I will gladly give all your courtsies back to you.
Originally Posted by u1ysses
Academic degrees are (at least were I come from) meant as a kind of quality control. This system does of course not work flawlessly. Sometimes complete idiots are able to somehow slip through the net (you are the best example). We even had cases of fraud where people got degrees which could hardly read or write.
Nevertheless, as flawed as the system may be, it is the only one we have atm. Its that or no quality control at all.
The question that arises is, if Mr. Oakeshott studied medieval weapons full time for years, why did he not acquire at least a masters degree while he was at it? He must have known that doing so would have had a lot of benefits, not only for the acceptance of his work, but also to make access to scientific institutions and museums in europe much much easier.
But as was already said, this is sidetracking the thread. Discussions on Bullshido's WMA-forum prove to be completely fruitless again and again (at least the ones centered around medieval stuff). And not even funny. I will thus stop my participation in this thread with this post.
The irony of "experts" on this board claiming the Katzbalger as an example for medieval swords was good for a little smile though.
There is an ongoing debate about which date should be taken as the end of the medieval period. Dates commonly range from 1450 (development of printing with movable type) to 1525 (the great peasant upheavals/wars).
The Katzbalger was brought into use well after all of them. Even better, the Landsknechte not only were of significant importance in quelling the peasant revolutions. Their "invention" represents the very turning point away from medieval warfare.
Disregarding the hard words being tossed back and forth... I believe you need to separate completely rounded points from spatulated in this discussion. Completely rounded points are rare. I can only think of executioners swords and katzbalgers.
I do think most Hema-practitioners here know full well that the katzbalbers stem from the Renaissance and are tightly associated with the Landsknechts. I haven't really seen anyone claiming to be an expert either. As for when the Middle Ages end and the Renaissance begins, it really depends on what part Europe you look at, as I am sure you know. For the central parts I would say that it was sometime in the late 14th century, but this "evolution" reached Scandinavia as late as in the 16th century.
Regarding Mr. Oakeshott I doubt he ever felt a need for a proper academic degree since he already had gained a lot of respect and had good access to museums and private collections. It really appears as if you have little knowledge about both him and his system. He is THE authority on swords, no matter what anyone thinks of adacemic degrees. That is why both fencers, researchers and swordsmiths value his research so highly. There simply is no other proper system available.
Sidetracked discussion again, I am also satisfied with this specific topic. The sword's characteristic and their use is what is of interest here. :)
Last edited by Grimnir69; 2/27/2010 5:33am at .
First off, I never have claimed to be an expert. Second, in the paragraph in which I mentioned katzbalgers, I only alluded to European weaponry in general without a time frame.
Originally Posted by kwan_dao
If you wanted a weapon within your timeframe, you could've picked the other weapons I spoke of. http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_spotxiii.html Those weapons usage is well within the 'medieval' period you suggest. But being as you were trolling, it's easy to ignore the scope of the post and concentrate on one thing.
But I forgot, you can't accept Oakeshott's work anyhow.:icon_roll
I should probably make it a habit to add a disclaimer to "final" posts in a thread. Something like "except if some Hundsfott feels the need to call me a troll after I left"
You either do not read/remember your own posts or you are liar.
Originally Posted by blossfechter
To which you answered:
Originally Posted by kwan_dao
You answer to my argument about MEDIEVAL swords. With the Katzbalger as an example. Idiot.
Originally Posted by blossfechter
Kwan Dao, although I can accept a stigma associated with an executioner's sword, I really doubt that the rounded point in specific would stop anyone from using it, if it was advantageous, given how many weird and wonderful weapons we can see throughout European history. But, the specific construction of such a sword offers no real advantages either in military or civilian combat compared to other designs and I do believe that is a much stronger explanation to why we see few completely rounded points on swords.
Oh, and once again, according to Oakeshott who actually is the only widely accepted authority on swords, most Viking and early Medieval swords of type X had rounded points:
"A broad, flat blade of medium length (average 31") with a fuller running the entire length and fading out an inch or so from the point, which is sometimes acute but more often rounded."
However, this is not the same thing as a completely round point such as that of a Katzbalger or an executioners sword, although some appear to have been very close.
