Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search

We rely on the support of our members to help keep myArmoury.com operating
Please consider Enhancing Your Account or Making a Donation. Visit our Contributor Center to read more about how you can help.
This message is not shown to members who have an active subscription or are recent members of the Donating Members usergroup.

Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Wearing a sword on one's back Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10  Next 
Author Message
Malcolm A




Usergroups: None

Location: Scotland, UK
Posts: 86
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 11:30 am    Post subject: Wearing a sword on one's back         Reply with quote

Hi all.
In numerous films / TV programs, we see soldiers carrying their sword in a scabbard carried on their back. Eg Brad Pitt in Troy and Ioan Gruffudd in King Arthur.
I am sure that much of what we see is nonsense but I recently read in "The Moors" [an Osprey publication] that Arab foot soldiers regularly carried their swords on their backs.
Has anyone heard of other references on this subject? I have heard that 2-handed swords were carried in a back mounted "scabbard" a la Mel Gibson in Braveheart but only because it was an easy way to carry it, not necessarily a good position to draw it from.
Has anyone any notions on the practical issues of carrying a sword this way?
Would it be easy to draw a real sword from this carry position?
Any input would be gratefully received.

It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself
View user's profile Send private message
Russ Ellis




PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 11:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That bit from the "Moors" is a new one on me (don't know a lot about their equipment) but as far as I can tell historically for the most part it just wasn't done much if at all. Why? It's just not practical. Oh sure I've seen some specialized harnesses for carrying swords on the back that seem to work well enough but there doesn't seem to have been anything like them historically. With the standard scabbard or sheath of most of history you would have to either have a silly-short sword or gorilla arms to be able to draw a sword from a back scabbard. Try the experiment sometime. You will quickly see what I mean. It seems that swords were carried at the waist, at the saddlebrow, or even over the shoulder or in a wagon for the really big ones. Is that a conclusive be all and end all statement? No. There are exceptions to everything I suppose, however at this point I believe anything but back carry to be the norm.
TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
View user's profile Send private message
Edward Hitchens




Usergroups: 
Donating Members

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 9 books
Posts: 805
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 11:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ is right. A man carrying his sword strapped on his back was extremely rare. Even the huge 2-handed zweihanders that the Landscknecht used during the Renaissance period were either carried by hand or put on a cart and towed by horse. Even an above-average size longsword (i.e. 50") was usually carried in a scabbard mounted on the wearer's hip. Why? Likely because it was easier to draw and easier to put back in the scabbard. On horseback, your longsword would be stowed in a scabbard attached in front of you on the horse's saddle, and on your hip would be your shorter 'arming' sword (or 'riding' sword).

I, for instance, wear my A&A Schloss Erbach on my back; I have to take off the attached baldric just to put her back in the scabbard. Not that it takes a tremendous amount of effort to do that. In fact, that's my preferred method of carrying around a large sword. Now if I was actually fighting alongside Prince Edward at Poitiers, then I would prefer my blade to be at my hip where I can draw it easier and quicker. Happy
View user's profile Send private message
Hisham Gaballa




PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 1:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Wearing a sword on one's back         Reply with quote

Malcolm A wrote:
Hi all.
In numerous films / TV programs, we see soldiers carrying their sword in a scabbard carried on their back. Eg Brad Pitt in Troy and Ioan Gruffudd in King Arthur.
I am sure that much of what we see is nonsense but I recently read in "The Moors" [an Osprey publication] that Arab foot soldiers regularly carried their swords on their backs.
Has anyone heard of other references on this subject? I have heard that 2-handed swords were carried in a back mounted "scabbard" a la Mel Gibson in Braveheart but only because it was an easy way to carry it, not necessarily a good position to draw it from.
Has anyone any notions on the practical issues of carrying a sword this way?
Would it be easy to draw a real sword from this carry position?
Any input would be gratefully received.


Early Arab warriors (who usually fought as mounted infantry) usually carried their swords suspended from a baldric and in the Islamic West, i.e. North Africa and Andalusia this custum survived right at least until the 15th century. I suppose this could be where the idea came from.

Actually though my ancient copy of of G. C. Stone's "Glossary..." has a picture of a Japanese warrior with a No-dachi carried on his back.

It's also popular with fantasy computer role-playing games because scabbards on the back don't clip as much as scabbards suspended from the belt. Happy
View user's profile Send private message
James Holczer




Usergroups: None

Location: Central New Jersey
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 10 books
Posts: 101
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not only is trying to draw a sword from a back mounted scabbard clumsy, time consuming and awkward, the very act leaves your body wide open and vulnerable.
View user's profile Send private message
Bob Burns




PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 3:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to admit, I am one of those walking around the Renaissance Fair with my A&A German Bastard Sword mounted in a back scabbard, though the scabbard is designed in such a way that it is easy to draw, but I'd sure hate to be drawing a sword this way in a combat situation, as I'd be impaled by my opponent by the time the sword was drawn. Actually, I can carry two swords in my particular back sling scabbard.

Though I can surely see why this would not be authentic to history, as it does seem most impractical to me.
Thanks for this post, as I have learned more once again!

