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fernando 15th November 2008 12:41 AM

A cup hilted sword rapier for coments
 
7 Attachment(s)
This one will be home for Christmas.
Blade 98 cms (38 1/2").Total length 114 cms (45"), which makes it almost two inches "off mark" :eek: , as the allowance was five palms (110 cms=43").
Blade width 20 mm (3/4") which, together with the particularity of the knuckle bow not being fixed to the pommel, makes it fall into the civilian rapier typology.
The huge cup bowl is 16 cms (6.3") wide, which is the largest cup this seller ever sold.
Attributed date around 1700.
Slightly faded inscription on the blade reads in one side VIVA EL REY and on the other DE PORTUGAL. However the (Spanish) seller opines that this sword was made in Spain, for a Portuguese order. I am asking him on what he is based to think so.
Maybe we end up with the Iberian interpretation :shrug:
Fernando

.

Atlantia 15th November 2008 03:27 AM

Its a fabulous sword Fernando,
And a four posted grip like my rapier! Length seems fine to me, great condition!
I'd have placed it a little earlier than 1700! Its certainly another fine beauty for your collection! Have you won the lottery recently? ;-)

Jim McDougall 15th November 2008 04:57 AM

Hi Fernando,
I agree with Gene, this is truly a beauty! and I would think of it probably c.1680 to about 1700. It is exactly the kind of weapon I like, more of an arming type sword, and I'm inclined to think these more austere examples were quite possibly military, usually infantry if I am not mistaken. I always look forward to Marc's comments on these :) In Norman, the author notes that he is not aware of any military portraiture with the cuphilt being worn, which is primarily the basis for the observation that these were not used by the military.

The wrapped wire grip held by four vertical posts I had always thought were more an 18th century military feature, however in going through the Wallace Collection reference, I found several Spanish cuphilts of c.1650 all with this feature. These were quite ornate, and of course seemed more civilian, which says to me that this four posted feature was not only earlier, mid 17th century, but civilian as well.

In looking at A.V.B. Norman ("The Rapier and Smallsword") this cuphilt form is shown as #100, and as c.1630 to 1700 or later. The pommel on your sword is the same oblate shape seen on this form, but without the prominant capstan. In Norman, #101 is also cuphilt, but with deeper cup, without apparant rompepuntas or rolled edge on the cup and the quillons are without finished terminals nor central bulb on the knucklebow.This form seems to have existed contemporarily in the same periods, and it would seem this example is rather between the two.

I'm curious what indicator tells that this was made in Spain for export to Portugal, other than the inscription, which seems like it could have been made in Portugal as well. It is curious there would be no makers mark, just the inscription.

Fantastic piece Fernando!!! A perfect Christmas gift!!

All the best,
Jim

fernando 16th November 2008 12:37 AM

Hi Gene

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlantia
Its a fabulous sword Fernando,
And a four posted grip like my rapier! Length seems fine to me, great condition!
I'd have placed it a little earlier than 1700! Its certainly another fine beauty for your collection! ...


Thank you so much for your impressions :) .


Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlantia
... Have you won the lottery recently? ;-)


Shhhhhut. My wife doesn't even dream i went into this adventure :o .

Fernando

fernando 16th November 2008 01:12 AM

Hi Jim, thank you my friend,
As allways, a treatise on the weapon focused on the topic.
Do i well understand your words when you say that Norman is not aware of cuphilts being used by military ? If so, that would be a bit confusing to me :confused: .
I would like to quote a Portuguese specialist, Eduardo Nobre, who mentions is has made a comparison study on several hundred cuphilted swords, both in public as in private collections, having concluded that the fixation of the knuckleguard to the pommel, was more common in military swords. In the case of cuphilted swords with a narrow blade, the so called rapiers, this fixation was rather unvulgar, as even in some cases, resulted from later adaptations.
Also in my humble conclusion, despite this sword has a very plain aspect, its blade length and narrowness, apart from the knucklebow fixation problematic, indicates that this is certainly a civilian sword, a rapier designed for fencing.
I am still expecting the seller to explain his point of view on what concerns this being a Portuguese or a Spanish production sword. If it were made in an earlier period, it could easy be Spanish or in the least be called a Peninsular sword, for what matters. However having been made after the 1640 revolution, and with that kind of nationalist inscription on the balde, it has serious possibilities of being indeed Portuguese. But the seller is surely more qualified in these things than me, so let's see what the man says.
I also wish Marc came around, to drop a line on this subject :cool: .
Fernando

Gonzalo G 16th November 2008 06:08 AM

A beauty. It remembers me the style of rapier Marc uses on his avatar. Yes, a portuguese model, but no security about where was it made. Just look at this entrance on the catalog in the Museo of Lázaro Galdiano:

http://www.flg.es/ficha.asp?ID=7414

does it recalls you something? Tough, the hilt is different.
Un abrazo

Gonzalo

Chris Evans 16th November 2008 12:34 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Hi,

Gonzalo: Excellent detective work.

