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Old 27th December 2004, 08:44 AM   #1
Radu Transylvanicus
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Default Article: Notes on development of modern sabers - Role of Eastern Europe & the Hussars

Dedicated to my Forum pal, Wolviex ...

IMPORTANT NOTES ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN SABERS AND THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF EASTERN EUROPE AND THE HUSSAR TROOPS.

What I am trying to pursue the reader here is to observe the evolutionary development of the ancient scimitars and how it changed in the modern curved saber, who has seen the light much trough the skilled hands of the eastern Europeans, in a long lasting process from late Medieval Age all the way to the Napoleonian wars; this short article emphasizing on the missing link in the evolution of the curved swords from the phase of ancient Oriental scimitars to the modern sabers, meaning, emerging, clearly transformed by the Eastern European mélange not only but mainly by the Hungarian/Transylvanian and Polish/Ukrainian armories during the late medieval 15th century up, with a quick follow up all the way to 18th century Baroque age and beginning of Napoleonian times.
Some preliminary notes are to be made however: from all types of sabers described here, in central and eastern Europe, no style has seen a complete elimination until mid 19th century so it is worth observing that from whatever reason, from traditional nostalgia to fencing preference, every type of sword that once seen birth, it maintained an uninterrupted life until the complete elimination of battle swords contemporary to last horse mounted cavalry charges in the 19th century.
In direct tie to the development of the modern curved saber, the Hussar regiments are the quintessential and most famous bearers of the hereby weapon; they are the horse mounted cavalry troops preserving the spiritual values inspired by the medieval knights while their fashion was much different, a motley attire inspired by that of the Oriental potentates including the weaponry, hence its curved saber, complete fashion with most expensive predator furs (lion, leopard, bear, tiger, wolf) and most exotic and expensive feathers (stork, eagle or heron) readily available (photo A & B).
Their existence began as a product of the Hungarian-Transylvanian kingdom in the15th century but the history of the saber goes further in the mists of history.
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Old 27th December 2004, 08:57 AM   #2
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Curved swords have existed in the Old World previously to the migratory invasions like the Greek kopis, Thracian machaira or Dacian sica and others but most of them curved outward and none of them part of scimitar family until the Ottomans and Indo-Persians.
The curved saber indubitably has reached Europe from the Asian steppes and the Caucasian plateau somewhere around 9th century via migratory nations likely the Magyars, perhaps under Alanic influences (photo 1). This type, with few differences, mainly in decoration is present in Caucasus (Turkoman nations) and the eastern steppes of Ukraine (Mongol-Tartaric nations) known as “Tcherkesso-Tartar scimitar” (photo 2) and it directly influenced the later “ormianka” (photo 3) and “karabella” (photo 4) sabers, cousins of the Ottoman “kilij”. The blade design interfered with previous European medieval straight sword (photo 5) which inspired longer quillions and larger blades.
Starting 13thcentury the Turko-Mongols were constantly raiding via the steppes of Ukraine in all Poland, Hungary and neighboring countries carrying their “Tartar scimitars”.
In the following century, it was the Ottoman Empire that started their quest for expansion in Europe and after the failure of the lame crusades, like Nicopolis (1396), the observant Transylvanian ruler John Hunyadi (Janos Hunyadi/Hungarian, Ioan de Hunedoara/Romanian) realizes how unfit and inept the heavy full clad armor cavalry charges is and starts enlists groups of lightly armored troops styled and equipped much after his enemies as many eastern Europeans were in the service of the Ottoman Empire or in direct contact with the Tartars and already adopted their equipment being inspired by the Ottomans like Turkish sipahi or deli troops and so, the reformed “militia portalis” of John Hunyadi evolves in the famous "Black Army" (Hung. - fekete sereg) of his son, king Mathias Corvinus, incorporating for the first time the "Hussars" and ethnic wise, the first ones seem to be the Serbo-Croatians, apprehendedly named racowie (transl. n. :Serbs from the Ras province) (photo 6a & 6b ) and they served in both kingdoms of Hungary and Poland ; perhaps even the very word "hussar" in origins, disputably, comes from the Serbian word "gusar" meaning n. "brigand, rogue" .
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Old 27th December 2004, 09:04 AM   #3
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The Hussar regiments are the quintessential and most famous bearer of the European curved sword, they are the horse mounted cavalry troops preserving the spiritual values inspired by the medieval knights while his fashion was much different, a motley attire inspired by that of the Oriental potentates including the weaponry, hence its curved saber complete with most expensive large feathers (stork, eagle or heron) predator furs (lion, leopard, bear, tiger, wolf) and most exotic and expensive feathers (stork, eagle or heron) they can obtain (photo 7). They existed in other Eastern European countries under different names like calarasi (raiders) in Walachia (photo 8- not available now) or Greek-Albanian stradioti (photo 9).
