The Great Mike Loades on 2 Handed Swords, circa 1184!!

Subitai

Knight at Arms
WB
Best answers
0
I was curious about the research for Blue Blood, specifically about 2 handed swords circa 1184 and at least the possibility of gripping a sword in 2 handed fashion.

So I went onto Mike Loades facebook page and asked him.  Anyone who doesn't know who he is...is missing out on allot of very good History Channel and other videos that he has made based on his love and research of medieval weapons and armor.  Mike is great on horseback as well, he'd be awesome as an adviser for Mount & Blade.
 
Here is his Page:  http://www.mikeloades.co.uk/cms/index.php

Below in spoiler is my question and the answer from the man himself:

Hello Mike, (big fan of your work btw)...
I was wondering if in all your research of medieval weapons, if you could answer
a question:

In Europe circa 1184, if there was the development or significant usage of a
2 Handed sword?

I've heard discussions where people argue during this time period :
""no significant evidence" of the development and usage of
2h swords at the time. (or something simlar to that excuse)

Common sense tells me that somewhere in the span of time a Man had
a single sword somewhere and decided he needed more leverage or power
and gripped a single sword in double handed fashion. But does that argue to the
point then...was that still not a true 2 hander?

Would love your opinions on this?
"O" from CT. USA


Hello O

Thanks for your kind words. I talk about the emergence of two handed swords and the use of regular single handed swords with two hands in a couple of places in my book Swords and Swordsmen. Certainly there were War Swords/ great Swords as early as 1100 , which have longer handgrips for use with two hands. It is also tru to say that there are images of single-handed swords being used with two hands (eg in the Jungfrauenspiegel c, 1200). The purpose of the two-handed sword however is not just to get more leverage or power from having a larger sword or using it with two hands (though both these factors are also true); the extra advantage of a two-handed sword is that the longer grip allows the hands to be used in a different way, pivoting around a central fulcrum. So the notion of someone using a sword with two hands (which has probably always been done on occasion) is quite different to the development of a sword with a long grip (and therefore called a two-handed sword), allowing a sort of scissor action with the hands, which in turn opens up all sorts of possibilities for how you use it both offensively and defensively. Obviously this is far too complex a subject to go into in a facebook post but I hope it goes some way to answering your question.

best wishes

Mike

So there you have it, words from a credible source that 2 handers DID EXIST as early as 1100.

I know the history buffs on this mod might at least find this interesting.  It's because of this for example, that I used Morgh's item editer and changed a couple things like the Long Arming Sword to enable  one / two hand usage.

Pretty cool, "O"
 

kevindrosario

Knight at Arms
M&BWBWF&SNW
Best answers
0
I'm not exactly a history buff, but I watched a very cool PBS documentary recently about how Scandinavians had access to crucible steel as early as the 9th century. It would be cool if something about these "Ulfberhts" could be included as well.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-viking-sword.html
 

Staten

Recruit
Best answers
0
This is a source of some controversy in sword nerd circles.

First, one has to consider that there are three main kinds of sources; writen text, depictions and extant weapons.

When it comes to twohanders before the 14th c, we have extant weapons, but no text or depictions. This is complicated by the fact that these extant weapons are dated ONLY based on physical appearance, since you can not C14 date a metal blade and the organic components are usually missing.

So, Mike (and many others) base his statement notably on Ewart Oakeshott, the guru of sword research and thypology, which dates one or two long gripped swords to the late 12th/early 13th c.
He does this purely based on the look of the weapon, namely that it has long, "gadhjalt" style quillions that are usually seen in 10th-11th century one handed swords.
Personally, I am more partial to considere it a fluke of later design that fluke of early longswords.

What one HAS in the 12th and early 13th century is freakishly long one handed swords. Many of these have blade lengths that equal, and sometimes surpasses, that seen in later longswords. The Sword of St. Maurice, for instance, is over 90 cm long. (An average one handed sword from most periods beeing about 70-85 cm). These are often presumed to be knightly saddle swords, for use against infantry on horseback, or to strike over the top of kite and heather shields.
The longsword was presumably (According to Oakeshott) a further development of these, adding a longer handle to enable the knight to use both hands. (Or, equally probable, to help counterbalance the blade.)
While there are weapons with long handles that are dated earlyer, the "longsword" as a consept in itself seems to orginate in the 134th century, when knights started to fight dismounted. In these instances they where allready armed with a polearm/spear/lance, having both hands free, and visored helmets and heavy armour that would let them survive without the large shields that where formerly the norm in ground combat.

From a game/RPG perspective, two handed weapons seem quite attractive, since they do more "damage". In the real world, however, the main consern is not getting killed. An infantryman with a two handed sword in the 12th century would be at a serious disadvantage in such respects, since everyone else is armed with a fast, deadly and long spear, and a shield that allows them to attack and defend at the same time.

Some weapons have their decided time and place. The longsword belongs quite firmly with the plate armoured heavy infantry of the late middle ages, and disappears from common usage along with the decline of these. The true twohander does not really appear untill the renaisance, where it is used as high status weapon for elite shock troops such as the personal bodyguards of Landsknecht captains. These are generall heavy reserves that do not stand in the main battle line. They generally disappear by the end of the 16th century, though they linger as the gold-plated-desert-eagle-substitute of certain scottish chieftains.
 

Subitai

Knight at Arms
WB
Best answers
0
Staten said:
This is a source of some controversy in sword nerd circles.

First, one has to consider that there are three main kinds of sources; writen text, depictions and extant weapons.

When it comes to twohanders before the 14th c, we have extant weapons, but no text or depictions. This is complicated by the fact that these extant weapons are dated ONLY based on physical appearance, since you can not C14 date a metal blade and the organic components are usually missing.

So, Mike (and many others) base his statement notably on Ewart Oakeshott, the guru of sword research and thypology, which dates one or two long gripped swords to the late 12th/early 13th c.
He does this purely based on the look of the weapon, namely that it has long, "gadhjalt" style quillions that are usually seen in 10th-11th century one handed swords.
Personally, I am more partial to considere it a fluke of later design that fluke of early longswords.

What one HAS in the 12th and early 13th century is freakishly long one handed swords. Many of these have blade lengths that equal, and sometimes surpasses, that seen in later longswords. The Sword of St. Maurice, for instance, is over 90 cm long. (An average one handed sword from most periods beeing about 70-85 cm). These are often presumed to be knightly saddle swords, for use against infantry on horseback, or to strike over the top of kite and heather shields.
The longsword was presumably (According to Oakeshott) a further development of these, adding a longer handle to enable the knight to use both hands. (Or, equally probable, to help counterbalance the blade.)
While there are weapons with long handles that are dated earlyer, the "longsword" as a consept in itself seems to orginate in the 134th century, when knights started to fight dismounted. In these instances they where allready armed with a polearm/spear/lance, having both hands free, and visored helmets and heavy armour that would let them survive without the large shields that where formerly the norm in ground combat.

From a game/RPG perspective, two handed weapons seem quite attractive, since they do more "damage". In the real world, however, the main consern is not getting killed. An infantryman with a two handed sword in the 12th century would be at a serious disadvantage in such respects, since everyone else is armed with a fast, deadly and long spear, and a shield that allows them to attack and defend at the same time.

Some weapons have their decided time and place. The longsword belongs quite firmly with the plate armoured heavy infantry of the late middle ages, and disappears from common usage along with the decline of these. The true twohander does not really appear untill the renaisance, where it is used as high status weapon for elite shock troops such as the personal bodyguards of Landsknecht captains. These are generall heavy reserves that do not stand in the main battle line. They generally disappear by the end of the 16th century, though they linger as the gold-plated-desert-eagle-substitute of certain scottish chieftains.
Very nice and well thought out discussion Staten... as you allude to, it is debatable and not just by nerds.  However the fact that you said "NERD" and then leave such an articulated response tends to make me wonder if you are yourself a Nerd?    :smile:  Do you have the credentials to truly refute what Mike has said?  IMO, not really when you just respond from behind a pseudonym.  Perhaps you do, it wouldn't surprise me if you were an expert of some sort. 