Fernando: Congratulations, a wonderful piece - I have been looking at that sword since it was put up for sale and was taken by it, especially its truly oversize cup hilt.

Here are three photos of broad bladed swords fitted with cup hilts. I believe that some of these were clearly military, from the 1600s on, towards the late 1700s.

We have to keep in mind, that before the adoption of regulation patterns towards the end of the 18th century, there was relatively little uniformity in side arms in most European armies and that anything could have seen service, whether from choice or necessity, as in the English Civil War when civilian rapiers were pressed into use Also, that many swords were re-hilted over the years and it can be a devilishly difficult task to assign a definite identity to some.

Cheers
Chris
Photos: Sala Antiguedades - Armas Antiguas

fernando 16th November 2008 06:50 PM

Hi Gonzalo,
Thans a lot for your words, the picture and the excelent link. I didn't even know about the existance of this museum. I will have to go through all 509 items relative to Armas y Armaduras.
You have surely noticed that there is a misspell in the legend the museum quotes to be engraved on that blade; they write VIVA EL REY DI PORTUGAL, whereas it should be DE. Maybe the misspell is not in their tag but on the blade itself; this sort of errors was often found on blade inscriptions, specialy if they were imported. Actualy Portugal could also be found written with a V instead of an U, which happens to be the case of my example; i only noticed that when i had a second look to the pictures, as the seller has wrongly spelled it with a U.

Saludos cordiales
Fernando

fernando 16th November 2008 09:57 PM

Hi Chris, thank you for your kind words.
So you were also watching this piece?! I thaught i had to make a quick decision, as usualy this type of swords gets acquired in no time, at least in this web site. Actualy the other day i saw one of this kind and when i contacted the guy to start negotiations, the sword was already sold ... this within a couple days. Amazingly it was a specimen similar to the one you are posting here in the first picture ... or even the very one ?!.
Thank you for the pictures of three examples of broad bladed swords. It might be that they were military ... or not. I humbly agree that the definition of such and such sword being civilian or military is not an easy task, even after regulation took place, to a certain extent. But naturaly things are taken by their generic, or majority, or statistic aproach, to allow for some points of reference. We all know that the rapier, having been conceived for civilian purposes, like (street) fencing and so, was also used by military; i have read that, for instance, they were used in India and thereabouts by Portuguese rank (noble) soldiers... often en suite with the left hand dagger. But coming to a general manner, military ordnance swords had a broader blade, less or no decoration, and knuckle bows fixed to the pommel, to increase their strenght in battle.
Within this reasoning, the sword in the third (last) picture might have belonged to some civilian aristocrat; could even be Portuguese, or for a Portuguese customer ... who knows ? Besides that fine decoration (and the loose knuckle bow), the legend engraved on the blade, PUGNO PRO PATRIA, was (at least also) often seen in Portuguese swords, in allegory to national independence achieved in 1640, after the Spanish Philips period domain.
Forgive me if i said too much nonsense; i was sort of think aloud :o .
Fernando

Chris Evans 17th November 2008 03:33 AM

Hi Fernando,

You did well to act decisively - It is a fine sword. I often look in there as he often gets some very nice pieces.

Whether rapiers did or did not find a military application has become a can of worms, principally because the term "rapier' is essentially and English one, dating back to Elizabethan times, used to designate a civilian mostly thrusting sword . To be sure, the term had distant counterparts on the continent, though as the sword historian Castle tells us, with very different connotations. But with the passage of time, by the 19th century it was applied by some, such as Burton, to any sharp thrusting sword suitable for fencing.

With the advent and spread of the historical European martial arts (HEMA) movement the term attained a kind of universality that wasn't there historically. As a result it is now very difficult to define the breed satisfactorily. This is compounded by that many military swords were fitted, often retro-fitted with the complex hilts commonly associated with civilian rapiers. It has been recorded that during the Napoleonic wars, British soldiers reported that the Spaniards were using rapiers, whereas in all probability what they saw were military broadswords fitted with cup hilts and variants thereof.

My own take on the matter is that the proper use of the term in the English language is the historical one, as used during the renaissance in England, and as such the weapon was totally unsuited for war, notwithstanding that occasionally it did find its way to the battlefields. just as in a later era the small sword did too, despite being equally unsuited. As for the cup hilt, from those photos that I provided, it would seem that they did find some favour with the military, probably on account of offering good protection to the hands. After all, during the 17th century complex hilted military swords were all the rage for that very reason, as exemplified by the sword of Gustavus Adolphus, so why not cup hilts further on?

As an aside, to my mind, much more problematic is the differentiation between the rapier proper and the later transition rapier, which IMO can only be done on the basis of function - And again this is the source of much confusion and never ending debate in some circles, as it impacts on the fence possible with the rapier proper.

Again congratulations and

Cheers
Chris

fernando 17th November 2008 06:32 PM

Hi Chris,
Thanks a lot for your coments (lecture), which i will not have the presumption (or the capacity) to counterpose :o .
I will just try and find the book i have read where the rapier was used by Portuguese in the discoveries period ... just to check what typology was it about.

... and thanks for your congratulations :) .
Fernando

Gonzalo G 18th November 2008 12:15 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Gonzalo,
Thans a lot for your words, the picture and the excelent link. I didn't even know about the existance of this museum. I will have to go through all 509 items relative to Armas y Armaduras.
You have surely noticed that there is a misspell in the legend the museum quotes to be engraved on that blade; they write VIVA EL REY DI PORTUGAL, whereas it should be DE. Maybe the misspell is not in their tag but on the blade itself; this sort of errors was often found on blade inscriptions, specialy if they were imported. Actualy Portugal could also be found written with a V instead of an U, which happens to be the case of my example; i only noticed that when i had a second look to the pictures, as the seller has wrongly spelled it with a U.

Saludos cordiales
Fernando


Well Fernando, you are aware that the use of the V instead an U was common on the old writting. You can find this feature on many antique manuscripts. But it is true what you say, also. Yes, I noticed the i in di, as in italian, but you can writte to Beraiz to find out. Maybe you can find his email adress on Gladius web page. He is a very accessible person. And for the museum: you know, I´m very far from Europe, and in any case from any rapier, so I must search. I´m glad the link opened a new avenue for you.
Un abrazo

Gonzalo

Gonzalo G 18th November 2008 01:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Evans
Whether rapiers did or did not find a military application has become a can of worms, principally because the term "rapier' is essentially and English one, dating back to Elizabethan times, used to designate a civilian mostly thrusting sword.


Chris, I did not made a detective work. I have all those entrances on my computer, as I use them to study the rapier and other swords. What it seems is a can of worms for some people, is the origin of the term "rapier", which is clearly from french origin. Oh, I know William the Conqueror and all the normans were french spoken, but that was five centures back. Neverthless, the world is full of personal certainties, as Fernando Pessoa, the great portuguese poet, once wrotte in a poem titled "Tabaquería":

Não, não creio em mim.
Em todos os manicômios há doidos malucos com tantas certezas!
Eu, que não tenho nenhuma certeza, sou mais certo ou menos
certo?


Is this HEMA movement another english invention? I don´t have many references about it.
Regards

Gonzalo

celtan 18th November 2008 01:53 AM

I though everyone knew that rapier, while being a french word, derives from "ropera", or "espada ropera"ie. Sword of Clothes.

The ropera was characterized by a flimsier, lighter and faster type of blade, catalogued as a estoque, or piercing blade. The kind of damage it caused was far more lethal, if much less ghastly in appearance than the slashing common to the purely military blade, although the latter was sturdier. The psychological effect of the slashing wounds caused by the military blades was nothing to be ignored, either.

M

BTW: Fernan's "entrances" comes from "entradas", or the data deposited in the CPU's memory to be used subsequently as needed...

BTW, Fernan

En este mundo traidor
Nada es verdad ni mentira
Todo depende del color
Del cristal con que se mira...






Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzalo G
Chris, I did not made a detective work. I have all those entrances on my computer, as I use them to study the rapier and other swords. What it seems is a can of worms for some people, is the origin of the term "rapier", which is clearly from french origin. Oh, I know William the Conqueror and all the normans were french spoken, but that was five centures back. Neverthless, the world is full of personal certainties, as Fernando Pessoa, the great portuguese poet, once wrotte in a poem titled "Tabaquería":



Não, não creio em mim.
Em todos os manicômios há doidos malucos com tantas certezas!
Eu, que não tenho nenhuma certeza, sou mais certo ou menos
certo?


Is this HEMA movement another english invention? I don´t have many references about it.
Regards

Gonzalo

Chris Evans 18th November 2008 05:00 AM

Hi Gonzalo,


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzalo G
Chris, I did not made a detective work. I have all those entrances on my computer, as I use them to study the rapier and other swords.


I meant that as a sincere compliment and in the very best sense of the word (detective) as one who detects or investigates. I very much admire your systematic and comprehensive approach to hoplology, which sets an example to all of us - After all, providing that link to that sword, if I may say so, was akin to finding a needle in the proverbial haystack.

Quote:
What it seems is a can of worms for some people, is the origin of the term "rapier", which is clearly from french origin.


Well, I am glad that you are clear about it - Can you provide some evidence for its Gaelic provenance?

For my part:

The term can have any number of origins, as is the case with many words. What is important is its unambiguous usage, and here we are doing so in English.

Castle, who in the opinion of many wrote the near definitive history of post medieval swordsmanship, a century ago, at least in the English language, argued convincingly, that in the late 1500s the French called their weapon the `espee', the English sword, but both, when referring to the Spaniard's sword called it a `rapier'. He went on to say that in France the word rapier soon became a term of contempt, signifying a sword of disproportionate length, the weapon of a bully. However, in England, ever since the adoption of the term, it always meant in his words "...a sword especially convenient for thrusting.." and went on to say that then it was synonymous with the Spanish thrusting sword, on account of the many dignitaries and officials of that nation who visited the royal court of the day. He further held that the then nearest French term for a thrusting sword was `estoc' which was Anglicized to `tucke' and variations thereof. In the English of bygone days, the terms `rapier' and `tucke' were at times used interchangeably when talking about thrusting swords.

Again, it is held by some that `rapier' was derived from the Spanish `espada ropera' (dress sword). The problem with this interpretation is that we are told that during the halcyon days of the rapier in Spain it was not used and in any event the expression `espada ropera' was already evident by the mid 1400s, well before the rapier made its appearance. The Spanish renaissance linguists that I consulted confirmed that this is probably right; So, to uphold this origin of `rapier', it is incumbent on those who propose it, to come forth with some period fencing manual, in which the expression is used as such.

Now, the reason that I made that reference to the can of worms is because over the years many, including curators, wrongly come to identify the rapier with its complex hilt, rather than function, which was determined by the blade and hilt, and such hilts were also fitted to the better military broadswords of that era.

Judging by your remarks, it would appear that the distinction is easy to make, but to do so, you'll have to define what a rapier is to the satisfaction of the majority, which I can assure you is no easy task. However, until something better comes along I shall adhere to the old English usage of the word, and where this does not suffice, by function, otherwise we open the doors to endless confusion and needless debate.

Quote:
Is this HEMA movement another english invention? I don´t have many references about it.


Another? Well, besides the industrial revolution..... No, just kidding.

BTW. At the end of the 19th century in England there was a resurgence of interest in old sword play, and Egerton Castle, Alfred Hutton and Richard Burton formed a trio of gentleman fencer/scholars who studied the older weapons, but this gradually lost momentum, though not before writing some excellent works on the subject - With the advent of the SCA (see link below) there was a resurgence of interest in the old ways, including earlier swordsmanship, and later a more serious movement emerged, that of the study of Historical European Martial Arts, HEMA in short. My perception is that despite having an international following, it was and remains a US driven activity - Their exponents mostly focus on medieval and renaissance sword arts and try to reconstruct the relevant techniques from the old surviving manuals - In so doing, much new valuable material emerged, but also many contentious issues, along with considerable historical revisionism of dubious validity, much of which have muddied the waters for us collectors.

For the origins of the SCA search in Google, or see http://history.westkingdom.org/Year0/index.htm

Cheers
Chris

Gonzalo G 18th November 2008 05:51 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by celtan
I though everyone knew that rapier, while being a french word, derives from "ropera", or "espada ropera"ie. Sword of Clothes.

The ropera was characterized by a flimsier, lighter and faster type of blade, catalogued as a estoque, or piercing blade. The kind of damage it caused was far more lethal, if much less ghastly in appearance than the slashing common to the purely military blade, although the latter was sturdier. The psychological effect of the slashing wounds caused by the military blades was nothing to be ignored, either.

M

BTW: Fernan's "entrances" comes from "entradas", or the data deposited in the CPU's memory to be used subsequently as needed...

BTW, Fernan

En este mundo traidor
Nada es verdad ni mentira
Todo depende del color
Del cristal con que se mira...


I completely agree, Manuel. By the way, you must understand portuguese very well, as it is almost the same languaje spoken in old times on Galicia.
Un abrazo

Gonzalo

Gonzalo G 18th November 2008 06:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Evans
Hi Gonzalo,

I meant that as a sincere compliment and in the very best sense of the word (detective) as one who detects or investigates. I very much admire your systematic and comprehensive approach to hoplology, which sets an example to all of us - After all, providing that link to that sword, if I may say so, was akin to finding a needle in the proverbial haystack.Again, it is held by some that `rapier' was derived from the Spanish `espada ropera' (dress sword). The problem with this interpretation is that we are told that during the halcyon days of the rapier in Spain it was not used and in any event the expression `espada ropera' was already evident by the mid 1400s, well before the rapier made its appearance. The Spanish renaissance linguists that I consulted confirmed that this is probably right; So, to uphold this origin of `rapier', it is incumbent on those who propose it, to come forth with some period fencing manual, in which the expression is used as such.

Now, the reason that I made that reference to the can of worms is because over the years many, including curators, wrongly come to identify the rapier with its complex hilt, rather than function, which was determined by the blade and hilt, and such hilts were also fitted to the better military broadswords of that era.

Chris


Chris, I understood your meaning. What I tried to say, is that it was not as hard to find this reference, because I already had it and studied it. It was easy to remember, and there were no need to search for it. What it is VERY difficult to remember, is where are my car keys. :D I thank you for your compliment, but my merit is very small.

I have an objection to the use of the expression "thrusting sword", because the ropera was a sword which sometimes was used to cut. There are some atacks in spanish style fencing with the use of the edge of the ropera, althought it is mainly a thrusting weapon. Marc can say much more than I about spanish fencing.

Yes, the term "ropera" appear for the first time in an inventory of the belongings from the Duke Alvaro de Zúñiga in 1468, according with the article "La Espada Ropera Española en los Siglos XVI y XVII" by José María Pelaez Valle in Gladius (pag. 147). In french, the first reference is from 1474.

Neverthless, we must clarify an important point. The term is referred not only to the late slender blade made to thrust, with a cup hilt guard. The ropera has evolved form a more broaded sword made also to cut in the the 15th Century. You know, many complex weapons do not just appear already defined in their ultimate characterisitics, unless adopted or imposed from other cultures. Since Spain is the original source of the espada ropera, it´s evolution began there, and it took some time and several transformations.

It is very difficult, at the sight of the early and very late roperas, when it began or ended to be a ropera. Even the classic model had important diferences on the guard, as it evolved from the lasso to the cup hilt with very long quillons, apart from national and period variations. We can´t say, without being reductionists, that the ropera or rapieris are only one of these models, overlooking the historical changes. Concepts are only structures created to help us understand reality, and we must use them in a flexible manner. "Epee" in french, means only sword, and it is not aplied only to the classic model designated as such. The same apply to words as shamshir, saif and kiliç, which only means "sword", and do not designate the conceptual models created by the occidental scholars and collectionists, IMHO.

I agree with you, Chris, when you mention the can of worms. It is a real problem to make distinctions, in many cases. Some criteria must be established, but history must be taken on account. It is not an abstract excercise of logics. And thank you for your reference to the HEMA.
Regards

Gonzalo

Marc 18th November 2008 10:19 AM

Indeed the "rapier" term is, if not anything else, a foothold for a good discussion... :)

Chris and Gonzalo have summed it up very nicely, I can barely add a few things, including my opinions :)

The term "espada ropera" or even "espada propera" is known in Spanish since the early 15th c., being the first reference we know of it (so far...) in the work of Juan de Mena (1411-1456) "Coplas de la Panadera"
(...)
Di Panadera.
Un miércoles que partiera
el Príncipe don Enrique
a buscar algún buen pique
para su espada ropera,
saliera sin otra espera
de Olmedo tan gran compaña
que con mui fermosa maña
al Puerto se retrujera.

(...)

It's Old Spanish, I leave it here as is for the documentation's sake. My limited linguistic abilities would only be able to do a half-assed translation of what is essentially a humorous little poem about a young quarrelsome nobleman who ends up having to shamefully face the consequences of his hot head. The relevant fact here is that it does docuemt the term "espada ropera" even earlier than the so often quoted inventory of Duke Alvaro de Zuñiga. As already mentioned, the term is later on documented in French (“rapière”) and more later on in English (“rapier”). It was also used by Germans (“rappier”). I can confirm what’s been said by Chris about the term “ropera” not being used in Spanish since the 16th c. on. I’m not sure about French, although I understand it went through a similar process of abandoning, but this would need confirmation. In German was in use at least to the end of the 16th c. (Joachim Meyer uses it in his fencing manual Gründtliche Beschreibung der kunst des Fechten, published in 1570).Anyway, where it really sticks is in English, where it seems to start describing a sword worn in everyday dress (which seems to be the original meaning of the word) and ends a describing a more or less specific typology of sword, indeed worn in - let’s say - “civilian” dress but also with a long and slender blade and with an associated style of fencing where thrusts were emphasized above cuts. The term survived in English and has indeed been re-taken recently with the spreading and internationalization of HEMA, which started as a consequence of medievalism and romanticism at the end of the 19th c. and was re-taken with renovated strength at the end of the 20th c. when the new systems of communication allowed for scholars and practitioners to share their interest and exchange information. But it was already being in use worldwide by Arms collectors, aficionados, antiquaries and scholars before that

So, Chris’ points about the actual meaning of the term are very pertinent. It was used for more than 500 years, and meant different things in different periods and different geographical locations, so it’s important to define what we do NOW understand as a rapier. And it must be defined from a modern perspective, because it’s US who are using it now to define something. To anyone familiar with the antique arms community or the HEMA world is somewhat intuitive what a rapier is: a sword supposed to be carried in civilian dress, with a more or less complex hilt (this includes cup-hilts) and with a blade somewhat “ligther” than to ones used in a military context in the same period. A sword, as some have defined it, designed to be used for “carry, duel and self-defence” (“carry”, here, would incorporate some elements of “show”). This should be enough for the majority of us, but the problems arise when we step into hardcore taxonomy, and start to try to define if it’s the blade or the hilt what defines a rapier, if it’s the intended use or the appearance, etc. I won’t go into that, after all, unless there is an agreement between the people that can be considered “authorities”, it’s all a matter of opinion, and I just have my own, as do everyone else :).



Now, trying to steer this back to the original subject, Fernando’s nice Christmas Present :) … I would put it also at the end of the 17th c, beginning of the 18th. I would also say it’s civilian, but that’s because of the morphology of the blade, long and slender, not as much as because of the knucklebow. There is an 18th c. typology of cup-hilt swords, which, at least here, are considered Portugese and military, with broad blades, bare wood grips, plain decorations, and the quillions directly welded to the cup, which usually also features a “rompepuntas” rim. Many of these present a knucklebow attached to the pommel (usually with a transversal screw that also fixes the tang), but not all of them. In fact I’ve seen some of those swords with a long and slender blade of “rapier” (here we go again… :D ) type, but these could easily be officer’s swords, or “civil” swords imitating the “military” style. Anyway, in the exemplar we’re discussing here, the shape of the pommel, the style of the grip, the length of the quillions, and the type of attachment of the cup to the quillion block, all point to a “Spanish” construction. Specially in contrast with the “Portuguese” style of construction of the cup hilt that I’ve described above. But I think this would be a bit of a simplification… The legend in the blade makes this a sword clearly for a Portuguese costumer. Cup-hilts developed in Spain after a particular style of fencing (the so-called “Verdadera Destreza”). I won’t go in detail into this, but let’s say that the morphology of these hilts and their variants are adapted to it. We know that this style of fencing became quite popular in Portugal, also, so a Portuguese-made sword suited to it wouldn’t be strange, but fact is that the general style of the hilt is quite “Spanish”. The problem is that we don’t know if by that time (end 17th-befinning 18thc) there was a “Portuguese” typology of hilts that was different from the “Spanish” one. We know there was one later on (the one described above) for “military” swords, but truth is that we can’t be sure if the sword is “Spanish” made for a Portuguese, Portuguese made for a Portuguese in a “Spanish” style, or if there was no distinction at that time between “Spanish” and “Portuguese” styles of cup-hilts for “civilian” rapiers. Hence, as Fernando suggested, we maybe could speak of a “Peninsular” style in this particular case…



I don’t know if I clarified anything or muddied things even more… In any event, it’s a very nice rapier, Fernando, I’m envious… again ;)

P.S. Notice that as I've put "Spanish" and "Portugese" in quotation marks because there might not be such a clear differentiation of styles in this case, I've also put the quotations marks in the terms "civilian" and "military", not only because they were terms that at the time were not as clearly differentiated as we like to think they are today, but because the distinction between them that we do right now regarding the swords of those periods is also consensual, and not always agreed upon.

Chris Evans 18th November 2008 11:43 AM

Hi Gonzalo,


Quote:
I have an objection to the use of the expression "thrusting sword", because the ropera was a sword which sometimes was used to cut. There are some atacks in spanish style fencing with the use of the edge of the ropera, althought it is mainly a thrusting weapon. Marc can say much more than I about spanish fencing.


