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Thread: Cult of the Small-Sword

  1. #676
    And this Sweet Beauty!!!
    I cant fit the pictures so here is the link. Amazing!

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ENGLISH-SILVER-H...QQcmdZViewItem

  2. #677
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    Quote:

    "Hey, I didnt get any love at all for my French 1740's Infantry smallsword. Boo Hoo!"


    Rely:

    I LOVE IT!!!


    Other:

    That's a nice business like small-sword!

    On that silver hilt though, Morgan--I don't think we can post pics of items at eBay--a moderator might ask you to remove it. Please PM me about it.
    Tom Donoho

  3. #678
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    Quote:

    "Hey, I didnt get any love at all for my French 1740's Infantry smallsword. Boo Hoo!"


    Reply:

    I LOVE IT!!!


    Other:

    That's a nice business like small-sword!

    On that silver hilt though, Morgan--I don't think we can post pics of items at eBay--a moderator might ask you to remove it. Please PM me about it.
    Tom Donoho

  4. #679
    I have a question: Does/did it matter if the hollow ground portion of the blade was face up when/if being weilded by a left handed person as opposed to having the "spine" side up?

  5. #680
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    Quote Originally Posted by R.E.Herron View Post

    As for which type of sword is superior, we get to argue about that one forever because I still maintain that all the theoretical postulations about weapon superiority are untestable in the modern context. Very hard to prove whether the harassing cut/slash to the arm is of greater or lesser import than the perforating stop-hit to the hand, unless you actually do them, and have the fear of death as a motivator.

    A properly executed cut to the hand/wrist is more likely to disarm an opponent (no pun intended). Severing the tendons of the flexor digitorum muscles will cause the swordsman to lose the ability to maintain hold of his weapon.

    Captain John Godfrey commented on this, in his Treatise Upon the Useful Science of Defence:

    "The most dangerous Cut in the Sword to your Opposer (and which generally carries the keenest Edge) is the Inside Blow at the Wrist.

    ...Any other Cut he may bear for a while, and have a Chance of hitting you, if he continues to fight a little longer; but the Instant you hit him in the Inside of the Wrist, your Victory is secure."


    McBane likewise noted the effectiveness of cuts to the hand & wrist, when both advising spadroon players on how to cope with smallswordsmen, and smallswordsmen on how to cope with broadswordsmen. He noted that a blow on the sword-arm of the smallswordman will "disable" the sword-arm. To smallsword users, he stressed, "Take good care of your Sword hand".
    "Pray forget not to have your Broad-Sword, made according to my Pattern; for the Parliment has, and it will with your Postures in my wrestling-Book, cut the Small-Sword out of fashion" --Sir Thomas Parkyns, to Lord Thomas Manners, 1720


    "We begin with the Small-Sword, which we must allow to be the nearest Inlet to the relative Arts, and when we are upon the Back-Sword, their near Affinity will appear more clearly." --Captain John Godfrey, Treatise Upon the Useful Science of Defence, 1747

  6. #681
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Black Mastro View Post
    A properly executed cut to the hand/wrist is more likely to disarm an opponent (no pun intended). Severing the tendons of the flexor digitorum muscles will cause the swordsman to lose the ability to maintain hold of his weapon.
    No one is doubting this... the question is - whether the spadroon owner will be able to execute such a cut without exposing himself to a deadly attack. That seems extremely doubtful.

  7. #682
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    Quote Originally Posted by victor khomenko View Post
    No one is doubting this... the question is - whether the spadroon owner will be able to execute such a cut without exposing himself to a deadly attack. That seems extremely doubtful.

    Why does it seem "doubtful", Victor?

    Such an attack is a quick "throw" executed from the wrist, with the weapon in front of the user. Angelo (1763/1787) described this kind of cut:

    "...the wrist ought to act with more swiftness, because the elbow and arm are not thrown out of a line of the body." (emphasis added)

    Taylor (1804) likewise stresses the importance of avoiding wide motions, when practicing cuts with the broadsword:

    "Be cautious not to lift your arm towards the figure at which the cut begins, as that would leave your body unprotected."

