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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Aug, 2008 8:16 pm    Post subject: 14th Century English single-edged swords         Reply with quote

I've been in a scanning mood today and thought I'd share a couple of neat single-edged swords I've run across. I don't know that I'd call them falchions, as the blade forms aren't so dissimilar from two-edged blades.

The first is dated to the early 14th century and was formerly in the Howard Curtis collection. Before that it was in Harold L. Peterson's collection.

The second is from the UK's Royal Armouries. It's thought to be English and dates to the 14th century.



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Happy

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Danny Grigg




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 2:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad

Thanks for posting those two swords.

So how uncommon / rare are single edged "western medieval swords" (non falchions)?

Maybe we could call these swords "Medieval Backswords"?
Though from what I understand backswords are more of a Renaissance-era sword with a complex hilt or am I wrong about that?

Are there any typologies on western european single edged swords?
Is there any reason why Oakeshott didn't create a typology for single edged swords including falchions?

Does anyone have any more photos of medieval single edged swords, if so please post.


I remember Eric McHugh made a replica of a single edged sword from the Royal Armouries. Link:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...hort+sword

Michael 'Tinker' Pearce has made a single edged medieval sword. Link:
http://www.tinkerswords.com/swordarchive.html

Thanks

Danny
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 3:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a photo of the sword from the Royal Armouries, Leeds. I believe Eric McHugh took it.


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Tim Lison




PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 8:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad-

Thanks for posting these pics. It's always cool to see some lesser know swords, especially oddball ones like these. I have a real fondness for single edge weapons such as these.

Danny-

The Tinker sword you posted the link to is very cool. There is a line drawing of a single edged sword similar to it in the book "Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era, 1050-1350: Western Europe and the Crusader States" by David Nicolle. The one in the book has no fuller and is more of a diamond cross section, but has a brazil nut and a style 1 cross similar to the Tinker sword. I would love pics of that sword!
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Danny Grigg wrote:
Chad

Thanks for posting those two swords.

So how uncommon / rare are single edged "western medieval swords" (non falchions)?


No problem. Happy I would think they were fairly rare. I haven't done the math, but 2-edged swords seem to have dominated. Falchions and messers were somewhat popular in some eras/areas. I'd put these swords behind falchions.

Quote:
Maybe we could call these swords "Medieval Backswords"?
Though from what I understand backswords are more of a Renaissance-era sword with a complex hilt or am I wrong about that?


I personally think a backsword can be from any era. It just needs a back: an unsharpened edge. A lot of people, though, do reserve the term for later swords.

Quote:
Are there any typologies on western european single edged swords?
Is there any reason why Oakeshott didn't create a typology for single edged swords including falchions?


I don't know of any typologies just for single-edged swords. The few that there are (Oakeshott, Bruhn-Hoffmeyer, Wheeler, Peterson, Geibig) are more geared toward double-edged swords, though Geibig has a Type 14 for single-edged Viking swords.

I'm not sure if there are enough examples that a typology would yield much, though. The purpose of a good typology system like Oakeshott's is not simply to classify one part of the sword (like his blade typology that people often focus on to the exclusion of everything else), but to use a system (pommel, guard, blade, and to a degree, grip) is to classify the parts of a large group of items so comparisons and trends can be found. If there aren't many extant examples (i.e. no large group), the value of that system might be more limited. I'd love to see someone give it a go, though. Happy

As to why Oakeshott didn't make one, I'm not sure why he didn't. He didn't make one for pre-Viking swords, probably because the existing systems were decent. He built his after Wheeler's, though he took it farther. He didn't bother with rapiers, and we have a good system from AVB Norman. Maybe he didn't have access to enough examples to build a system, or maybe he just like 2-edged swords. Happy

Quote:
I remember Eric McHugh made a replica of a single edged sword from the Royal Armouries. Link:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...hort+sword


Yeah, I looked at that thread before posting mine. It's a shame the images are gone.

Happy

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tim Lison wrote:
Chad-

Thanks for posting these pics. It's always cool to see some lesser know swords, especially oddball ones like these. I have a real fondness for single edge weapons such as these.



The more unusual examples are interesting to me, too. I'll see if I can dig up any others.

Happy

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G Ezell




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Chad, these are quite interesting. I was not expecting the acute points, nor the amount of taper.

I would love to see more examples.
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Aug, 2008 6:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting! I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I absolutely love these odd, unusual historical swords you don't see so often. Happy
The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

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Danny Grigg




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Dec, 2008 12:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

See link, to my untrained eye this looks like another medieval single edged sword:

http://www.czernys.com/auctions_lot.php?oggetto=31706&asta=22

Lot no. 429 A sword
provenence: Central Europe
dating: 14th Century

description: Interessante lama larga, ad un filo, leggermente curva; elso dritto, in ferro, con bracci cilindrici e massello a punta, grande pomo tondo a facce leggermente convesse, resti di impugnatura in legno, con ghiere e liste in bronzo.

condition: poor
dimensions: 85,5 cm.