However that may be, in Elizabethan England, the term "rapier" was used to describe a predominantly thrusting sword that could be fenced with - And we are using here an English word, probably an Anglicized one, in the context of the English language and a historical time-frame; So I feel that it would serve us all well to keep to this convention - Otherwise any sword capable of thrusting, from a two handed estoc used in armoured combat to the Polish cavalry koncerz, will qualify for the term, a most unrewarding proposition I suggest.

I emphasize that I am not arguing here about the origin of the word rapier, or whether they could or could not cut, rather am attempting to reduce confusion as to what was meant by rapiers in English at the time that they were used in earnest. And this in turn was prompted by questions re possible military usage of the breed.

Quote:
Yes, the term "ropera" appear for the first time in an inventory of the belongings from the Duke Alvaro de Zúñiga in 1468, according with the article "La Espada Ropera Española en los Siglos XVI y XVII" by José María Pelaez Valle in Gladius (pag. 147). In french, the first reference is from 1474.


No. The Expression `espada ropera' was already used in "Coplas de la Panadera', generally attributed to Juan de Mena and written around 1445. But Mena's Coplas and both those dates that you quote predate the appearance of the kind of sword that the English recognized as a rapier.

Rapiers require skill and very specific techniques for their usage, so where are the manuals of the 1400's? Caranza wrote his famous manual in 1569, and his is considered to be the first significant substantiated Spanish treatise on fencing with the point. Though according to Castle there were supposedly three unsubstantiated manuals that predated Carnza, all mentioned by other historical treatises, but none that could be dated any earlier than the late 1400s or early 1500s.

I don't know what an `espada ropera' of the 1400's was, but if you do, please let us know and direct us to reliably dated examples. Or alternatively, to period manuals that clearly describe the weapon.

Quote:
Since Spain is the original source of the espada ropera, it´s evolution began there, and it took some time and several transformations.


It is true that many held and still hold that Spain is where point fencing originated. However, beyond the undisputed fact that there were schools of arms in Spain in the 15th century, as in other nations/states, Castle tells us that we have little else to substantiate this view. The Spaniards overran the Italian states in the 16th century and by this means may have introduced point fencing there, but it is equally possible that the said play was developed by the Italians and adopted by the Spanish - Or, both developed it more or less simultaneously. I fear that this is another can of worms.

Cheers
Chris

celtan 18th November 2008 11:57 AM

Hi Gonzal,

I'm sorry, but for some reason I mistook your comments as Fernando's. Both of you write very interesting posts.

Yep, Galicia and Portugal used to be the same Kingdom, long time ago.
If I recall correctly, Viriato was a celtic chieftain of the lusones tribe , wasn't he?

Galician and Portuguese languages have evolved a little bit differently though, albeit still being very, very similar. Which comes very handy when you want to enjoy a glass of "vino verde".

: )

Apertas

Manolo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzalo G
I completely agree, Manuel. By the way, you must understand portuguese very well, as it is almost the same languaje spoken in old times on Galicia.
Un abrazo

Gonzalo

Chris Evans 18th November 2008 11:58 AM

Hi Marc,

I drafted my post referencing Las Coplas De La Panadera, before seeing your post, so please accept my apologies for not acknowledging your contribution.

Enjoyed reading your post, which expounds things very nicely. I can't add anything meaningful to it, other than to alert readers to a very comprehensive treatment of this subject by AVB Norman in his The Rapier and the Small-Sword, pages 19-28.

Cheers
Chris

Marc 18th November 2008 04:18 PM

Absolutely no need to apologize, Chris, please, it was evidently a question of cross-posting :)

Best,

Marc

Gonzalo G 19th November 2008 03:24 AM

Marc, yes, there is such reference to the use of the word "ropera" on the article from Germán Dueñas Beraiz, also published by Gladius, mentioning this earlier poem, but it seems to me that we must take a more serious source about the conventional and accepted use of this term in the ordinary daily languaje of the people related with the use of the swords, and not from a poem where the languaje obeys to poetic licences.

Neverthless, the discussion was not about the obvious fact that the word, in several languajes and not only in english, had different meanings throught the time, but about the statement that "the term "rapier' is essentially and English one ", being the proper and correct, if I understood correctly. Which also, can have another implications. It is this statement that I found very questionable, and althought Chris has made a clarification about this point, still remains the fact about what can be properly named "rapier".