On the other hand, Poland, in very late 14th, early 15th century, allies with Lithuania and subdues the vast Ukraine, who was also home of the Cossacks and the “Golden Horde” of Crimean Tartars and tremendous interaction in weaponry started and we can observe in the Polish Commonwealth a fantastic variety array of saber montures and blade types inspired by neighboring nations as far as Persia but those are only influences and Hungary & Poland emerged and should be granted as being the main stable ground for the innovations and the emergence of the modern European fencing and saber.
All these changes at the time when the rest of mainstream Europe was still using medieval straight swords, or other types like “schiavonna” (ironically another eastern European weapon) based broad swords for battle.
A solid link in the consolidation of the Hungarian/Polish armamentarium happened when Transylvanian ruler Stephen Báthory (1533-1586) became king of Poland and reformed the Polish cavalry, mainly the famous “winged hussars” (photo 10) and the boot hilt (photo 11) became standard and started being known as the “Hungarian-Polish style” saber.
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Old 27th December 2004, 09:05 AM   #4
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It was customary in Poland that the nobility (szlachta) would produce and carry sword inspired by the one their kings carried and named the style after him the main types being: (photo 12) "batorowka" after Stephen Báthory (having classic boot like hilt), "zygmuntowka" (photo 13) after king Sigismund (Zygmunt in Polish), "janowka" (photo 14) after Jan Sobieski or "augustowka" after August II, elector of Saxony for example.
And so in the very early 16th century the Eastern European with the core in the armorial centers of Hungary and Poland that new curved cavalry saber dissociates herself entirely from the Oriental scimitars by not only proportions and decorations but by adding completely new elements like reinforcing butt plates (in Pol. n. kapturek) in the 15th century, thumb rings ( in Pol. n. paluch)(photo 15) and in the late 16th century partially (photo 16) or completely (photo 17) closed knuckle guards (in Pol. n. kablak glowny) in the same late 16th century. The knuckle guard is likely an element inspired from the decorative chain-link finger guard (photo 18a & 18b) adopted by Eastern Europeans from Turko-Persian sources.
The paluch (thumb-rings) seemed to have lost its popularity after the 17th century but the rest of the elements remained and have been completely incorporated in a new weapon, the European curved saber, completely distinct and different from its Oriental counterpart and its successful deeds quickly had her adopted by most of Western Europe, America and rest of the world as standard for their battle swords with few exceptions.
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Old 27th December 2004, 09:06 AM   #5
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In the mid 17th century the butt-plate started extending all the way to the quillions (photo 17) making the metallic assembly of the hilt look like a one piece solid completely enclosed protection , a style so different from the incipient scimitar montures.
Worth mentioning is that up to 17th century (some parts even later) many cavalry trooper carried a secondary weapon, an oversized straight long sword named kontchar (a term that not 100% safe to use but scholars tend to nowadays) used to pierce chainmail and breech trough enemy lines, which proved less convenient than the classic lance; the lance was a weapon almost forgotten by the cavalry of western Europe in the 17th and 18th century until the amazing grace and force of Polish uhlans (lancers) amazed Napoleon and immediately reintroduced them lasting one more good one hundred years.
Another improvement of the hilt is the use of ray, shark (photo 20) or other similar skins that provide superior grip in battle or the use of wire wrap over leather providing similar qualities, the last being encountered before in Europe and therefore not completely new.
That is the beginning of the ,,epee a la Hussarde,, or Hussar style saber (photo 19) who was adopted quickly by all most powerful armies of Europe from Hungarian by Austrians then Prussian, French and British and ended up glorified by the Napoleonian Era wars (photo 20) and in the 18th century it ceased to be ,, Hungaro-Polish,, and it became the European curved saber hence its mainstream adoption as it started expanding west via the armies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its conflicts in the 17th century and culminating with the ever popular sabers of ,,Blucher,, type (see photo 21) which are nothing but ,,epee a la Hussarde,, , a Hussar saber.
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Old 27th December 2004, 09:09 AM   #6
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In the end, not only have the mighty super powers of the Napoleonian Wars adopted the Polish-Hungarian Hussar sabers but they copied even their flamboyant attire, military organization, fencing (photo 22) , style of riding along with their bold ways of life, from the Great Britain to France (photo 23) and Russia modeled their armies accordingly. These late key design elements incorporated in the stirup hilt and cleaving blades remained little changed until late 19th century when firearms put an absolute end to the cavalry charges and real battle sabers became bygone, declining into them strictly parade and ceremonious pieces we know today.
That being said, the cigar is finished and my Hennessy snifter is empty, hopping that I sparked some interest in you.
...
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Old 7th April 2008, 08:03 PM   #7
Mike Cudzich-Madry
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Default The correct designation for the Blucher isabre s the 1796 LC Sabre

