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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]
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From raw steel to a knight’s blade

This is the fifth part of a eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia. From raw steel to a knight's blade, which materials, techniques and tricks does a swordsmith use? Today we dive into the process, and...

This is the fifth part of a eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia.


From raw steel to a knight’s blade, which materials, techniques and tricks does a swordsmith use? Today we dive into the process, and we’ll  talk about techniques, curiosities and financials too! 

Q12. A couple of years ago, I asked Rodolfo if he was able to make me an Indian Pata, a sort of gauntlet with the blade of a sword on it. Those who have seen Willow couldn’t forget it. He said no because he’s not an armourer, and I left with my project, which still remains to be completed. Can you explain to the less experienced the difference between blacksmith, swordsmith and armourer? Unfortunately, there are still some legends going around that say that a blacksmith who makes spades and ploughshares can make swords and armour.

Eleonora: Effectively, a good distinction must be made, even if today the only truly surviving craft is that of the blacksmith, in its different forms. The difference simply lies in what, today, we love to call “know-how”: a blacksmith will hardly have the necessary knowledge to make a sword, even if perhaps he has some of the tools that would allow him to try.

In fact, not by chance, at the end of the Middle Ages in Florence, blacksmiths belonged to l’Arte dei Fabbri (the Art of Blacksmiths) while swordsmiths and armourers belonged to l’Arte dei Corazzai e Spadai (the Art of the Armourers and Swordsmiths). Each profession, as well as each subsection of said profession, has specific knowledge and tools, such as, to start with the basics as an example, the hammer. The hammers used by a farrier are certainly not the same as those used by a sword maker and likewise, they differ from those of an armourer.


The great difference among the branches of the trade can also be seen in the present, If you ask a great blacksmith or cutler to make a sword, they could have troubles starting from the design, the proportions and the dynamic properties of the sword as an object.

Q13. Let’s talk about materials. There are many different types of steel, and usually even more alloys. How do you choose the best one for a blade?

Rodolfo: It depends on what performance is required of that sword for use in the modern world. We could write a treatise on a question like this! I could also tell you that by combining multiple steels, you can obtain excellent results.


The fact is that today we’re privileged. We know exactly how much carbon or manganese is present in the steel we choose through a chemical analysis.
We can also choose exactly the composition we like and we know exactly the parameters for the heat-treatment process. Nonetheless, that tiny annoying enthropy we are victim of turns out to influence the result. The steel is not perfect, as the heat-treatment can fail, and sometimes you know it before, sometimes not. It’s the risk of a crafting business like this!

Q14. Many people rave about the steel of Toledo, Salamanca, Solingen, as well as that of Damascus and Japanese steel. Why did they become so important? Is it true that they are exceptional for blades?

Rodolfo: Certain places of production definitely boast a reputation that is well-deserved: let’s not forget that it is not so much the steel itself that is good, but rather those who know how to work it. Specialised craftsmen with knowledge handed down for generations were able to obtain enviable results, even by today’s standards. Generally, I could say that the production centers that also function as centers of cultural relevance had a certain edge. (You didn’t mention Milan, for example, home of the Missaglia Armourers).


It is certainly true they were very important centers of production, as much as their legend still lives today, even if the sword production is not their core for obvious reasons anymore! Also, legends can sometimes be a little blown out of proportion, above all in the present time.

Q15. Are there forging techniques of the past that have been lost or that are no longer replicable?

Rodolfo: ... What is lost cannot be known or replicated; we can come close through the observation of artefacts with a sort of “retro engineering” but often what makes the difference, like in western martial arts of ancient times, is the oral transmission between teacher and apprentice. This oral tradition, having been interrupted, has brought us back to experience things that were probably taken for granted.


When it comes to replicate an artifact you always have to analyse the why and hows. Sometimes the right question, beyond materials, is: how can I replicate that detail to achieve the same effect? What modern technologies do I have at my disposal and what is the best compromise? Can I use a similar technique or have I to keep it more efficient? Because it’s also a matter of efficiency most of the times. We’ll never forge a blade for sport if it’s not strictly requested for some reason, we’ll go with the stock removal process to keep the costs more affordable. Or another example: the gilding technique was made with a risky process by using mercury. Today also safety and health reasons prevent us to use the same technique, so we’ll have to search for an alternative.

