Origins of the two-handed sword

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Origins of the two-handed sword

Postby admin » 12 Jun 2012 12:24

http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

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Re: Origins of the two-handed sword

Postby Monster Zero » 12 Jun 2012 23:58

Great Read!
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Re: Origins of the two-handed sword

Postby Thearos » 14 Jun 2012 11:21

A silly question. What are the manuals / sources for ways of fighting with the big two hander (zweihander, bidenhander, etc) ? The longsword seems well covered in manuals-- if I'm not mistaken-- into the C17th, as a curiosity or left-over. Joachim Meyer is longsword (very long, admittedly); Mair has longsword and all kinds of things-- but not, it seems, the big Swiss/Landsknecht sword. People in this forum occasionally mention Spanish sources for the "montante". Clements, in an old ARMA essay, talks about the weight of the Zw.h sword, and even puts one through some paces-- but doesn't refer to any sources.

http://www.thearma.org/essays/2HGS.html


What are the sources ? What are the earliest sources ? (i.e. any ideas of how the big C14th or even slightly earlier great swords, XIIIa types, where meant to be used ?)
Who practices this among modern HEMA schools ?
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Re: Origins of the two-handed sword

Postby admin » 14 Jun 2012 13:13

There is no way to answer that question in a black and white sense, because many sources show a sword which could either be called a big longsword or a small two-hander, based on your perspective. For example Marozzo or Vadi – both show swords that reach to about the arm-pit. Same goes for montante sources probably.
Some sources are definitely talking about a great big two-handers, such as Aflieri and Di Grassi. In my opinion some of the later German sources show what we would call big two-handers.
The jury is out on what kind of sword Silver is talking about for a two-hander, but he says the blade is the same length as a one-hander, which could be anything up to 40 inches, and of course it might be like one of those English two-handers which have very long grips, so the total length might make it shoulder-high.
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Re: Origins of the two-handed sword

Postby Thearos » 14 Jun 2012 16:18

Who knows (teaches) how to fight with the big 2-handers ?-- presumably one uses it with variants on the "German" style, at least to start with; but does one wind ? Sword shortening must be crucial; does one in fact use the thing a bit like a polearm ?

Sorry for the thread drift.
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Re: Origins of the two-handed sword

Postby admin » 14 Jun 2012 16:52

There are quite a lot of groups studying those sources, I'm not sure I can provide a full list. School of the Sword (Alfieri) are one example.
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Re: Origins of the two-handed sword

Postby Alex B » 14 Jun 2012 17:07

Thearos wrote:presumably one uses it with variants on the "German" style, at least to start with; but does one wind ? Sword shortening must be crucial; does one in fact use the thing a bit like a polearm ?

The Goliath manuscript is the clearest example of using big two-handed swords in the Liechtenauer tradition, and it's used in exactly the same way as a more conventionally sized longsword, so there wasn't a special variant for fighting with a big two-handed sword.
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Re: Origins of the two-handed sword

Postby Chiron » 14 Jun 2012 18:53

Was lucky enough to get to handle an original at the museum of Zurich after a disastrous lecture on two-handers which was squeezed in between one on beds and something and late 19th century pottery, made by a good academic but with no idea about the subject. I got to handle the sword because the curator saw the glint in my eye and survival instincts told him not to try and stop me. It was a beautiful weapon which moved nice, it had a lot of momentum at the tip without being unbalanced, it changed into halfswording easily. When halfswording it handled like a light halberd, with enough weight at the end to displace most weapons, I can definitely see krumping away the pikes and halfswording once your in. I would have had to spend more time with it to say how well you could orchestrate Liechtenauer techniques.
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Re: Origins of the two-handed sword

Postby Thearos » 14 Jun 2012 22:48

Alex B wrote:
Thearos wrote:presumably one uses it with variants on the "German" style, at least to start with; but does one wind ? Sword shortening must be crucial; does one in fact use the thing a bit like a polearm ?

The Goliath manuscript is the clearest example of using big two-handed swords in the Liechtenauer tradition, and it's used in exactly the same way as a more conventionally sized longsword, so there wasn't a special variant for fighting with a big two-handed sword.


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Re: Origins of the two-handed sword

Postby Luka » 07 Oct 2012 13:56

Hello guys! I'm new here, I am a member of SBG and Myarmoury forums for quite some time but I only recently found this forum and I found some very interesting topics here and had to register. So, on topic, did anybody hear anything about the supposed outlawing of two handed swords by the Swiss Confederacy at the end of the 15th century?

"By the end of the 15th century, however, the Swiss had turned almost exclusively to the 17- to 18-foot pike as their weapon of choice, becoming the premier pikemen of Europe. The two-handed sword was considered incompatible with the pike and was actually outlawed as a frontline weapon by many confederation members--though the Swiss kept making them. The two-hander remained a popular weapon among many other European mercenaries, in Italy and particularly in Germany."
William J. McPeak. "For a Swordsmen with Muscle as Well as Skill, Two Hands Could be Better Than One." Military History, Oct 2001, Vol. 18. Issue 4, p 24

Mr. McPeak doesn't give any source for this information but many articles on the net quote him with that. Do you maybe know if this is true? If it is, did that happen before or after Swabian war? Was it banned just for use in a formation or also for flank skirmishing like described by Paulus Jovius when he wrote about the battle of Fornovo?
("Suddenly, as the *sc. The Italian pikemen, javelin-throwers and crossbowmen) began to approach, about 300 picked young men who are called "the forlorn hope" issued forth from each flank of the infantry body and with their great swords which they wielded with both hands began to chop up those enormous pikes with such boldness that nearly all those pikemen, aghast, turned their backs in flight without waiting for the main body of the infantry to come up.")

I asked about this in this thread on myarmoury but it seems no one knows anything about that banning of the two handed swords in Swiss Confederation.
http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic ... highlight=
I also sent pm to one of the knowledgeable members here and I am waiting to hear from him...
Thanks in advance, Luka Borščak, Croatia.
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