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radu Transylvanicus
In the mid 17th century the butt-plate started extending all the way to the quillions (photo 17) making the metallic assembly of the hilt look like a one piece solid completely enclosed protection , a style so different from the incipient scimitar montures.
Worth mentioning is that up to 17th century (some parts even later) many cavalry trooper carried a secondary weapon, an oversized straight long sword named kontchar (a term that not 100% safe to use but scholars tend to nowadays) used to pierce chainmail and breech trough enemy lines, which proved less convenient than the classic lance; the lance was a weapon almost forgotten by the cavalry of western Europe in the 17th and 18th century until the amazing grace and force of Polish uhlans (lancers) amazed Napoleon and immediately reintroduced them lasting one more good one hundred years.
Another improvement of the hilt is the use of ray, shark (photo 20) or other similar skins that provide superior grip in battle or the use of wire wrap over leather providing similar qualities, the last being encountered before in Europe and therefore not completely new.
That is the beginning of the ,,epee a la Hussarde,, or Hussar style saber (photo 19) who was adopted quickly by all most powerful armies of Europe from Hungarian by Austrians then Prussian, French and British and ended up glorified by the Napoleonian Era wars (photo 20) and in the 18th century it ceased to be ,, Hungaro-Polish,, and it became the European curved saber hence its mainstream adoption as it started expanding west via the armies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its conflicts in the 17th century and culminating with the ever popular sabers of ,,Blucher,, type (see photo 21) which are nothing but ,,epee a la Hussarde,, , a Hussar saber.



It is the 1796 LC Sabre! It may be called a "Blucher" in the rest of Europe, but it was adopted by the Prussians under General Blucher only after seeing it in the hands of the British and the British Monarch's Hanoverian troops ("The King's German Legion").

It was designed by Captain Marchant as the 1796 Light Cavalry Sabre from inspiration gained on his travels "East". For some reason this is always taken to be India and the Indian Tulwar but the only Tulwars that look like a 1796 are 1796 blades with Tulwar Hilts used by some Indian Cavalry regiments well in to the 19th Century at the time of the British Raj. It is known that Captain Marchant went to Hungary, and since Poland had ceased to exist by that time, he may have also been to Austrian 'Poland'; these seems more the places that he would have visted when the whole of Europe was fascinated by everything Hussar! I have been convinced myself when seeing Hussaria Sabres in Poland that the 1796 had taken these sabres of 150 years before as its inspiration.

Well presented Radu.

Mike
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Old 1st January 2005, 10:54 AM   #8
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Excelent work Radu and I have to thank you, too, for it.

I have notice 2 points I need more clarification.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radu Transylvanicus
like the Greek kopis, Thracian machaira or Dacian sica and others


I am not sure that we can call machaira Thracian because it was spread all over greek world. The word "machaira" is still alive in greek language (means "very big knife"). The word is also in New Testament. Etymological speaking, "knife" in modern greek is "machairi" and "battle" is "machi"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Radu Transylvanicus
and the boot hilt (photo 11) became standard and started being known as the “Hungarian-Polish style” saber


In the diagramm this very intresting boot hilt is in East side! I am curius about it, because recently I saw one in sword with typical Khevsur decoration!
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Old 2nd January 2005, 10:34 AM   #9
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Yannis, why do I have the same issue with all Greeks : hey, Radu did you knew that comes from the Greek word ,,so on and so on,, ... dont take it personal but it becomes such a funny clichee when Greeks are negotiating the origins of everything ... it was even the theme of very succesful Hollywood movie two years ago : ,,My big fat Greek wedding,, ... but you have my promise nevertheless I will research (or try at least) the word ,,machaira,, ...

,,The boot hilt,, in the Caucasus or in Orient in general is something like our earliear ,, boomerang yataghan theory,, (am sure you remember that since it was so pro-Greek ) ... Eastearn Europe took influence from the western Asia but gave back a lot , believe it or not ...

Ariel : thank you for the very pertinent notes seems to me we should open a ,,koncerz, mec, kontchar,, open house round table discussion ... but if curved swords come from around Asia Minor I believe the Estoc to be a European creation at first glance ...
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Old 3rd January 2005, 02:26 PM   #10
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Default Nothing personal

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radu Transylvanicus
...dont take it personal but it becomes such a funny clichee when Greeks are negotiating the origins of everything ... it was even the theme of very succesful Hollywood movie two years ago : ,,My big fat Greek wedding,, ... but you have my promise nevertheless I will research (or try at least) the word ,,machaira,, ...


My dear friend, I have seen the movie and it was big fun.

Etymology is a tool that help us to understand not only the origin of a word but sometimes the origin of an item. I didnt said "machaira" has greek origin, I just wonder if it is Thracian because it was widespread in ancient greek world. Also decent vocabularies dont have a certain etymology for the word "machaira". But it is still alive with almost the same meaning in greek language.

Sure, I dont take personal that some tenths thousands words of most european languages have greek origin. It was not my fault
But it was a great help in my studies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radu Transylvanicus
... ,,The boot hilt,, in the Caucasus or in Orient in general is something like our earliear ,, boomerang yataghan theory,, (am sure you remember that since it was so pro-Greek ) ... Eastearn Europe took influence from the western Asia but gave back a lot , believe it or not ...


Maybe in the case of this particular Khevsur sword it was more than mode. Maybe the same sword has Polish - Hungarian origin and found in the hands of Khevsur people who ornate it this way. Who knows...
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Old 3rd January 2005, 03:28 PM   #11
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[ From Radu

Ariel : thank you for the very pertinent notes seems to me we should open a ,,koncerz, mec, kontchar,, open house round table discussion ... but if curved swords come from around Asia Minor I believe the Estoc to be a European creation at first glance ...[/QUOTE]

Reply:That would be true if Estocs were used as true swords. In fact, they were used as sort of lances; those were aplenty in the Asian armamentarium.
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Old 3rd January 2005, 09:38 PM   #12
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Ariel any concrete examples of Asian lance-swords, perhaps hilted ( Indian bhuj or angkus or such dont count I think...)
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Old 27th December 2004, 11:10 AM   #13
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Thumbs up Most Magnificent!!

RADU,
Let me be the first of many to thank you for this history lesson!
Where in the world do you get this information? The time and energy to just post this information is mind boggling.
Regardless, it is to me a great lesson in history, my learning curve is moving up, thanks to you sir.


Wolviex With a friend like Radu you cannot go wrong. Even as a curator in a great museum you just got a lesson in history on the curve sword.
Gene

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Old 27th December 2004, 02:36 PM   #14
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Thanx a lot ! Very informative and like teenage girls are saying - "it's like totally cool" !

1. Circassian-Tataric scimitar - wow, it's really an interesting connection. The thing I don't understand however is that the peak of Circassian nomady belongs afaik to the peak of Khazarian and may be early Kipchaq domination, and certainly predates the formation of Tatarian conglomerate - do you know why this particular term is being used ?

2. I thought that most of the hussar swords where adopted as such by Britain and Prussia well before the napoleonic wars ? Cocnerning making them fashionable, I think mameluk swords/mameluk guards where just as inspirational (for example the Marine sword).

Again, Thank you !
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Old 27th December 2004, 04:48 PM   #15
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Great job Radu, just one minor note: I believe the curved sabre first reached Europe in the 7th or perhaps even the 6th century carried by the turkic tribes, migrating to Europe: Avars first, and then the Protobulgarians, as there are specimens dating to that time excavated in nowadays Bulgaria and Hungary, and I would assume in Romania too. Nevertheless, you are absolutely right that it is turkic in origin.
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Old 27th December 2004, 06:55 PM   #16
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Thumbs up Thank you !!!

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You !

Your reply on my thread about hussar sabre is ASTONISHING! You were worried you cannot repay me for that thread, but this is PRICELESS.

Being in shock I'll keep silence for a while, during I'll try to prepare more sensible reply.


P.S. Radu! Did you get my message "Great expactations..." about hussar sabre, I still see it as unconfirmed.
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Old 27th December 2004, 08:06 PM   #17
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Thank you all for such kind words and quick replies, I will try my best to send a note to all concerns or questions emerging :

Mare Rosu: Thank you for the praise and as far as Wolviex, he was rather help and inspiration ! Just like you with the sword of Stephen the Great, my brother !

TVV : Cheers for the nice feedback, remember this is pretty much just a study made by me now back to your reply I know that Magyars for example came as early as 5th century but the earliest scimitaric sabers I know belong to 9th century; makes perfect sense what you say that should be some earliear one but thats how far I got so far and looked mainly to teritorry of Ukraine, Ruthenia or Moldavia to find the earliest examples considering going on presumption that like migration they came north of the shores of Black Sea. Please bring photos, literature, source or theory if you know of something earliear

Wolviex : My dear friend, dont be too good to me, see if any faults and lets see where can we go with these ideas...
As far the szably copy after speaking with you I agreed and did not wanna bleed financialy for such stuff.
Do you have any pics of augustostowka , that my friend, I could not find any on any book in my library, even for the notion itself I hold you personally responsible for putting it in my head
P.S. I hope wolviexowka is fine and you had a good Christmas ...

Rivkin : The European scholars (mainly French and Russian) reffer to it as the “Tcherkesso-Tartar scimitar” with slight more geographic vs. ethnological emphasis, my friend .
Inspirational is great as long as its not pretty much copycat ( Modern curved cavalry sabre story vs. the USMC mamluke sword or The 1831 Pattern British General Officers Ivory Hilted Scimitar (fancy name isnt it, you thought ,,Polish-Hungarian sword,, was a long name) hereby mentioned : http://www.mca-marines.org/Gazette/...3mcdougall.html and lets not forget they werent much meant for battle but rather parade while the ones in the article dodged anything from the Ottomans trying to conquer Vienna or helped Napoleon conquered Europe.
Yes, the Hussar sword were prior to Napoleon but like I mentioned in here ( quote ) : That is the beginning of the ,,epee a la Hussarde,, or Hussar style saber (photo 19) who was adopted quickly by all most powerful armies of Europe from Hungarian by Austrians then Prussian, French and British and ended up glorified by the Napoleonian Era wars (photo 20) and in the 18th century it ceased to be ,, Hungaro-Polish,, and it became the European curved saber hence its mainstream adoption as it started expanding west via the armies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its conflicts in the 17th century ...
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Old 12th February 2012, 02:29 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mare Rosu
RADU, "...
Wolviex With a friend like Radu you cannot go wrong.
Gene

Yes, but what if he invites you over to see his swords and bites you on the neck?
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Old 12th February 2012, 03:33 AM   #19
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I have two sabers which fall into the design type discussed here. One is a longer classic Polish/Hungarian/Turkish type with multiple fullers and a Polish wooden bird's head grip. The tip is more upswept blunt rather than pointed. By this time is rather thin from centuries of honing and polishing.

