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Brian M




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2004 1:12 pm    Post subject: Historical Grip & Scabbard Colors for Militant Orders?         Reply with quote

A bit of an esoteric question here: I've read that the Templars prohibited any kind of ornamentation on their swords. Did they have a policy on the color of their scabbards and sword grips? I'm ordering an Albion Templar, and I'm trying to decide between a black and a red grip. Would it be historical for a Templar to have a red-gripped sword with a red scabbard, or would that have been prohibited as flashy ornamentation? I don't have any sources that address this.

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Brian M
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2004 1:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've never read anything concerning restrictions on things like this in the military orders.

I'm just guessing but I'd say that it probably wasn't done. Dying anything back then would increase the cost, thereby showing a display of wealth. Since the Templars were supposed to take a vow of poverty it might have been considered bad form at the very least.

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Brian M




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2004 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, what you're saying is that, even if there isn't a rule about it that we know of, it might have been an understood rule in the period? So their leather acoutrements (scabbard, grip, belt, etc.) might well have been left in natural finish?

Brian M
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2004 1:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian M wrote:
So, what you're saying is that, even if there isn't a rule about it that we know of, it might have been an understood rule in the period? So their leather acoutrements (scabbard, grip, belt, etc.) might well have been left in natural finish?

Brian M


What I'm really saying is that I don't know Big Grin

I've read many times that a Templar Knight's gear was supposed to be plain and functional. Using that logic it would stand to reason that they wouldn't have used fancy colors in their accoutrements. Even if undyed the leather would surely have been treated with animal fat or some kind of oil, so I'd say that various shades of brown would be accurate.

"I'd rather go upriver with 7 studs, than a 100 sh!theads." - COL Charlie Beckwith, founder SFODD
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Jeremy V. Krause




PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2004 5:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian,
I wouldn't worry about it but that's just me. I just received my Templar with oxblood grip and it looks great
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Alina Boyden




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2004 5:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You have to remember that the reality of the military orders was often far different from the ideal. Still, I would expect the Albion light brown color to be ideal for the rugged templar warrior who was trying to fit the ideal of the order. For the rest of them something like red or black might have been acceptable. But the more I think about it the less I think color would have any place to play in a military order. Afterall, the Teutonic Knights (Der Deutsche Orden) were required to wear clothes of a priestly cut and a "somber hue." That is to say natural, brown, or black. Certainly something like red would have been seen as flashy. In the Byzantine empire red boots were the symbol of the Emperor. Red also attained a position of prominence in the west. And when we move into the Hospitallers it because even more somber. The Hospitallers wore monks' robes even in battle for the first century or two of the order despite the fact that fighting in the robes was far harder than fighting in surcoats. It seems that retaining the monastic character of the order was more important than mens' lives.

Finally, we must bear in mind that in the case of the Hospitallers and the Templars (and probably the Teutonic Knights as well though evidence is sketchy) that the knight couldn't even own property. On his death, his armor and sword and scabbard and even his clothes would have been sent back to the order's headquarters and redistributed where it was most needed. In light of this, I think the worn light brown color would best fit the sword of a Templar.
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Jeremy V. Krause




PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2004 10:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In thinking about the various hues available on the historic grip , indeed even the materials used and their appearance upon that grip I am not sure that we can say that one modern interpretation is more valid than the other.
We really know very much of the composition and the presentation of grips during the high middle ages. And so to reccommend the albion light brown grip may be misleadinging in that this grip seaks to simulate a certain period of usage of that sword.
We really know so little about the dyes available and the acceptance of those various hues that guessing seems meaningless. I guess what I am saying is "we don't know."
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Russ Ellis




PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2004 10:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just as a further bit of information, it should be noted that most Templars at least (and I assume the same things would apply to the Hospitalers, Teutonic Knights, Sword Brothers etc. were often noblemen prior to becoming members. They were expected to provide their own arms, horse and so forth. As such one wonders if they would have gone to the trouble of having everything regripped, and generally toned down. It should also be noted that the Templars were the single richest institution in Europe and money does have a way of affecting people...
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Brian M




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2004 11:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, it seems the general consensus is that red is unlikely, at least for a Templar or Hospitallar. I can understand that. I don't think that black would be unreasonable, though. I guess I have to decide between black, light brown, and oxblood. Albion's dark brown is out because it seems too close to black.

Brian M
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Alina Boyden




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Nov, 2004 11:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
Just as a further bit of information, it should be noted that most Templars at least (and I assume the same things would apply to the Hospitalers, Teutonic Knights, Sword Brothers etc. were often noblemen prior to becoming members. They were expected to provide their own arms, horse and so forth. As such one wonders if they would have gone to the trouble of having everything regripped, and generally toned down. It should also be noted that the Templars were the single richest institution in Europe and money does have a way of affecting people...