It's not meant as an antagonistic question mind you...it's just that I don't view Mike Loades as a Nerd per say.  In fact, his research is easy to find (almost public domain), well planned and frankly entertaining. 

But just by your text, if we were to take that as truth...  (The part of having freakishly long one handed swords ), only reinforces in my mind that "WE" as players should have the option to grip a sword with 2 hands if we choose to.

Since there is controversy (as you say), I'll still default to the expert opinion of a man like Mike Loades. 
 

Staten

Recruit
Best answers
0
I'm not a reknowned schollar, but I have been doing competitive reenactment combat for the last 10 years. As a result of this I have been doing a lot of research of various kinds, as well as spending a lot of time at well estabished historical arms forums, such as MyArmoury.com
(Yes, this definitely makes me a nerd.)

In these fora this topic appears with regular intervals, and as such I am quite familiar with the basis for the debate, and the sources for it. Since longsword fencing has a large following, people are often looking for opportunities to use them in earlier period. Even Viking. But though there are no indication of long grippes swords in the later case, there are as mentioned some swords that can be date the 12th century. (Subject to the discussion i mentioned above.)

I do however agree that one should be able to hold ones regular one handed sword in both hands. This practice is documented both in art and literature. However, when depicted the swords used like this are regular one handers. "Throwing back ones shield and grasping ones weapon in both hands" is a litterary standard phrase to describe someone abandoning all caution to attack.
The resulting blows would be harder, but very clumsy. A thypical thing one would do in orded to finish a downed or wrongfaced opponent. In the real world the left hand would typically be used to grapple, but this is hard to simulate in game, as are the finer points melee combat in general.

 

Setton

Sergeant
M&BWBWF&SNW
Best answers
0
Just wanted to back up what Staten has to say.

I'm sure Mike knows a fair bit about what he's talking about and has probably invested more time in research than Staten or I. However, reenactment nerds (such as our good selves  :grin:) talk to each other. This subject comes up fairly often and there simply isn't decent evidence of early true long swords. Personally, I find the evidence presented by Staten and the many other researchers I've seen discuss this more compelling than the conjecture of Oakeshott.
 

Subitai

Knight at Arms
WB
Best answers
0
Well then...who am I to prefer a researcher like Mike Loads over "reenactment nerds" ???  :lol:

 

ShinySpoons

Knight
M&BWB
Best answers
0
Mike, Setton, and Staten (why do you have such similar names o_O) are all saying the same thing. There weren't any two handed swords, but there were swords used with two hands.

You can totally mod in game for a long arming sword to be used one/two handed and be historically accurate.

In terms of specific techniques which a long grip enable they did not exist yet. Of course, we can't model that in MB anyways so the information is moot in game terms.
 

SirSlaughter357

Regular
Best answers
0
kevindrosario said:
I'm not exactly a history buff, but I watched a very cool PBS documentary recently about how Scandinavians had access to crucible steel as early as the 9th century. It would be cool if something about these "Ulfberhts" could be included as well.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/secrets-viking-sword.html
Yeah I saw the documentary but I watched it on Netflicks. Very interesting stuff. Unfortunately though, after watching it, it left me with more questions than answers lol, but such is often the case when studying history, especially during that time period where so little was recorded via literature/documents.
 

Roran 13

Grandmaster Knight
M&BWBNW
Best answers
0
I will quickly throw this in:

We have to take into account, whatever archaelogical evidence or sources, be they books or images of all sorts may say about the existance of two-handed swords in this time period, that the fighters back in that period desired to live. A two-handed sword was a mighty-fine weapon, but in the chaos of a battlefield it would be rather cumbersome and dangerous to wield, considering the space needed to use it adequately and the lack of a shield against threats. As a result, one would rather stick with the conventional combination of a shield and one-handed sword, at least speaking for this time period.

My judgement is that most likely such swords will have existed at the time period, but in small amounts. Their practicality probably did not extend far past the tournament field and as a result I see the effective usage of them in true battles rather limited. It is ofcourse very likely that one may have grabbed a one-handed sword in both hands and used it as such, but I don't doubt that any human in the history of mankind using tools would have done that to add force to a blow.


tl;dr
Yes, they most likely existed, but probably saw very limited use in actual combat.