Great swords and uncomfortable questions
This is the eighth and last part of the interview by Carlo Cavazzuti, which appeared in its original Italian version on Narrare di Storia.
In this last piece of interview we will go through some uncomfortable myths about great swords and uncomfortable questions!
Because dispelling some common beliefs and being honest towards our own work is mandatory!
Q30. You also say that knights’ swords didn’t weigh ten kilos! Most people never listen to me until I put one in their hands.
Rodolfo: We can confirm! There are 15th to 17th century parade swords that can weigh up to six kilos but they’re exceptions and above all, they’re not swords suitable for combat.
Eleonora: And then if we talk about balancing, it’s another story: unbalanced (but not necessarily heavy) swords seem heavier than they are.
There are very big greatswords in the museums and the historical treatises explain their use: think about Renaissance two-handed swords, montantes, Zweihänder or claymores.
They’re indeed huge blades that can go on average from 150 cm up to 190 cm, and in the worst case scenario, weigh up to 3 kgs.
If we talk about parade swords or bearing /ceremonial greatswords, then you can find oversized and unwieldy swords, over 2 meters long and weighing even 5 or 6 kg.
For example, one of the twin bearing greatswords preserved in the Royal Armouries (see here) is 6.5 kg and 227 cm long. There is a similar specimen attributed to the Frisian folk hero Grutte Pier, who was active during the first half of 16th century. Legends say that the sword was perfectly fitted to Pier’s size but despite being clearly impractical for fencing. What’s interesting, similar specimens from the Royal Armouries equal specimens appeared in 1400-1430, so, decades before the hero’s birth.
Q31. One last question of a more personal nature. Years ago, not even that many, an acquaintance of mine, a great historical fencing athlete who was well-known on the competition fields, fought against a foreign army “invader” during a war in his home country. He was fully armed in his armour like a medieval knight, holding his sharpened two-handed sword, as he had nothing else with which to defend his land. I think he was the last person in Europe to go into battle in armour and with a sword, using it to kill in the way it had truly been invented for, so long ago.
If you knew that your hands were forging real tools for death, like in the past, and not collectibles or sports items, would you still continue to do so?
Rodolfo: Uncomfortable question. But the answer is yes.
Eleonora: I agree with Rodolfo, as our love for our work derives from making these objects, with their specific characteristics.
If you’re wondering: no, we don’t like war. We know we’re lucky to live in a time and place that has been peaceful, and our hearts go out to every person who can’t say the same.
On the other hand, we love what we make, from A to Z.
And although we can’t make sharp swords, we also believe that the responsibility lies both on the producer and on the final customer.
It also stays in the message we aim to give to our customers, the education we can nurture through our words and facts.
It’s like having a partner: you say you love them, but not completely? It shouldn’t work that way. Flaws and virtues, weaknesses and strengths are a part of the game of love. Acceptance and understanding are the key. It’s the way we deal with them that affects the world around us.
Then the interviewer ends: Hoping to have given those (now grown-up) children a little knowledge on how the imaginary swords of our childhood games were and still are forged, and how they’re not all the same, I invite you to visit the Malleus Martialis website – https://malleusmartialis.com/ and if you ever want a sword, give Eleonora and Rodolfo a call so they can forge it for you.
One last tip for our friends who are passionate about swords and knives: make it clear to your companions, wives, husbands, boyfriends or girlfriends that swords were in your life before you met each other and therefore have first dibs on your affection, time and family finances. Once this is established, you will have a truly serene and satisfying life as a couple. If not, you will have a splendid life alone with your blades!
A huge thank you to Carlo, our kind interviewer, for giving us the chance to talk about our job from a deeper perspective.
It was so nice that we decided to translate it in English to share it with you all! If you liked the series, which has now come to an end: share it, comment or drop us a message if you have any question! See you next!