    The damage from the cut is done via proper edge placement (facilitated by a proper "saber" grip, as described by Godfrey), and the slicing action of the blade on the target.

    In other words, we're not talking about a wide motion (a cut from the elbow and/or shoulder), that would leave the spadroon player open to a counter.

    In fact, the threat from cuts to the hand--by either a spadroon player or even a broadswordsman--was obviously considered enough of a threat, that smallsword masters like Angelo recommended a very unconventional guard position, that placed the sword-hand far back.
    "Pray forget not to have your Broad-Sword, made according to my Pattern; for the Parliment has, and it will with your Postures in my wrestling-Book, cut the Small-Sword out of fashion" --Sir Thomas Parkyns, to Lord Thomas Manners, 1720


    "We begin with the Small-Sword, which we must allow to be the nearest Inlet to the relative Arts, and when we are upon the Back-Sword, their near Affinity will appear more clearly." --Captain John Godfrey, Treatise Upon the Useful Science of Defence, 1747

  8. #683
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    Just compare the forces required to thrust the blade forward, and to cut sideways. Look at the leverage that works against you with the cut - there is nothing like that with the thrust.

    Take a piece of meat and first try to poke it with the smallsword blade.

    Then try to cut it with the end section of your spadroon. One motion requires virtually no force, the other one does call for sideways force, and applying it with a long blade requires substantial effort.

    Of course the fencer must be aware of that danger. What does that prove?

  9. #684
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    Quote Originally Posted by victor khomenko View Post
    Just compare the forces required to thrust the blade forward, and to cut sideways. Look at the leverage that works against you with the cut - there is nothing like that with the thrust.

    Take a piece of meat and first try to poke it with the smallsword blade.

    Then try to cut it with the end section of your spadroon. One motion requires virtually no force, the other one does call for sideways force, and applying it with a long blade requires substantial effort.

    You're speaking as if the two swordsmen are going to have at each other, without any footwork.

    A cut can be delivered just with the arm--the wrist, elbow, and/or shoulder. This makes it useful for both pedestrian and equestrian sword combat. It can, of course, also be delivered with accompanying footwork, but it's practicality in being delivered just by the arm is why it has generally been the preferred method from horseback. Even rapier master Ridolfo Capo Ferro wrote of this, in his Gran Simulacro of 1610:

    But without a doubt, on horse it is better to strike by cut than by thrust because my legs are carried by another, thus they are not arranged to seek the misura and the tempo which is necessary to push forward the vita and arm. Yet it is very true that I can rotate my arm at pleasure which is the proper motion to strike by cut."


    The delivery of the thrust, on the other hand, is typically accompanied by a lunge, which involves the entire body (see Capo Ferro's quote above); plenty of "force" and "effort" there, Victor. Fencers actually have stronger legs in proportion to their bodyweight, than professional football players.

    Regarding cuts, I've done my fair share of test cutting over the years. Cutting isn't all that difficult. In fact, it can be downright sobering (and frightening) at how easy it is to cut things with a sharp blade.



    Of course the fencer must be aware of that danger. What does that prove?

    The fact that broadswordsmen and spadroon players were aware of the danger of the fast thrusting capability of the smallsword simply shows that they were practical swordsmen.

    And the same thing goes for smallswordsmen--they were aware of the danger of the cuts AND thrusts from the spadroon, backsword, and broadsword. The smart practitioner always analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent.

    My argument has been that several folks here have dismissed one side of the story--the strengths of the spadroon and broadsword, and the threat they represented to the smallsword fencer. In all seriousness, I feel I'm one of the comparatively few people here who has taken a genuinely objective look at the issue. I have brought my own fencing & stickfighting experience to the table; I have offered the weights of actual smallswords, spadroons, and smallswords; and I have constantly cited primary sources on the subject of 18th and early 19th century swordfighting, with words of wisdom from such noteworthy masters as Donald McBane, John Godfrey, Domenico Angelo, and John Taylor. These masters came from various fencing backgrounds, and most of them mention ALL the weapons in question (the smallsword, the broadsword, and the spadroon).

