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Old 31st December 2004, 07:43 PM   #31
ariel
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Just an aside: the name the Ottoman Turks used for an estoc (koncerz) is Mec (pronounced Mech, as in "touch"). There are accounts of the French travellers mentioning this weapon and spelling it "megg" (probably, -gg was used for a "dz" sound, similar to our spelling of "kilij", "kilig", and "kilich"). An interesting tweak is that in Russian, "Mech" is a standard name for a straight, double-edged and usually heavy sword. The lighter, curved and usually single-edged ones are called "sablya" (a common origin with saber,szablya etc is obvious).
Question:
Since both Turkish and Russian languages have been profoundly influenced by the old Mongol/Altai etc dialects, was there a proto-word for a similar type of weapon in Central Asia and was there a weapon of that construction there? Some Tartar sabers still preserved in Polish/Lithuanian museums have a bayonet tip designed specifically for stabbing/armour penetration: remarkably similar to the function and structure of the koncerz.
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Old 1st January 2005, 10:54 AM   #32
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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   #33
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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   #34
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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   #35
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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   #36
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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 9th January 2005, 01:12 AM   #37
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Radu: I promised you a picture and here it is. It is a picture from a Byzantine manuscript depicting Bulgars slaying Christian soldiers, a few of them holding curved sabres. It dates to the seventh or eighth century. The earliest curved sabres in Eastern Europe, dating ba,ck to the 670s, are found in the burrials of nomads from Central Asia: Avars and Bulgars. I think there are also sinilar examples found at approximately the same time in Northern Caucasus that are associated with the Hazars. Since before coming to Eastern Europe all of these turkic tribes inhabited the steppes north of the Caucasus mountains, I guess this proves your main point about the lands of the origin of this weapon and the significance of Eastern Europe in its spread all over the continent. Only the date of the intorduction of the sabre is a little earlier, and the Magyars were not the first ones to carry it.
Regards,
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Old 9th January 2005, 09:00 AM   #38
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Priyatel Teodor,

When is this iconoclastic painting dated again ?A bit too ,,fully matured,, orthodox style with very developed christianic characters for 500s a.C. , dont you think ? personal opinion ...
As far as the birth of the sword, I agree with an earliear date set than originally mentioned but if not backed by hard evidence remains just supposition, even though we both believe in just as much and were convinced it was the case... On the other hand, however, I am rather keen to lean towards an Alanic versus an Avaric transitional origin (debated and agreed this already with our ,,brother in arms,, Jim McD. , earliear...) .
Any pre-scimitars, perhaps of Turkic origin, you can think of in any museums that would predate the ones we know already as 9th century and were found on European teritory, including Ukraine or Turkey ?

Radu

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Old 10th January 2005, 12:01 AM   #39
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Oh no, deffinitely not 500 AC, it is I believe from the late 8th century. There are miniatures from the middle of the 9th century in the Chronicle of Ioan Skilica, depicting the Byzantine emperor Leo V Armenian (813-820) with a sabre, of which I am unable to find a scan right now. It would be strange for an Eastern Roman Emperor to be depicted with a weapon that was just introduced by the enemies of his Empire.
I agree with the Alanic origin, since there are linguistic evidences that the word sabre originated from an Alanic root: "shab" meaning an edged weapon in thast language. The Magyars appeared in Eastern Europe in the beggining of the 900s, or early 10th century. Since there are examples from the 9th century from the Balkans and what is now Hungary, it is clear I believe that this weapon was introduced to these places by the Avars, Bulgars and the other Turkic tribes. It is highly unlikely that the Bulgars for example came up with the design of the sabre after moving to the Balkans, so it should have been with them at least since the 7th century. Whether the sabre appeared at about that time in the Eurasian Steppes or earlier, it is hard to say.
Best Regards, as always,
Teodor

Last edited by TVV : 10th January 2005 at 01:00 AM.
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Old 10th January 2005, 03:44 AM   #40
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Just a recap of the development of the sabre from current notes:

"...the very long, curved, narrow battle axe of Middle Kingdom Egypt (1990-1798 BC) may have been the prototype for the curved swords which the popular imagination always associates with Islam. Curved bronze swords had been in use for at least two millennia before Islam ".
"Swords of Islam" by Anthony North
in "Swords & Hilt Weapons (ed.M.Coe,
N.Y.1989), p.137
"...our knowledge of the sword of the Avars has recently been augmented by a new reconstruction of the Pereshchepina sword, which shows that it had a long straight blade and a ring pommeled hilt with vestigial quillons".
"China and Central Asia"
by Thom Richardson
(Coe, ibid.p.176)
"...the curved cavalry sword , however, probably originated in Turkestan. Perhaps the earliest representation of such a weapon appears in a frescoe from Sorcuq, usually assumed to date from the 8th century, examples excavated from graves can be dated from the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries".
Richardson (op.cit.p.176)
Richardson states further, "...the curved sword was not diagnostic of a different method of warfare, nor did it oust the straight, single edged sword in Central Asia".
On p.180 he states: "...in all likelihood, the curved sword was introduced by the Uighurs. This Turkish people, originally Manicheans, were converted to Buddhism in the mid 9th century and established a kingdom centred on Turfan and Kucha. Earliest examples of these curved swords belong to Khirghiz finds of the 10th century".
* it is noted that the frescoe which represents an event of 8th c. probably was painted much later, possibly 300 years.

This data illustrates the rather sketchy speculation on the development of the sabre as a weapon form, however it does seem to clarify that the Avars seem to have used straight blade swords. This seems likely as they are thought to have actually been the Ruan-Ruan who were driven from Mongolian regions c.550 AD and thier ring hilt swords were of probably influenced by the huanshoe dao ring pommel straight swords of Han empire China.

The Alano-Magyar sabres previously discussed from northern Caucasian regions and shown in Lebedynsky ("Les Armes Traditionelles de l'Europe Centrale" ,p.18) also include the familiar 'sword of Charlemagne' which is a sabre of 9th c. slight curved blade and extended yelman.

In "The Lore of Arms" (William Reid, 1976) it is stated, "...curved swords were common in Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, but in the west the medieval form known is the falchion".
The falchion seems to have been essentially a straight back sword with a widened and bellied blade for slashing as the sabre.

At this point, while both heavy straight swords were in use, along with variations of sabres, it would seem that primary development of curving blades was taking place in the Islamic sphere. In "Polish Sabres: Their Origins and Evolution" by Jan Ostrowski ("Art, Arms and Armour" ed. Robert Held, Vol.I, 1979-80, p.222), it is stated, "...the first examples to find thier way to Poland might have been imported Turkish products, or Hungarian ones patterned on Turkish model, and thier appearance in large numbers should be dated from the beginning of the 16th century.In 1505, the municipal council of Cracow granted swordmakers the right to mount and furbish sabres".

