I'm confused by the vague statement, "early swords in European History."
Just what era are we talking about here? I'm not sure that's been precisely identified by the OP.
Well, either way, I don't think there are any authentic swords that weight massive amounts like he implies intended for use in combat anywhere. Now granted, my knowledge of sword weight, etc. involves a passing familiarity with many of the historical and prehistorical eras in question, but I know for sure a lot of Bronze Age era swords are between 800 and 1200 grams, that many rapiers come in just under 3 lbs, and that some of the larger swords push 5 at the most (ones that were actually used in combat). Most people have some fantasy based idea of a 10-20 pound greatsword that takes some superhuman dude a long time to swing, and that just isn't accurate, but seems to be what the OP is working from.
Ewart Oakeshott classified one of the swords of his latter group of swords as the Type XIII. *The defining characteristics of this type are a longer, wider blade whose edges run nearly parallel to a rounded, or spatulate, tip.* These blades are known to swell slightly in width just below the hilt, before the edges begin their virtually straight run to the point. Fullers generally run to around, or just over, half the length of the blade, *creating a tip area that is wide and flat and is optimized for shearing blows*. The cross-section of these blades is best defined as lenticular: a flattened ovoid shape. Grips tend to be longer than the earlier types, with an average length of around 6 inches, allowing for the off-hand to be used for extra leverage and power. Guards are most often simple and straight, and pommels are most frequently of the late Brazil nut and simple chamfered disk types (Oakeshott Types D, E. and I). Few dateable survivors of this type exist, though depictions in art seem to shows its heyday as 1260-1310. *emphasis mine*
Besides, I only mentioned them as an example.
Mr Oakeshott did not have any degree in history, archeology or other related sciences according to this. "Spent time in museums examining medieval swords"? Dear gods, really?Quote:
Oakeshott was educated as an illustrator, graduating from Dulwich College and London's Central School of Art. The abundance of high quality drawings in his books is a testament to his artistic abilities. Oakeshott's first career was as an artist in London, working at the Carlton Studios and at A.E. Johnson, Ltd. Oakeshott joined the British Naval Service during World War II, served from 1940 to 1945 on a destroyer escort, and was wounded while serving his country. After his subsequent hospitalization, Oakeshott returned to A.E. Johnson, Ltd. and served as its director for fifteen years before leaving to pursue his research full-time.
Oakeshott co-founded the Arms and Armour Society in 1948 and his first publications are found in the Society's journals. He examined many swords while still working at A.E. Johnson, publishing his findings in several journals including The Antiquaries Journal, Journal of the Arms and Armour Society of London and The Connoisseur Magazine.
In 1951, he began his "lifetime of lecturing," as he called it. His lectures on arms and armour and other aspects of history were given to learned societies both in England and America, and in schools and colleges. He also spent time assessing and examining medieval swords in museums.
I am starting to wonder how much of the research and knowledge in HEMA/ARMA/whatever circles is based on dubious sources like this?
Well, Kwan Dao, first of all I think you put much too much faith in science and especially humaniora. A lot of archaeology is still based on 19th century research that has proven to be quite wrong. Swordsmanship and armour and sword making are prime examples of this, where much "knowledge" stems from reading scientific literature written by scientists who often haven't even held a sword in hand. How else do you explain scientific literature (even today) describing medieval and renaissance swords as very heavy, clumsy blunt weapons that were used with brute force and no technique? Just holding a proper sword tells you the opposite.
There have been numerous accepted "facts" within the academic world that only recently have been challenged and proven to be quite wrong. So, a scientific degree doesn't nessarily equate truth or knowledge. Oh, and I have a few close relatives who actually are archaeologists who gladly testifies to this. :)
On the other hand, a lack of degree doesn't equal lack of knowledge, as Mr. Oakeshott is a prime example of. We are talking about roughly 40 years of research and close to 70 years of collecting swords here. His research is actually based on the work of other, previous archaeologists, but with an expanded and more hands-on approach.
Albion and Peter Johnson certainly has quite a lot of respect for Oakeshott, as do both collectors and fencers and in fact by most modern sword smiths. So calling him a dubious source really is stretching it. But, if you think so, give us a few more reliable sources that you feel are more trustworthy that contradicts his system.
What is interesting about his system, in contrast to earlier systems, is that he puts more focus on the design of the blades and their uses, than the earlier ones which focused on the hilts. This certainly is much more interesting and in my opinion more logical. The hilts are interesting too, but they are only half of the picture, when it comes to how a sword can be used.
But, this is a side discussion and not really what Blossfecther's post was about, was it? The specific topic was rounded and spatulated points on swords, and katzbalgers certainly had that, as did many other swords. Completely rounded points are rarer though, from what I understand.
I will speculate a bit here, but somewhere I heard that spatulated points were used in some areas where armour was used to a lesser extent, since swords with armour piercing tapered points would otherwise easily penetrate too deeply. A more rounded point still penetrates, but doesn't bury itself in bone quite as easily. This is highly speculative on my behalf, but it would be interesting to try thrusting against a few pigs covered in fabric. Perhaps even spatulated points were intended for both cutting and thrusting, but against other types of softer targets?
And as a sidenote, test cutting ridged blades and tapering points have shown that they are excellent cutters against certain targets, end sometimes even better than spatulated fullered "cutters". Nothing is quite as clear cut... ;)
Oh, and here are a few more complete texts about Oakeshott. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewart_Oakeshott
Btw, here is an alternative system, but in many respects similar to Oakeshott:
Alfred Geibig, from 1991 http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_geibig.php
You are of course quite right. I forgot to clarify that. :) It's focused on 700-1100 AD and is based on studies of 347 sword and a survey of 600 private and museum collections. The majority of the swords originate from East Francia and in that respect it has ben criticized for being rather limiting, although the "german" swordmaking influence of course was very strong in large portions of Europe.
I used broad-ended and highly tapered blades (Albion Talhoffer) in test cutting (tatami only though :( ). The more mass behind the point of impact is generally better. However, there are lots of caveats to that statement. Blade/edge cross-section is a huge one. The more friction there is, the faster the blade is slowed within the medium.
As far as bones go, bones are actually fairly soft and flexible when fresh. You can bend your ribs and forearm bones if you want to try it. I'm not saying a sword can't get stuck in them, but I am saying it probably isn't all that bad. I've been planning on a barbecue for quite a while to find out though! :P