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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > My genuine Peter Johnsson "hafted sword/staffsword"Product Review Reply to topic
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 1:10 pm    Post subject: My genuine Peter Johnsson "hafted sword/staffsword"         Reply with quote

"unt gut spiess von schwert gamach"
-Landsknecht Paul Dolnstein, 1502.

The ”hafted sword/staffsword” is a peasant-weapon of –as far as I know- purely Swedish origin, from the late15th /early 16th Century. The German Landsknecht Paul Dolnstein who, serving under the Danish King Hans partook in the attack of Älvsborg in 1502 where he fought against Swedish peasant armies. In his diary he noted that the Swedish peasants carried ”good spears made from swords”. Although some historical staffswords might have been made from sword-blades that had been remade to fit a haft, later archaeological finds, among them an earthfind from Husaby Biskopsgård have shown that the weapon in fact was a purposely made to look the way it looked and to fill the role of being carried by massed (peasant) infantry. Looking at Olaus Magnus’ “History of the Nordic Peoples” from 1555 where he writes that: “...excellent steel is found in the North in such abundance, that it to the fullest fulfills the need for natives’ as well as foreigners’ whole need of cuirasses, helmets, swords and spears” –one quickly realizes that the common people of 16th Century Sweden certainly had the means to produce such a weapon indeed. The staffswords roughly measured some 98 inches (ca 2,5m) in length and carried a swordshaped blade that in some examples measured roughly 19 inches in length (although they could be longer). Just below the blade the weapon carried a either straight or s-shaped cross which could measure up to almost 20 inches; greatly enhancing the weapon’s sword-like appearance.

Peter Johnsson’s reconstruction is based on historical originals he has studied and he has certainly managed to create a very impressive weapon. It’s a piece of weaponry that lies well in the hands and the quite hefty cross- and blade-part is counterbalanced by the massive, sturdy haft. The blade is quite broad and also quite long, and very much resembles a short sword. It’s readily fastened to the haft by the means of a long tang. The gently, curved s-shaped crossguard is very sturdy and made of wrought iron metalwork The general appearance of the cross gives the impression that it would work very well to ward off incoming staff-weapons and pole-arms, such as halberds and whatnot with the cross itself. And when used in a tightly packed line of infantry –as shown in Paul Dolnstein’s drawings, the cross would give an even greater defensive advantage against enemy pole-arms. Another very fine use the cross can be out to, is hooking and trapping an opponents arms, legs and neck. Below the cross two thick languets run down the course of the haft. These would support and strengthen the whole weapon as well as keep it from being chopped off by a halberd or similar weapon. The great length of the haft allows for quick thrusts and perhaps even sweeping cuts when held near the butt end. If gripped nearer the cross, like when the battle was well and truly joined and the close in-fighting had begun, the weapon becomes very quick indeed and allows for vicious thrust, pressing slices and short cuts and stabs. The sum of its parts points to the fact that this is a weapon of good offensive as well as defensive capabilities –something that would be perfectly suited to be wielded by the peasants who perhaps sometimes, but certainly not always, lacked the training of the normal soldier.

Peter’s reconstruction is well balanced, sharp, pointy and very lovely indeed. It’s in fact one of my absolutely favorite pieces in my collection. What I particularly like and appreciate with the specimen I bought from Peter is that he has intentionally made the surface of the blade quite rough and somewhat uneven. And it’s not minutely polished. And this, along with the rough metalwork of the cross and languets gives the weapon a very rustic feel that I like. It evokes images of the village smith hammering out blades so that the peasants could arm with weapons such as this one themselves and go off to war.

Total length: 93 inches (236cm)
Blade length: 21 9/16 inches (ca 55cm)
Blade width at widest point: 2 3/16 inches (5,3cm)
Tang length: 6 8/16 inches (16,5cm)
Cross length: 15 3/16 inches (39,5cm)
Languet length: 22 6/16 inches (57cm)



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A somewhat closer look.

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stav1.JPG
The reconstructed Peter Johnsson staffsword in all its glory.

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folk2.gif
Image (ca 1502) from paul Dolnstein's diary showing a formation of Swedish peasant-soldiers carrying staffswords.