Using some of the free translation websites:

Interesting wide blade, to a thread, slightly curve; straight elso, in iron, with cylindrical arm and ingot to point, large round apple to slightly convex faces, restive of grip in wood, with ring nuts and bronze strips.

Interesting wide blade, to a thread, slightly curve; elso straight, in iron, with cylindrical arms and massello to tip, great round knob to slightly convex faces, rests of grip in wood, with metal rings and lists in bronze.


These translations don't mention it is single edged, so perhaps I'm wrong.

Thoughts?

Danny
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Dec, 2008 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't actually speak Italian, but doesn't filo also mean "edge"? (As in filo dritto and filo falso, the True and False Edge.)

That would make un filo "one edge," right?

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
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Danny Grigg




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Dec, 2008 7:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anders I have no idea. Are there any Italian speakers out there who can translate??

I found another single edged sword, posted by Peter Johnsson:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p=49763#49763

It looks very similar to the first sword Chad posted. It might even be the same sword, I'm not sure???

Danny
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Peter Lyon




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was surprised at the number of single edged medieval swords I saw during visits to several museums in September (RA Leeds, the Met, Glasgow, Edinburgh, London), maybe 1 in 10 was single edged.

Oakeshott's concentration on single-edged straight-bladed swords may have given us a skewed idea of how common single-edged swords actually were; if surviving swords are any indication, single-edged straight blades were uncommon but not rare.
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Bruno Giordan




PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 3:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

from Czerny's http://www.czernys.com/auctions_lot.php?oggetto=31706&asta=22


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Thomas Jason




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 6:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a few at the Wallace Collection...

Including a few 2 handers...
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Scott Woodruff




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Nov, 2010 9:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think these single-edged pointy swords were much more common than many give them credit for. The 'Louis de Bruges' copy of Froissarts chronicles and other coeval manuscripts show many of the archers carrying swords with the front quillon bent into a knuckle-bow and a square pommel. I personally believe that these are meant to represent swords of the "wakefield type" which are basically sword-length hammer-headed daggers. Also, many baselard/schweitzerdegen of sword length have single edged blades. The tendency of museums to display long impressive pieces that match the visitors expectations of what a medieval sword is probably leaves a lot of these gems in boxes in the back room and distorts our conception of the relative rarity or commoness of these types.

As a step toward some kind of agreed-upon terminology that we can use to discuss and describe these weapons, I will summerize my research into "straight(ish), single-edged, pointy short-swords of the 14th-15th c." Sorry, I don't have my references with me.

1- "wakefield type"- As far as I know, the name "wakefield" comes from the use of the name by MRL for their replica. The type specimen can be seen in the "hammer headed daggers" thread. It has a 60cm blade, a s-shaped guard forming a knuckle-bow with a nagel-like side-bar and a side-lugged pommel. Another example has a longer, less tapered but still sharp-pointed blade, a similar guard and a pommel shaped into a crude boar's head. A third example is similar to the second but all three terminals of the guard are shaped like cloven hooves. These latter two examlpes may represent a kind of proto-hanger while the first is more military, but due to the similarity in overall design, I suggest grouping them together. The archers swords in LdB Froissart's chronicles all have square pommels but I have yet to see an example.

2-"SE swords with hilts like double-edged swords."- self explanatory. Personally I think a lot of the apparently DE swords depicted in LdB are actually meant to represent these.

3-"SE basilards/schweitzerdegen"- I-shaped hilt with blades identical to those of previous types. Good example known from England c 1520.

I do not know how far back the term Backsword goes, but don't think I have ever heard it used in a 15th c context. However some of these swords and especially the wakefield type certainly have characteristics that foreshadow later developements in English swords. Aside from the blade form, the nagel-like side-bar is similar to those found in early transitional basket-hilts. There seems to be a rather straight-forward evolution from wakefield type (1450-1510) to transitional backswords with quillons, seperate knuckle-bow and single side bar (1520-1530) to early basket-hilt backsword. Calling them some sort of falchion doesn't seem quite right. In german I would call them Rauf-degen (brawling degen) Degen meaning a usually SE thrusting short-sword. I recently saw a raufdegen on herman historica? that had a short single-edged thrusting blade, quillons, seperate knuckle-bow , side rings and a asymetrical pommel. Functionally identical to a wakefield, but in the german style. These weapons were considered to be an alternative to a katzbalger( notice cat-fighter vs brawling stabber.) Incidentally, There are some wakefield types illustrated in some of the german art shown in the "extremely long daggers" thread.
Quote:


Hope that was coherent enough. I am a bit sleep deprived. When I learn how to use this computer contraption I'll post some pictures. Any thoughts?
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