Conan/Gygaxian-esque fantasy frontier universe where civilization is just barely clawing it's way forward in a huge, hostile world, and civilizations can be sufficiently 'distant' from each other such that an early bronze age society and a mid-late medieval society might exist at the same time. So variety will exist.


The ability to actually melt iron (as opposed to just heating it enough you can reshape it) is a funny thing. It comes about relatively early but remains a major issue in steelmaking until the 19th century. And even though bloomeries and blastforges existed in China early the technology doesn't really reach Europe until the early-middle ages in a big way.

That part threw me a bit! The tech mix makes it a very hard, convoluted mental thread to follow. Like my sources talked about combining cast iron and wrought iron in a crucible to even out the carbon content to make steel, and I thought 'wait, I thought if you had crucible technology, this whole thing was irrelevant?' I really hope I find a really good basic video or article charting it out.


Basically it's not very linear or easily categories. But for iron (and hence steel) I would say the principles were fairly well established, and as a work intensive process technological level is more likely to determine the amounts, and not quality of the iron/steel produced. Triphammers, water/windpower etc all usually contributed to the volume that could be accurately produced. With the understanding that not until modern times can it be accurately determine what other substances the ore has and how to treat it to remove or add impurities as needed. As with bronze smiths learned some tricks as to what worked, and could tell many things through their skill and accumulated wisdom. Basically when they made true damascus steel in Damascus (if it wasn't all Indian wootz anyway) they knew what to do but that skill could not easily be moved and replicated to other circumstances or iron soruces and surrounding resources.

Generally iron/steel is lighter and stronger than bronze, and easier to repair. Easier to get hold of the materials to make "good enough" stuff unlike bronze that always required trading networks to connect copper+alloys. You could more easily make large items out of bronze with the available technology, e.g. plate armour of sorts the famous Dendra panoply, but it would be awkwardly heavy compared to steel plate and not as protecting (all things considered).

I'd like Wootz/Damascus to have a nice, very minor benefit (and tamahagane maybe just move the effective metal quality of a society up one notch, since its primary purpose is to remove impurities and homogenize carbon distribution). My GM is one of those people who grew up late 70s/early 80s and can't move past the 'katanas are just plain awesome' mentality. Rather than have a pseudo-tussle, I'd like to respond with 'yes, it is awesome, here's this nice little tiny bump in performance.'

In my mind, if we are going to make metal tech/quality be a game issue, there's no point in focusing exclusively on the high end. I want people who have 40th percentile items being jealous of the village next door who have 65th percentile items.

Thanks for your help! I'd appreciate additional advice from you and everyone else! :-)

The Jack
2018-10-03, 08:27 AM
Just out of curiosity; In a duel between saber and rapier (or the equivalents from other cultures) and assuming both are masters of the weapon and otherwise very similar, who wins? Is the extra difficulty to learn the rapier/equivalent worth it in practical terms, or is it just a status thing?

The Jack
2018-10-03, 09:20 AM
On the civilisation with different tech levels...


I think you'd have to be extremely far apart for that kind of thing to work, like two dragon filled mountain ranges or an ocean kind of thing. What people tended to do was copy eachother, or outsource; If one kingdom saw another had amazing architects or master smiths or other technological advances they would do their best to recruit those foreign experts in aiding their own development. Enoch would be offering nine wives, a hundred acres, a palace and a thousand fit slaves for a 15th century metallurgy expert. Even in a fantasy setting, unless it was the empire of good-stupid vs the empire of evil-stupid, someone's going to want to take advantage of being extremely valuable in a foreign market. There's some leeway; Dwarven stuff is better than human stuff, but they're never really centuries ahead, they're just generally better craftsmen, while elves both pragmatically and culturally avoid trading in their bows for guns...

From the standpoint of most cultures, it works to have the elite have better access than the masses. Nobles can 'wield dwarven' just as our rich can 'drive german', but being in the bronze age, when you have infrastructure, whilst people a month away have been using quality steels for centuries... it's crazy.

rrgg
2018-10-03, 09:55 AM
It's not my idea, and you aren't referring to "most authors" - you are referring to the ones you have read (or skimmed through). Very different thing.

G

That's true, so do you want to quote which authors do clearly spell out the differences between different specialized categories of halberd? Me and incanur would be pretty interested to know whose idea it originally was.