Another point is to say that we (whatever that "we" means), define the meaning of this word. In that case, we can also say that all the machetes mentioned in the spanish sources, in fact they are not machetes, because they do not correspond with the actual meaning of this word, and for that case, with the modern morphology of the machete. They even do not correspond with the meaning of the word, as used on the spanish army throught the 19th Century, as it´s morphology had several and drastical modifications in this period of time (short blades, long blades; straigh double edged, curved single edged, and so on). The machete has the same problem to define as a type, with fixed and invariable characteristics. This also happens with other historic swords. Of course, we can say otherwise. But that will not change, fortunately or unfortunately, the fact that the scholars, sword specialists and researchers, will continue to use this term aplied to the distinct variants produced on the evolution of the rapier, the ropera, or their equivalents in other languajes. I belive in the need to fix some parameters to each type of sword, but with the understanding of their historical evolution and uses, or we fall, as I said, in a reductionist and excesively formalist posture. The recongnition of the difficulty in diferentiating military and civil swords, portuguese and spanish, rapiers or not, makes evident the problem of making a valid "hardcore taxonomy", as proposed.


!Oh, I know!...people find very easy to learn and memorize fixed classifications, but classifications do not sustitute real knowledge, which is knowledge about the singular objects, and about their construction, variations and uses, not always reductible to be classified in a specific existing type, as they can contain features not foreseen by the people who makes such classifications. Classifications are only a tool, to be used within it´s limits, and to be discarded when not adecuated to a certain objects.

fernando 19th November 2008 05:07 PM

Magnificent input, Gentlemen.
I am still trying to emerge from such ocean of knowledge, to thank you all for the comprehensive posting exchange.
When the sword arrives, i will tell 'her' how deeply discussed 'she' has been in the Forum :) .
Thanks again; i will now take some time to extract the most possible from such authentic lectures ... including the poems, which make me feel how ignorant i am :shrug: .

Fernando

Marc 20th November 2008 10:34 AM

Agreed.


Taxonomy is a tool, not the end, something that seems to be frequently forgotten. It makes things easier, helps in classification, allows for a more flexible and useful data treatment and contributes (ideally) in building a common language through which all those dealing with the subject can better understand each other. But, as so many things, it also works in layers. So, "rapier" is enough to evoke among those who are aware of the terminology an object specific enough to communicate the meaning. From there, we can start to add information to be as precise as necessary, and there’s where taxonomy and the consensual language it brings starts to be useful. So, for example, we can start to talk about a swept-hilt, a cup-hilt, number of branches, an urn, onion or cylindrical pommel, length, shape and section of quillions, characteristics of their finials, morphology of the knuckleguard, the grip, the ricasso, the channels, marks, inscriptions, edges, point, style of decoration, chronology, geographical area, etc… So, yes, “rapier” applied to this kind of swords is modern. So are we (some more than others :) ). It’s also useful, that’s why it’s used. I don’t think we should spend much time talking about if the term is “proper” or not, we should instead check if we agree or not in its use, and then we can start discussing about the object itself, instead of about the terms we use to describe it. :D

Chris Evans 20th November 2008 01:20 PM

Hi Marc,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc
...and contributes (ideally) in building a common language through which all those dealing with the subject can better understand each other.


This I think hits the nail on the head - And when it comes to swords, the therm `Rapier' has to be probably the most open to miscommunication.

Cheers
Chris

Gonzalo G 20th November 2008 07:45 PM

Good points, Marc. I think Chris and you made excellent inputs on this matter. I would like the read you more often, in relation with the ropera or the rapier, as I know you have a very valuable direct experience in the handling, study and use of this sword.

Thank you very much, gentleman.
Regards

Gonzalo

M ELEY 22nd November 2008 11:51 PM

"Pirate" rapier on eBay
 
Alas, I was outbid... Very nice and affordable, too. :(

eBay #170278679255. I was wondering if someone could post the pics of this one for me? I'm clueless when it comes to posting pics.

While not as nice or in the same catagory as that sweet example you picked up, Fernando ( :mad: )(Envy!!), I like these Caribbean/ Spanish Main type swords. They border on a form of "folk art" in a lot of ways. One very similar is pictured in Brinckerhoff's "Spanish Military Weapons", plate 125/126. Guide says ca 1700, but I'm thinking more mid-18th for this example? You will note the crescent moon-shaped markings on the grip. I've seen this on some of the Brazilian espada cutlasses before and other Colonial Spanish pieces.

Jim, I think we'd talked about this crescent design in the past as far as the connection with various Spanish ports of call, such as the Brazilian coast and Salee, but perhaps my mind is wandering?? :shrug: These same markings turn up on Berber sabers as well, and as I know Morocco had many connections with Moorish Spain and Spanish shipping, I wonder if there is a connection. In any case, I'm in a state of mourning from missing out on this sword...

fernando 22nd November 2008 11:59 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Here Mark.

.

M ELEY 23rd November 2008 02:22 AM

Thanks so much, Fernando, and congrats on your Christmas gift! ;)


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