The other blade is close to the late classical Blucher type referenced above and shown as item 12. in one of the color and monochrome illustrations. However it has several trefoil dot stamps which are often found on German or Dutch blades of the 17th century and earlier. Also the half-moon jagged edge marks with stars. This mark is found on some swords made in India but whether it was copied from European style marking I don't know. There is a single broad fuller. The grip is a nice old closed knuckle guard type with fine broad flowery koftgari. How these two came together is anyone's guess given the age and exchange or modification of swords.

As regards the trefoil marks I do have a now straight and flat European blade said to be sixteenth century or older which the seller said was once a much wider blade with a fullered section ground off. It has an Indian tulwar grip of 17th century form. The blade does have a flexible "spring" to it which someone said confirms it is of likely German origin as Indians or anyone else in the region didn't produce blades with that characteristic.
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Old 12th February 2012, 05:02 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fspic
I have two sabers which fall into the design type discussed here. One is a longer classic Polish/Hungarian/Turkish type with multiple fullers and a Polish wooden bird's head grip. The tip is more upswept blunt rather than pointed. By this time is rather thin from centuries of honing and polishing.

The other blade is close to the late classical Blucher type referenced above and shown as item 12. in one of the color and monochrome illustrations. However it has several trefoil dot stamps which are often found on German or Dutch blades of the 17th century and earlier. Also the half-moon jagged edge marks with stars. This mark is found on some swords made in India but whether it was copied from European style marking I don't know. There is a single broad fuller. The grip is a nice old closed knuckle guard type with fine broad flowery koftgari. How these two came together is anyone's guess given the age and exchange or modification of swords.

As regards the trefoil marks I do have a now straight and flat European blade said to be sixteenth century or older which the seller said was once a much wider blade with a fullered section ground off. It has an Indian tulwar grip of 17th century form. The blade does have a flexible "spring" to it which someone said confirms it is of likely German origin as Indians or anyone else in the region didn't produce blades with that characteristic.


Salaams fspic ~ Great ! ... Please show us some pictures... Shukran..
Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi
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Old 12th February 2012, 03:12 PM   #21
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interesting. i especially liked the bit about the estoc as a lance replacement.

the british 1908 and the american 1913 cavalry swords, the last issue swords designed for actual battle use, were pure thrusting weapons, specifically designed to have about the same reach as a lance. the curved sabres of the past were gone forever.

in the early stages of ww1, a british cavalry patrol equipped with said swords, met a german uhlan patrol equipped with lances in one of the last, if not THE last pure cavalry engagements with edged weapons. the germans were soundly defeated. this in part due to the germans being from a newly recruited and barely trained regiment. they of course were pursued by the british, who were stopped dead by a humble farmer's fence across the field. it was of three strands of barbed wire. a prophetic end to the cavalry charge. horses were of course used in the rest of ww1 for pulling wagons and artillery, and were used more successfully in the open middle east, but the day of the edged weapon as a primary cavalry arm were over.

there were persisant rumors of polish lancers attacking german armour while on horseback with lances in ww2. never happened. poles were not that dumb. the lancers did oppose the german armour but not in vain cavalry charges, they used their rifles and light machine guns & anti-tank weapons from cover like any sane person. sadly they were not enough. the horses and lances were parade items, much like the present day canadian mounties. there was, however a successful charge against german infantry, supported by machine guns, etc...

Polish Cavalry Charge ww2

horse were used extensively in ww2, mostly by the germans, again for supply wagons and artillery, but the innovation of the american jeep 4wd put paid to even that.

cavalry with lance, sword, sabre, or estoc is now the field of the collector and scholar, and no longer that of the military.

that is where we come in. keeping history living...
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Last edited by kronckew : 12th February 2012 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 13th February 2012, 01:19 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Salaams fspic ~ Great ! ... Please show us some pictures... Shukran..
Regards Ibrahiim al Balooshi


Agree !
Please upload some pictures .
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Old 12th February 2012, 04:35 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by fspic
Yes, but what if he invites you over to see his swords and bites you on the neck?


