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Thread: German bauernwehr/rugger

  1. #1

    German bauernwehr/rugger

    First of all; this amazing dagger, with a black leather covered, brass-fitted wodden scabbard and bone-handled eating-knife, is not made by me, but by Jakub Malovany of Arma Bohemia.

    The dagger is a copy of a german original from about 1460, shown next to the copy in the picture.

    The dagger is of a type often referred to as a bauernwehr or a rugger. The type is known from all over Central Europe, but is most common in Middle- and South-Germany. It is dated from around 1450 to 1550. But is most commonly seen around 1480-1520.

    This type of dagger is commonly found at archaological excavations and can be found in quite a few weapons-collections and museums across Europe. From well-preserved examples it seems that the handle most often was made of bone and fitted with brass (a fine excample, with preserved scabbard, eating-knife and pricker, is to be seen at the Landesmuseum in ZŘrich).

    The many known bauernwehrs or ruggers waries greatly in size; from small elegant daggers with thin blades ment for pricking (these are referred to as ruggers) to lage heavy sword-sized weapons (normally called bauernwehrs) with broad blades meant for slashing and cutting. This example is about 50 cm long overall. The one-edged blade is 37 cm. long, with a broad back and a shallow blood-groove. So I guess it should be called a rugger.

    Bauernwehrs and ruggers are sometimes seen on paintings and drawings from the end of the 15. c. most often they are shown with a scabbard with an eating knife - and sometimes a pricker (though prickers are not as common as some may believe). Of the known examples with preserved scabbards almost all of them share this detail, and bauernwehrs and ruggers are often found together with a smaller eating-knife and sometimes a pricker.

    I found a historical source for the dagger. It is in Talhoffers 1459, which is kept at the Danish Royal Library. The servent/secundant on the right on plate 85 recto carries a long dagger/sword that is, though a bit longer, very much like mine. By the way; spend some time looking through the pages of the 1459 kodex, it is a fantastic manuscript - Talhoffer was not only a master og arms, he was also quite the mad inventor type it seems.

    A special feature about this type of dagger is the small parrying-plate on one side of the weapon. It waries in size from strictly ornate to something resembling the clam-shaped parrying-plates seen on german messers (falchions) and later on some rapiers.

    I personally like the bauernwehr due to its role as a strictly civillian weapon meant for self-defence and as a utility-knife with many purposes. The fact that it, though it in no way is intended for war, is a highly effective and brutal weapons tells us something about how rough life was in Europe in the second half of the 15. c. The daggers signals that the person carrying it is not a soldier - but that he by all means is able and willing to defend himself.



    /Jakob
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    Last edited by Jakob ElbŠk E. Pedersen; 09-02-2005 at 11:04 AM.
    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

  2. #2
    Here is a close up of the hilt and the eating-knife.
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    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up Nice

    I bet you could thread a needle with that thing. Looks great!
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  4. #4
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    Just lovely!
    "Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid,
    Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.
    Good! Said the baron, while sitting in his hall,
    But Iron, Cold Iron, is master of them all." - Kipling

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  5. #5
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    Jakob, can you please PM with the cost?

    I've been looking for a Rugger for a long time.

  6. #6
    PM sent.

    /Jakob
    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

  7. #7
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    It is a beautiful replica, and it's great to see the farmer's weapons of this period reproduced.

    It's a very much ignored subject, and in my opinion that is not at all justified.

    I too would be interested in hearing about the price via PM.
    HwŠ­ere ■Šr fuse feorran cwoman
    to ■am Š­elinge. - Dream of the Rood


    "Ah, Blackadder. Started talking to yourself, I see."
    "Yes...it's the only way I can be assured of intelligent conversation."
    - Lord Melchett and Lord Edmund Blackadder

  8. #8
    This particular piece is not as much a farmers' weapon as it is the weapon of the professional craftsman, small merchant or rich mans servant.