Bob
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Addison C. de Lisle




Usergroups: 
Contest Winners
Donating Members

Location: Paris, France
Likes: 27 pages
Posts: 602
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Actually, I can carry two swords in my particular back sling scabbard.

A longsword in each hand then? Laughing Out Loud
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob Burns wrote:
I have to admit, I am one of those walking around the Renaissance Fair with my A&A German Bastard Sword mounted in a back scabbard, though the scabbard is designed in such a way that it is easy to draw, but I'd sure hate to be drawing a sword this way in a combat situation, as I'd be impaled by my opponent by the time the sword was drawn. Actually, I can carry two swords in my particular back sling scabbard.

Though I can surely see why this would not be authentic to history, as it does seem most impractical to me.
Thanks for this post, as I have learned more once again!


You just answered your own question. You also sort of contradicted yourself. It's not authentic to history because, as you say, it's not practical to draw in a combat situation. Swords are intended for combat. If you can't draw it, survive the drawing of it, and then be able to effectively move and wield the weapon, then it's completely useless.

It also impairs movement, making it difficult to do things like ride a horse, sit down, run, etc. I've had a sword on my back on many occasions when I was ignorantly dressing for ren faires and whatnot. As much as one might make it easy to draw (which often means making it less resistent to the elements, less protective of the blade, or less safe to carry), it is still a pain having that giant thing on your back when trying to actually do anything.

One more point: why would you want to carry two swords on your back? Why even carry two swords at all? That's not exactly practical.

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Bob Burns




PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 4:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Laughing Out Loud Yes, I too was ignorant of the fact that it was not historical, and therefore come this summer I will not be walking around with a sword on a back scabbard. Laughing Out Loud

As far as the scabbard being able to carry two swords, I guess I was just kind of describing the scabbard. I guess in essence I blew $170.00 out the window on that scabbard, ah well, easy come easy go.

All of your points Nathan were quite valid of course, and thanks to people like yourself, I will look a little more intelligent next summer. Besides, I gotta tell ya, the weekends I wore that damn thing, I found it to be a pain to deal with, but then again I was walking around with several swords, in a sense of humor type thing. I had no period clothing, so I was kind of walking around like a man lost in the twilight zone of two centuries 500 years apart for grins and it did in fact open up quite a few conversations and I did get some good humor from others at the fair. One guy who was doing a show was trying to get me up on stage with all my swords. Laughing Out Loud

Not this coming year though, it was just too plain hard on my back which, in which I have arthritis from too many years of being too physically intense. Thanks for the post Nathan, I do appreciate it.

Bob
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, Bob, I'll tell you, there was a time I felt compelled to carry a lot of crap on my body at one time for the simple fact that I wanted people to see it because I blew so much cash on it! Big Grin
.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
John Cooksey




Usergroups: None

Location: NW Ark
Posts: 290
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 4:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Bob Burns wrote:
I have to admit, I am one of those walking around the Renaissance Fair with my A&A German Bastard Sword mounted in a back scabbard, though the scabbard is designed in such a way that it is easy to draw, but I'd sure hate to be drawing a sword this way in a combat situation, as I'd be impaled by my opponent by the time the sword was drawn. Actually, I can carry two swords in my particular back sling scabbard.

Though I can surely see why this would not be authentic to history, as it does seem most impractical to me.
Thanks for this post, as I have learned more once again!


You just answered your own question. You also sort of contradicted yourself. It's not authentic to history because, as you say, it's not practical to draw in a combat situation. Swords are intended for combat. If you can't draw it, survive the drawing of it, and then be able to effectively move and wield the weapon, then it's completely useless.

It also impairs movement, making it difficult to do things like ride a horse, sit down, run, etc. I've had a sword on my back on many occasions when I was ignorantly dressing for ren faires and whatnot. As much as one might make it easy to draw (which often means making it less resistent to the elements, less protective of the blade, or less safe to carry), it is still a pain having that giant thing on your back when trying to actually do anything.

One more point: why would you want to carry two swords on your back? Why even carry two swords at all? That's not exactly practical.


What's impractical about two swords?
One for each hand, just like guns.
Short swords, anyway. :-)
And guns, revolvers or 1911s. :-)

I may be weird, but I hate having both hands locked up a sword (or a gun).
Feels too restricting for this ambidextrous person (not completely, just strongly ambidextrous).

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 4:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:
What's impractical about two swords?

Something about getting killed by the guy with one sword seems a bit impractical to me.

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
C. Stackhouse




Usergroups: None

Location: Kitchener, Ontario
Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 95
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 5:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
John Cooksey wrote:
What's impractical about two swords?

Something about getting killed by the guy with one sword seems a bit impractical to me.


Well if you are able to wield two weapons at once, all the power to you. I truly envy those who can. It may seem like a silly notion to many people but imagine having that same familiarity in each hand, rather than just one.

Concerning back mounted scabbards, I wouldn't want one if I was going into a battle situation. Yet if I was travelling with an army and had a fair distance to march, than carrying a large two handed sword this way would be much preferred as opposed to a belt level scabbard. When you are preparing for battle you simply take off the scabbard and draw your sword, carrying it into battle much like a man using a pole arm or pike would.