    I also feel that the spadroon has gotten something of a "Raw Deal", on this thread. It is a weapon that has a rich history of its own. McBane noted that spadroon-play was made "much use of" by the Italians, the Piedmontese, the Swiss, and the Gascon French, among others. Taylor likewise noted its practice among the French. Egerton Castle wrote how spadroon fencing was also popular with the Germans and Austrians, and the "Austrian system" was ultimately combined with traditional backsword/singelstick, in England.
    "Pray forget not to have your Broad-Sword, made according to my Pattern; for the Parliment has, and it will with your Postures in my wrestling-Book, cut the Small-Sword out of fashion" --Sir Thomas Parkyns, to Lord Thomas Manners, 1720


    "We begin with the Small-Sword, which we must allow to be the nearest Inlet to the relative Arts, and when we are upon the Back-Sword, their near Affinity will appear more clearly." --Captain John Godfrey, Treatise Upon the Useful Science of Defence, 1747

  10. #685
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    no lack of respect here!!!

    David,

    I don't feel the spadroon/backsword has been disrespected in this thread!! I started with the premise that a small-sword with a heavier blade has a whole different set or tactics than a small-sword with a very lightweight blade. I think the swordsman with the cut and thrust smallsword probably fenced in a manner very, very similar to a spadroon fencer, because the weapon would have required it. That's why, in my world, I would find a different name for the heavier-bladed small-sword, a name that would associate it with the classic backsword and spadroon, instead of it's stylistic sibling, the thrusting small-sword.

    To be honest, I do hold a bias that the use of point-only ended up being the superior tactic of HES and became the most common tactic outside of military uses. As early as the first part of the 17thC some swordsmen abandoned the edge and used point-only rapiers, perhaps even before point-only fencing tactics had been well developed, but it was the progressive lightening of the blades and swords in civilian use which led to the transitional rapier and then the small-sword, and the flourishing of lightweight, thrusting techniques.

    To my mind, the overall weight of a sword is of much lower importance than the blade weight and overall balance of the weapon. There may be examples of backswords which had a weight comparable to a small-sword, but the distribution of that weight forward, to the blade, meant a slower blade. And those heavier small-swords probably were of the cut and thrust type.

    It has been cited that a cut to the wrist, for example, would disable the small-swordsman. Undoubtedly, but how does the backswordsman make that cut without exposing the hand, wrist and forearm. That's been Victor's opinion as well. An accomplished small-swordsman, with room to maneuver, would make it very hard and very risky for the opponent to land a cut. A thrust by the backsword would be slow and if parried, would again again leave the backswordsman vulnerable.

    I have several backsword/spadroon type weapons and I believe they were superior for military uses for two reasons. A military sword encounter was probably more likely to be sword v. musket with bayonet than sword v. sword. And a more robust bladed sword would survive longer on a battlefield in use against men with heavy uniforms and equipment than a fragile blade.

    And I also believe that by the middle of the 18th century, military swordsmanship was a fading art and as a practical matter it was probably easier to train a man to be dangerous with a slashing and thrusting sword than it would be to train a man to fight well with the point only. I have a Starr 1813 NCO sword which I love, but I imagine most of the men who carried it were not well-versed in advanced swordsmanship of any particular school.

    Rocky

  11. #686
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    Training swords

    To change gears for a moment, do any of you possess early "foils," by which I mean early blunted training swords? They must have existed in great numbers, but were obviously not appreciated and preserved. Nearly 15 years ago I missed a chance to get a small-sword with a blunted blade at auction, and I haven't seen another anywhere. In another thread I posted pictures of a blunt-blade training rapier which some feel is authentic and others doubt, but they did exist in numbers at the time. Two years ago a pair of really old training swords (mid 17thC) went through ebay and looked really authentic, went too expensively for me.

    Please post pictures of your oldest training weapons and equipment!!

    Rocky

  12. #687
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    Well, as was previously said (and as the title of the thread itself clearly proclaims), this thread is the "Cult of the Small-Sword." One is free to start a "Cult of the Sapdroon" thread if one feels that it is a sword deserving of practical and artistic merit.

    The debate can go on and on. But pragmatically speaking, it is a fact that it is more deadly to pierce the body and its vital organs. (I believe the autopsies performed after the Mohun-Hamilton duel showed that while the opponents suffered numerous cuts to the hands and fingers as well as other parts of the body, none of those was fatal--the piercing of the bodies is what killed them. Later period bayonets were designed with the point in mind based upon this premise.) And it is a fact that the shortest distance between to points is a straight line--and the thrust is such a thing. And its a fact that the overly-quoted McBane et cie were not the only experts in arms or masters of the sword simply because they published--the mere event of publishing does not confer all-knowing, infallible status upon an individual. And it is a fact that the French masters--many who never published--taught reliance upon the point as the way to kill--the small-sword is a French development and it makes sense that French masters would know how to teach it to its greatest advantage. And it is a fact that the small-sword was widely worn by civilians and officers and that it was eminently suited to its purpose by its design. The small-sword was a fearsome weapon. It was a delightful piece of applied art--a beauty to behold.
    Last edited by T. Donoho; 04-01-2009 at 12:30 AM.
    Tom Donoho

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    Morgan:

    For hollow ground blades the center spine should face the outside of the body when gripped in the hand point upward or the arm extended straight out.

    Rocky:

    The early foils have blades that are rectangular in section rather than more square in section as was the case with the later foils. Often I see Victorian foils marketed as 18th century foils--this is not the case--in my experience, 18th century foils are not easily found.

    Tom
    Tom Donoho

  14. #689
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    Quote Originally Posted by R.E.Herron View Post
    David,

    I don't feel the spadroon/backsword has been disrespected in this thread!! I started with the premise that a small-sword with a heavier blade has a whole different set or tactics than a small-sword with a very lightweight blade. I think the swordsman with the cut and thrust smallsword probably fenced in a manner very, very similar to a spadroon fencer, because the weapon would have required it. That's why, in my world, I would find a different name for the heavier-bladed small-sword, a name that would associate it with the classic backsword and spadroon, instead of it's stylistic sibling, the thrusting small-sword.

    Fair enough, Rocky.

    But the fact remains that some others here have dismissed the spadroon altogether.


    To be honest, I do hold a bias that the use of point-only ended up being the superior tactic of HES and became the most common tactic outside of military uses.

    For single combat, the thrust is certainly preferred--and that goes for virtually all swords, even huge two-handers. Giacomo di Grassi wrote about that, back in 1570.

    Nevertheless, having a functional edge on a sword is clearly desirable, since it gives the swordsman more options, both offensively and counteroffensively.


    As early as the first part of the 17thC some swordsmen abandoned the edge and used point-only rapiers, perhaps even before point-only fencing tactics had been well developed, but it was the progressive lightening of the blades and swords in civilian use which led to the transitional rapier and then the small-sword, and the flourishing of lightweight, thrusting techniques.

    An yet, rapiers were, in all seriousness, best suited to fighting other rapiers. That "progression" towards point-only tactics led to an obvious lack of versatility, and it is one reason why the rapier was criticized by serious fighting men, like George Silver (Paradoxes of Defence from 1599 and Brief Instructions from c. 1605) and Sir John Smythe (Certain Discourses Military from 1590). Not only was the rapier predominantly useless for war; it was also of limited utility in a civilian setting, outside of the duelling grounds. A man might find himself faced by assailants using all manner of weapons, on the streets. Rocco Bonetti--supposedly one of the first Italian masters to teach rapier fencing in London--once drew his rapier against a waterman, and was beaten down with a boat oar! Staffs of various lengths were common tools and weapons, and the quarterstaff (aka "short staff", to use Silver's term for it) was superior to any sword. In the early 17th century, the English sailor Richard Peeke used a quarterstaff to defeat three Spanish rapier-and-dagger men, who attack him at once. The smallsword was a development of the rapier, and while it's refinment improved it in some areas (speed, precision, & point control), it worsened it in others (overall versatility against other weapons). Anyone who has experimented with staff vs. single-handed sword knows how difficult it is, for the swordsman. The less substantial the sword is, the more difficult the prospect of facing the staff-wielder becomes. McBane noted that the staff was superior to both the backsword and smallsword. Indeed, for all its deadly refinement, the smallsword is all but useless, against something as simple as a long piece of wood!


    To my mind, the overall weight of a sword is of much lower importance than the blade weight and overall balance of the weapon. There may be examples of backswords which had a weight comparable to a small-sword, but the distribution of that weight forward, to the blade, meant a slower blade. And those heavier small-swords probably were of the cut and thrust type.

    Overall weight and balance are both crucial factors in a sword's design.


    It has been cited that a cut to the wrist, for example, would disable the small-swordsman. Undoubtedly, but how does the backswordsman make that cut without exposing the hand, wrist and forearm. That's been Victor's opinion as well.

    The backswordsman's or spadroon player's wrist is no more exposed than that of the smallswordsman. And the cut-and-thrust fencer doesn't have to worry about cuts to his own wrist--he only has to be concerned with point attacks there, which are less likely to land anyway, given the adrenaline dump that occurs under the stress of combat, which makes fine motor movements less feasible to begin with.


    An accomplished small-swordsman, with room to maneuver, would make it very hard and very risky for the opponent to land a cut. A thrust by the backsword would be slow and if parried, would again again leave the backswordsman vulnerable.

    Look at the advice given by a smallsword master like Angelo, who was trained in the French school. He obviously saw enough problems with facing broadswordsmen, that he advocated both using one's coat as an improvised shield, and keeping the sword-hand well back, to avoid being cut. The resulting guard position looks nothing like what we normally think of, when we hear the words "smallsword", "foil", or "epee".



    I have several backsword/spadroon type weapons and I believe they were superior for military uses for two reasons. A military sword encounter was probably more likely to be sword v. musket with bayonet than sword v. sword. And a more robust bladed sword would survive longer on a battlefield in use against men with heavy uniforms and equipment than a fragile blade.

    A military swordsman had to face many other weapons in combat--other swords (sabers, broadswords/backswords, & cutlasses), muskets-and-bayonets, boarding pikes, & cavalry lances. Obviously, a stouter, cut-and-thrust sword was more desireable for such application, not only because it was not as fragile as the smallsword, but also because it's dual-purpose (cut-and-thrust) design gave its user a better chance against such weapons.



    And I also believe that by the middle of the 18th century, military swordsmanship was a fading art and as a practical matter it was probably easier to train a man to be dangerous with a slashing and thrusting sword than it would be to train a man to fight well with the point only.

    Fighting with the point only never had any genuine military application, to begin with. Military swordsmanship has always relied predominantly on gross motor movement, since that is was can be depended upon, during the stress of battle. Also, the necessity of having a weapon that can be used for both thrusting AND cutting is evident, especially in the chaos of a melee. George Silver laid out the maxim of "No fight perfect without both cut and thrust" over 4 centuries ago, and his reasoning was that, during a swordfight, there may be times when you can thrust but not cut, without loss of time, and other times where you can cut but not thrust, without loss of time. Therefore, having a weapon capable of BOTH actions is crucial.


    I have a Starr 1813 NCO sword which I love, but I imagine most of the men who carried it were not well-versed in advanced swordsmanship of any particular school.

    What about all the soldiers who carried broadswords, backswords, and sabers, during the 18th and 19th centuries?

    Captain John Godfrey correctly noted that, "The smallsword is the call of honor, the backsword the call of duty." "Advanced swordsmanship" was certainly something that was useful, to military men. Look at Donald McBane--he wasn't just a streetfighter and duellist, he was also a veteran soldier. Look at the Highlanders who used their basket-hilted swords with devastating results during the Jacobite Rebellions, and, later, during the French and Indian War and numerous other colonial conflicts. Look at the light cavalrymen of the KGL (King's German Legion), who used their 1796 pattern sabers to such great effect, against Napoleon's troops.

    You simply cannot make generalizations (eg., military men not being "well-versed in advanced swordsmanship") like that. With all respect, it's hardly an accurate assessment, from the hoplological standpoint.


