Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: swordwork in tight formation?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    656

    swordwork in tight formation?

    Does anyone know of any material dealing with swordwork in tight formation? Like say for instance a landknecht's pike had been broken and he had to draw his katzbalger.

  2. #2
    I don't know of too much, though I can tell you that situation came up regularly for pikemen. They were expected to drop pikes and draw swords in the press. Smythe gave a little advice. He wrote:

    But after all this it may be, that some very curious and not skilfull in actions of Armes, may demand what the formost rankes of this well ordered and practifed squadron before mentioned shall doo after they haue giuen their aforefaid puissant blows & thrusts with their piques incase that they doo not at the first incountry ouerthrow and breake the contrary squadron of their enemies: thervnto I say, that the foremost rankes of the squadron hauing with the points of their piques lighted vppon the bare faces of the formost ranks of their enemies, or vpon their Collers, pouldrons, quirasses, tasses, of disarmed parts of their thighes; by which blowes giuen they haue either slaine, ouerthrown, or wounded those that they haue lighted vpon, or that the points of their piques lighting vppon their armours haue glanced off, and beyond them; in such sort as by the nearnes of the formost ranks of their enemies before them, they haue not space enough againe to thrust; nor that by the nearnes of their fellowes ranks next behind them, they haue any conuenient elbowe roome to pull backe their piques to giue a new thrust; by meanes whereof they haue vtterly loste the vse of their piques, they therefore must either prefentlie let them fall to the ground as vnprofitable, or else may with both their hands dart, and throw them as farre forward into & amongst the ranks of their enemies as they can, to the intent by the length of them to trouble their ranks, and presently in the twinkling of an eie or instant, must draw their short arming swordes and daggers, and giue a blow and thrust(tearmed a half reuerse, & thrust) all at, and in one time at their faces: A therewithall must presentlie in an instant, with their daggers in their left hands, thrust at the bottome of their enemies bellies vnder the lammes of their Cuyrasses, or at any other disarmed parts.
    Fourquevaux gave similar, though much briefer, instruction to his pikemen turned targetiers:

    And as for the Target men, I would haue them but onely to thrust at the face and legges, or at any other parte that were vnarmed.
    Beyond attacking unarmed parts, I'm unsure.
    Last edited by Benjamin H. Abbott; 08-31-2008 at 04:08 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Alexandria, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    1,204

  4. #4
    That's 16th-century English. You know, I expected a more serious response from the famous Tom Leoni. Stunning insight from the Italian masters or whatnot. But no, instead you're poking fun at poor old Smythe.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin H. Abbott View Post
    That's 16th-century English. You know, I expected a more serious response from the famous Tom Leoni. Stunning insight from the Italian masters or whatnot. But no, instead you're poking fun at poor old Smythe.
    Well, to be fair, the text does have the 'long s' mis-transcribed as 'f', so it does sound rather humorous if you read it aloud as written.

    Steve
    Last edited by Steven Reich; 08-31-2008 at 01:42 PM.
    Founder of NoVA-Assalto, an affiliate of the HEMA Alliance

  6. #6
    What do you suggest? I think that way best captures the look of the original text. Should I upload the .pdf instead? I don't know how to produce the correct character here. (And it would look nearly identical if I could.)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    406
    Benjamin,

    I think readability is more important in this sort of situation, even though I've read enough stuff with long S's to not really be bothered by it. The simple fact is that those are S's not F's, and should be looked at more like a different font or handwriting, than as a different orthography.

    If you want "the look" then sure, post a pdf or find a font that includes the correct character, but substituting the wrong character isn't really a great solution, IMHO.

    I almost forgot to say though, thanks for posting the quote

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin H. Abbott View Post
    What do you suggest? I think that way best captures the look of the original text. Should I upload the .pdf instead? I don't know how to produce the correct character here. (And it would look nearly identical if I could.)
    Well actually, the correct character is an 's'. There isn't any difference between the 'long s' and the standard 's' except for looks (sort of like using '&c.' or 'etc.'). I think Tom was just finding humor on a slow Sunday morning.

    On a serious note, the problem of using 'f' in place of the 'long s' becomes apparent when you try to do searches in a long text document (which is why I only use the 'normal s' for my transcriptions). Of course, the variable orthography of the time means that searches can still miss what you're looking for in a document that preserves the spelling of the original.

    Steve
    Founder of NoVA-Assalto, an affiliate of the HEMA Alliance

  9. #9
    Well actually, the correct character is an 's'. There isn't any difference between the 'long s' and the standard 's' except for looks (sort of like using '&c.' or 'etc.')
    Not one that looks like that, no. The correct character would be a long s. There's probably some code to produce it here, but I don't know it. I wouldn't transcribe "&" as "and", even though the meaning would remain the same. But, as y'all insist, I've edited my earlier post.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    656
    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin H. Abbott View Post
    I don't know of too much, though I can tell you that situation came up regularly for pikemen. They were expected to drop pikes and draw swords in the press. Smythe gave a little advice. He wrote:



    Fourquevaux gave similar, though much briefer, instruction to his pikemen turned targetiers:



    Beyond attacking unarmed parts, I'm unsure.
    Benjamin I appreciate the help. Do you know where I can read more from this Smythe?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    656
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Leoni View Post
    Heh heh...

    "Puiffant"? Sounds like Smurf-talk...

    LOL!

    HeyTom, how about the stuff you've read?

    Have you come across anything that talks about swordwork in tight formations?
    Last edited by CarlRutledge; 08-31-2008 at 04:17 PM. Reason: iZ kant spel to gud

  12. #12
    Do you know where I can read more from this Smythe?
    It's Sir John Smythe, the famous 16th-century advocate of the longbow. Early English Books Online has a few of his works. It's a wonderful site. I wish I still had access to it.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Melbourne Australia
    Posts
    746
    Smythe has a couple of passages about using swords within a pike block.

    Have fun looking for them.

    Alex.
    Wanna see something Kool & Unusual?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    14
    Early English Books Online has also a copy of "Mars his feild, or, The exercise of armes" (dated 1625) that can give one some idea of fighting in formation. At least it has nice pictures I can get access to it through my university's server, perhaps libraries work as well.

    -Jukka-

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Alexandria, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    1,204
    One quote I can recall is from Pistofilo (1620's), stating that with a sword of more than 3 Roman feet in length, "you would be fighting more against your own steel than against the enemies."

    He was of course referring to fighting in formation.

    This is why he also advises to carry, as a secondary weapon, "a good dagger--but not one of those effeminate she-daggers you see in town" or better yet "a small battle axe."

    ===

    OK, now for the pedantic part--I'm a pedantic sort of fellow, sorry about that--chalk it up to age. An "F" has a cross-stroke--a long "S" only has a half-arm--big difference, as far as font-theory is concerned.

    Transcribing a long S as a modern F is as wrong as it would be to transcribe a Gothic capital "O," "T" or "V" as a "D," "Z" or "B" respectively. Also because, several contemporary editions of the same book (depending on font used) employed some the elongated S, some the regular S. This is because the letter was the same--no effect on pronunciation.

    The only exception to this rule is the first "S" in the "Scharfes S" in German--and even in that case, in modern times, the trend is to accept a double "s" as a perfectly suitable transcription.

    An elongated S is an S. Fimple as that.

    Tom

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    656
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Leoni View Post
    One quote I can recall is from Pistofilo (1620's), stating that with a sword of more than 3 Roman feet in length, "you would be fighting more against your own steel than against the enemies."

    He was of course referring to fighting in formation.

    This is why he also advises to carry, as a secondary weapon, "a good dagger--but not one of those effeminate she-daggers you see in town" or better yet "a small battle axe."



    Tom
    Thank you for your input, just for reference how long is a roman foot?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Alexandria, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    1,204

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by CarlRutledge View Post
    Does anyone know of any material dealing with swordwork in tight formation? Like say for instance a landknecht's pike had been broken and he had to draw his katzbalger.
    Didn't Silver say something about only being able to strike up and down in the press, and that here a basket hilt was of great use due to all the up and down blows being tossed about?
    1

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Hollywood, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    657
    Interesting quote. Is the V in place of a U and the U in place of the V to preserve the text's original look as well?

    M.
    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis Smith View Post
    Michael Eversberg , can you play the dry witted supporting hero?

  20. Quote Originally Posted by George Hill View Post
    Didn't Silver say something about only being able to strike up and down in the press, and that here a basket hilt was of great use due to all the up and down blows being tossed about?

    Dunno about silver, but I can say, yes...it is a great help.