OK, I didn't say a 'brief' recap !!
I just wanted to add some references that might help in our discussion on development of the sabre. It seems to me that the sabre has existed in varied forms concurrent with other forms of sword, and the more curved and parabolic forms of sabre gained popularity as noted from about 16th c. onward. It also seems generally held that the cavalry tactics and use of the sabre evolved in Eastern Europe influenced by Turkish horsemen and likely others from Balkan regions.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 10th January 2005, 03:55 PM   #41
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Hi Jim, the sword from Malaja Pereschepina is connected to the Bulgars before they were displaced from the North of the Caucasus by the Hazars to the Balkans, due to a ring found in the burrial bearing the name of the Great Khan Kubrat, father of the founder of the Bulgarian State Khan Asparauh. It is straight, you are absolutely right. There are straight swords, double edged or single edged found in nowadays Bulgaria from the same period, from which curved sabres have been discovered, sometimes even from the same archeological site.
In Medieval Bulgaria the sabre started to lose popularity as a weapon for various reasons, the main one I guess being the huge Byzantine cultural and material influence, and it was replaced by the straight sword by the 10th century, as the only examples of sabres discovered then are those associated with the Magyar incursions. I believe something similar happened with the sabres of the Magyars themselves: at some point they simply went out of fashion. I do not have any information whether the Cumans, an ethnicity very close to the Bulgars, had any sabres, and Russian museums tend to attribute everything associated with the Volga Bulgars to the Mongols. I agree with you that the sabre as a weapon form gained large popularity only when it was reintroduced by the Ottomans in the 16th century.
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Old 12th January 2005, 02:41 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
Hi Jim, the sword from Malaja Pereschepina is connected to the Bulgars before they were displaced from the North of the Caucasus by the Hazars to the Balkans, due to a ring found in the burrial bearing the name of the Great Khan Kubrat, father of the founder of the Bulgarian State Khan Asparauh. It is straight, you are absolutely right. There are straight swords, double edged or single edged found in nowadays Bulgaria from the same period, from which curved sabres have been discovered, sometimes even from the same archeological site.
In Medieval Bulgaria the sabre started to lose popularity as a weapon for various reasons, the main one I guess being the huge Byzantine cultural and material influence, and it was replaced by the straight sword by the 10th century, as the only examples of sabres discovered then are those associated with the Magyar incursions. I believe something similar happened with the sabres of the Magyars themselves: at some point they simply went out of fashion. I do not have any information whether the Cumans, an ethnicity very close to the Bulgars, had any sabres, and Russian museums tend to attribute everything associated with the Volga Bulgars to the Mongols. I agree with you that the sabre as a weapon form gained large popularity only when it was reintroduced by the Ottomans in the 16th century.


Hello TVV,
Outstanding perspective on this extremely esoteric sector of history in the Eastern European/Balkan regions. The Pereshchepina sword is apparantly from the 7th century and was discovered near Poltava in the Ukraine in village of Malaja Pereshchepina in 1912. There was a very important article written on this sword in 1985 in Russia ("On the Principles of Reconstruction of the Pereshchepina Sword", Z.Lvova & A. Seminov, in Arkheologicesksya Sbornik, Vol.26). It was compared primarily to Avar swords found in Hungarian territory. Because the blade was single edged, there was considerable attention given to what term should be applied, and some confusion had resulted in earlier discussions because of the interpolation of the terms sword and sabre. The long narrow straight swords of the Huns are also mentioned (in other works these are termed 'urepos').

I think you are right in the idea that in degree military fashion did guage with changes in power as geopolitical and cultural fusion occurred in regions. What you say about the decline of curved sabres of Magyars is very interesting, and need to look more into that aspect.

From what I understand, the Cumans presence in Bulgaria came after the Mongol vassalage (1292-95) when two subsequent dynasties of Cuman origin evolved. By c.1340 this ended with Turkish invasions.The Turks ruled from 1396-1878. I did find a sabre attributed to the Cumans in Hungary from 12th-13th century ("Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era 1050-1350" , David C. Nicolle, N.Y.1988, p.534, #1462) which is similar to Khirghiz sabres of 10th-12th c. and not deeply curved, but single edged.
It is noted,"...used by one of the Kun, the name given to those Turkish Cuman, originally Peceneg tribes, who fled into Hungary and then settled in the area. For several centuries they retained a separate identity and maintained a nomadic, pastoral way of life comparable to that of the original Magyars. This long, slender sabre is a typical Turco-Mongol type of weapon, although the uncharacteristically long quillons may be a local development following the Kuns settlement in Hungary".

It is interesting to note in the same book (p.95, #240), "...a sword from Buzau, Wallachia 13th c., probably a German import. This region was dominated by Eurasian steppe nomads, Pecenegs and Cumans. This sword likely reached this area via the Hungarians who then ruled Transylvania".
The sword is a typical medieval broadsword, and is noted simply to demonstrate the congruent use of varied sword forms by same groups in close regions.

I think the Mongol attribution is often a generalization in referring to many of these tribal groups that moved westward into these regions, and many variations in semantics occur in describing them. For example, the Avars were actually Ruan-Ruan, etc. and many complexities!

Even more complex is the sabre development conundrum, but I think we have a running start at it in this discusson!