    The famers' rugger/bauernwehr would be smaller (more like an utility-knife) simpler and probably have wooden- or horn-handles without the brass-decoration.

    PM with price sent.


    /Jakob
    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by Jakob ElbŠk E. Pedersen
    This particular piece is not as much a farmers' weapon as it is the weapon of the professional craftsman, small merchant or rich mans servant.

    The famers' rugger/bauernwehr would be smaller (more like an utility-knife) simpler and probably have wooden- or horn-handles without the brass-decoration.
    Why? Quite a few farmers in the Netherlands were quite wealthy in those days (at least the level of master craftsmen), and I think this would be similar in (some parts of) Germany and Denmark.

    I assume such a level of wealth and status would reflect in the arms of such farmers.
    HwŠ­ere ■Šr fuse feorran cwoman
    to ■am Š­elinge. - Dream of the Rood


    "Ah, Blackadder. Started talking to yourself, I see."
    "Yes...it's the only way I can be assured of intelligent conversation."
    - Lord Melchett and Lord Edmund Blackadder

  10. #10
    Originally posted by Paul Hansen
    Why? Quite a few farmers in the Netherlands were quite wealthy in those days (at least the level of master craftsmen), and I think this would be similar in (some parts of) Germany and Denmark.

    I assume such a level of wealth and status would reflect in the arms of such farmers.
    You may be right, a well off late 15. c. farmer with his own land and house actually should be able to afford such a weapon.

    My impression is that the farmers of the Netherlands (and the richer parts of Germany), in general, vere richer than their Danish counterparts - at least that is what is reflected in archaological excavations. You don't find pewter spoons (and other pewter table-ware), silver coins or imported ceramics as often in late 15. c. danish farm-houses as you do in Netherlandish and German ones. The danish farms also tend to be fairly smaller in size - with fewer animals and less storeage room. This is of course strictly general - there are also a few exeptions.


    /Jakob
    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

  11. #11
    To continue from our PM-dissussion, sň that others may join in;

    As to larger single-edged weapons such as messers and gross-messers, wich often bear great resemblence to ruggers and bauernwehrs due to their special grip-construction (which sets them apart from the falchions and other heavy single-edged swords) and the small (some times symbolic) parrying-plate on the cross of the sword.

    It have often been discussed whether the messer should be considered as the farmers "war-swords" in opposition to professional soldiers and noblemens double-edged sword or whether the messer is to be regarded as a weapon more connected to function than to a certain class.

    To answer that it is necesarry to look into the diffrent german fencing manuals availible; Talhoffer fx. a man dedicated to the art of duelling and self-defence, but not a much to war. Talhoffer recognises the messer as a potent, dangerous and effective weapon - if he had been regarding messers just the farmer's crude weapon I don't think that he would have paid much attention to it.

    If you look at pictorial evidence, aside from the fencing manuals, people of alle classes (exept perhaps the nobles) are seen featuring diffrent verions of the messer - but you quite raraly (as far as I am conserned) see messers being used by soldiers in battles. So perhaps the messer should be seen as the civillians self-defence weapon, with a broad appeal among the classes, rather than as the farmers sword of war.


    /Jakob
    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

  12. #12
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    Regarding the German fencing masters, it seems that they did not cater to professional soldiers or nobility, but rather to upper middle class people who learned how to read and who could afford books. People like merchants, master craftsmen and wealthy farmers.

    I agree that the Messer appears to have been popular with a wide range of people, as well as had more purposes than just being a war sword.

    As a self defence weapon for middle class people, it seems to me that the shorter Messers would be in direct competition with the larger Bauernwehr. These weapons are very different, as the Messer was seen as a single handed sword by the fencing masters, while the Bauernwehr would (my guess) be more daggerlike in appliance.

    I think the apparent popularity of the Bauernwehr (as indicated by the large number of excavated examples) makes a nice contrast with the smaller number of excavated examples Messers. But the fencing masters apparently favoured the Messer, as otherwise they wouldn't have written so much on it's use. This strikes me as a bit unlogical. There wouldn't have been much difference in practicality between carrying a short Messer or a large Bauernwehr in my opinion, and one would probably carry a smaller knife for utility anyway.

    Btw, what do think of this picture by DŘrer showing three farmers in conversation:
    http://gallery.euroweb.hu/art/d/durer/2/13/1/017.jpg
    Note that the one on the right wears spurs and may own a riding (as opposed to pulling) horse. He also looks proud and well fed (a definitive sign of wealth in these days), and what appears to be a large Bauernwehr hangs at his side.
    HwŠ­ere ■Šr fuse feorran cwoman
    to ■am Š­elinge. - Dream of the Rood


    "Ah, Blackadder. Started talking to yourself, I see."
    "Yes...it's the only way I can be assured of intelligent conversation."
    - Lord Melchett and Lord Edmund Blackadder

  13. #13
    The main diffrence between the large bauernwehrs and the short messers is the fact that the messers are fitted with a cross-guard, which makes them stand out as definate weapons - while the more discreet bauernwehrs could be justified as being more diverse in thier purpose. That would, I guess, have made bauernwehrs/ruggers more acceptable to carry around in public.

    Many places in Europe in the late 15. c. people was actively disencouraged or even forbidden by law to carry weapons in public by the ruling classes. Carrying a messer would probably have caused a negative reaction in these places, while the symbolic value of a bauerwehr/rugger as a utility knife could have made it more acceptable to carry around these places.

    As to the picture by DŘrer; as with all drawings by DŘrer I really like it. It is a very humourus picture, containing some interesting details. The bauernwehr being one of them. The sword with the broken scabbard is also interesting, it seems to be a sword of slightly out-dated design, together with the broken scabbard one gets the impression of an old sword, maybe a heirloom or a cheap purchase. The long riding-boots, which together with the spurs, shows that the man with the bauernwehr is used to be riding around and the large turban/chaperone on the head of the bearded man in the middle are signs of wealth. The third man, with the sword, gives the impression that he is of slightly less fortune than the other two, one notices that his hoses are torn at the right knee. These farmers are clearly not poor men - but they are not of equal fortune either.


    /Jakob
    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

  14. #14
    Interesting; I just found this engraving by DŘrer; http://www.wga.hu/art/d/durer/2/13/4/090.jpg showing a peasant and his wife. It looks like the man is carrying a rather small messer or a rare bauernwehr with crossguard.

    The people on this picture are clearly of less fortune than the three farmers on the above mentioned.


    /Jakob
    Last edited by Jakob ElbŠk E. Pedersen; 09-09-2005 at 06:54 AM.
    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

  15. #15
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    Originally posted by Jakob ElbŠk E. Pedersen
    The main diffrence between the large bauernwehrs and the short messers is the fact that the messers are fitted with a cross-guard, which makes them stand out as definate weapons - while the more discreet bauernwehrs could be justified as being more diverse in thier purpose. That would, I guess, have made bauernwehrs/ruggers more acceptable to carry around in public.
    Perhaps, but a Messer without a crossguard would still be a very potent weapon.

    Originally posted by Jakob ElbŠk E. Pedersen
    Many places in Europe in the late 15. c. people was actively disencouraged or even forbidden by law to carry weapons in public by the ruling classes. Carrying a messer would probably have caused a negative reaction in these places, while the symbolic value of a bauerwehr/rugger as a utility knife could have made it more acceptable to carry around these places.
    I wonder a bit about this. Cities could (and did) limit the carrying of arms inside their walls. Often even for nobles. People had to leave their arms at the gate. If I recall correctly, this sometimes included even daggers (and presumably also large Bauernwehr-like knives) but probably not small utility knives.

    Peasants who rented land from their lord had to comply with whatever rules the lord came up with as long as it was reasonable, which may have included the limiting of certain arms.