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folk1.gif
Image (ca 1502) from Paul Dolnstein's diary showing a German landsknecht facing off against a Swedish peasant-soldier wielding a staffsword.
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Big Grin


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Close up of the nether part of the blade and the cross. Note the rough surface on the blade. Very rustic. Very lovely.

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Side view of the cross. Note the beautiful curvature. Look closely and you can see the tang too.

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stav7.JPG
Another look at the blade.
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Big Grin


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Close up of the fastening for the cross. Note the lovely rough rustic surface of the metalwork.

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Me posing with my baby. *grin*

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stav4.JPG
"This end towards enemy." He he.
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Jeremiah Swanger




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 2:06 pm    Post subject: Re: My genuine Peter Johnsson "hafted sword/staffsword&         Reply with quote

Joachim Nilsson wrote:


Total length: 93 inches (236cm)
Blade length: 21 9/16 inches (ca 55cm)
Blade width at widest point: 2 3/16 inches (5,3cm)
Tang length: 6 8/16 inches (16,5cm)
Cross length: 15 3/16 inches (39,5cm)
Languet length: 22 6/16 inches (57cm)


Holy crap... how much does that thing weigh?

"Rhaegar fought nobly.
Rhaegar fought valiantly.
Rhaegar fought honorably.
And Rhaegar died."

- G.R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 2:14 pm    Post subject: Re: My genuine Peter Johnsson "hafted sword/staffsword&         Reply with quote

Jeremiah Swanger wrote:
Joachim Nilsson wrote:


Total length: 93 inches (236cm)
Blade length: 21 9/16 inches (ca 55cm)
Blade width at widest point: 2 3/16 inches (5,3cm)
Tang length: 6 8/16 inches (16,5cm)
Cross length: 15 3/16 inches (39,5cm)
Languet length: 22 6/16 inches (57cm)


Holy crap... how much does that thing weigh?


Roughly 2,8 kilos (I think). That'll be around 6lbs.
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 2:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joachim,

Thank you for the pictures and the excellent review. The history and the uses/handling traits of the blade are well presented (now I know why I wasn't familiar with it anyway Happy )

It is a beautiful weapon-- and I agree, the rustic finish only adds to the piece. Good choice!

Cheers,

David
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David McElrea wrote:
Joachim,

Thank you for the pictures and the excellent review. The history and the uses/handling traits of the blade are well presented (now I know why I wasn't familiar with it anyway Happy )

It is a beautiful weapon-- and I agree, the rustic finish only adds to the piece. Good choice!

Cheers,

David


Thanks David! Big Grin

Cheers,
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Gary Grzybek




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Location: Stillwater N.J.
Posts: 639
PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 2:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is very very cool Cool

Congradulations!

Gary Grzybek
ARMA Northern N.J.
www.armastudy.org
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 3:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Gary.

Have you gotten your Baron yet btw? Big Grin
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Allen W




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice. basicly a tanged partizan with guard. How did you come across Dolnsteins diary and do you know if its available in English?
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 3:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen W wrote:
Nice. basicly a tanged partizan with guard. How did you come across Dolnsteins diary and do you know if its available in English?


Yes, the blade does share some similarities with the partisan. As for the Dolnstein diary: I haven't. Big Grin But he's referred to in for example a book concerning the Good Friday Battle of 1520 in Uppsala, Sweden where a Danish army largely consiting of German landsknechts fought against a Swedish peasant army. Guess what the peasants/commoners probably were wielding? Cool Big Grin I don't know though if his diary available in English. Nor Swedish for that matter. I'd like to get ahold of it myself, and have been searching for it for quite some time.
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Allen W




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 3:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do you know the dates over which these range or if there is any relation to the mysterious halberd mentioned in the Icelandic sagas?
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James Nordstrom




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 3:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hummina-hummina That gets the blood stiring.

Was there not a Viking Age hero story where the hero used a very simular weapon? I had always assumed that the hero was using a boarding knife ( http://images.library.uiuc.edu:8081/tdc/image...whale2.jpg ) but now it seems the weapong was unique and indiginous to Sweden.

How very cool.
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Gary Grzybek




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 4:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joachim Nilsson wrote:
Thanks Gary.

Have you gotten your Baron yet btw? Big Grin



Oh yea, it arrived on monday. I'm really connecting with this one. Still trying to get some pictures, maybe for the weekend.

I seriously can't wait for my Viceroy and Sovereign Big Grin

Gary Grzybek
ARMA Northern N.J.
www.armastudy.org
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Björn Hellqvist
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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 5:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen W wrote:
Nice. basicly a tanged partizan with guard. How did you come across Dolnsteins diary and do you know if its available in English?


Some of the pics can be seen in Osprey's "Landsknecht Soldier 1486-1560" (Warrior Series #49) by John Richards. Osprey Publishing Ltd, 2002 ISBN 1-84176-243-1

Jocke, you're not a skinhead any more! Eek! What's that fuzz on you chin? Shouldn't you try and see if the edge on that over-sized toothpick of yours is sharp enough to scrape it off? Razz

Seriously, it is nice to see Peter doing rough stuff for once. His perfectly polished swords are
sooo boring! Wink Laughing Out Loud Congrats on an übercool to- I mean staff-sword!

My sword site
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Fredrik Hörnell




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Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 5:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congratulations to the proud owner. Cool

I also like the rustic feel of it, and considering who the smith is -
i guess it feels "alive" handling it when you set it into motion?

Being mostly intended for massed formations, would you still consider
it a good "duel" weapon?
(one on one)

Mvh Fredrik.
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 5:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen W wrote:
Do you know the dates over which these range or if there is any relation to the mysterious halberd mentioned in the Icelandic sagas?


If I'm not mistaken most of the hitherto found remains of staffswords have been dated to (roughly) around the first half of the 16th century. But I'm going to have to search for more literature on the subject. Although I don't know if there's been that much that's been said on the staffsword.
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 5:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Nordstrom wrote:
hummina-hummina That gets the blood stiring.

Was there not a Viking Age hero story where the hero used a very simular weapon? I had always assumed that the hero was using a boarding knife ( http://images.library.uiuc.edu:8081/tdc/image...whale2.jpg ) but now it seems the weapong was unique and indiginous to Sweden.

How very cool.


Yeah, it think it's utterly cool that this particular weapon is -or rather very much seems to be- indiginous to Sweden. Razz And more or less limited to the peasant-soldier alone. In fact: I have yet to come cross something similar to it from another country.
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 5:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Grzybek wrote:


Oh yea, it arrived on monday. I'm really connecting with this one. Still trying to get some pictures, maybe for the weekend.

I seriously can't wait for my Viceroy and Sovereign Big Grin


Oh, lovely! I can imagine you're connecting big time! Big Grin

I'll be placing an order for the Duke within the end of next week if my financial plan works as it should. Then I just have to figure out how to squeeze the Sempach, the Meister, and the Svante into my economical plans too. Razz Razz

Looking forward to the pics. Wink
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Joachim Nilsson




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Mar, 2004 5:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Björn Hellqvist wrote:
Allen W wrote:
Nice. basicly a tanged partizan with guard. How did you come across Dolnsteins diary and do you know if its available in English?


Some of the pics can be seen in Osprey's "Landsknecht Soldier 1486-1560" (Warrior Series #49) by John Richards. Osprey Publishing Ltd, 2002 ISBN 1-84176-243-1

Jocke, you're not a skinhead any more! Eek! What's that fuzz on you chin? Shouldn't you try and see if the edge on that over-sized toothpick of yours is sharp enough to scrape it off? Razz

Seriously, it is nice to see Peter doing rough stuff for once. His perfectly polished swords are
sooo boring! Wink Laughing Out Loud Congrats on an übercool to- I mean staff-sword!


Yes, of course! I should have mentioned "Landsknecht Soldier" as a referrence too. D'oh!

LOL! Don't worry, Björn. I still am! Big Grin The "unkempt" hair and beard visible in the pics is my part of my visage for as long as I'm seeking redemption for my sins.

But I figure it's comming off pretty soon. Either with, or without, the help of my... "oversized toothpick". WTF?! Eek! Big Grin

And thanks! I truly love Peter's creation and I'm very happy and satisfied with it. Razz
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