    Straight lunges get you stabbed. Cross-shots are very dangerous (that is when the person next to the person you are facing attacks you.)

    Short, sharp stabs are the most usual offensive weapons, with support from your comrades using cutting actions to move aside blades. Cuts have an advantage over thrusts in a tight (chest to back) press because the momentum of the blade allows you a slight advantage in defense.

    But that's modern (SCA) not historical.
    Randy Packer
    Scatha Combat Guild
    Box - Wrestle - Fence

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Alexandria, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    1,204
    A couple interesting quotes from Vegetius...

    They were likewise taught not to cut but to thrust with their swords. For the Romans not only made a jest of those who fought with the edge of that weapon, but always found them an easy conquest. A stroke with the edges, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are defended both by the bones and armor. On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal. Besides in the attitude of striking, it is impossible to avoid exposing the right arm and side; but on the other hand, the body is covered while a thrust is given, and the adversary receives the point before he sees the sword. This was the method of fighting principally used by the Romans, and their reason for exercising recruits with arms of such a weight at first was, that when they came to carry the common ones so much lighter, the greater difference might enable them to act with greater security and alacrity in time of action.

    [...]

    It must be observed that when the soldiers engage with the javelin, the left foot should be advanced, for, by this attitude the force required to throw it is considerably increased. On the contrary, when they are close enough to use their piles and swords, the right foot should be advanced, so that the body may present less aim to the enemy, and the right arm be nearer and in a more advantageous position for striking. Hence it appears that it is as necessary to provide soldiers with defensive arms of every kind as to instruct them in the use of offensive ones. For it is certain a man will fight with greater courage and confidence when he finds himself properly armed for defense.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    656
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Leoni View Post
    A couple interesting quotes from Vegetius...

    They were likewise taught not to cut but to thrust with their swords. For the Romans not only made a jest of those who fought with the edge of that weapon, but always found them an easy conquest. A stroke with the edges, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are defended both by the bones and armor. On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal. Besides in the attitude of striking, it is impossible to avoid exposing the right arm and side; but on the other hand, the body is covered while a thrust is given, and the adversary receives the point before he sees the sword. This was the method of fighting principally used by the Romans, and their reason for exercising recruits with arms of such a weight at first was, that when they came to carry the common ones so much lighter, the greater difference might enable them to act with greater security and alacrity in time of action.

    [...]

    It must be observed that when the soldiers engage with the javelin, the left foot should be advanced, for, by this attitude the force required to throw it is considerably increased. On the contrary, when they are close enough to use their piles and swords, the right foot should be advanced, so that the body may present less aim to the enemy, and the right arm be nearer and in a more advantageous position for striking. Hence it appears that it is as necessary to provide soldiers with defensive arms of every kind as to instruct them in the use of offensive ones. For it is certain a man will fight with greater courage and confidence when he finds himself properly armed for defense.
    I remember hearing those same quotes on the history channel once. I think it was that Conquest show they used to air back in the early 2000s.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by CarlRutledge View Post
    I remember hearing those same quotes on the history channel once. I think it was that Conquest show they used to air back in the early 2000s.
    Is that the one with the bald guy? Don't listen to him.
    1

  24. #24
    An "F" has a cross-stroke--a long "S" only has a half-arm--big difference, as far as font-theory is concerned.
    They look nearly identical in many 16th-century documents. The short s resembles neither. Sure, if you want the text to appear completely different, use a short s for a long s.

    Didn't Silver say something about only being able to strike up and down in the press, and that here a basket hilt was of great use due to all the up and down blows being tossed about?
    Yes, he did:

    And what a good defence is a strong single hilt, when men are clustering and hurling together, especially where variety of weapons are, in their motions to defend the hand, head, face, and bodies, from blows, that shall be given sometimes with swords, sometimes with two handed swords, battle axes, halberds, or black bills, and sometimes men shall be so near together, they shall have no space, scarce to use the blades of their swords below their waist, then their hilts (their hands being aloft) defend from the blows their hands, arms, heads, faces and bodies. Then they lay on, having the use of blows and grips, by force of their arms with their hilts, strong blows, at the head, face, arms, bodies, and shoulders, and many times hurling together, scope is given to turn down their points, with violent thrusts at the faces and bodies, by reason of the shortness of their blades, to the mighty annoyance, discomfort, and great destruction of their enemies.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •