How NOT to use a German duelling shield!

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How NOT to use a German duelling shield!

Postby admin » 18 Oct 2007 17:11

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Postby bigdummy » 18 Oct 2007 17:47

There was another video of sparring with dueling shields which was perhaps even worse.

The shields themselves are nice though.
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Postby admin » 18 Oct 2007 18:05

They look rather overweight to me - from the way they are moved in the treatise illustrations I get the impression they are supposed to be light. Maybe simply thick leather. I may be wrong.
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Postby bigdummy » 18 Oct 2007 19:10

Thats a good observation, I didn't look very closely.

I think you are probably right.

Historically, almost all shields used for any kind of combat were lighter than you would expect. Viking shields and Roman scuta were both made of light wood, such as Limewood or birch, and rarely more than 3/8" thick.

The type of barn-doors you see in the SCA did not exist historically as far as I know, shields have to be light to move them around, and in most cases their most important role was as protection against missiles*. The Icelandic sagas are full of anecdotes of shields being hacked to pieces.

There were some heavy metal shields such as the bullet-proof shields the Jannisaries had. The old Greek Aspis was rather heavy as well, being covered entirely with bronze, but that was designed for a rather immobile type of use.


*EDIT: Interestingly, modern reenactor tests showed that strong, heavy oak shields tended to split when hit with an arrow or javelin, allowing the missile all or part-way through, wheras much lighter limewood would 'grip' the penetrating missile, being more fibrous and elastic.
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Postby Brewerkel » 18 Oct 2007 19:47

admin wrote:They look rather overweight to me - from the way they are moved in the treatise illustrations I get the impression they are supposed to be light. Maybe simply thick leather. I may be wrong.


So Matt, you've tried this then? :? Why do you think the "kolbenshielt" or whatever the "club" dueling thing was called should be conducted differently?

I've taken in the classes Paul put on at ISMAC. I've read the Talhoffer sections on dueling shield. I don't pretend to be expert in their use. A couple observations:

i] At ISMAC, Jared Kirby and friends prepared a number of shields according to Paul's instruction. They were 1/2" or 12mm plywood constructions weighing 30-35lbs. I believe they were far too heavy. I have yet to build a dueling shield but other shields I've made from poplar and rawhide were proportionally much lighter. I think 20lbs is more realistic. Still, that's a big item for one handed use. I disagree they may be simply thick leather as the hooky bits would not survive very long. Shields and pavises were compound wood/hide/cloth constructions in this period. I can't imagine them using an entirely different construction method just for dueling shields.

ii] Paul spent a great deal of time delving into Talhoffer's instructions on this as well as another source I just can't recall. He didn't just make this stuff up, IMHO. This video clip might not be the epitome of such a fight but I strongly disagree it is all wrong. One moves behind his shield in single combat, one doesn't jam the thing around, punch blocking like Captain America might.

iii] This video is clearly a demo for a public audience. Some flashy dodging about is necessary and tolerable to entertain the crowd. The tense, "hear a pin drop" environment of a real judicial duel with these things would be a different matter.

Thoughts?
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Postby admin » 18 Oct 2007 23:22

Brewerkel wrote:Why do you think the "kolbenshielt" or whatever the "club" dueling thing was called should be conducted differently?


Because to me they appear to be made of a thin board with iron edges and spikes rivetted on as seems to have been done with this shield in Codex Wallerstein - http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/210.jpg . And as I stated above, from the manner in which they are shown used. To make them heavy and slow would, in my opinion, be completely pointless (pun..). They are only designed to oppose clubs and swords, and each other, after all. I'm only saying I think they *could* have been made of hide with applied spikey bits. If they were wood, including the spikes, then I see no reason why it should have been thick or heavy.

I disagree they may be simply thick leather as the hooky bits would not survive very long.


I think it is possible, supported by Codex Wallerstein, that the spikes are iron, attached to the shield board.
If they were wood, then I think they were thin wood - this is supported by images of them being chopped into by swords.

Shields and pavises were compound wood/hide/cloth constructions in this period. I can't imagine them using an entirely different construction method just for dueling shields.


Ah, but you are ignoring the bucklers made of leather with an iron boss (3 in the Royal Armouries) and the wooden iron-reinforced bucklers (1 in Museum of London). We can't judge all shields by jousting shields and pavises.

ii] Paul spent a great deal of time delving into Talhoffer's instructions on this as well as another source I just can't recall. He didn't just make this stuff up, IMHO.


