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MALLEUS MARTIALIS

Simulacri di Armi Antiche e Coltelleria
Historical Blunt Arms & Cutlery
Via delle Fornaci 4 – 50023 – Impruneta (FI)
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what-are-typologies

What are sword typologies? | Swordology

What are sword typologies? Swordology* is a new series of blogposts by Malleus Martialis (swordsmiths from Florence, Italy) about sword classifications, sword anatomy and museum highlights to help you understand the sword-world in an easy way. In detail, how you can interact with swords, what’s to know...

What are sword typologies?

Swordology* is a new series of blogposts by Malleus Martialis (swordsmiths from Florence, Italy) about sword classifications, sword anatomy and museum highlights to help you understand the sword-world in an easy way.


In detail, how you can interact with swords, what’s to know about them, “How tos” and much more. So here is our first post, in which we will talk about typologies. You might have heard of names like Oakeshott or Petersen and always wondered what people mean when, for example, they talk about a Type XVIII sword.
So, let’s dive into that!

Typologies

What are sword typologies and why are they being used?

Typology is a system of dividing swords into groups based on the aesthetic and functional attributes they share. Classifications are not universal and they’re arbitrary, exactly like a language.
When looking at a sword, we rely upon different classifications left by several scholars (e.g. Ewart Oakeshott, Elis Behmer or Alfred Geibig to quote some of them) that use different systems in order to recognize groupings, types or styles through the centuries.
Typology is therefore an extremely useful tool, which allows us to describe swords in a concise manner.
By doing this correctly, the shared method is to use the name of the scholar, followed by the type of the blade and/or hilt parts.
For instance, we might use “Oakeshott Type XV with a style 8 curved guard and a J1 pommel”. Under that information we can discover that the sword we discuss is our Belladama. (See HERE)

Sword classifications

As mentioned, there are several typologies that have been used to define and catalogue swords based on anatomy.
A main reason for that approach is that date classification might be unreliable. The dating of a weapon’s manufacture, use and retirement can be obscured by different factors like trade, warfare etc.

By introducing the sword typologies we have a way of categorising swords without the need of long explanations all the time. An important notion is that typologies are artificial constructs that are often imperfect and are not to be taken as absolutes.
There are exceptions among artefacts that are hard to categorise as they don’t fit into standard typologies. As a result, this doesn’t make these artefacts «wrong», but unique.

By using the typologies, we can also recreate swords that are in certain parameters in a given time without reproducing an extant piece.
We can make educated guesses about what a specific configuration would have looked like and opt for certain properties and functionality depending on the intended use. In addition, keeping the important parameters like ratio, point of balance, and weight close to extant examples.

To name some of the most famous and widely used typologies for swords:
• Petersen (typology of the Viking sword, introduced in 1919 and simplified by Wheeler in 1927)
• Oakeshott (categorises European swords of the Middle Ages up to the Industrial Age, introduced in 1960)
• Behmer (late antiquity to early Middle ages, only concentrates on the hilts, introduced in 1939)
• Geibig (Viking blade types, 1991)
• Elmslie (focuses on single edged blades from the 10th to the 16th century, 2015)
• Norman (only analyses the hilts, from the Rapier to the Small-swords, 1460-1820, 1980)

Why should we still look at originals when we have typologies?

Besides original swords being awesome, as stated before, typologies are no absolutes, they need to be updated, extended after new finds of artefacts. Also, typologies describe forms during a certain period of time and are on paper just 2D. So, we’d lack important data if we’d just rely on the typologies on paper, and therefore we look at originals.

What should we look for, when inspecting original swords?

The details are what we are looking for. To answer the following questions: What makes a sword special? Why was a sword built a certain way and how was it made? Besides of being a weapon, we also look at swords as pieces of art, with their different and sometimes unique styles, and we try to incorporate them into our works. Also, we collect the data not provided in the typologies: weight and point of balance, for example.

What classifications are we mostly using at Malleus Martialis?

Here at Malleus, we mostly use Oakeshott and Elmslie for medieval swords and Norman for the Renaissance swords. The typologies of Oakeshott and Elmslie are mostly covering the medieval sword types, Norman focuses on the later swords with an emphasis more on the hilts than on the blades themselves.

Would you like to go deeper and buy some books?

In conclusion, here you can find some of the best readings.

• Behmer, Elis / Meyer, E. A. (Übers.): Das zweischneidige Schwert der germanischen Völkerwanderungszeit. Stockholm, Svea, 1939.
• Geibig, Alfred: Beiträge zur morphologischen Entwicklung des Schwertes im Mittelalter : eine Analyse des Fundmaterials vom ausgehenden 8. bis zum 12. Jahrhundert aus Sammlungen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Neumünster: K. Wachholtz, 1991.
• Grotkamp-Schepers, Barbara / Immel, Isabell / Johnsson, Peter / Wetzler, Sixt. Das Schwert – Gestalt und Gedanke : Ausstellung 26. SEP 2015-28. FEB 2016. Solingen: Deutsches Klingenmuseum, 2015.
• Norman, A. Vesey Bethune, and C.M Barne: The Rapier and Small-Sword : 1460-1820. London [etc: Arms and Armour Press [etc.], 1980.
• Oakeshott, Ewart: Records of the Medieval Sword. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1991.
• Oakeshott, Ewart: European Weapons and Armour : from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution. Guilford ; London: Lutterworth Press, 1980.
• Petersen, Jan: De norske vikingesverd : en typologisk-kronologisk studie over vikingetidens vaaben. Kristiania: i komm. hos J. Dybwad, 1919.
• Peirce, Ian G.: Swords of the Viking Age. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2002.
• Tzouriadis, Iason- Eleftherios: “What is the Riddle of Steel?”: Problems of Classification and Terminology in the Study of Late Medieval Swords, in: Deutscher, Lisa, Sixt Wetzler, and Mirjam Kaiser. The Sword  : Form and Thought : Proceedings of the Second
• Sword Conference 19/20 November 2015 Deutsches Klingenmuseum Solingen Woodbridge, UK ;: The Boydell Press, 2019, p. 3-11.
• Wheeler, Robert Eric Mortimer: London and the Vikings. London: Lancaster House, 1927.


Did you like this first Swordology episode?
Share this post with other sword enthusiasts and let them know about sword classifications!
Next time, we will take a closer look on Oakeshott and his sword classification.
See you next!

 

– – –
*Swordology is not an academic word at all, but an ironic neologism that might suit our informal tone here 🙂
Photo Cover: Malleus Martialis.

 

The Witcher FEAT. Talhoffer

What do the Witcher Geralt of Rivia and Hans Talhoffer, the German Master-at-Arms of the XV century have in common? Let's discover it! We are here to share a crucial truth with you. WE.ARE.NERDS. Yes: We finally said it. Nope: it's not the Secret of Steel. Or...

What do the Witcher Geralt of Rivia and Hans Talhoffer, the German Master-at-Arms of the XV century have in common? Let’s discover it!


We are here to share a crucial truth with you.
WE.ARE.NERDS.
Yes: We finally said it. Nope: it’s not the Secret of Steel. Or maybe it is?
Our love for swords is not limited to work. In our freetime we are fencers, reenactors, we play regularly Dungeons&Dragons, we enjoy Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie marathons and guess? We like playing videogames and watching TV series.

So, we’re still obsessively singing “Toss a coin to your Witcher” from the Netflix TV adaption of the Witcher’s Saga (from the books by Andrzej Sapkowski), and we wanted to toss a couple of good gold coins to those in charge of the videogame’s historical accuracy at CD Project Red, they truly deserve an acknowledgement.
Even though the TV series has the spectacular asset of Henry Cavill’s Geralt of Rivia, plus a very good cast in general and wonderful sceneries,  in our humble opinion it lacks of the “salt” given by the historical accuracy of the videogame…But does it make any sense talking about historical accuracy in a fantasy world?
Apparently it does because in the CD Project’s work – if we turn a blind eye to the unlikely placement of Geralt’s swords – the detailed historical-inspired clothing from different centuries and the anatomically correct design of the swords are very well melted with the fantasy context all around.