    Best,

    David
    "Pray forget not to have your Broad-Sword, made according to my Pattern; for the Parliment has, and it will with your Postures in my wrestling-Book, cut the Small-Sword out of fashion" --Sir Thomas Parkyns, to Lord Thomas Manners, 1720


    "We begin with the Small-Sword, which we must allow to be the nearest Inlet to the relative Arts, and when we are upon the Back-Sword, their near Affinity will appear more clearly." --Captain John Godfrey, Treatise Upon the Useful Science of Defence, 1747

  15. #690
    From my experience fencing with different kinds of swords, anyone can do anything to his/her opponent with the proper timing, distance, and experience. Speed and reach are always advantages. And with good footwork and "body english" (dodging, twisting, voiding) not to mention hand-parries it is all within the realm of fatal possibilities. Remember a disabling or jarring edge blow would certainly be followed by a thrust. As in Cut and Thrust weapon. Okay? Endo of subjecto. Okay?
    David, please post some pics of what you consider civilian spadroon "shearing" swords that you think would have been used against smallswords. I would like to see them. Perhaps you can put a smallsword next to it so that it is SS thread worthy.

  16. #691
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    Well said, Morgan!

    One could equally contend that the small-sword has been the object of disrespect--here at a thread clearly devoted to it for reasons clearly set forth at the start of the thread. If one wants to espouse the attributes of the spadroon or pick apart the small-sword one could do so in a better venue, I would think. Several of us have conceded that there is no perfect sword and we'd like to move on here at the "Cult of the Small-Sword" while others just won't respect that and continue to post ad nauseum about the same thing in different form. Pray, let us move on in a positive fashion--let us move on with the respect due the small-sword here at the "Cult of the Small-Sword."

    In keeping with that, has anyone photos of new acquisitions to post of period small-swords? Is anyone offering any period small-swords for sale? I would be interested to know of both.

    Tom
    Tom Donoho

  17. #692
    "In keeping with that, has anyone photos of new acquisitions to post of period small-swords?"

    I am working on it AS WE SPEAK!

  18. #693
    Holy Moley!

    this takes care of my need for a hollowground smallsword. Its a little beat-up and has some solder where the blade and guard meet, (which is why it wasnt too much.) Can anyone tell me more?

    SHAZAM!
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  19. #694
    And some more:
    Attached Images Attached Images   

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    I'll post some pics of my smallswords after I put in this one last point (no pun inteded).

    Then try to cut it with the end section of your spadroon. One motion requires virtually no force, the other one does call for sideways force, and applying it with a long blade requires substantial effort.
    Victor, have you ever trained in any sword arts? I am curious, because I fail to see this "substantial effort" you speak of. As David pointed out, both reequire footwork, especially a lunge required to bring a thrust or cut into distance.

    It has been cited that a cut to the wrist, for example, would disable the small-swordsman. Undoubtedly, but how does the backswordsman make that cut without exposing the hand, wrist and forearm. That's been Victor's opinion as well.
    Rocky, as an accomplished epee fencer, you undoubtedly are aware of complex or redirected attacks, as well as closing the line.. Have you ever fenced saber? Or fenced your epee against saber? A good saber swordsman would make a complex attack consisting of a feint with a re-direction of the blade. He would make sure that the epee or smallsword is busy performing another action on a closed line before he makes his cut.

    For instance, a cut aimed at the head from out of distance, on it's way to completion as the saber fencer moves into distance (with his hand low, not over his head as in the movies) would require the epee fencer to parry lest he want's his skull split. Modern fencing rules do not apply here; if the epee fencer desides to counter attack the cut without parrying; ie to the body or wrist, he will essentially be commiting suicide, as the thrust would not stop the cut in time, therefore he is forced to parry. That parry will occupy the epee(or smallsword) arm with another action, giving the saber fencer a safe opportunity for a redirection of the cut.

    Also, don't forget about beats. The lighter the blade, the farther it will move out of line when beaten, opening up a line of attack or initiating a predictable response for the attacker; ie, the beaten blade may come back online with a parry. Obviously, this is two fold, as one must be careful beating a light blade, for if the smallsword user disengages in absense, if would leave the saber or spadroon player open momentarily. This just gives an example as to how one with a spadroon would make a cut

    Now, of course, both fencers have this ability, but it shows how cuts can be made with a spadroon by making sure the smallsword player is busy performing another action. As you know, this concept, along with closing the line, are among the essentials for good fencing technique.