Q16. Let’s talk about vile pecunia. The idea that the sword was once a precious object isn’t wrong, in fact, quite the contrary. A sword is an object that, if well-made, had and rightly still has significant costs. Without having to deal with historical numismatics regarding Fiorini, Grossi, Testoni, etc. and sticking to the better known Euro, how much would the sword of a noble lord have cost, provided we can make that comparison?

Eleonora: The comparison is only possible if we know exactly what characteristics the sword has. If we’re talking about a blade of a great gentleman, perhaps to be exhibited, decorated with precious stones, gold and enamel, I believe it could cost as much as a luxurious car; what model of car would depend on the degree of preciousness.


In the past, as nowadays, materials, hours and skills have a budget. We’re like tailors when it comes to a custom work, so we are called to have the ability to cut and sew the dress – or the sword – on the customer.
So, from raw steel to a knight’s blade it’s a long way! And it’s a hard job but someone still makes it!
Keep up following us for other contents about the swordsmithing world!
〈 Previous Episode | 4/8
Next episode coming soon 〉〉
a-sword-s-soul

A sword’s soul: a philosophical matter

This is the third episode of a eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia. This section of the interview deals with a philosophical matter: A sword's soul! What does this mean? Follow us in this journey through...

This is the third episode of a eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia.


This section of the interview deals with a philosophical matter: A sword’s soul! What does this mean? Follow us in this journey through time!


Q5. Many famous swords have names, do you “baptize” all of yours at the anvil with a book of names or do you not give weight to this type of tradition?

Rodolfo: Usually Eleonora is the one to name the swords!

Eleonora: Yes, I’m the one who is obsessed with this. Obviously it depends on the sword, but many custom orders (both for a matter of recognition as well as for marketing), give a name to themselves, almost automatically: I look at them and I don’t even have to think!


In history, many swords were given a name, because our ancestors strongly believed that the act of naming was to define, to give life and purpose to everything. Swords like Roland’s Durendal, or King Arthur’s Excalibur or the well known Joyeuse of the Emperor Charlemagne, just to mention some, did have a soul and were relics charged with power. Also, the advent of Christianity played an important role in the development of the symbolic meanings connected to the sword as an object. As a symbol of justice and equity, as of the Christ’s cross and passion, the sword became the icon of the chivarly’s right and status, so much that this idea survived until today, where we still make swords for fencers and collectors from all over the world.

Relics enough thy golden hilt conceals: / Saint Peter's Tooth, the Blood of Saint Basile, / Some of the Hairs of my Lord, Saint Denise, / Some of the Robe, was worn by Saint Mary. - About Durendal, from La Chanson de Roland

Q6. For me, a sword is a work of art that kills, and in some cases an almost pornographic object (forgive me, collector’s mania). For others, a sword is a piece of sports equipment, and for some, it’s a decoration for the home. For you, who forge them, what is a sword’s function?

Rodolfo: I’d like to make a small specification: the forging component in our established production process is very small. We use the forge for small parts of the sword and only when necessary, otherwise we use manual procedures such as stock removal (removing excess material) to obtain the result efficiently and with the tools available to us. For me, a sword is a functional tool to practice with, even beautiful if need be, as proportions and functionality are directly connected.

Eleonora: For me, it depends on the sword. Is it an original or a sharpened replica? Then it’s a weapon, more or less a piece of art, based on the expertise of its maker. Is it a sword for HEMA? Then it’s a sports tool. Is it a bit of both? It’s possible!


Beside the magical aspect and the legend, how to find the sword’s soul? Through the purpose. Purpose of usage, but also a purpose connected to the human being who owns it. So why do you want a sword? It’s a kind of an ethical question too, even if we don’t make sharp blades. When we work on a design of our own, or conduct a  research to focus on the customer’s needs, we always keep in mind the purpose. This is how a sword should always be crafted, no matter the fancy licenses, the catchy aesthetics or the fine craftmanship. Like a painting with no message, a sword is empty without its true purpose.

Photo Cover: Erica Mottin Ph – Dress & Makeup by Elaine’s Couture

〈 Previous Episode | 2/8
Next episode 4/8 〉〉

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

 

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

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