Brother Oni
2018-10-03, 11:13 AM
From the standpoint of most cultures, it works to have the elite have better access than the masses. Nobles can 'wield dwarven' just as our rich can 'drive german', but being in the bronze age, when you have infrastructure, whilst people a month away have been using quality steels for centuries... it's crazy.

Not necessarily - the disparity could be due to a knowledge difference, either poetically as 'The Riddle of Steel' or more mundanely, simply a heavily protected state secret (gunpowder manufacture during the Japanese Sengoku Jidai, or pretty much any technology used in modern warfare).

There's also logistical - perhaps the civilisation stuck in the bronze age simply doesn't have access to iron ore, or the iron age civilisation was forced to develop iron working as they don't have access to tin. There's also the right type of ores - feudal Japanese metalworking was so advanced because the typical average ferric content of their iron ore was around 2-4% (modern industrial iron ore pellets are around 60%), so required massive amounts of processing to get anything usable.
In a fantasy world, you're also not restricted by real world geology - you could have an iron working culture next to a bronze age one as tin access is plentiful.

You've mentioned cultural reasons already, but those tend not to survive a 'proper' war (see how the Chinese Nationalists made use of artillery during WW2, or the First Mongol invasion reputedly fixed the samurai's habit of boasting before battle).


Thinking about it as I write this, it may be time for an "exasperation quit"

Speaking for myself, I'll be very sorry if you went as I greatly appreciate your insights and knowledge, but your personal mental health definitely comes first.

I agree with you that sometimes discussions get carried away and people lose track of the fact that we're supposed to helping each other find a consensus rather than 'win' the argument. In times like this, I tend just to take a break from the forum in question and come back when, or if, I feel like it.

Galloglaich
2018-10-03, 11:28 AM
Thanks Brother Oni, i always appreciate your contributions as well.

I think I'll do exactly that. Time for a little break.

G

Max_Killjoy
2018-10-03, 11:48 AM
Thanks Brother Oni, i always appreciate your contributions as well.

I think I'll do exactly that. Time for a little break.

G

Well, for what it's worth, your book on the Baltic was worth every penny and then some, and I always look forward to seeing you post here -- you've been one of the most informative voices I've come across, and at least from my POV you've always been even-handed about the line between solid ground vs opinion/speculation.

Knaight
2018-10-03, 12:09 PM
Thanks Brother Oni, i always appreciate your contributions as well.

I think I'll do exactly that. Time for a little break.

G

For what it's worth I'd also be sad to see you leave - I generally keep my head down when you and Icanur are at it, but I'm definitely reading your posts.

rrgg
2018-10-03, 01:13 PM
@G

Yeah, maybe you should take a breather then. I have been nothing but open-minded this entire time. I haven't belittled you and I haven't accused you of being unable to comprehend "nuance". But it does get grating when every other response from you is supported by nothing more than "I'm an expert you're not and also your sources don't count because reasons."

I really respect the HEMA community and their ability to offer some pretty unique insights. But the fact still remains that no HEMA practitioner or academic today has actually seen people killed by swords or halberds in combat, or even had the chance to speak with many people who have. Despite any problems they might have, your own personal experience does not hold nearly as much authority as the opinions of George Silver, Swetnam, Machiavelli, or even that guy who said that sabers could cut through mail. I would add ". . . in my opinion" to that last sentence but really it should be the opinion of anyone who claims to seriously study history. Experimental archeology and modern knowlege can be used to help try to fill in the gaps that the historical sources leave behind, but if what you find is directly contradicting various reliable sources, then it usually means that you're the one doing something wrong.

Also, I was going to let this slide earlier since you seemed to be getting angry. But incanur was right that even if it's not intentional, you are pretty clearly misunderstanding Silver and a lot of other authors in this thread. The context and purpose for which they were writing. And a lot of nuances such as the fact that an author saying "A true master should be expertly versed with all manner of weapons and able to defend himself in any situation" is not the same thing as them saying "a longsword has no advantage over a butter knife in a fight when both fighters are experts." I'd recommend going back and rereading some of these works.