Cute but these kinds of comments better placed on Facebook. Glad to see you move on to more useful material, and I too would like to see photos of your sabres.
By your description, the East European form and note on 'birds head' hilt, do you mean smooth pommel or trilobate 'karabela' form?
Good stuff on the 'Bluchersabel' which is indeed the Prussian M1811 interpretation of the British M1796 light cavalry sabre. Actually the production of these seem well placed as Solingen had already been supplying the British with blades for thier sabres from the 1788 patterns through the 1796 along with other blade types, and the implementation of the hilt was in league with other European forms of these times.

The 'trefoil' dot marks and the jagged half moon marks I would suppose to be the well known 'sickle marks' which evolved presumably from North Italy into trade entrepots widely, and were adopted by blade making centers in Styria, Hungary, Poland and of course Germany. They also became the 'gurda' in the blades of the Caucusus, also later widely exported.
These marks were indeed copied in degree in India, especially northern regions where they occur consistantly on the Afghan 'paluoar' form of sabre, but to the south many, if not most of the straight blades have these marks on the 'firangi' (foreign' ) blades. Again, later many blades received these type marks to emulate the much favored European blades marks.
As far as known, most of the Dutch blades came from Germany, however numbers of Solingen smiths went there to work. I am not aware of significant presence of these sickle marks on swords with Dutch provenance, however with trade blades there certainly may have been some. Most Dutch markings have varying other characteristics.
Well noted on the flexibility issue, and indeed India did have some issues regarding brittle nature of some of thier products, leading to the favor of the European blades.


Kronckew, well said!!!
The use of the lance in combat was indeed a skill which required considerable training, and ill trained troops using them were more of a liability than asset, often more dangerous to themselves and each other. In close quarters of course there were not only awkward obviously, but a completely useless encumbrance. The German lances (of hollow steel shafts rather than wood) were well over 10 feet long.
The M1913 'Patton' cavalry sword, while being declared one of the finest swords ever designed (obviously with nods to the British M1908) was never actually used in combat as far as recorded in references. The British M1908 swords were however used in the Middle East theater in WWI, where they were called 'Allenby' swords for the British commanding general.
One of the best accounts of these is in James Lunt's "Charge to Glory".

The old nonsense about Polish lancers charging German tanks with these was of course primarily German propoganda, and as noted, never actually happened. These cavalrymen, true to thier powerful heritage from the centuries of Polish lancers who had fought with outstanding valor did fight bravely against thier foe using the conventional weapons of the time.

There are many instances of cavalry charges said to be 'the last' up into WWII, where a British regiment I believe in Burma charged against emplaced Japanese units, however with dismal outcome due to machine gun fire. I have often spoken of the British brigadier who led one of the last mounted cavalry charges in India in 1931 on plains in Khyber regions, and who showed me the M1913 officers sword he carried.

The study of these weapons and events is indeed where we come in, and together we will preserve this valuable history.

Nicely done guys! and Ibrahiim, thank you so much for bringing this one back!!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 13th February 2012, 01:10 AM   #24
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I don't know, Jim; I have a very flexible fine grained wootz Indian sabre at hand here in the armory; almost a straight blade .

They were not all bad .
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Old 13th February 2012, 01:58 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Rick
I don't know, Jim; I have a very flexible fine grained wootz Indian sabre at hand here in the armory; almost a straight blade .

They were not all bad .



Good call Rick, and I hoped my comment didnt sound too 'inflexible' (pun intended) by qualifying the word 'some' with regard to Indian blades. I hope I can find the reference concerning this dilemma, may have been either Pant or Elgood. There was a quote included regarding the Indian favor of 'firangi' blades resulting in the large volume of them coming into Indian regions which included the disdain for British blades claiming they were 'unfit to cut even butter with'. Apparantly whatever issues were at hand with Indian blades was resolved and actually it does seem that in most times they were held in extremely high esteem, especially in Arabia where the flex of a blade was a keenly observed feature. There are of course blades in India which indeed were even wrapped around ones body almost as a belt.

You have some great stuff in that 'armoury' of yours!!!

All the best,
Jim
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