    The debate can go on and on. But pragmatically speaking, it is a fact that it is more deadly to pierce the body and its vital organs. (I believe the autopsies performed after the Mohun-Hamilton duel showed that while the opponents suffered numerous cuts to the hands and fingers as well as other parts of the body, none of those was fatal--the piercing of the bodies is what killed them.
    T. Donoho,

    While this may be true for knives, it is not quite true when dealing with swords. As a blow to the neck or skull can kill or disable pretty quickly. Also, many people who take a thrust in the body (the heart being an exception) take a long time to die or to become disabled. Hence, it is oten advantagous for a swordsman to go for an immediately disabling or crippling shot, rather than to go for a slow kill. A cut to the inside of the wrist as David pointed out, or a cut to the hamstring can instatly make an adversary fall or drop his weapon. This is NOT to say that thrusts to the heart, inside of the elbow, or neck are not effective, but that it is erroneous to assume that thrusts are "better" or more deadly with a sword.

    An excellent article has been written on this subject by an emergency room MD in Spada 2: The Anthology of Swordsmanship, it is called The Medical reality of Historical Wounds, and it dispells the belief that a thrust to the body will almost always immedietly kill. Check it out.

  21. #696
    This sums up the discussion well.

    Oh, but the story about Bonetti is only found in Silver's book, to the best of my knowledge, and he certainly had an ulterior motive, so I'm not sure how much I trust that.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Black Mastro View Post
    Fair enough, Rocky.

    But the fact remains that some others here have dismissed the spadroon altogether.





    For single combat, the thrust is certainly preferred--and that goes for virtually all swords, even huge two-handers. Giacomo di Grassi wrote about that, back in 1570.

    Nevertheless, having a functional edge on a sword is clearly desirable, since it gives the swordsman more options, both offensively and counteroffensively.





    An yet, rapiers were, in all seriousness, best suited to fighting other rapiers. That "progression" towards point-only tactics led to an obvious lack of versatility, and it is one reason why the rapier was criticized by serious fighting men, like George Silver (Paradoxes of Defence from 1599 and Brief Instructions from c. 1605) and Sir John Smythe (Certain Discourses Military from 1590). Not only was the rapier predominantly useless for war; it was also of limited utility in a civilian setting, outside of the duelling grounds. A man might find himself faced by assailants using all manner of weapons, on the streets. Rocco Bonetti--supposedly one of the first Italian masters to teach rapier fencing in London--once drew his rapier against a waterman, and was beaten down with a boat oar! Staffs of various lengths were common tools and weapons, and the quarterstaff (aka "short staff", to use Silver's term for it) was superior to any sword. In the early 17th century, the English sailor Richard Peeke used a quarterstaff to defeat three Spanish rapier-and-dagger men, who attack him at once. The smallsword was a development of the rapier, and while it's refinment improved it in some areas (speed, precision, & point control), it worsened it in others (overall versatility against other weapons). Anyone who has experimented with staff vs. single-handed sword knows how difficult it is, for the swordsman. The less substantial the sword is, the more difficult the prospect of facing the staff-wielder becomes. McBane noted that the staff was superior to both the backsword and smallsword. Indeed, for all its deadly refinement, the smallsword is all but useless, against something as simple as a long piece of wood!





    Overall weight and balance are both crucial factors in a sword's design.





    The backswordsman's or spadroon player's wrist is no more exposed than that of the smallswordsman. And the cut-and-thrust fencer doesn't have to worry about cuts to his own wrist--he only has to be concerned with point attacks there, which are less likely to land anyway, given the adrenaline dump that occurs under the stress of combat, which makes fine motor movements less feasible to begin with.





    Look at the advice given by a smallsword master like Angelo, who was trained in the French school. He obviously saw enough problems with facing broadswordsmen, that he advocated both using one's coat as an improvised shield, and keeping the sword-hand well back, to avoid being cut. The resulting guard position looks nothing like what we normally think of, when we hear the words "smallsword", "foil", or "epee".






    A military swordsman had to face many other weapons in combat--other swords (sabers, broadswords/backswords, & cutlasses), muskets-and-bayonets, boarding pikes, & cavalry lances. Obviously, a stouter, cut-and-thrust sword was more desireable for such application, not only because it was not as fragile as the smallsword, but also because it's dual-purpose (cut-and-thrust) design gave its user a better chance against such weapons.