Silver in particular I think you'd really get along well with if you gave him the chance. Yes, he spends a lot of time complaining about italian fencing masters and every single fault he can find with the rapier, but that's kind of the whole point since A. he was primarily printing an opinion piece, not a compete fencing manual or life advice book meant to be sold to wealthy young gentlemen, and B. he was trying to push back against those he felt were convinced that the rapier was now "teh best weapon evar" and were neglecting to continue practicing with older weapons and older fighting styles in addition to their rapiers.

"But knowing by the art of arms, that no fight is perfect without both blow and thrust, why do we not use and teach both blow and thrust? But however this we daily see, that when two met in fight, whether they have skill or none, unless such as have tied themselves to that boyish, Italian, weak, imperfect fight, they both strike and thrust, and how shall he then do, that being much taught in school, that never learned to strike, nor how to defend a strong blow? And how shall he then do, that being brought up in a fencing school, that never learned to thrust with the single sword, sword and dagger, and sword and buckler, nor how at these weapons to break a thrust? . . . There is no manner of teaching comparable to the old ancient teaching, that is, first their quarters, then their wards, blows, thrusts, and breaking of thrusts, then their closes and grips, striking with the hilts, daggers, bucklers, wrestlings, striking with the foot or knee in the cods, and all these are safely defended in learning perfectly of the grips. And this is the ancient teaching, and without this teaching, there shall never scholar be made able, do his uttermost, nor fight safe."

Max_Killjoy
2018-10-03, 02:32 PM
@G

Yeah, maybe you should take a breather then. I have been nothing but open-minded this entire time. I haven't belittled you and I haven't accused you of being unable to comprehend "nuance". But it does get grating when every other response from you is supported by nothing more than "I'm an expert you're not and also your sources don't count because reasons."

I really respect the HEMA community and their ability to offer some pretty unique insights. But the fact still remains that no HEMA practitioner or academic today has actually seen people killed by swords or halberds in combat, or even had the chance to speak with many people who have. Despite any problems they might have, your own personal experience does not hold nearly as much authority as the opinions of George Silver, Swetnam, Machiavelli, or even that guy who said that sabers could cut through mail. I would add ". . . in my opinion" to that last sentence but really it should be the opinion of anyone who claims to seriously study history. Experimental archeology and modern knowlege can be used to help try to fill in the gaps that the historical sources leave behind, but if what you find is directly contradicting various reliable sources, then it usually means that you're the one doing something wrong.


The historical sources on these matters are often contradictory, and need to be taken in their context rather than at simple face value, however -- and there's always a balance to be had between historical sources and hands-on experience.

Every field tends to over-emphasize its own methods. Historians too often scoff at non-documentary evidence or at hands-on experimentation. Old school archaeologists too often scoff at anything that didn't come out of the dirt or a tomb. Etc.

The idea that HEMA folks and other "restoration" focused groups can't speak with authority because they're not actually killing each other seems a bit off to me. The actual wound would seem to be the simple part, you can see what a blade can do -- and would do to the human body -- with a pig carcass, to be blunt. Never mind that they base a lot of what they do on historical sources... to me it seems like they're trying to extract the actual value out of those sources while separating some chaff.

The study of these subjects -- weapons, fighting techniques, etc -- went through a horrible period of "Victorian-era" so-called "scholarship" riddled with bias and prejudice and arrogance, and was dominated by unfounded assumptions and just-so stories well into the 20th century. How many times were we told that plate armor was doomed by the firearm, when it turns out that the most sophisticated plate armors were more likely driven by early firearms until being completely swamped by a combination of changing social structures and improving firearms. How many times were we told that after the fall of Rome all warfare was a bunch of unskilled untrained brutes beating each other with crude sword-shaped clubs and sharpened sticks, because the "Victorians" and their ilk assumed everything from Rome to Them was a cesspit of mediocrity? How often were we told that full plate harness was so bulky and cumbersome that men needed to be lifted to their feet or onto their horses by aides, and were helpless if they fell... based on 19th-century historians with no actual exposure to the real thing in real use, looking at a handful of ceremonial and jousting sets in royal conclusions and making sweeping proclamations on the subject?

