Albion Armorers Next Generation Yeoman Sword
A hands-on review by Felix Reich
Oakeshott Type XIV swords are shown quite often in artwork and by their appearance there can be dated most often between 1275 and 1340. Examples appear in both the Maciejowski Bible and the Romance of Alexander. The main features are a short grip paired with a comparatively short blade which is generally broad at the hilt and often tapering to an acute point that usually has a flat cross-section.
This type of blade is put into the first of two larger groups by Ewart Oakeshott (the first group comprised of Type X through Type XIV), which he defines as being flat, light blades primarily designed for cutting. In the time when mail was most prevalent good cutting ability was needed, but with more and more reinforcements added to the armour thrusting into vulnerable sections was also becoming more essential. While points of earlier blade designs were more spatulate or had "adequate" or "good" points as in the designs of Type XIII, Type XI, and Type XII, respectively, it is with Type XIV blades that the sharp or acute point appears. This feature which is seen later on in Oakeshott's second group of swords (beginning with Type XV). These later swords were designed to defeat much more evolved plate armour by thrusting into gaps.
Type XIV swords used to be somewhat scarce on the reproduction market. It is interesting to see that Albion Armorers of Wisconsin offers three swords of this type in their Next Generation lineup. The Yeoman and the Sherriff sport the same blade while the Sovereign has a double-fullered blade. The design of these swords is strongly influenced by a sword in the Musée de l'Armée in Paris (number XIV.8 in Records of the Medieval Sword), which is dated between 1300 and 1350. The sword reviewed here is a little larger than the original sword that inspires it. It is a sword of average size for this type.
Type XIV swords have always been of great interest for me. I like the wide blades and the acute points of the design, which make it very versatile to my eyes. When Albion Europe finally started in the autumn of 2006 it was not difficult for me to decide to purchase a single-handed sword, although I am usually more interested in longswords.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Albion Armorers of Wisconsin.
The grip itself feels good in the hand. The cord riser in the center of the hilt divides it into two sections; the lower part is more flat oval and the upper part is more rounded. This corresponds very well to a medium-sized hand. The pommel with its deeply hollowed Oakeshott Type K design gives good support to the palm in the handshake grip. Usually I would like to place my index finger over the cross-guard ("fingering" the cross) for better point control, but it is not possible with this sword due to its wide blade. It feels really good, however, in the hammer grip. Both gripping methods give it good control in the thrust and the cut.
I did only some basic cutting and the sword needs a very well-aligned hand because it is easy to torque the wide blade during the cut. The blade is quite stiff so that it easily defeats targets like soft and flexible pool noodles. Although the sword has a really acute point it widens very early, resulting in less penetration than when compared to swords of Type XV and Type XVI.
Fit and Finish
The fullered blade itself seems nearly leaf-shaped in appearance. It is wide, flaring at the base and tapering continuously until about 10 inches from the point, where it turns in to an acute tip via a shallow arch. This again is very elegantly executed and gives the sword a very elegant appearance. The cross-section is of a flat lenticular shape in the fullered part and is even flatter when the fuller ends. The bevels of the edge merge nicely into the blade.
For all interested in the wide blade design of the Type XIV, the Albion Armorers Yeoman is a very interesting sword. It is not as expensive as the Sovereign but is still more ornamental than the simpler Sherriff. Not only is the appearance nice but also the handling: it feels like a real "sportsman" and is very lively in the hand. Once I compared it to a pit bull; it is a sword that bristles with power but is still agile and compact. I would recommend this sword to everyone who finds this type of blade appealing and is looking for a short dynamic weapon.
About the Author
Felix Reich is a veterinarian working in the field of food science. He is interested in the evolution of European arms and armour from medieval times to the early Renaissance. His main interest is the late 14th, early 15th century, from the "transitional period" to the appearance of full plate armour. He also started historical fencing in a study group in Germany in 2006.
Records of the Medieval Sword, by R. Ewart Oakeshott
Photographer: Nathan Robinson