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MALLEUS MARTIALIS

Simulacri di Armi Antiche e Coltelleria
Historical Blunt Arms & Cutlery
Via delle Fornaci 4 – 50023 – Impruneta (FI)
P.IVA: 06429000489
N. REA: FI – 627689
[email protected]
[email protected]

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Design

Interview with the swordsmith

We're back on the blog! Would you like to know about us a little more? This is certainly not an autobiography, but a full interview about our work and obviously our approach to swordsmithing! After some time, we are ready to share our thoughts and philosophy....

We’re back on the blog! Would you like to know about us a little more? This is certainly not an autobiography, but a full interview about our work and obviously our approach to swordsmithing!

After some time, we are ready to share our thoughts and philosophy. Swordsmithing today is a very varied profession, but today like yesterday every swordsmith has his/her own secrets and processes to achieve the ultimate goal:

 

make the best sword ever!

 

Some time ago, we were glad to be interviewed by Hema in Italia, an indipendent project aiming to spread the historical european martial arts culture of Italy.
Why Volume 1? Because we’ll share another interesting interview in the next months, but now:

Let’s start this journey! Have a nice reading.

 


Interview with the swordsmith – hosting Malleus Martialis

Hello, welcome! Who are you and what do you do?
Hi! We are Rodolfo Tanara and Eleonora Rebecchi, respectively smith and designer of Malleus Martialis.
The company was founded in 2014, to craft historical blunt arms and historical cutlery.
How did your career in creating medieval weapons and/or armour begin?
Rodolfo had the idea. For a decade, he had a great passion for everything that revolved around reenactment and swordsmithing. Then, experiencing living history and a renovated approach to historical fencing as a HEMA instructor, he laid the groundwork for the constitution of the company.
What are the greatest difficulties in making a sword?
The greatest challenge is that you have to build a huge know-how, that by the way differs from a swordsmith to another, also depending on the customer base. It may not look like it, but this niche is really varied! We deal with multiple materials, from steel to iron, to non ferrous metals, leather, wood, textiles. We have to be versatile and eclectic: we are smiths, leatherworkers, sometimes goldsmiths, sometimes woodworkers. In the past centuries, the process was more differentiated than today, there was a specialised production line, with highly skilled artisans, each of them in their own workshop.
But the most ambitious aim, for us, is to obtain adequate dynamic properties and improve constructional methods. That’s why research and development are the pillars of our company: we always think that there’s a lot to learn, and to do that, the company invests not only in tools and machines, but also in training and education.
In the world of historical fencing and re-enactment, what are the requests of your customers?
In our experience, reliability and an accurate design.
When it comes to the historical reconstruction of swords, what’s the difference in the making of a historical replica, and a sword made for historical fencing?
They are deeply different, but the design concept, the project philosophy and the dynamic ratios have to actually be similar or adjusted to the purpose.
Outside of the requests of your customers, what would you like to make?
Honestly we make what we love. From the entry-level to the high-end swords, we tend to support the customer during the process, asking a feedback during the creation of the sword, in order to share a successful experience.
How do you see the future of historical fencing and re-enactment?
Thank God, the future of historical fencing is not the future of reenactment.
For years, we have been used to heavy historical fencing tools, very far from the originals, and this has contributed to influence the perception of the sword as an object. We think that the fencer, in both fields, has to be educated and become more aware of his/her instrument, through a careful divulgation. We’re working in this direction, improving the website that now hosts a little educational blog. We also appreciate a lot the aim of this interview.
In the HEMA world, agonism is leading to a healthy sportification of the martial disciplines, also if it’s not completely mature and completely indipendent from some old generation concepts. We hope that the two branches of HEMA, the competitive one and the martial study, will be able to specialise more in their respective fields, and the ones who practice both will have the athletic and mental competences to divide them.
Let’s talk about funnier topics: what was, in the span of your career, the strangest request you’ve ever received?
Truthfully, they are many, and were very frequent when we started. From the self-defense blunt sword against burglars, to the damascus ice cream scoop, to the restoration of a “13th century Tunisian katana”…. But the list is wider than that!
…And what was the best request you’ve ever received?
We received many exciting commissions that pushed us beyond our limits, demanding a big effort in terms of both trials and skills. The point is to always be stimulated to improve ourselves, to no longer simply “craft things” but create art. It’s not easy to hang in balance between these two worlds, but surely the works from our “Armeria” Collection have a place of honour in our emotional history.
Now, a bit of advertisement, why should we buy your products?
As this is a difficult question, we preferred to leave it to some of our customers. A big thanks to them! Here follows a resume of the most representative answers we collected:
Malleus Martialis’ creations have a strong historical matrix, with a factor of realism and performance that is superior than the average. There is a right balance, always suited to the budget. The team is really careful with customer care and always tends to professional and quality improvement.