People actually experimenting with what the manuals showed, trying to recreated the techniques, weapons, and armor, and test them, played a huge role in getting us out of that rut in the scholarship and into a period of actual critical examination.

gkathellar
2018-10-03, 03:28 PM
Building on what Max says about taking things in context, I think we canít really take Paradoxes to be a perfect account, but we can definitely use it to discuss the environment in which Silver acquired his preconceptions. Iíd contend that Silverís language implies that he doesnít know very much about rapier, as the Italian and Spanish schools heís so quick to denigrate do actually deal with all of the things heís talking about. When he levels claims that rapier fighters run past each otherís points like buffoons and end up wrestling, it raises a lot of questions about the quality of rapier fighters he was used to dealing with.

This doesnít mean that Silver was a fool, but rather suggests that he had limited experience with the Italian styles, perhaps because they were poorly represented in England at the time. Certainly this wouldnít be a novel problem in the martial arts - when a style becomes popular, for whatever reason, demand for instruction will almost certainly eclipse supply, and so instructors of limited ability emerge to fill the void (speaking as a tai chi guy, my style is a great example of how this can backfire and destroy a systemís public image). This often leads to criticism similar to what Paradoxes offers: an expert in one style denigrates another based on their experiences with people who werenít very good at it, often doubling as an advertisement for their own system.

rrgg
2018-10-03, 04:23 PM
The historical sources on these matters are often contradictory, and need to be taken in their context rather than at simple face value, however -- and there's always a balance to be had between historical sources and hands-on experience.

Every field tends to over-emphasize its own methods. Historians too often to scoff at non-documentary evidence or hands-on experimentation. Old school archaeologists too often scoff at anything that didn't come out of the dirt or a tomb. Etc.

The idea that HEMA folks and other "restoration" focused groups can't speak with authority because they're not actually killing each other seems a bit off to me. The actual wound would seem to be the simple part, you can see what a blade can do -- and would do to the human body -- with a pig carcass, to be blunt. Never mind that they base a lot of what they do on historical sources... to me it seems like they're trying to extract the actual value out of those sources while separating some chaff.

The study of these subjects -- weapons, fighting techniques, etc -- went through a horrible period of "Victorian-era" so-called "scholarship" riddled with bias and prejudice and arrogance, and was dominated by unfounded assumptions and just-so stories well into the 20th century. How many times were we told that plate armor was doomed by the firearm, when it turns out that the most sophisticated plate armors were more likely driven by early firearms until being completely swamped by a combination of changing social structures and improving firearms. How many times were we told that after the fall of Rome all warfare was a bunch of unskilled untrained brutes beating each other with crude sword-shaped clubs and sharpened sticks, because the "Victorians" and their ilk assumed everything from Rome to Them was a cesspit of mediocrity?

People actually experimenting with what the manuals showed, trying to recreated the techniques, weapons, and armor, and test them, played a huge role in getting us out of that rut in the scholarship and into a period of actual critical examination.

It's not that modern experimenters can't speak with authority, but that authority tends to be secondary to the authority of primary sources. Unless modern experiments manage to prove for instance that what an author describes would have been 100% physically impossible, then that author still can't be discounted. The best way to cast doubt on claims made by a reliable primary source is just to try to find other reliable authors who claim the exact opposite, or to read between the lines of what the author is saying. We know that George Silver's opinion on the rapier was highly controversial, for example, mainly because he says so himself that many fencing masters disagreed with him.

Even when the sources don't all agree however that can still tell us a lot. Getting back to the analogy about modern pistols, you can still find people divided over whether they'd prefer a revolver or a glock, but you can't find many military personel, policemen, or even civilians who would still prefer a single-shot muzzle loading flintlock pistol for self-defense any more.

If multiple contemporary sources we consider fairly authoritative are divided on the subject of rapier vs shortsword in single combat, then even if modern experimenters discover that the rapier tends to win the vast majority of their bouts, it still doesn't explain how a number of people who should have definitely known better were somehow lead to reach the the exact opposite conclusion.

The best HEMA practitioners are always those who adhere as best they can to the source material. Joachim meyer, Fiore, etc. were the experts here. The goal isn't to say "this move he describes doesn't seem to actually work", or "doesn't seem to have any practical purpose", or "it seems to work so much better if I just move my foot like this instead of how the author describes." The goal is to figure out why the author concluded that these movements in particular were so important and what that might tell us about medieval combat and medieval society.

Reenactors/HEMA have definitely helped a lot with dispelling old victorian myths from the past couple of decades, but that doesn't mean that they aren't capable of occasionally spawning counter-myths on their own. Such as years back when I remember hearing a lot about how medieval fencers always parried with the flat of their blade. As well as myth-refutations which occasionally end up swinging back too far in the other direction, for instance claiming that bladed weapons were never intended for striking armor or that medieval swords were universally very light and easy to maneuver.

Although I think the biggest issue is that people have a tendency to really underestimate how well they will actually perform when put in a life or death situation. Perhaps the difference was much less extreme when it came to melee weapons, but it was all too often the case during the early modern period where even soldiers who already had years of training and experience suddenly became unable to hit anything right in front of their faces during combat. If there were many soldiers who could even keep their rifle or musket steady while in combat, then pike charges, bayonet charges, and cavalry charges would have been all rendered completely obsolete already in the 16th century.

Col. Ardant du Picq's "Battle Studies is a really good source on the subject:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7294?msg=welcome_stranger#linknote-48


Do we set our sights better to-day? It is doubtful. If the able soldiers of Cromwell, of Frederick, of the Republic and of Napoleon could not set their sightsócan we?

Thus this fire at command, which was only possible rarely and to commence action, was entirely ineffective.

Hardy spirits, seeing the slight effect of long range firing in battle, counselled waiting till the enemy was at twenty paces and driving him back with a volley. You do not have to sight carefully at twenty paces. What would be the result?

"At the battle of Castiglione," says Marshal Saxe, "the Imperial troops let the French approach to twenty paces, hoping to destroy them by a volley. At that distance they fired coolly and with all precautions, but they were broken before the smoke cleared. At the battle of Belgrade (1717) I saw two battalions who at thirty paces, aimed and fired at a mass of Turks. The Turks cut them up, only two or three escaping. The Turkish loss in dead was only thirty-two."

No matter what the Marshal says, we doubt that these men were cool. For men who could hold their fire up to such a near approach of the enemy, and fire into masses, would have killed the front rank, thrown the others into confusion, and would never have been cut up as they were. To make these men await, without firing, an enemy at twenty or thirty paces, needed great moral pressure. Controlled by discipline they waited, but as one waits for the roof to fall, for a bomb to explode, full of anxiety and suppressed emotion. When the order is given to raise the arms and fire the crisis is reached. The roof falls, the bomb explodes, one flinches and the bullets are fired into the air. If anybody is killed it is an accident.


In ranks, fire at will is the only possible one for our officers and men. But with the excitement, the smoke, the annoying incidents, one is lucky to get even horizontal fire, to say nothing of aimed fire.

In fire at will, without taking count of any trembling, men interfere with each other. Whoever advances or who gives way to the recoil of his weapon deranges the shot of his neighbor. With full pack, the second rank has no loophole; it fires in the air. On the range, spacing men to the extremity of the limits of formation, firing very slowly, men are found who are cool and not too much bothered by the crack of discharge in their ears, who let the smoke pass and seize a loophole of pretty good visibility, who try, in a word, not to lose their shots. And the percentage results show much more regularity than with fire at command.

But in front of the enemy fire at will becomes in an instant haphazard fire. Each man fires as much as possible, that is to say, as badly as possible. There are physical and mental reasons why this is so.

Even at close range, in battle, the cannon can fire well. The gunner, protected in part by his piece, has an instant of coolness in which to lay accurately. That his pulse is racing does not derange his line of sight, if he has will power. The eye trembles little, and the piece once laid, remains so until fired.

The rifleman, like the gunner, only by will-power keeps his ability to aim. But the excitement in the blood, of the nervous system, opposes the immobility of the weapon in his hands. No matter how supported, a part of the weapon always shares the agitation of the man. He is instinctively in haste to fire his shot, which may stop the departure of the bullet destined for him. However lively the fire is, this vague reasoning, unformed as it is in his mind, controls with all the force of the instinct of self preservation. Even the bravest and most reliable soldiers then fire madly.

The greater number fire from the hip.

The theory of the range is that with continual pressure on the trigger the shot surprises the firer. But who practices it under fire?

However, the tendency in France to-day is to seek only accuracy. What good will it do when smoke, fog, darkness, long range, excitement, the lack of coolness, forbid clear sight?

Also somewhat relevant to the discussion, he talks a bit about his experiences with lance vs saber, and claims (perhaps with a bit of tongue-in-cheek) that if only experiences from practice fighting were taken into account then the single best cavalry weapon would actually be a long, forked trident:


There is always discussion as to the lance or the saber. The lance requires skillful vigorous cavalrymen, good horsemen, very well drilled, very adroit, for the use of the lance is more difficult than that of the straight sword, especially if the sword is not too heavy. Is not this an answer to the question? No matter what is done, no matter what methods are adopted, it must always be remembered that our recruits in war time are sent into squadrons as into battalions, with a hasty and incomplete training. If you give them lances, most of them will just have sticks in their hands, while a straight sword at the end of a strong arm is at the same time simple and terrible. A short trident spear, with three short points just long enough to kill but not only enough to go through the body, would remain in the body of the man and carry him along. It would recoil on the cavalryman who delivered the blow, he would be upset by the blow himself. But the dragoon must be supported by the saddle, and as he had kept hold of the shaft he would be able to disengage the fork which had pierced the body some six inches. No cavalry of equal morale could stand against a cavalry armed with such forked spears.

As between forks and lances, the fork would replace the lance. That is, of course, for beginners in mounted fencing. But the fork! It would be ridiculous, not military!

With the lance one always figures without the horse, whose slightest movement diverts the lance so much. The lance is a weapon frightful even to the mounted man who uses it properly. If he sticks an enemy at the gallop, he is dismounted, torn off by the arm attached to the lance which remains in the body of his enemy.

Cavalry officers and others who seek examples in "Victories and Conquests," in official reports, in "Bazancourt" are too naÔve. It is hard to get at the truth. In war, in all things, we take the last example which we have witnessed. And now we want lances, which we do not know how to use, which frighten the cavalryman himself and pluck him from the saddle if he sticks anybody. We want no more cuirasses; we want this and that. We forget that the last example gives only a restricted number of instances relating to the matter in question.

Mr Beer
2018-10-03, 05:19 PM
This forum, and this specific thread have lasted a long time and I think, done some good. But I really don't like being insulted by the likes of "incannur" and I'm starting to think posting here isn't worth the effort any more.

Thinking about it as I write this, it may be time for an "exasperation quit"
G

I'd suggest taking a break. It seems to me that you are perhaps irritated out of proportion with the amount of provocation being offered, which is a reasonable indication it's time to have a breather and do something that's not annoying you.

On a more selfish note I'd very much like to see you carry on posting and I think that's more likely to happen if you take a break.

Galloglaich
2018-10-03, 07:46 PM
I'm deleting my last 20 or so posts, please delete any reference to me from this thread in the last page or two. All I care about at this point is removing myself from this discussion.

Max_Killjoy
2018-10-03, 09:28 PM
:smalleek:

Ugh.

Going to bite my tongue, other than to say that this thread just died a little.

(And for the record, G, I put none of this on you.)

rrgg
2018-10-03, 10:07 PM
{Scrubbed}

Incanur
2018-10-04, 12:15 AM
I really respect the HEMA community and their ability to offer some pretty unique insights. But the fact still remains that no HEMA practitioner or academic today has actually seen people killed by swords or halberds in combat, or even had the chance to speak with many people who have. Despite any problems they might have, your own personal experience does not hold nearly as much authority as the opinions of George Silver, Swetnam, Machiavelli, or even that guy who said that sabers could cut through mail. I would add ". . . in my opinion" to that last sentence but really it should be the opinion of anyone who claims to seriously study history. Experimental archeology and modern knowlege can be used to help try to fill in the gaps that the historical sources leave behind, but if what you find is directly contradicting various reliable sources, then it usually means that you're the one doing something wrong.

This strikes me as a fascinating historical question, & I don't know how I come down on it. Ideally, I strive for interpretations that align with the full weight of the evidence: from periods texts of all types, from archaeology & replicas, from present-day sparring, etc. If push comes to shove, I'm not sure I trust any individual historical master over modern experience, depending of course on the details.

The thing is, it's challenging to get good data from sparring. I mentioned what it would really take to settler the question of weapon advantages. The closest you could come with current tech would be have massive & highly competitive tournaments with various weapon types, but that would still miss wounding dynamics & probably reward whoever could game the rules best.