But there is an incredible period detail that we missed, that fortunately didn’t escape our friend Grappa e Spada’s beady eye. On a closer and careful look one might notice that the tattoo sported by some of the thugs in the game bear are exactly by a gloss featured in the XV century combat manual written by Johannes “Hans” Talhoffer, the notorious German Master-at-Arms.

WHAT.A.GLORIOUS.QUOTE!
THANKS, CD PROJECT RED!

Credits: Grappa & Spada – Simone Normani on  https://www.facebook.com/grappaespada/
Cover: Adobe Stock, commercial license owned by Malleus Martialis.

Pirate Queen

The Pirate Queen | LadyFencers Series

Here starts our "Ladyfencers" journey, from the social posts directly to our blog. Who's better than a siren, to introduce you incredible women-warriors during the centuries? History and legend blend seamlessly when talking about Grace O'Malley, the Pirate Queen of Ireland, a woman so bold and...

Here starts our “Ladyfencers” journey, from the social posts directly to our blog.
Who’s better than a siren, to introduce you incredible women-warriors during the centuries?


History and legend blend seamlessly when talking about Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen of Ireland, a woman so bold and ambitious to be still relevant today. We’d like to tell you her story.


Put a bunch of outcasts, renegades, criminals, weirdos and nut jobs on a boat. Send them afloat on a grog-fuelled, scabies-ridden voyage and what do you get? That’s right. Pirates!

It must have been terrifying to catch sight of a skull-and-crossed-bones flag from your peaceful merchant vessel, and for very good reasons. But piracy has always been a reliable source of good stories thanks to the eccentricity of characters such as the fabulous Grace O’Malley, exuberant woman-warrior who was literally off her rockers!

THE ORIGINS

Heir of a sailor dinasty, when she inherited her father’s fleet and land, she didn’t leave the duty to her husband, as it was customary. No, instead she decided to step up and commandeer a little army, dedicating her life to seafaring, plundering and rebelling. Thus flipping a massive finger at the gender role stereotypes of the time.
Her father must have got a hint of what was to come when Grace, still a child, asked him to take her on a diplomatic trip to Spain. He reasonably refused, explaining that her hair would be hazardous on a ship, so chopped her mane off and went anyway. There’s quite some login in to that girl madness, right?

THE RISE

Behind her impetuous attitude there was a lucid, working brain. In fact she managed to grow her family’s commercial network with Spain and Portugal, and got strategically married twice to increase her land and political power.
In between marriages she genuinely fell in love with a sailor who, shortly after, was murdered by the MacMahon family. Guess what happened to them. One could hardly find one living MacMahon in Doona after the Pirate Queen of Connaught gave them the O’Malley treatment!

THE SWORN ENEMY

But our Grace wouldn’t be a proper Irish legend without having ruffled some English feathers. As it happened her actions didn’t go unnoticed in England, so that Sir Richard Bingham, the English governor who was appointed to rule over her territories, captured one of her sons and took some of her cattle and land.
Sir Bingham was powerful and ruthless, so Grace was cornered, and instead of going berserk on Bingham and his fleet, she had to choose a diplomatic path: she requested an audience with Queen Elizabeth I, who curiously accepted.

THE MEETING BETWEEN TWO QUEENS

Grace parked her ship in the middle of the Thames and swaggered in the Palace with a simple request “free liberty during her life to invade with fire and sword all your highness’ enemies without any interruption of any person whatsoever”.
Basically she wanted to keep her independence and keep on pirating, but in a way the Queen would be cool with. And she was. Perhaps moved by the plights of Grace, instead of throwing her in the Tower of London, she sent her back home with a signed letter ordering to free her family and restore her lands.

Grace O’Malley and Elizabeth I (from Anthologia Hibernica volume II) – 1794

The meeting went surprisingly smoothly, all things considered, and it makes me wonder if, were there two men instead of two women, it would have ended in a bloodbath. Surely her being a woman didn’t play well with her role in history.
Despised by her English enemies, and feared by local aristocrats and church, her name survived mostly on folklore, thus making it hard to discern the real events behind the legend.
She was a remarkable woman, who fought her way through life in a time when freedom for women was rather limited, and she lived up to her seventies who wisely mixed warfare and diplomacy and even managed to carry a dagger to her meeting with the Queen…of course “for her self-defense”.

