Swiss use of longswords

The practice of martial arts, research, interpretation and modern practice. Ancient to c.1900. Worldwide, Eastern and Western.
Open to public view.

Swiss use of longswords

Postby Thearos » 07 Oct 2017 01:47

Big Dummy (for those who remember him) had once posted a picture of Bernese bears, representing soldiers of that formidable Swiss city-state, all wearing longswords (and "baselards")

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=17272&hilit=bears

Here's a slightly later painting of a mercenary with the longsword--
http://www.wikiwand.com/de/Reisläufer

Contemporary or nearly, the attached sketch by Urs Graf-- the man on the right is a Swiss man, with the longsword. Swiss pikemen have longswords; Swiss halberdiers do so.(I seem to remember that Swiss reenactors complain about this). Germans have katzbalgers.

Why do the Swiss have longswords, used by non-elite infantry, unlike the sword and buckler of the English or French pole-arm men ? Does it reflect a widespread "civilian", non-aristocratic use of the longsword in Germanic lands ? Or an imitation of aristocratic practice by citizen-soldiers in the Swiss cantons ? Do they pick up the habit once they start defeating feudal knightly armies, and capturing lots of kit from killed knights, in the late C14th and early C15th ?
Attachments
Urs_Graf_Werbung copy.jpg
Urs_Graf_Werbung copy.jpg (198.48 KiB) Viewed 461 times
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1254
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby Luka » 09 Oct 2017 21:18

I don't think it has anything to do with the loot. Various manuscripts show Swiss with big longswords and "small" twohanders from about 1500 onward and it's a specific style of sword for Swiss lands. All pikeman probably had baselards for very close fighting, it's not that they didn't have short one handed weapons. Swiss had quite an active sword industry it seems and they took pride from their regional weapons, both short basilards and their big longswords. For a shorter period they also used real twohanders, but much more often big and serious "warsword" longswords. Famous passage about young Swiss swordsmen with twohanders at Fornovo is probably an evidence not for true twohanders, but rather these big longswords...
Luka
Corporal
 
Posts: 45
Joined: 05 Oct 2012 17:00

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby Thearos » 09 Oct 2017 23:07

Good points-- but why does this habit emerge in Switzerland ? Or are longswords very widespread in, say a "South German" cultural area ? For instance in Swabian cities ?
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1254
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby Luka » 10 Oct 2017 22:28

Sword and buckler seems to be very Popular in England. I don't Know about france, but german speaking lands were definitely very fond of longswords. They even took messer and made it into two handed weapon. :D
Luka
Corporal
 
Posts: 45
Joined: 05 Oct 2012 17:00

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby Thearos » 11 Oct 2017 19:11

Commines' account of Fornovo mentions the Italian men-at-arms being finished off (Agincourt style) by servants using wood axes, but also by the "longues espées" carried by archers and servants. Of course, the expression does not mean what modern HEMA-ists call "longswords", but still worth pondering.
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1254
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby knirirr » 13 Oct 2017 10:52

Thearos wrote:Big Dummy (for those who remember him)


I do indeed. Apologies for the OT post, but does anyone know what happened to him?
"FOR, to my certain knowledge I can affirm, that no People in the World, have a swifter Hand in Thrusting, nor any, a more loose or uncertain Parade, than the French."
User avatar
knirirr
Gentleman
 
Posts: 1628
Joined: 15 Jun 2006 09:30
Location: Oxford

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 16 Oct 2017 06:44

knirirr wrote:...does anyone know what happened to him?


I saw his articles in Acta Periodica Duellatorum and on HROAR's site. Is it OK to disclose his IRL name?
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1379
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby Thearos » 19 Oct 2017 03:15

Hmm. I for one would enjoy reading more by him. THe best thing would be to ask *him*
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1254
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby Thearos » 06 Nov 2017 02:05

So anyways, I conclude that longswords are not aristocratic in S. German and Swiss areas (or that the aristocratic longsword was taken up by civic militiamen etc pretty quickly)
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1254
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby admin » 08 Nov 2017 11:30

It's a simple matter of where and when.
Burgundian archers in the late-15th century were equipped with longswords (two-handed) by regulation. It's pretty clear that all sorts of soldiers carried longswords in German states by the late-15thC and after 1500 indeed longswords and two-handers were pretty prevalent until about the middle of the century.
In England indeed it was a different story - sword and buckler dominated, but then Britain led the way in basket hilts, which seem to have been developed and fairly widespread already by about 1540, probably as a development from the knucklebow and sidebow English hangers of the 15th century.
http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

I like swords more than you.
User avatar
admin
Emperor
 
Posts: 35036
Joined: 13 Mar 2006 17:28
Location: Guildford, Surrey, England.

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby Thearos » 08 Nov 2017 18:43

That must be the "longue espée à deux mains" (Ordonnance of 1471) or the "longue espee" of Charles the Bold's Ordonnance of 1474. How representative is this of C15th France in general, I wonder ?
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1254
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: Swiss use of longswords

Postby Thearos » 09 Nov 2017 00:28

So did the Swiss use longswords because they were part of a S. German tradition, because they picked it up from the Austrians they defeated in the C14th, or the Burgundians they defeated in the C15th, or just because everyone on continental Europe started using longswords at some point ?
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1254
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16


Return to Historical Martial Arts

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron