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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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Swordsmithing

Malleus Martialis Firenze / Swordsmithing

Why historical research matters

This is the sixth part of an eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia. Let's find out why historical research matters in swordmaking! The work of a swordsmith necessarily involves a lot of historical research. As professionals...

This is the sixth part of an eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia. Let’s find out why historical research matters in swordmaking!


The work of a swordsmith necessarily involves a lot of historical research. As professionals we have the duty not to lie.
How many times did you read “historical replica” or “hand-forged sword” or also “faithful reproduction” close to a wannabe Excalibur toy-sword? 

Q17. Yours is a rare job that can have a connection even with those who do not practice fencing. Have you ever dealt with replicas for museums, universities, or the like?

Eleonora: We have never had the opportunity to build replicas for museums as of yet, but we have had the opportunity to collect data from private collections, as well as the Marzoli Museum in Brescia and the Solingen Museum of Blades.


This interview was published in 2020, since then we have had the opportunity to start a project in partnership with KLANG – Spade di leoni ed aquile – Interreg VA Italia – Austria and Comune di Belluno in Italy which has enriched Museo Civico di Palazzo Fulcis with a collection of weapons made by Bellunese swordsmiths, all from Museo Correr in Venice. We are currently working on two wonderful specimens, one schiavonesca and one late XVI century estoc.

Q18. Now let’s move on to sports equipment. What difference is there between forging a weapon for reenactment and one for sport?

Rodolfo: Certainly the thickness and the degree of flexibility.


Dealing with sport, reenactment and blunt replicas is always a great challenge. Every sword belonging to one of these different categories has to follow different parameters of thickness, flexibility and accuracy.
The sport swords, meant for the Historical European Martial Arts practice, need to be flexible and performative, and also to be as minimal as possible from an aesthetic point of view, without sacrificing the general historical flavour.
The reenactment swords, meant for scenic battles and duels, are not our cup of tea, mostly because so many authentic parameters have to be sacrificed for the sake of extreme resilience and durability.
On the other hand, the collectible swords, belonging to the Armeria Collection, are the works we enjoy the most but also the most demanding ones. Being as accurate as possible, finding the right compromises to make an excellent blunt reproduction require an amount of time and efforts that other more “standard” swords don’t need.

Q19. Do you receive more requests for sports weapons than for historical replicas, or vice versa?

Rodolfo: Definitely more for sports weapons.

Q20. Have you ever made weapons for films, theatrical performances or fiction in general?

Rodolfo: No, never, but we would love to.

Q21. What do you think of the swords that are only for display? Yours never are.

Eleonora: They fulfil their purpose!


We always have a large variety of customers who look for different aspects and purposes in their swords. We mainly work with historical fencers, and we never had the opportunity to work for cinema or theatre.
But we made some collectible swords that were for display: they were heat-treated and decorated, but even if they were meant to be exhibited, we always choose to make fully functional reproductions.

Q22. How could you go about making an exact replica of a historical weapon preserved in a museum? You’ve done it before, can you tell us about it? Again, we don’t need the details, but just a few indications to give us an idea.

Eleonora: To make an accurate replica, the best would be to make the tracings of the exact original piece or original pieces of the same type, also because the swords often come to us having undergone some changes or suffered some wear and tear over time. We then proceed with the design, from the tracing to the drawing, until we get to the object we are going to build, which will be the result of compromises, reconstruction by deduction or proportion, choice, and research on the materials to be used.


To understand why historical research matters you have to start with another question: what does historical accuracy mean?
We interpret it by working on the dynamics and the “feeling”. From a design point of view, Eleonora always carries out the research starting with collecting as many models and information as possible of the same type of sword, comparing a large choice of originals and data. She chooses the right aesthetics, designs the piece with a CAD software and gives the general coordinates. Then, the task passes to the smithy, where Rodolfo and the guys analyse the project. the directions and the suggestions left by Eleonora and work out a plan to make it possible, in order to follow the feel and the appearance of the original sword/s which the project is based on. All the skills provided by the team makes the result possible.

Q23. Nowadays, the term “experimental archeology” is in fashion. Do you, though not archaeologists in fact, feel that way?

Rodolfo: Absolutely not! Experimental archeology is, by definition, the reconstruction of the process that leads to the artefact. We don’t use the same procedures, and above all our purpose is not the study and research of the procedure, but the realisation of the result. The study of the procedures is collateral and utilitarian as a means to our end goal.


And here we are! It would be heresy if we’d affirm to follow the ancient techniques to investigate the process. But if we want to stay grounded, because on the contrary our processes wouldn’t be efficient enough, we must be devoted to historical research.
Why does historical research matters then? Because without it a sword would be ugly and clumsy or simply ordinary and repetitive. By distorting or not knowing the principles that regulate the design and the properties of the sword, that sword can remotely recall the original in some way, but it will never have the same attraction, grace or strength as the object that inspired it. Nor the smiths can grow and evolve through time.
We still have to learn a lot, because every art requires repetition, devotion and studying but we’re confident in saying that we’re doing our best to walk in the right direction.

And if you have any suggestion, we are always very keen to listen. Keep up following us for the next episode!

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 〉〉
making-swords-21st-century

Making swords in the 21st century

This is the fourth episode of a eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia. Making swords in the 21st century can be seen as a weird job. In fact, swordsmithing is easily associated with chivarly, duels of...

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


Making swords in the 21st century can be seen as a weird job. In fact, swordsmithing is easily associated with chivarly, duels of honour and war. Why anyone would need swords today?! Because many brave, passionate ones, as we do, still feed the spark, rediscovering and practicing historical european martial arts! But what does it mean to be a swordsmith in the 21st century?

Q7. The forge of a swordsmith in the 21st century definitely doesn’t look much like one you would have found in a medieval city. Can you tell us what the differences are?

Rodolfo: A whole treatise could be written to answer this question. I will try to be concise: it depends a lot on the production process used by each swordsmith. Certainly very few of us have a water mill, or a mallet and grinding wheels powered by it, but we have the electric power that compensates for the lack of them, as well as electric or pneumatic tools, ultra tech abrasives and what have you, to centralise the production chain in a single workshop; this production chain was once much more segmented and specialised.

Eleonora: There were certainly no computers that could be used to draw, nor all the apps that I use to manage my workflow, like a CRM, for example!


The industrial revolution before and the digital revolution then has changed everything. If our ancestors could look at us, we would be certainly alien to them!
But as a side note, working with different processes doesn’t mean swords are not authentic. This kind of vision corrupts the value and the effort all swordsmiths put in their work today.

Q8. Imagine we are in the medieval forge mentioned in the previous question. A noble gentleman enters and, placing a bag full of silver on the table, asks to have a sword made so he can leave with the good emperor Federico on the road to the Holy Land. What happens next? How would you proceed, and how is it done now, to make a weapon from scratch that can be used in battle? We don’t want to know the secrets of the trade, but just an idea of ​​how you would proceed, from order to delivery.

Rodolfo: To tell you exactly how a commission worked at the time of Federico di Svevia, I would have to have a lot more documented data available; during the centuries I studied from this perspective, between the 14th and the 16th century the city guilds were well-organised. Usually, the private commissions came through an entrepreneurial figure who distributed the work between the various artisans, as the work was much more specialised than as it is today. Today, the swordsmith is expected to be a carpenter, goldsmith, engraver and coppersmith, as well. In part, we have also acquired several of these skills at different levels in recent years, but it’s certainly not like having a team of experts who divide the work into different phases.

Eleonora: I can reiterate what Rodolfo said. To conclude, I can tell you how an order works today as I take care of customer service and design. If a customer chooses a piece from the sport collection, the options are already specified on the website and the order process is immediate. If, on the other hand, they go for a custom sword, whether it’s an artefact or for HEMA, the process is longer as I have to understand what the customer is looking for and if we can satisfy them.


Understanding the customer’s needs is a complex process which requires empathy and listening. You have to guide them through various ideas and proposals, and it’s really important to be creative and to know the subject both from the craftmanship and the historical point of view. So, studying the development of swords through history and swordsmanship is fundemental to connect the dots and offer a bespoke solution.

Q9. From receiving the commission to ending up with the finished sword in its scabbard, ready to be used by a nobleman, how much time do you need and how long did it take in the past?

Rodolfo: I can cite a precious testimony from the end of the 16th century where it’s said that a master weaponsmith from Brescia made 25 swords or 18 polearms in one day. Our production times are a little different. (laughs)

Eleonora: Of course, if we had a larger and better equipped workshop, even with automated processes, our production times and techniques would be different: but this is not our case yet, having built this company with little economic capital and a lot of human capital (hourly speaking), it’s all a work in progress! However, it always depends on the type of sword. Generally speaking, making swords can take anywhere from 8-10 hours for one, to weeks, to even months.


As we deal both with “standardized” products and custom projects, times are really varying. We worked a lot in the last two years to define precise deadlines, setting the production with a methodical schedule, which allows to establish more precise times of completion. For example, a Sport sword can be already in stock, or take around 3 months to be delivered. An Armeria sword, on the other hand, can currently take from 6 to 12 months.

Q10. What difference is there in making swords in different eras? With new technologies, is it still so different to forge a medieval sword compared with a Renaissance or Baroque one?

Rodolfo: There are many studies on ancient forging techniques, and blacksmiths with much more expertise. Our friend Giovanni Sartori could be decidedly more exhaustive, as he specialised in this subject. Much, I think, has always depended on the metal-working method and on the ability to enrich iron with carbon, so I limit myself to saying that in different parts of the world and in different eras, techniques have been used that had the purpose of hardening and subsequently, heat-treating the metal. Conceptually, today we still do the same things, but we have simplified the steps, being able to procure particular metals that meet our needs.

If we had a larger and better equipped workshop, even with automated processes, our production times and techniques would be different

Q11. Is there a difference between forging a blade from the same historical period, but from a different place?

Rodolfo: Without a doubt, starting from the composition of the steel. For this, some production sites were more renowned than others. But then as we said earlier, each craftsman had his own formulas, which also certainly varied according to the raw materials available. If you consider Japan, for example, the master swordsmiths, not having the right technologies nor the mineral in abundance as there is in Europe, drew iron matter from the sand by process of extraction. Here in Europe, it’s always been done through the extraction of iron from the rock. Essentially, I believe it depended on the possibilities of supply of those who produced the blades.


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 secrets of a swordsmith

The secrets of a swordsmith

This is the second episode of a eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia. Did you miss the first? Go and check it HERE! In this section we will unveil some secrets of a swordsmith: craft or magic? Q3....

This is the second episode of a eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia.
Did you miss the first? Go and check it HERE!


In this section we will unveil some secrets of a swordsmith: craft or magic?


Q3. What are the characteristics of a good swordsmith, and what makes a good sword?

Rodolfo: The answer to both questions is resilience and flexibility.

Eleonora: A good swordsmith, in my opinion, must have great humility, a good eye and must be a hard worker. A good sword, rather, must be the result of a series of considerations; without these, it will always be a bad sword, even if it’s aesthetically pleasing.


Swordsmithing is an ancient art, and bringing it back requires research, reverse-engineering and a full understanding of the construction logics.
An extensive data collection from museums and private collections and also comparison with the swordfighting manuals through history are an asset.
Many see swordsmithing as an Art, and it is in many ways, but Art is not the fruit of some genious creating the blades with his talent only.
Talent is nothing without constance and discipline.

You can be as talented as Gods, but if your hands are not guided by a strong, practical and constant mind, your art is pure exercise or a hobby. Beautiful, admirable, but it can't be really profitable in every sense you can intend it.

Q4. In some parts of the world, swordsmiths had a very elevated status, even more so for those who made weaponry; they were considered a cross between craftsman, magician and priest. Do you also feel a little like this?

Rodolfo: We are far from a tribal society, or in any case from a more analogical mindset, where villagers feared the bladesmith; for example, for the fact that he closed the windows of the forge to see the colour of the red-hot metal, it was insinuated that there was something evil there. Although there are parts of the job that require a certain manual skill and ours is actually a very modern context, the spirit with which we reconstruct some pieces in particular still holds some of that magic.

Eleonora: Well, it’s not as if the famous character of the bladesmith helps much! It’s well known that swordsmith families had very particular recipes, for example those for quenching or for enriching iron and making it sharper, that were similar to witchcraft formulas. For me, the magical component is essential: when you see a beautiful sword, there is a certain science which our ancestors would have called magic.


Our payoff has always been “It’s a kind of magic”, a quote to Queen but also to this beautiful process we embrace when we make a sword from rough.
You have certainly heard that Magic is unexplained Science. We like to think that in what we do, the way we do it, these two components melt together.
So our magic formula comes from the thirst of knowledge and devotion to work, in an esoteric balance between Alchemy and Chemistry, Physics and Intuition, Geometry and the instictual proportion of Nature. These are our “Secrets of a Swordsmith”.

Photo Cover: T.HEMA by Stefan Feichtinger

〈 Previous Episode | 1/8
Next episode 3/8 〉〉
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How to start a smithy and how to learn the skills of the trade

Previously we published the "Interview with the Swordsmith"; but as many of you are curious about us, our work and our skills, we decided to write a cycle of posts to tell you something more, and to share some tips too. This is the first episode...

Previously we published the “Interview with the Swordsmith“; but as many of you are curious about us, our work and our skills, we decided to write a cycle of posts to tell you something more, and to share some tips too.
This is the first episode of a eight-part interview by Carlo Cavazzuti and appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia.
We added a brief, more in depth comment about the topic.


In this section we will tell how to start a smithy, or swordsmith workshop and how we had to learn the skills of the trade.


Q1. I know you both from before you opened the smithy, so I know how you ended up here, but maybe our readers would like to know how someone ends up starting their own sword-making business. Can you tell us a bit about it? Why swords, in particular?

Rodolfo: First of all, thank you Carlo for inviting us to chat! While I was studying Medicine in Florence in the early 2000s, I was already spending time in the historical reenactment world . At the same time I ended up, like many, studying medieval fencing. I was initially eager, but not especially well-informed, and fencing had grabbed me for a number of reasons; the practicing tools, cold weaponry, had put a spell on me that I just couldn’t shake off, so much so that I wanted to deepen my knowledge of its construction methodologies and pursue it as a job.

Eleonora: I come from the world of Visual Arts. I graduated from the Fine Art Academy in Bologna and, at the same time, I dedicated 15 years of my life to singing, turning towards Belcanto in the second part of my studies. At the Academy, I moved towards photography and design, then going on to complete a year-long course in Interior Design after graduation. In 2011, I began to move towards historical fencing; I was always a bit of a lazybones and I wanted to take up a sport that intellectually stimulated me as well. Along this road, I crossed paths with Rodolfo (or as Maestro Fiore would say, we “crossed swords”). So, I decided to change course and from the singing on stage, I ended up in the smithy, or rather, I put my design experience to good use.


So, we had two very different backgrounds. No Business Schools, no business experiences on our shoulders.
How was it possible?
A little startup capital – it was little and we struggled because of it -, the right mindset and the willing to improve, starting from learning how to properly run a business, studying and redesigning its structure through time, along with the essential skills to build a high-quality product. In our case, also building a proper database to develop the various models, both catalogue items and custom works, was useful. And last but not the least: choosing the right colleagues to work with.

I learned from two great teachers called Trial and Error

Q2. I don’t think there is a school for swordsmiths (if there is, please do correct me and tell us where it is), so having someone who can teach in the workshop must be important. Were you ever a student to a swordsmith? Do you have any students of your own to teach the trade to?

Eleonora: Technically there are some courses every now and again, run by great swordsmiths like Peter Johnsson and Owen Bush. The secret to learning how to forge, however, is to be in the workshop with those who still hold and practice the artistic heritage of wrought iron and from there, develop a series of “tools” that lend themselves to the art of swordmaking. These “tools” come from the observation and study of original findings.

Rodolfo: Eleonora has just revealed the big secret! Still, it took me years to understand this triviality: in fact, I went to the workshop of a craftsman who dabbled in building replicas of weaponry, but 90% of what I know today I learned from two great teachers called Trial and Error. I don’t really have students, mainly because to have students I would need to be a teacher, and I don’t feel like one at all. I have apprentices, though, who work with me and share this dream.


You can learn whatever you want. It’s only a matter of determination and connecting the dots, by applying the principles of art. Discipline, measure – as for swordmanship – learning from your  errors: never be too sentimental towards your works. Not because they’re bad, but because they can be better. There’s always something to file, to refine, to achieve the next level. As the Mandalorian would say it: This is the Way! Or at least, this is ours.

2nd Episode 〉〉

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

 

Malleus Martialis coat of arms

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