Conclusion

There are many songs and legends passed from minstrel to minstrel about the untameable Grace, the cropped-hair girl, the Sea Sovereign, the Irish Pirate Queen. Like this excerpt we chose, from Irish Minstrelsy by James Hardiman.
The armies of Elizabeth
Invaded her on land
Her warships followed on her track
And watched by many a strand
But she swept her foes before her
On the land and on the sea
And the flag of Grace O’Malley
Waved defiant proud and free

If you’d like to read the whole song and more poems about her, don’t miss this collection!
See you for the next episode, ol’ Sea Dogs!

A RUSSIAN SABRE REVENGE | LADYFENCERS SERIES 〉〉 

Cover: Suzanne Mischyshyn
County Mayo – Westport House Grounds – Statue of Grace O’Malley (1530-1603)
CC BY-SA 2.0

A Legendary Medieval Duel: Galeazzo vs. Boucicaut

Galeazzo da Mantova and Jean Le Meingre, called Boucicaut, Marshal of France, were important knights at the time they fought, in 1395 in Padua. A timeless story of rivalry and dissing, which we imagined narrated by Galeazzo himself. As I approach the lists I shudder, not for...


Galeazzo da Mantova and Jean Le Meingre, called Boucicaut, Marshal of France, were important knights at the time they fought, in 1395 in Padua.
A timeless story of rivalry and dissing, which we imagined narrated by Galeazzo himself.


As I approach the lists I shudder, not for the sight of my enemy, but for the sight of the people. Hundreds, thousands crowd around the piazza, climbing on each other’s shoulder, perched on roof tops. Everywhere. I’ve seen multitudes in a battle field, but this many civilians feels… unnatural.

I will face Monsieur Buzachardo, who dared to accuse all Italian knights of cowardice. He’s either a liar, or he probably never crossed swords with one, in which case it’s about time he stopped talking and started fighting.

IN NOMINE DOMINI

My mind goes back to my Master Fiore’s teachings, not a day starts without thanking the Omnipotent for allowing me to be his scholar, and I pray for Him and for my Lord Francesco, for my Family and for Glory. In Nomine Domini.

PREPARING FOR THE DUEL

I glance at my adversary, it’s time to add a new victorious page to the book, the arms are still sheathed but in my head they are already swinging, parrying the Frenchman’s blows and hitting back, twice as hard and twice as fast.

Duelling would be a rather fine affair if it wasn’t for all the pomp and ceremony preceeding the action. The Da Carrara are rather sober compared to Francesco Gonzaga’s standards, but still.

THE DUEL

As I’m about to mount my steed I see Boucicaut, the arrogant scoundrel, launching an attack. He obviously knows that surprising me off guard is his only chance at defeating me. But he obviously doesn’t know that my guard is never off. As he drags me off my horse – horseback duel was his idea, maybe this was all planned? – I hit his neck with my lance and then I dodge a metal-clad fist before regaining my balance and drawing my sword.

It all goes so quick I barely have time to register it, and the Lords of Padua and Mantua pull me and Boucicaut apart. So much for honour and courage! I came for a duel while all he wanted was a tavern brawl.

Is your fame all just a parade, Marshal?

Where is your prowess with a sword that made your name known? Show me that you are not a coward and challenge me again, this time not with punches and shoves, but in a noble sword fight.


Galeazzo and Jean met again in 1406, eleven years later, and the Mantuan condottiero finally had his victory, while the French marshal swore never to wear a visor on his bascinet from then on.


Download the Galeazzo/Boucicaut Wallpaper for free!
CREDITS: IVIEN ART FOR MALLEUS MARTIALIS


 

Sources & Credits:
Rerum italicarum scriptores, AA.VV pp.448-449
Acta Periodica Duellatorum (vol. 6, issue 1) a cura di Jaquet Daniel
Captain of Fortune: Galeazzo da Mantova ©2013, Gregory D. Mele
Wiktenauer/FioredeiLiberi
Illustration by Ivien Art – Valentina Lauria
Counseling by ” The Historical Perfection” Armour Nerds’WA Group & Simone Sgambati

 

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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