    Fighting with the point only never had any genuine military application, to begin with. Military swordsmanship has always relied predominantly on gross motor movement, since that is was can be depended upon, during the stress of battle. Also, the necessity of having a weapon that can be used for both thrusting AND cutting is evident, especially in the chaos of a melee. George Silver laid out the maxim of "No fight perfect without both cut and thrust" over 4 centuries ago, and his reasoning was that, during a swordfight, there may be times when you can thrust but not cut, without loss of time, and other times where you can cut but not thrust, without loss of time. Therefore, having a weapon capable of BOTH actions is crucial.





    What about all the soldiers who carried broadswords, backswords, and sabers, during the 18th and 19th centuries?

    Captain John Godfrey correctly noted that, "The smallsword is the call of honor, the backsword the call of duty." "Advanced swordsmanship" was certainly something that was useful, to military men. Look at Donald McBane--he wasn't just a streetfighter and duellist, he was also a veteran soldier. Look at the Highlanders who used their basket-hilted swords with devastating results during the Jacobite Rebellions, and, later, during the French and Indian War and numerous other colonial conflicts. Look at the light cavalrymen of the KGL (King's German Legion), who used their 1796 pattern sabers to such great effect, against Napoleon's troops.

    You simply cannot make generalizations (eg., military men not being "well-versed in advanced swordsmanship") like that. With all respect, it's hardly an accurate assessment, from the hoplological standpoint.


    Best,

    David
    -Bradley L'Herrou

    Finding Swetnam

  22. #697
    Thanks for making sure a dead horse is really dead, Awesome! But can someone tell me a little more as far as date and type about my seconds ago recently aqquired SMALLSWORD?
    I think it is time to move the discussion of point only vs cut and thrust to another thread (Because other people want to be heard on other subjects and your not even bothering to acknowledge them) or have those involved get together and fight it out once and for all. I'll videotape it!
    Last edited by morgan butler; 04-01-2009 at 12:09 PM.

  23. #698
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    California
    Posts
    79

    later 18thC smallsword?

    To my eye, your sword hilt looks to be later 18thC with vestigial rings and the faceted steel finish.

    The colichemarde blade was an earlier type, but I wonder if, when mounted to later hilts, they were recycled old blades or were still manufactured into the beginning of the 19thC.

    I have a pair of matched duelling smallswords with colichemarde blades. Some experts place them as early 19thC and others put them in mid 18thC.

    Rock

  24. #699
    How is it a colichemarde blade Rock? I thought a colichemarde blade was very wide down the forte and went to a narrow smallsword blade the rest of the way up. This one seems like a normal hollowground blade to me. Do my eyes decieve me?
    Peace, Love, SWORDS!

  25. #700
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    1,145
    Quote:

    "Thanks for making sure a dead horse is really dead, Awesome! But can someone tell me a little more as far as date and type about my seconds ago recently aqquired SMALLSWORD?
    I think it is time to move the discussion of point only vs cut and thrust to another thread (Because other people want to be heard on other subjects and your not even bothering to acknowledge them) or have those involved get together and fight it out once and for all. I'll videotape it!"

    Reply:

    Thanks for that, Morgan. Let's hope it's dead--but some always need to have the last word it would seem.

    On your sword, I would say it is a typical English small-sword c. 1775. The blade configuration seems perfectly acceptable as an originally mounted one. Some blades of the period were narrow while others had wider fortes and tapered throughout their length and were not so narrow. Also, despite popular misconception, the colichemarde blade did not die out around 1725--it was to be found on later period small-swords, especially those carried by officers (see Aylward's book).

    Oh, Morgan:

    It could be that some misguided fool used solder to stop a wobbly shell guard when it could have easily been done the correct way by repacking the hilt or even by using thin wooden wedges driven via the shell, often able to be done without dismounting the sword. Does it look like that was the case--would it be worth removing the solder and doing the restoration a more professional way?
    Last edited by T. Donoho; 04-01-2009 at 01:01 PM.
    Tom Donoho

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