Conclusion

You did it!
If you survived the wall of text, you’re one of the bravests!
Swordsmithing isn’t only about making tools for fencing, we think that every sword has a soul.
We work every piece by hand so it’s very important to us to share our philosophy with you.
Our first interview ends here but keep up following us!
We’ll talk about our heritage and roots, because making swords and fighting with them is extremely funny, don’t you think? 🙂
We’d love to hear any thoughts or questions about this topic.
With love,
The MM Team

 

Anatomy of the Sword – Part I

  Introduction   Chi me guarderà facendo in me crose, de fatto d’armizare gli farò fama e vose. - To those who will believe in me, through deeds of arms I shall bring fame and a name. These are the words of Fiore dei Liberi, master at arms who lived between...

 

Introduction

 

Chi me guarderà facendo in me crose, de fatto d’armizare gli farò fama e vose.

To those who will believe in me, through deeds of arms I shall bring fame and a name.

These are the words of Fiore dei Liberi, master at arms who lived between the 14th and the 15th century and acted as the voice of the sword, the queen of all arms.
The sword has always been an iconic object, and has dominated the imagination of the people of all times. Masters at arms, condottieri, noblemen, fencers, but also smiths, goldsmiths, architects and amateurs always tried to catch the essence of this deadly and beautiful piece of art.
The form of the sword recalls the cross: mainly since the Middle Ages, this sacred structure has often been subjected to a more or less conscious geometrical design, following precise methods of construction that were passed down from a generation of artisans to the next.

As the sword has been in a constant evolution through history, in the 19th century historians and collectors tried to give order to the wide variety of sword forms according to the reference period, creating different classifications. Despite this huge and very useful work, sword anatomies are really heterogeneous, so the system can still be considered as open.

Contemporary sword classifications

4th-8th century: Behmer (1939)
7th-10th century: Petersen (1919), Wheeler (1927)
8th-12th century: Geibig (1991), Jacobsson (1992)
10th-16th century: Bruhn – Hoffmeyer (1954), Oakeshott (1960-2002), Aleksiç (2007), Elmslie (2015)
16th – 17th century: Picchianti (2019)
15th-19th century: A.V.B. Norman (1980)

From this base, every scholar, fencer or novice should start to understand what a sword is. Let’s get into some specific terms that will also help you to read our product descriptions. Here you will find also the italian terms, selected and chosen by us for our italian readers.

Parts of the sword

I. Hilt – Fornimento
II. Blade – Lama
III. Tang – Codolo
IV. Forte – Strong
V. Medio – N/D
VI. Debole-Weak

  1. Pommel – Pomo | Peen Block, Button – Bottone | Neck – Basetta
  2.  Handle, Grip – Impugnatura, Immanicatura, Manico
  3. Cross, Crossguard, Guard, Quillions – Elsa, Elso, Guardia, Crociera
  4. Shoulder (Base of the forte) – Tallone (Base del forte)
  5. Chape – Cappetta | The researcher C.Blair left a brief and useful description about chapes as a part of the hilt made by a leather flap or a metal strip, shaped to cover the cross and the mouth of the scabbard. [cfr. C. BLAIR (a cura di), Enciclopedia ragionata delle armi. Mondadori 1979, p. 118].
  6. Fuller – Sguscio, Scanalatura, Canala (arcaico)
  7. Central Ridge – Costola centrale
  8. True Edge – Filo Vero
  9. False Edge – Filo Falso
  10. Point, Tip – Punta

Blade Properties
Some essential factors determine the blade geometry:

      • Profile taper (Convergenza del Profilo)
      It can be more or less extreme: a blade with parallel edges is designed for a cutting action, one with more convergent edges is designed to thrust.
      • Distal Taper (Progressione Distale)
      The blade thickness tapers more o less gently and proportionally according to its functionality.
      • Cross Section (Sezione di lama)
      Every blade, in line with its purpose and reference period, has a different section, that can also be composite. For example, the section can be a lozenge, or it can be fullered, hexagonal, and so on.
      • Dynamic Properties
      Point of Balance or Center of Gravity (Baricentro, Punto di Bilanciamento o Centro di Gravità)

The static point in which the sword balances. Despite popular beliefs, the position of the point of balance doesn’t prove the effective result of the smith’s work, as the sword is a sum of factors that define its dynamic behaviour. The sword is designed to be in motion.

Pivot Points & Vibrational Nodes (Punti di Fulcro e Nodi Vibrazionali)
The Pivot points are two and influence how the sword handles in motion.
Vibrational Nodes are the points in which the blade doesn’t vibrate at all, and determine its behaviour during the impact.

Conclusion

We hope that this summary will let you have a better focus on this fascinating matter, helping you to read more confidently the specs of Malleus Martialis products. In order to examine in depth some of the concepts expressed in this post, we recommend the book “The Sword – Form and Thought”, Grotkamp-Schepers, Barbara; Immel, Isabell; Johnsson, Peter; Wetzler, Sixt (catalogue of the exhibition of the same name held in the Deutschen Klingenmuseum from the 26th of SEP 2015 till the 28th of FEB 2016), Peter Johnsson’s website and publications and Vincent Le Chevalier’s Blog.

This is the first of a series of articles, don’t miss the following episodes!

Eleonora Rebecchi
Malleus Martialis designer

Malleus Martialis coat of arms

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