At the same time, any given period source isn't necessarily that reliable. Folks like George Silver & Joseph Swetnam were obviously heated in parts of their writing, & many period authors believed in things most of us now consider nonsense (at least form materialist/scientific point of view).

But when various sources converge, then my confidence increases.

On the specific question of weapon length granting advantage in an unarmored fight in the open, I think it's striking how many 16th/17th-century masters were explicit about it. I'm not sure if Salvator Fabris, Ridolfo Capoferro, or other rapier masters wrote about the subject explicitly, but they obviously though reach matter enough to recommend wearing gigantic rapiers. (I'm 5' 10" & I get around a 4ft blade by Capoferro's method!)

Additionally, I've seen various other 16th/17th-century texts that mention the concept of length granting advantage. Regardless of how true it is, the idea that even 1-3 inches of reach advantage gave odds was prevalent across the 16th century & into the 17th in Europe (Pietro Monte to Joseph Swetnam). (Monte's finger of I assume around 3 inches strikes me as a lot more reasonable than Swetnam's single inch.)


Silver in particular I think you'd really get along well with if you gave him the chance. Yes, he spends a lot of time complaining about italian fencing masters and every single fault he can find with the rapier, but that's kind of the whole point since A. he was primarily printing an opinion piece, not a compete fencing manual or life advice book meant to be sold to wealthy young gentlemen, and B. he was trying to push back against those he felt were convinced that the rapier was now "teh best weapon evar" and were neglecting to continue practicing with older weapons and older fighting styles in addition to their rapiers.

Honestly, I ignore Silver's polemic diatribes against the rapier & Italians & focus on what seem like the more sober passages. As I keep on pointing out, Silver still wanted swords with pretty damn long blades, considered thrusting equally important to cutting, & even thought it was better to have a blade longer than 37-40 inches than one that's shorter. & in Brief Instructions he didn't recommend downright blows to defeat the longer rapier.

In sum, he talked a lot of smack but was rather reasonable when he got serious.


I've complained about these before, but you really need to spend more time thinking about and supporting your "training time" arguments when it comes to different types of weapons, no matter how simple or "just so" they might seem. They're nothing I haven't heard many times before and my opinion is still that a ton of holes start to open up in that kind of explanation once you start talking about real people and societies instead of video games.

As I recall, this comes from period (16th century?) courses offered in different weapons, & the listed times each course took. I'm skeptical of this too, but it does seem at least somewhat supported.


Imagine being so full of yourself that you don't think it's possible to be knowledgeable and yet still have unanswered questions.

This is a crucial point. It's always okay to keep asking questions! I've been studying halberds & similar staff weapons for years & years but I remain curious about the differences in shaft length, head design, how they were used in battle, skirmish, & duel, & so on.

...

The strangest thing about my arguments with Galloglaich is that I don't think we substantively disagree that much. Like Galloglaich, I've been involved in the HEMA/WMA community for over well over decade. I joined MyArmoury in early 2004. We focus on different sources & periods, but it's mainly about attitude & fiddly little details. When we interact on MyArmoury, we have to play nice because of the forum rules. Perhaps it'd be better if we all started pretending this was MyArmoury, at least as far as post tone goes.

As far as as our knowledge has come, there's still so much about historical warfare that we really don't know.

Galloglaich
2018-10-05, 09:06 AM
This has become a great forum thread, one of the all time best in my book. Since I started posting here in 2009, it has been a great place to learn all kinds of things about pre-industrial military and martial history from all over the world, and to flesh out some of my own research on late medieval urban life and warfare. Over the last decade I have been greatly encouraged to see a sharp increase in the general understanding among posters here and gamers in general. HEMA / WMA is no longer such an incomprehensable mystery, the basics of armor and medieval weapons are now much better understood in the 'elite' of the RPG gamer subculture, which I consider people posting here to be part of, and many fascinating avenues of research have been opened up for exploration, which is now more possible than ever before for regular people like myself and many others here, thanks to the internet.

Thanks to everybody here who taught me many things and helped me figure out some of the mysteries of the often violent but also frequently enchanting world of our ancestors.

It does take a lot of time and effort to post here and when that gets bogged down in too many arguments it just diminishes the quality of that time and also can cause me some harm. I think I've reached the point that I need to concentrate on finishing projects and pursuing more demanding opportunities that i sometimes avoid by chatting on forums.

I would greatly appreciate it if the recent posts directly related to the dispute I was having with two other users on here would be deleted. Not the friendly ones you know the ones I mean. I would prefer to part ways with this forum on a friendly basis so I don't feel like the thousands of hours I spent posting here were wasted.

G

Mike_G
2018-10-05, 11:48 AM
Godspeed, my friend.

You will be missed.

Tobtor
2018-10-05, 01:35 PM
Galloglaich:

Thank you for your effort on this forum. We have had our discussions and disagreements, sometimes more heated than others. I hope you carry no ill will towards me, since I have enjoyed our discussions, heated or otherwise.

Best wishes, and hope to run into you on the internet again sometime.

Tobtor

Tobtor
2018-10-05, 01:58 PM
The thing is, it's challenging to get good data from sparring. I mentioned what it would really take to settler the question of weapon advantages. The closest you could come with current tech would be have massive & highly competitive tournaments with various weapon types, but that would still miss wounding dynamics & probably reward whoever could game the rules best.


I agree it is challenging to get data on sparring. At best they provide answers on duels, but then even at best due to various rules. One problem is of course contexts. Most fighting, even in small groups or one on one, likely wasn't "official" duels on even ground etc. Whenever you turn to brawls, random attacks, fighting on the streets, on the road etc, you get a lot of change in dynamics.

In sparring or even tournaments, both participants knows that the fight ends with one of them "hit" (or possibly both of them). In a lot of real situations, we add context to that, and another possibly comes up - that there is an disengagement before anyone dies. This will prompt people to fight much more defensively. I have seen this in larps. Even experienced HEMA-fighters change towards more defensive stances etc, when engaged in a fight inside a story, than in sparring. This is even though their lives are not at stake, but only the lives of their characters. But the knowledge that others might intervene, that killing t someone might create other problems etc. can make you more hesitent to attack.

This changes alot in regard to long/short wweapons. And might be where historical sources can disagree with hema fighters. My experience is that long pointy (spears, rapiers etc) generally fare better in such "defensive" stand offs than shorter weapons. In a fight the short weapon needs to close distance fast, while the longer the fight last the greater the advantage for the long weapon.

No in some very close quarters short cutting weapons might offer some advantages against larger weapons (which can be difficult to use), but some close quarter fighting also favours long pointy things, such as posts, bushes, tables etc, which can add cover to the fighters and prevent a fast closing of distance. My experience from larps is that long pointy things get a bigger advantage over shorter weapons in a "random" environment, compared to a sparring situation, but that a shorter cutting weapon isn't as much at a disadvantage against a long cutting weapon as it is in sparring (large axes/hammers/clubs are more difficult to use in close quarters, while rapiers are really good at keeping people at a distance with the point always fixed at them, while shorter weapons can still function - but closing is more risky than in sparring).

This means that if I was to choose a self-defence weapon something like a rapier/long sowrd (either a longsword or the longest sword I could get), would be my first choice. Not due to a it effectiveness in a duel (while still important), but because of it's good for defensive properties in random attacks, rbberies, murder attempts etc, which lets say and axe or mace isn't as useful fore.

Well this is my take on the thrusting versus cutting/crushing issue.

Roland St. Jude
2018-10-05, 03:15 PM
Sheriff: If someone wants to create a new version of this, Mk. XXVII, that's fine. This one is going to stay locked. Please keep it civil. I have a couple specific suggestions regarding how you converse to help you with that:

1. It's fine to contradict someone else's information, but don't go visiting their knowledge or intelligence as a whole.
2. If you sense things get hostile, just leave the field.
3. Likewise, if you believe someone has violated the Forum Rules, please report that post and then move on without replying.
4. Don't tell others what to do, whether that is take a break from the thread, say or don't say a particular thing, etc.
5. This provision of the Forum Rules might be particularly relevant here: "Don't: Tell a poster that they clearly didn't read what you or others wrote upthread. Alternately, any statement that implies that the only way someone could disagree with you is because they don't understand/can't read properly is likewise not allowed."