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 12th January 2005, 04:14 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Hello TVV,
Outstanding perspective on this extremely esoteric sector of history in the Eastern European/Balkan regions. The Pereshchepina sword is apparantly from the 7th century and was discovered near Poltava in the Ukraine in village of Malaja Pereshchepina in 1912. There was a very important article written on this sword in 1985 in Russia ("On the Principles of Reconstruction of the Pereshchepina Sword", Z.Lvova & A. Seminov, in Arkheologicesksya Sbornik, Vol.26). It was compared primarily to Avar swords found in Hungarian territory. Because the blade was single edged, there was considerable attention given to what term should be applied, and some confusion had resulted in earlier discussions because of the interpolation of the terms sword and sabre. The long narrow straight swords of the Huns are also mentioned (in other works these are termed 'urepos').

I think you are right in the idea that in degree military fashion did guage with changes in power as geopolitical and cultural fusion occurred in regions. What you say about the decline of curved sabres of Magyars is very interesting, and need to look more into that aspect.

From what I understand, the Cumans presence in Bulgaria came after the Mongol vassalage (1292-95) when two subsequent dynasties of Cuman origin evolved. By c.1340 this ended with Turkish invasions.The Turks ruled from 1396-1878. I did find a sabre attributed to the Cumans in Hungary from 12th-13th century ("Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era 1050-1350" , David C. Nicolle, N.Y.1988, p.534, #1462) which is similar to Khirghiz sabres of 10th-12th c. and not deeply curved, but single edged.
It is noted,"...used by one of the Kun, the name given to those Turkish Cuman, originally Peceneg tribes, who fled into Hungary and then settled in the area. For several centuries they retained a separate identity and maintained a nomadic, pastoral way of life comparable to that of the original Magyars. This long, slender sabre is a typical Turco-Mongol type of weapon, although the uncharacteristically long quillons may be a local development following the Kuns settlement in Hungary".

It is interesting to note in the same book (p.95, #240), "...a sword from Buzau, Wallachia 13th c., probably a German import. This region was dominated by Eurasian steppe nomads, Pecenegs and Cumans. This sword likely reached this area via the Hungarians who then ruled Transylvania".
The sword is a typical medieval broadsword, and is noted simply to demonstrate the congruent use of varied sword forms by same groups in close regions.

I think the Mongol attribution is often a generalization in referring to many of these tribal groups that moved westward into these regions, and many variations in semantics occur in describing them. For example, the Avars were actually Ruan-Ruan, etc. and many complexities!

Even more complex is the sabre development conundrum, but I think we have a running start at it in this discusson!

Best regards,
Jim


Another outstanding post, Jim. Good grief, man! You've been on a tear lately!
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Old 12th January 2005, 08:53 AM   #44
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...(just watching an awesome development of this thread) ...
however : QUOTE Jim : ,,"...a sword from Buzau, Wallachia 13th c., probably a German import. This region was dominated by Eurasian steppe nomads, Pecenegs and Cumans"
... ahem , ahem ... easy there, tiger !
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Old 12th January 2005, 04:22 PM   #45
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Radu: the control over the lands north of the Danube river in the period between 100 and 1300 AD is a fascinating topic, but if we are to tackle it, it would be perhaps only wise to do so from the perspective of this thread. It is certain that at one point there was a mixture of weapon styles in use in these lands, as one Byzantine chronicle (I am at work now, I will try to dig up the name of its author and its year later) states that the Pechenegs, after defeating Svetoslav's Varyags on their return from his second incursion in the Balkans, took their swrods and other weapons, which they valued much. So there were Pechenegs with Viking swords at one time (there are some distinctively Viking swords and scabbard chapes excavated in Bulgaria only to further illustrate the point).
Jim: the Cumans came to Bulgaria much earlier. Their troops were instrumental in the rebellion that led to the reestablishment of the Bulgarian State in the late 12th century, and also in the battle at Adrianopol in 1205, in which the Bulgarian Tzar Kaloyan (ok, ok, Radu, Tzar of Bulgarians and Wallachians by official title, but the Byzantine historians and the Pope referred to him as the ruler of Bulgaria) defeated the Crusaders who had just conquered Constantinople. Kaloyan himself was married to a Cuman woman, and later in the history of the Second Bulgarian Empire there were two Cuman dynasties (Terters and Shishmans). There is a legend from that period, which states that the Cumans were "the third part of the Bulgars". All this makes me believe that they were an ethnicity extremely similar to the Bulgars who initially came to the Balkans, before they mingled with the Slavs. Their presence on the Balkans was quite significant and prolonged. I think Rivkin mentioned in another thread that many of the Mameluks were of Cuman origin.
However, for the purpose of our topic, I do not know of any sabres from that period attributed to the Cumans, which is quite surprising, as their military consisted entirely of cavalry and the sabre would have suited their style of warfare perfectly. Perhaps I will need to ask friends of mine back in Bulgaria who are archeologists if they know something more. It is possible that some of their weapons are incorrectly attributed to the Mongols. In the capitol city of the Second Bulgarian Empire there have been excavated blacksmithing furnaces, and the metallurgy was well developped by German immigrants from the Rhine region, who produced swords of western style. It could be that the Cumans were simply assimilated in the Bulgarian state and that they adopted the locally produced straight bladed weapons. Of course, this is only a complete speculation on my part.