    But the free farmer outside the city would not be subjected to such rules. In my opinion this is also the kind of person who is most in need of a good weapon and a good self defence system, because he would have had no one to provide protection from thieves, plundering mercenaries and the like.

    Originally posted by Jakob ElbŠk E. Pedersen
    As to the picture by DŘrer; as with all drawings by DŘrer I really like it. It is a very humourus picture, containing some interesting details. The bauernwehr being one of them. The sword with the broken scabbard is also interesting, it seems to be a sword of slightly out-dated design, together with the broken scabbard one gets the impression of an old sword, maybe a heirloom or a cheap purchase. The long riding-boots, which together with the spurs, shows that the man with the bauernwehr is used to be riding around and the large turban/chaperone on the head of the bearded man in the middle are signs of wealth. The third man, with the sword, gives the impression that he is of slightly less fortune than the other two, one notices that his hoses are torn at the right knee. These farmers are clearly not poor men - but they are not of equal fortune either.
    Yes! Fun picture isn't it? I can imagine the man with the sword is pleading for something with the one with the Bauernwehr, and the man with the beard is interjecting on behalf of the man with the sword.

    The swords looks to be ancient. Maybe even a Oakeshott Type X with that long and wide fuller.

    Originally posted by Jakob ElbŠk E. Pedersen
    [B] Interesting; I just found this engraving by DŘrer; http://www.wga.hu/art/d/durer/2/13/4/090.jpg showing a peasant and his wife. It looks like the man is carrying a rather small messer or a rare bauernwehr with crossguard.

    The people on this picture are clearly of less fortune than the three farmers on the above mentioned.
    Nice find. I didn't know that one.

    The torn tunic doesn't look very prosperous, but they do have plenty to eat...
    Last edited by Paul Hansen; 09-09-2005 at 07:42 AM.
    HwŠ­ere ■Šr fuse feorran cwoman
    to ■am Š­elinge. - Dream of the Rood


    "Ah, Blackadder. Started talking to yourself, I see."
    "Yes...it's the only way I can be assured of intelligent conversation."
    - Lord Melchett and Lord Edmund Blackadder

  16. #16
    Originally posted by Paul Hansen
    But the free farmer outside the city would not be subjected to such rules. In my opinion this is also the kind of person who is most in need of a good weapon and a good self defence system, because he would have had no one to provide protection from thieves, plundering mercenaries and the like.
    Yes, I totally agree on that.


    /Jakob
    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

  17. #17
    More pictures by DŘrer:

    Young Couple Threatened by Death; or, the Promenade - a yong wealthy man carrying a short messer with s-shaped quillions and a by-knife and eating-pricker/sharpening steel on the front of the scabbard.

    The Bagpiper - a musician carrying some kind of dagger (most likely some kind of bauernwehr, but it could be a baselard or holbein as well) with a small knife, eating-pricker or sharpening steel in a double-scabbard.

    Paumgartner Altar (detail of central panel) - man (probably a peasant or pilgrim) carrying a large heavy bauernwehr with a small crossguard - possibly with by-knife and eating-pricker/sharpening steel as well.


    /Jakob
    Last edited by Jakob ElbŠk E. Pedersen; 09-11-2005 at 10:59 AM.
    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

  18. #18
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    Jakob, thank you for the interesting and scholarly posts. This type of information and discussion is what makes the Sword Forum so excellent.
    "Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art."
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  19. #19
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    Some historic weapons for sale (auction):

    http://www.hermann-historica.de/aukt...db=kat49_A.txt

    This one looks quite similar to the
    one posted at the beginning of the thread
    http://www.hermann-historica.de/aukt...db=kat48_1.txt (sold)
    Last edited by M.A.Knapp; 10-06-2005 at 12:15 AM.

  20. #20
    Beautiful pieces indeed - If only I had the money....


    /Jakob
    Jakob ElbŠk Egegaard Pedersen

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