But, I would be glad to learn otherwise. Perhaps you could give me a source for the stigma references? I am always eager to learn more and it is a good thing to be proven wrong, rather than continue spreading faulty "facts". :)
Wikipedia, although it's validity is still debated to some degree, claims that the earliest executioner's swords specifically designed for such uses dates to ca 1540, although the German Wikipedia appears to date these to earlier periods. But, from what I understand, executions in the Middle Ages mostly were done with regular swords, and in some cases, axes.
Last edited by Grimnir69; 2/27/2010 7:51am at .
And as a continuation of the previous reasoning, and not directed at Kwan Dao.
Many modern archaeologist prefer to regard the Renaissance rather like a movement based on medieval culture, rather than a specific time period. Boxing things up is handy but almost always simplifies things. There simply have never existed such thing as medieval and renaissance culture or warfare, although the terms certainly are used. In reality there are few clear breaks and changes that occur simultaneously over large geographical regions. Of course there are differences in warfare both in time and region and a certain development, but it is a complex weave of slow processes rather than a few single strands of quick changes.
Spatulated points co-exist alongside of tapered points and which is most common in a specific time period really more relates to the needs of the specific subculture and geographical area we look at. In that respect even Oakeshott's system over-simplifies things, which he readlily admitted.
One important aspect when comparing European to Asian and in particular Japanese martial cultures is a much stronger and continued trend for experimenting and improving arms and armour and how the two developed together in a form of arms race, as I am sure you know.
The Maciejowski messer/falchion choppers were likely very effective weapons against maille armour, but less so against plate armour, which is why they are pretty absent during the Renaissance. The estoc, dreiecher and panzerstecher in a way marks the end of the development of armour-piercing polearms, alongside of the pollax, halberds and rondel daggers. Eventually, the firearms and social changes affecting how warfare was performed lessened the importance of all shiny steel, but steel returned again in the form of sabres and spontoons when their use was advantageous in a certain context.
Here is a pretty interesting article by Sean McGlynn, published in History Today, regarding medieval warfare and academic research: http://www.deremilitari.org/resource...es/mcglynn.htm
So, what does all this have to do with the OP's topic? Well, it
simply means that there is no simple answer. First of all we need to be specific about time and place. And then we need to look at the context; civilian or military uses? What is the equipment of the opponent?
Swords varied in design of the blade and hilt, and had different characteristics for defense and offense. Some were better at cutting and some at thrusting, although most were quite effective at both, especially when attacking weak points in armour or flesh. Some swrds had one edge or one long and one short, most had two. Of those who had two, many were "razor"-sharpened only roughly the last 20-30cm and the rest was sharpened for durability and for allowing you to grip the blade for half-swording techniques in armour.
I am not sure about blossfecthen-swords for unarmoured combat but I can imagine that a larger portion of the blades were sharpened, to make slicing more effective, given that this is one of the three important forms of attacks described in the manuscripts, both in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
However, it is not always easy to know from looking at the design of a sword which is which. Few two handed swords designed for actual combat weighed more than 3,5-4 Kgs and the heaviest zweihänders were actually intended for disprupting polearms lines rather than attacking "meat". Most twohanded swords weighed close to 1,5Kg, with a range from 0,9-2,2kg. The one handed swords weighed in average about 1,1Kg. What sometimes looks to be a perfect cutter can be difficult to cut well with and vice versa, at last judging from the test cutting discussed at MyArmoury.
I think there is a lot more hands-on research that needs to be done here and unfortunately too little such is done at an academic level even today. That is why people that do not have a proper degree in archaeological studies have had to do this. Some amateur historians have other academic degrees though and an good understanding of academic research.
Still, ARMA certainly has a solid base in academic resarch with Dr. Sydney Anglo, Dr. Lee Jones, Dr. David Nicolle and Dr. Noel Fallows. The same goes for AEMMA, with Dr. Jeffrey Forgeng, Dr. Hans-Peter Hils, Dr. C.E. Magnus Lindgren, Dr. Robert Mason, Dr. Steven Muhlberger and Dr. Julian Siggers. There are also a few more large organisations like HEMAC and WMAC who do excellent academic and practical work, not to mention the roughly 280 clubs worldwide.
Since I have not really looked at "swords of justice" earlier, I browsed the web a little. I would love to hear more about what other people know of these... This is off-topic, so read it only if it is of interest.
From what it seems, Proper executioner's swords were most common from the 16th century and onwards and as mentioned above the earliest known executioner's sword is from 1540. Earlier than that, regular swords were used, possibly sometimes cutters like falchions.
The point of these swords was, as previously discussed, round, and often had three holes. Why, is debated, but some claim it to be a symbol of the holy trinity. The blades were razor sharp and often had biblical quotes or similar inscribed. Some may have had "tunnels" filled with mercury that travelled towards the point with the cut, thereby increasing the force. Most were two-handed but often with blades of arming sword lengths.
Beheading was a privilige of the nobles and women in particular and was considered more honourable than the common man's gallows. Of course, even nobles could be sentenced to a dishonourable exection.
In some parts like Britain, the axe was most common for beheadings. In others, like Scandinavia, the sword was most common. Between 1800-1865 644 people were beheaded in Sweden alone, of which about 200 were women. This, in a country of about 2,3 million people in 1800 AD. Looking at earlier periods; 1749-1825 shows about 1500 people.
One theory for some of these executions is that some used it as a form of suicide to circumvent going to hell for taking their own lives and intentionally chose a crime with a capital punishment. Apparently this was so common in the 17th and 18th century Sweden that the sentences were changed when the accused was suspected of trying to do this.
Also, it was common procedure for both the sentenced and the executioner to get properly drunk before the execution which often made the actual execution messy.
Apparently there are about 500 execution spots in Sweden alone, often in the middle of suburbs with the remains still resting under about a half metre of dirt.
The last beheading in Sweden, by guillotine, was performed in 1910, but technically you could be sentenced to death as late as in 1975 for crimes of war.
Some countries in certain periods were of course much worse. Elisabeth I is claimed to have ordered the execution of 82 000 people during her 50 year reign, not to mention modern dictators with industrialized executions.
An interesting, if morbid subject...
This one I offer with a STRONG warning, since it provides images of both historical beheadings and REAL modern beheadings: http://beheadedart.com/
And two Google-translated sources:
And the originals:
And another to Google-translated articles:
Last edited by Grimnir69; 2/27/2010 9:23am at .
Originally Posted by kwan_dao
Originally Posted by kwan_dao
Originally Posted by kwan_dao
According to the German Historical Museum, that sword is dated to 1501-1530. Their website is http://www.dhm.de/datenbank/ . Search for katzbalger yourself.
That that design type didn't spring up overnight nor was the sword in that pic the first ever made. I'm sure there were others of the same design made prior to that one which don't exist anymore. Further, the katzbalger design had to have evolved to it's final design from somewhere. Meaning designs of similar types existed previous to that. So based on the timeline you've given, a katzbalger could easily fall within the 'medieval' period or even the Late Middle Age. Would you like to refute the many other weapons with spatulated ends mentioned as well?
Last edited by blossfechter; 2/27/2010 9:36am at .
...and then, to extract from my too loooong posts above. The European swords designed specifically for beheadings (with completely round points) appear to originate from roughly the same time period as the katzbalgers, ie the early 16th century.
Do you know of any "medieval" examples then please give a reference. It is highly interesting! Perhaps there is a closer link between the katzbalger and the richtschwert than one would have expected given that they existed in the same time period and culture with a quite similar design... Perhaps they were even intended to LOOK like an executioners sword to horrify the enemy and especially civilians. After all, the Landsknechts were an expressive, flamboyant bunch of hooligans... Pure speculation though.
Last edited by Grimnir69; 2/27/2010 9:56am at .
More likely they were a result of the attempt to mimic the Swiss pike blocks, with the ensuing emphasis on close-quater, tight packed formation melees. Less need for a long sword with a point to jam through a mail voider. More need for a weighty yet short chopper for a side arm that could hit authoritatively without hitting your mate on the backswing.
Originally Posted by Grimnir69
The swiss also used long daggers/short swords called baselards, which were more thrust friendly, but also adopted the katzbalger, especially later in time.
I suspect the katzbalger's was less useful against armour, but armour was beginning to go on the decline in the sixteenth century. Controversial, but there was some sort of military revolution going on...