P.S. I promise to scan and post some pictures later on today. Jim, could you also post the sabre that is attributed to the Cumans?
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Old 15th January 2005, 12:53 AM   #46
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Hi Andrew,
Thank you for the kind note!

Yes I have been on a tear! The piles of books in here are getting dangerous, but I get a bit berserk when a good discussion starts a quest.

Radu,
Thanks for the observation, I felt pretty safe noting Nicolle's statement with the quotation marks I know this is your turf, so always appreciate any observations that might correct any errors or broad assumptions. The topic you've brought up on this thread is a good one, and the development of swords in these regions is key to understanding many ethnographic sabre forms.

TVV,
The Cuman sabre (noted as Hungarian in the drawing in the book as noted in reference) is not very cooperative in being scanned ( this thing never works right anyway ). These line drawings are not the best representation of these weapons, but simply give a reasonable impression (much like the police artist for identifying suspects).
The complexities of discussing the tribal movements through these regions and the semantics in thier names alone is most confusing, but as we seem to agree, most important in trying to establish the swords of choice among them. I think you are right in presuming assimilation of Cumans into Bulgarian state, but unclear on which time period we mean. This is another confounding factor in studying these tribal peoples, the constant diffusion and assimilation into other groups. In some references it is implied that the Avars 'simply disappeared' , in one reference the expression "gone like the Avars" was used. Like many tribal groups, many assimilated into other larger groups rather than 'disappearing'.

Really enjoying this discussion guys!!! Thank you!!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 15th January 2005, 03:59 PM   #47
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This one just grew and grew, but I've finally read it all. Very interesting, all. A few notes:

Falchions often have curved spines, and are commonly thought to be derived from scramasax/longsax. Germans are more Eastern than Celts, and always have been though; Slavs more Eastern yet. This seems pretty directly sensical.

Estocs ARE lance-swords; basically shortish spears constructed as swords, often or even usually incapable of cutting. This is my view on smallsword, etc. as well. Rapier per se is debatable, being a very capable cutting weapon in its early forms.

Do you really think the "grip strap" of modern sabres evolved as an extension of the pommel? Do you have transitional examples? Don't you think it's a version of a tang-band?

To me it seems that the distinctly Western European evolution of the sabre is to bring the point back in line with the hilt, rather than trailing it behind, as on Tartaric ("true"?) sabres, and in effect combining sabre and estoc in a single weapon, or attempting so to do.
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Old 17th January 2005, 02:53 AM   #48
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Whenever I think of falchions I cannot resist thinking immediately of the much discussed 'Conyers falchion' in Durham Cathedral in England. This is the form I describe primarily with the straight back and hugely widened cleaver type blade. Claude Blair describes this on p.83 of his "European and American Arms" as of c.1260-70 (illustrated fig. 21).

Frederick Wilkinson ("Edged Weapons", N.Y.1970, p.32) notes, "...these swords seem to have appeared during the 13th century; they were single edged weapons loosely related to the old Saxon seax or scramasax, with a blade initially fairly straight. In order to increase the cutting power the blade widened near the point in much the same way as the 'seax'. The blade was later modified and from a short distance from the point the back edge of the blade was cut out to give a slightly hooked appearance to the end of the blade. From the late 14th and early 15th centuries the blade became more curved, and in the late 16th-early 17th c. many infantry, particularly in Northern Europe carried a slightly curved falchion".

These heavy and most slightly curved examples illustrated in Wilkinson (fig. 22 and 23) both noted as early 17th c and both German, as well as another English (fig.74) c.1620 same slight curve in the blade.These also feature the so called "clipped point" that became well known later on 18th c. German sabre blades and many straight cavalry blades of 18th c. (in this case I am thinking of British dragoon swords c.1760-70's).

In "Lore of Arms" by William Reid (Gothenburg,1976, p.40-42) the author notes that curved swords were common in Eastern Europe in the middle ages, but in the west "...the only medieval form known is the falchion. By c.1200 some soldiers were carrying a sword with a short broad blade, single edged, widest towards the point and with a more or less convex cutting edge. The surviving examples can be classified as having either a blade which resembles the Levantine 'kilic' or a straight back".

It would appear that the earliest form of falchion was of the 'Conyers' type, with distinctly straight back and widened convex curved cutting edge. In "The Archaeology of Weapons" ( 1960,p.238), Ewart Oakeshott adds to his description of the Conyers falchion, the single edged sword which is known as the 'Thorpe falchion' (Castle Museum, Norwich). This is an example that seems more in line with the later examples as it is "...very similar to a sabre blade. How this blade form developed is not clear; we rarely see it before about 1290, and it seems to have no direct kinship, like the Durham type,with the old Norwegian long sax. It may have developed under an Eastern European influence, for it is very closely akin to the Sword of Charlemagne-the Hungarian one-in Vienna, a type which had been in use in Eastern Europe since the 9th c.Whatever the origin of its particular form, as a falchion it is still a descendant of the sax, the Greek kopis and the ancient Egyptian khopsh, and its form remained in use from the early 14th c. till the mid eighteenth, with modifications, while the Durham (Conyers) form is seen no more after about 1300."

This 'Thorpe' form is basically straight, single edged and with the clipped point (often termed false edge). This is the blade form described in the later falchions mentioned from Wilkinson (op.cit.).

The reason I have put together this data on falchions is that it is important to note the concurrent use of both straight heavy swords as well as developing forms of cutting or slashing swords, with the form evolving in the west the falchion. It is noted that in Eastern Europe and in the Islamic sphere that both straight swords and sabres were used, and we have noted that even among the early nomadic tribal groups both straight forms and developing curved blades were used. The evolution of the curved blade was likely extremely subtle as the single edged blade was given features that would correspond to the dynamics of its use, primarily of course optimum cutting potential.

The early falchions reflected such change in looking essentially the same as the knightly broadsword, with simple cross hilt and a straight black blade that simply widened on the cutting edge for improved cutting power in chopping type cuts.

Best regards,]
Jim
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Old 23rd January 2005, 03:19 PM   #49
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Do you really think the "grip strap" of modern sabres evolved as an extension of the pommel? Do you have transitional examples? Don't you think it's a version of a tang-band?



I've seen sabres with a cap pommel and a kind of short tab coming down along the "spine" edge of the handle, but I think they've all been later ones, and I always thought it was a vestigial grip strap, rather than an evolution toward one?
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Old 7th April 2008, 08:03 PM   #50
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Default The correct designation for the Blucher isabre s the 1796 LC Sabre

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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 11th February 2012, 05:46 AM   #51
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Default A Great Thread.

Salaams all ~ This is a stunning thread so Bump !
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Old 12th February 2012, 02:29 AM   #52
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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   #53
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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   #54
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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   #55
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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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Old 12th February 2012, 04:35 PM   #56
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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   #57
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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, 01:19 AM   #58
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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 13th February 2012, 01:58 PM   #59
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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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