Talhoffer's instruction on the construction of them? I stand corrected if Talhoffer gives such details - does he?
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Postby admin » 18 Oct 2007 23:29

Here's a question, if the board is very robust, why have a stick all the way up the back like a zulu shield? -

Image

Pavises don't have a stick all the way up the back.
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Postby Brewerkel » 19 Oct 2007 14:11

admin wrote:
Brewerkel wrote:Why do you think the "kolbenshielt" or whatever the "club" dueling thing was called should be conducted differently?


Because to me they appear to be made of a thin board with iron edges and spikes rivetted on as seems to have been done with this shield in Codex Wallerstein - http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/210.jpg . And as I stated above, from the manner in which they are shown used. To make them heavy and slow would, in my opinion, be completely pointless (pun..). They are only designed to oppose clubs and swords, and each other, after all. I'm only saying I think they *could* have been made of hide with applied spikey bits. If they were wood, including the spikes, then I see no reason why it should have been thick or heavy.



I completely agree. That's why I suggested a weight of perhaps 20lbs instead of 30-35lbs. Maybe even lighter if the facing were stretched over a frame instead of a surface of equal thickness throughout. I think 6-9mm thickness is more than adequate with cow rawhide glued on. The "hooky" bits I referred to are the curled feet at either end not the central spike. I work with cuir boilli regularly. It wouldn't survive very long tugging at its opponent's shield unless substantially reinforced with metal. Which would increase the weight dramatically...

I disagree they may be simply thick leather as the hooky bits would not survive very long.


I think it is possible, supported by Codex Wallerstein, that the spikes are iron, attached to the shield board.
If they were wood, then I think they were thin wood - this is supported by images of them being chopped into by swords.


Total agreement here.

Shields and pavises were compound wood/hide/cloth constructions in this period. I can't imagine them using an entirely different construction method just for dueling shields.


Ah, but you are ignoring the bucklers made of leather with an iron boss (3 in the Royal Armouries) and the wooden iron-reinforced bucklers (1 in Museum of London). We can't judge all shields by jousting shields and pavises.


Not at all, especially since I'm making one based on that last example next week for Thom. :wink: There are no surviving examples of any late medieval shield comparable in size to the dueling shields that are not made from laminations of hide or cloth over wood. Bucklers exhibit different construction methods because their diminutive size makes any method acceptable. Look at the MoL Tudor buckler; leather over very thin wood, reinforced with a metal rim and decorations. The so-called Welsh bucklers are metal reinforced leather. No surviving late medieval large shield was constructed in that manner. You have to go back to Migration era round shields to see that construction of large shields.

ii] Paul spent a great deal of time delving into Talhoffer's instructions on this as well as another source I just can't recall. He didn't just make this stuff up, IMHO.


Talhoffer's instruction on the construction of them? I stand corrected if Talhoffer gives such details - does he?
[/quote]

Whoa. Nice conflation. Remember your thread title here? "How not to use a dueling shield?" Paul studied available texts on their use. I think his interpretation is reasonable even if his simulators are less than appropriate.
Since no dueling shields survive as artifacts, Paul just experimented within his knowledge of shield construction. Not many people make shields by gluing up boards and covering them with rawhide. He didn't know anything about it at the time. He has been enlightened as to possibilities available.

In reply to your last post, the pole up the middle is a staff shod on both ends. The pavise construction is attached to it to create a multipurpose weapon/ defense. Archers' pavises and jousting shields do not require an attached staff to wield. They serve a different purpose, defensively. One could not use an archer's pavise as a weapon with the same dexterity as a duelling shield. The dueling shield is predominantly a reinforced, very substantial staff, IMHO.
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Postby bigdummy » 19 Oct 2007 14:42

1/2" is too thick for shields when they were still widely used for combat. I did a pretty extensive survey of European shields dating from 1100 AD to 100 AD, and very few were that thick, 1/4" - 3/8" seemed to be the typical range, a lot of time the thicker parts would be around the boss. There was one Roman shield found in Egypt which was very thick IIRC.

Most 8-10th century shields were not covered in leather either. Some had a rawhide rim but that was not common. Basically a cross-grained laminate of wood with an metal or (in earlier times) wooden boss.
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Postby admin » 19 Oct 2007 15:16

Kel - all understood and agreed.

Whilst we're talking about large shields I just thought I'd throw in that whilst in Vienna, Fab, Harry, myself and other got to go into the store room of the largest collection of 15thC pavises known to mankind. I think they have about 50 of them or something outrageous like that. These were pavises made for gunners and crossbowmen and so intended to stand on the ground - they even had reenforced bits at the top for the stake to push against (to stand them up). What surprised me was how heavy they were (I picked a few up) and how thick - but as these were intended for stationary defence against missiles it's pretty hard for me to gain any insight into 'normal' shield proportions from them. The rotella's in the Wallace Collection are made of curved boards covered in canvas and leather - I don’t know how much they weigh though.
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Postby bigdummy » 19 Oct 2007 15:32

A pavise would have to be pretty formidable to protect against a 1200 lb draw arbalest.

I think this is one reason why shields diminished in use dramatically around the 12th - 13th century... you started seeing more and more high energy missiles on the battlefield. Less javelins, more longbows, heavy arbalests, and increasingly... firearms.

To provide effective protection against these the shield had to be so big and strong you could no longer carry it.
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Postby admin » 19 Oct 2007 15:37

I disagree regarding javelins - they are rarely shown until the late-15thC, when they start to appear quite often - usually shaped like a giant arrow with fletchings at the back. In my opinion a javelin, due to its weight, has excellent penetration. Just poor range.
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Postby bigdummy » 19 Oct 2007 15:51

Javelins penetrate very well when thrown at close range, for sure. As well as an arquebus or a 1200 lb draw / cranequin-spanned arbalest ? I doubt it.

But in a military context Javelins are usually thrown in volleys at close to their maximum range (same with longbows). Which is a different ball of cheddar.

A javelin is a close range hit and run weapon, not a long range sniping weapon.
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Postby Jeffrey Hull » 19 Oct 2007 20:00

I consider the German dueling-shield a form of pavise.

Thus, the dueling-pavise.
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Postby Wolfgang Ritter » 20 Oct 2007 12:34

Jeffrey Hull wrote:I consider the German dueling-shield a form of pavise.

Thus, the dueling-pavise.

Hmm, why? Honest question, what makes the difference then between a pavese and any other sort of shield? Is it the fact that a pavese - as well as the duelling shields are placed on the ground (of course not solely, but in general)?

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Postby Paul » 20 Oct 2007 13:13

Wolfgang Ritter wrote:Honest question, what makes the difference then between a pavese and any other sort of shield?


I'd say the presence of a "gutter" in the centre.

Small pavises exist just as well as the "mobile walls".

But I think pavises (even the smaller ones) and duelling shields are incomparable things. As Matt said, duelling shields seem to have been light, whereas large pavises (of the same size) are heavy. And of course their use is incomparable as well.
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Pavise

Postby Jeffrey Hull » 21 Oct 2007 16:53

Look at the so-called Bohemian shield of Maximilian I, the lord high Kaiser of the Germans:

Those are actually light battlefield pavises for personal use of armoured men.

In construction, material and mass those pavises were similar to the dueling-pavises, even if design was somewhat different. They certainly were more similar to each other than either was to shields like triangles / heaters, tartschen, umbos, bucklers, etc.

Not every bloody pavise was a freaking church-door requiring a prop and with a crossbowman hiding behind it. I mean get real, dude. If you are in a fight with dueling-pavises, you want the same qualities as the battlefield-pavise for man in fulll harness: something sturdy yet light enough to swing around and maneuver.

Do you guys ever actually think about how these things need to move through time and space and the martial dynamics portrayed in fight-books; or do you just consider them like curators comparing static object d'art?
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Postby bigdummy » 21 Oct 2007 17:49

You never fail to come through Jeff, always there to reinforce the stereotype.
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Postby Harry » 21 Oct 2007 18:26

Wolfgang Ritter wrote:
Jeffrey Hull wrote:I consider the German dueling-shield a form of pavise.

Thus, the dueling-pavise.

Hmm, why? Honest question, what makes the difference then between a pavese and any other sort of shield? Is it the fact that a pavese - as well as the duelling shields are placed on the ground (of course not solely, but in general)?

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welll wolfgang, this question could be better answered by enzi, but so I do. paveses or "Setztartschen" were special design shield forms from the hussists. the built up complete "wagon-castles" with this shields.

after the hussits war in the early 15th cent. the pavese was also used of every army in europe. normally soldiers with paveses were paid twice, because they had their own "slave" who had to carry the shield in front of the mercenary. the mercenary behind was often a crossbowman or a rifleman.

normal shields....well I gues we all know what they are... :)


regarding the video.... I agree with with matt, I think the spikeshields are far to heavy. when you take a look in the thalhoffermanuscripts I would say, that the shields are not heavier than 6-8 kg.

regarding the shown techniques... well, they were quite ok... to slow, I guess because of the weight of the shield, but ok.
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Re: Pavise

Postby admin » 21 Oct 2007 20:01

Jeffrey Hull wrote:Do you guys ever actually think about how these things need to move through time and space and the martial dynamics portrayed in fight-books; or do you just consider them like curators comparing static object d'art?


Why are you ranting? And who specifically are you talking at?
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