This is actually a bit misleading. Yes, noblemen did in fact join the orders - and I believe nobility (or a huge donation) was part of the requirement in order to be one of the actual knights of the Teutonic Order. But Knights in the Teutonic order and indeed in any of the military orders were about 1 in 15 of the actual order members. Most of the members were sergeants or men at arms with less valuable equipment and the noblemen served basically as squad leaders. So in that sense, I suppose the influence of affluence might be more easily seen; whereas with any of the other rank and file members it wouldn't be as visible. Still - it was far more likely for minor nobility without much in the way of arms and armour to join the order (a second or third son perhaps) and for the major nobility to merely donate money in exchange for prayers/support/etc. Regardless, I think the grip color is actually secondary in terms of the no decoration concept. Swords were very often decorated with engravings, gilding, etc etc - especially in the East. This is perhaps the sort of injunction the order was referring to.
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Russ Ellis




PostPosted: Sun 14 Nov, 2004 1:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For the templars the figure I've read was 1 knight to 9 "sergents" but I'm sure the number varied. However I assume that our questioner here was probably referring to a knightly sword since the sargents were commoners and could have duties anywhere from fighting to cooking.
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Jesse S. Bailey




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Nov, 2004 7:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding Templars... actually the Rule of the Temple puts a ban on ornamentation, ie. gilding, fancy horse harness, gilded spurs etc. Which really only applies to the Temple Brothers acquiring or buying for themselves these said goods. On the other hand, there is documentation of Secluar Knights giving gifts to the Temple Order and at the Grand Masters discretion, these could be used by the Temple Brothers (the Knights of the Order). Sgts. and the like would have received even lower class and very basic weapons and equipment. There is one incident of a brother knight giving an older sword to a Sergeant-at-Arms because the knight had a better quality sword given to him. Also another incident of a gilded horse bridle given to the Order and the Master of the Temple ok'g it for use, but actually telling the knight it was given to, not to polish it but to keep it dull in appearance.

This is just a few examples of how Temple knights and sergeants acquired arms and armour. Also there were Secular Knights serving at given times, say for a year or for a campaign and wore the Temple Guard while in service of the Temple, but using all of their own equipment. When their term was up, they would leave the Order the Templar mantle and surcoat, but would retain all of their own equipment they had brought with them.

Hope this helps to clear up any questions.
JesseB

PS. By all means, I would think a red grip would be fine. As a matter of fact, the black dye that is now being used, is too jet black in color as opposed to period dyes.

Jesse S. Bailey
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Alina Boyden




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Nov, 2004 7:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
For the templars the figure I've read was 1 knight to 9 "sergents" but I'm sure the number varied. However I assume that our questioner here was probably referring to a knightly sword since the sargents were commoners and could have duties anywhere from fighting to cooking.


Yeah there was likely some variation. My emphasis has been on the Teutonic Knights and they had a higher ratio of sergeants to knights because of lower recruitment levels and because of the fact that they very often used native Prussian noblemen as cavalry.

Though yes, not many people wish to represent the poor sergeant at arms lol. There's just something less glamorous about it.
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PostPosted: Sun 14 Nov, 2004 7:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jesse S. Bailey wrote:

PS. By all means, I would think a red grip would be fine. As a matter of fact, the black dye that is now being used, is too jet black in color as opposed to period dyes.

I ellaborate on this point, I believe black dye would have been more expensive than other dyes of the time. This was certainly true for fabric dye. All this was related to the region and their available resources of course.

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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Nov, 2004 7:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You could always go with oxblood and say that it's been stained with the blood of slaughtered infidels. Wink
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Sun 14 Nov, 2004 8:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just a thought Brian, but this might make for an interesting interpretation. Go with a more showy color but have it weathered and distressed, thereby making the sword look like it had been acquired from outside the order and had been issued out several times. Having both the grip and scabbard done in this fashion might be neat.
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Alina Boyden




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Nov, 2004 8:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Just a thought Brian, but this might make for an interesting interpretation. Go with a more showy color but have it weathered and distressed, thereby making the sword look like it had been acquired from outside the order and had been issued out several times. Having both the grip and scabbard done in this fashion might be neat.


That is definitely a cool idea and would fit well with the concept of the knight as custodian of his sword as opposed to owner.
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Brian M




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Nov, 2004 10:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All great suggestions and information. I have to think about this now.

Brian M
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Robert B. Marks




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Nov, 2004 7:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Forgive me for weighing in so late - I've been busy becoming a university student again, and haven't had as much time for swords as I would prefer - but it may be an idea to try to find some contemporary pictoral representations of the Templars and Hospitallers and see what colour their sword grips are. You'd probably get a decent idea from that of what to look for.

Best to all,

Robert Marks

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Alina Boyden




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Nov, 2004 7:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert B. Marks wrote:
Forgive me for weighing in so late - I've been busy becoming a university student again, and haven't had as much time for swords as I would prefer - but it may be an idea to try to find some contemporary pictoral representations of the Templars and Hospitallers and see what colour their sword grips are. You'd probably get a decent idea from that of what to look for.

Best to all,

Robert Marks


Not a bad idea but there is only one contemporary image I know of from the Teutonic Knights and only one for the Templars. The Hospitallers are harder to gauge because "contemporary" for them runs anywhere up to and including today. The Knights of Malta fought a great deal against the Ottomans. That aside, the Teutonic knight didn't have a weapon on him in the picture which is from a relatively famous Codex of the 13th century.
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