P.S. Winter-een-mas is in 6 days!
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 5:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

C. Stackhouse wrote:
[Concerning back mounted scabbards, I wouldn't want one if I was going into a battle situation. Yet if I was travelling with an army and had a fair distance to march, than carrying a large two handed sword this way would be much preferred as opposed to a belt level scabbard. When you are preparing for battle you simply take off the scabbard and draw your sword, carrying it into battle much like a man using a pole arm or pike would.

There are other options available such as simply slinging the sword over your shoulder, hanging it from your shoulder, etc. Many woodcuts depict German soldiers carrying large two-handers at rest or while on campaign. You make a good point in comparing it to a polearm, as this is what these two-handers are in many ways. I've not seen anyone scabbard up a polearm and wear it on their back. Of coures, the most practical thing of all while on the march would be to put all this stuff in the cart and let somebody else haul it.






.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Addison C. de Lisle




Usergroups: 
Contest Winners
Donating Members

Location: Paris, France
Likes: 27 pages
Posts: 602
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 5:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
One for each hand, just like guns.

Try reloading. Big Grin
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Bob Burns




PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 5:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What are the practicalities of carrying a large hand and a half or two hander that is say 49 inches or longer in a belt scabbard or a baldrick? I am over 6' 1" and have rather long arms, though I have neither of these set ups for my German Bastard Sword which is 49 inches, I do have a baldrick for my English Longsword which is 43 1/4" overall with a 33 inch blade, though I can effectively draw this sword, it is getting close to the tolerances of clearance of arms length vs blade length. Add to this the additional weight of the bigger swords, whereas the English is 2.6 lbs, the GBS is 4.9 lbs, so add approximately 6 inches to the length and over 2 lbs to the weight, I would consider the GBS to be cumbersome to draw in any fashion, therefore it seems to me that a sword of this size would have to be at the ready prior to battle engagement.
I would really appreciate some feedback on these thoughts, as they are only my personal "thoughts" of practicality and not necessarily my knowledge, which is yet quite limited as I am only in my first year of learning.

Thanks,

Bob
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
C. Stackhouse




Usergroups: None

Location: Kitchener, Ontario
Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 95
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 5:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:

There are other options available such as simply slinging the sword over your shoulder, hanging it from your shoulder, etc. Many woodcuts depict German soldiers carrying large two-handers at rest or while on campaign. You make a good point in comparing it to a polearm, as this is what these two-handers are in many ways. I've not seen anyone scabbard up a polearm and wear it on their back. Of coures, the most practical thing of all while on the march would be to put all this stuff in the cart and let somebody else haul it.


Well, slinging it over a shoulder or resting it there would work. But imagine how tiring that would be. Not to mention If you had to carry something else as well, that whole shoulder and sword thing would be quite troublesome.

I keep looking at those pictures and I can't help but think of the three stooges. That one where they were carpenters or something and Larry had a beam on his shoulder. Than Moe called Larry's name, he turned and hit Curly in the back on the head. Razz
View user's profile Send private message
Gavin Kisebach




Usergroups: None

Location: Lacey, Wa US
Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 652
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 6:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK, here's me playing devils advocate.

Quote:
You also sort of contradicted yourself. It's not authentic to history because, as you say, it's not practical to draw in a combat situation. Swords are intended for combat. If you can't draw it, survive the drawing of it, and then be able to effectively move and wield the weapon, then it's completely useless.


Quote:
Even the huge 2-handed zweihanders that the Landscknecht used during the Renaissance period were either carried by hand or put on a cart and towed by horse.


If drawing a sword from a cart isn't slow, I don't know what is. Unless the cart is strapped to your back. Laughing Out Loud

Although I haven't ever seen an example of a historic backscabbard, it's not a bad inea per se, for a war sword. A civilian sword, by its very purpose, is to defend against robbery and ambush, so the fast draw is of great import. War swords are another matter entirely. If an opposing force can spring an ambush and close with you in the two seconds it might take two draw your steel, then I would suggest your force has an intel problem, not a scabbard problem. Furthermore you and your fellow soldiers might want to take a trip down to Lenscrafters.

BTW does anyone know where I can buy a backholster for my sarissa? Eek!

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
View user's profile Send private message MSN Messenger
W. R. Reynolds




Usergroups: None

Location: Ramona, CA
Posts: 123
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 6:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Has anyone ever done a lot of walking with a sword belted around the waist? Most of the stuff I do is mounted but when I do get off the horse and walk around, the sword can sometimes become a nuisance, at times requiring a hand on the hilt to keep it from hitting things.

How about this? If you were a foot soldier faced with a long march with no action imminent, taking the belt off your waist and looping it over your shoulder to keep the sword from banging into the guy next to you or getting caught in the wheel of a cart or hitting the legs of a passing horse etc. Could be an explanation for any period art (although I haven't seen any) depicting this.

Bill

"No matter who wins the rat race.......they are still a rat."
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2006 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Speculation is fine and dandy, but all your answers will come from history. These guys did what was best for people who needed to both live with their weapons and rely on them during combat.
.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Wearing a sword on one's back
Page 1 of 10 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2013 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum