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Old 10th June 2021, 09:24 PM   #1
urbanspaceman
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Default Smallsword Duelling

Jim mentioned duelling with smallswords, so here are two pieces I came across durinmg my research. They may be well known to some but others will find them intriguing to say the least: I certainly did. Here's the first:

Duel with Small Swords - The Graphic - February 1897
Towards the end of the seventeenth century, a very significant and important change of sword play came into fashion, and consequent on this the long weighty rapier gave way to the dress small sword with its lighter blade, grip and guard.
The Fronde in France and the Civil War in England had been conducive to much ruffianly bravery, but with a more quiescent state of affairs came a less pugnacious, though at the same time a more effeminate influence over the two nations, and the sword began to be in requisition merely as an ornamental appendage to the dress, though it was not till the reign of Queen Anne that it became what is called the " Small Sword," developing eventually into the perfect Court and duelling sword of the period of George II. and III. , and later still of the School of Angelo, upon which the modern French school of fencing is founded.
Though small and unimportant looking, there was still the necessity for making it a deadly weapon on an emergency; hence the evolution of an entirely different system of fence.
Owing to the comparative lightness of the new weapon and the much shorter blade, the attack became more rapid, the feint more intricate, and the lunge itself more involved. With the earlier forms of about 1650, it was not possible to execute the same rapid succession of parries and ripostes as are attainable with the modern duelling rapier, which is practically the same as the small sword of the latter part of the eighteenth century.
The shape of the blade varied, but the bayonet or triangular form was universal. A shape known as "Colichemarde" obtained great favour from 1730 to 1760. Here the forte of the blade was made much broader with the idea that the parry would have greater force. It had, however, the defect of throwing the weight too near the hand, allowing the point to be dangerously high and the lunge in consequence less direct.
A notable feature in all swords of this period is the very small size of the shell or protection to the hand, proving how much the science and finesse of the parry had increased, keeping pace with the lightness and delicacy of the weapon. The introduction of a larger shell in the modern French duelling rapier is due to the fact that now so much play is made to touch the hand or forearm, thereby disabling the opponent and bringing the duel to a close without fatal results. In the days of the small sword the adversary was invariably run through the body, and if death ensued the successful duellist was tried for murder, being acquitted or not according to the circumstances of the case.

And the second:

Mad and Bad:
a very interesting small-sword duel took place on January 26, I765, between Lord Byron and his neighbour Mr. Chaworth. These gentlemen were dining with others at the Star and Garter Tavern in Pall Mall about seven in the evening when the conversation turned upon the subject of game on their estates (precise story varies). This resulted in a drunken altercation, after which Lord Byron left the room, and meeting Mr. Chaworth in the passage stated that he wished to speak with him.
He then called a waiter and asked if there were any room disengaged. The waiter showed them to an unoccupied room and left them with a candle, which was all the light in the apartment except a dull fire. As Mr. Chaworth turned round after shutting the door, he perceived Lord Byron with his sword half drawn, who instantly exclaimed "Draw." Mr. Chaworth immediately complied, and at the first thrust his sword passed through Lord Byron's waistcoat, and he thought he had wounded him, when Lord Byron, shortening his sword, gave him a fatal wound. A struggle then took place between the parties, for they were found grasped in each other's arms by the landlord and waiter, who, hearing the noise, hurriedly entered the room.
A surgeon was immediately sent for who pronounced the Chaworth wound mortal, the sword having entered on the left side of the stomach, and, passing obliquely upwards, had made its exit five or six inches higher on the left side of the back.
It appears that when Mr. Chaworth's sword passed through the waistcoat of his antagonist, he expressed his apprehension that he had seriously wounded him. Now under such an apprehension it is probable that he was thrown off his guard and Lord Byron quickly shortened his sword and ran him through.
Writhing under the agonies of his wound, Mr. Chaworth several times declared that, although he well knew that he was in immediate danger of death, he had rather be in his present situation than live under the misfortune of having killed another person. He also observed that when, after closing the door, he turned round, he perceived that Lord Byron's sword was half-drawn and knowing his man, he drew his own as quickly as he could, and had the first pass at him.
After three months incarceration the House of Lords found William, Lord Byron, "not guilty of the felony of murder, but of manslaughter," and his lordship, being a Peer and claiming the Benefit of Clergy and the statute of Edward VI., was discharged after paying his fees.
The two swords involved were preserved: at Annesley, and Newstead.
nb. About 300 aristocrats a year died of duels in France in the 1600s.
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Old 10th June 2021, 11:18 PM   #2
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Excellent topic!
Deriving from the discussion of the 'colichmarde' blade, which in generally held tradition was named for the Count von Konigsmark of Sweden. This soldier of fortune had come to London in 1661, and involved in a scandalous duel , which enlarged his reputation as a renowned duelist. While it cannot be proved that he 'invented' the blade, the term for this form is believed a French corruption of Konigsmark, and somehow regarded as named for him.

As Keith has noted, these type blades, while notably popular, do not seem to have been as prevalent as presumed, possibly because they were a bit more difficult to produce(?) or simply that the majority of smallswords were simply dress accoutrements and 'dueling' features were not necessary.

While obviously not a discussion of a specific weapon, the duel was indeed a specific use of swords, many of which had design features intended to facilitate that purpose. Despite firearms taking precedence in combat, even in later times, matters of honor were often settled with the blade, naturally a choice of weapons was given, but the sword still had its high standard so was often selected.
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Old 11th June 2021, 11:21 AM   #3
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Default Konigsmark/Colichemarde

Firstly, I must apologise for my statement about the number of colichemardes in Greenwich being the greatest number: Royal Armouries at Leeds have over a dozen.

In regard to the source of the name: I've read several dissertations regarding this business and am firmly convinced there was no relationship. However, if anyone has evidence to the contrary it would be of great interest to the smallsword cognoscenti.
Here is a link to a paper written recently that covers every aspect of the colichemarde in a detail that defies condensing:
http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/34663/

I have also posted an image of a Dutch smallsword/duelling rapier from the second half of the 1600s in the hope that someone can confirm its purpose: was it a civilian carry or was it designed specifically for duelling?
The blade features a series of X type crosses on each side.
I find it hard to accept that anyone interested in self-defence would wear such a sword.
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Old 11th June 2021, 06:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanspaceman View Post
Firstly, I must apologise for my statement about the number of colichemardes in Greenwich being the greatest number: Royal Armouries at Leeds have over a dozen.

In regard to the source of the name: I've read several dissertations regarding this business and am firmly convinced there was no relationship. However, if anyone has evidence to the contrary it would be of great interest to the smallsword cognoscenti.
Here is a link to a paper written recently that covers every aspect of the colichemarde in a detail that defies condensing:
http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/34663/

I have also posted an image of a Dutch smallsword/duelling rapier from the second half of the 1600s in the hope that someone can confirm its purpose: was it a civilian carry or was it designed specifically for duelling?
The blade features a series of X type crosses on each side.
I find it hard to accept that anyone interested in self-defence would wear such a sword.

It is hard to place hard numbers on sword type based on surviving examples or holdings in museums or collections, so estimating the actual presence of the colichemarde in circulation as discussed can only be speculative.
In references I have seen in discussion of sword blade types in the 18th century, of twelve forms presented, the colichemarde was not called by name and only 2 were included, as 'reinforced forte'.

The entire story of the form itself and term is of course apocryphal, and part of the ever lingering sea of lore surrounding sword history.

Regarding this example, as it is Dutch and in that period the Netherlands were largely under Spanish rule. The Spaniards were known for the excessive length of their rapier blades, which at times reached ridiculous lengths.
Quite possibly this example was somehow in accord with that situation?

It seems agreed in most references on 'fence' that the blade for a sword should be adjusted to the stature of the owner, with the most common length @ around 31" to perhaps 34". The key factor with length was of course thrust reach and accessibility to opponent, but speed, and long blades are anything but fast.

In dueling in most cases, they seem to have been more often affairs of a great deal of 'posturing' and circling, rather than pitched combat. In most cases actual exchange of blows and parry were hardly more than seconds and quickly ceased to return to posturing movement, unless any blood was drawn, which typically ended the event.

A very long sword blade, of course kept your opponent at distance, and in the event of a thrust, the riposte with long blade would of course be likely fatal. It seems the retreat with sudden stop at the opponents thrust was a deadly attack, but sort of in reverse.

Returning to the sword here, most small swords were in effect 'walking swords' or 'dress', and in these occasions any excessive length would be disruptive or 'difficult', obviously a long blade in close circumstances is impairing. Then it would seem, such a blade would be probably for the duel, or a situation where such confrontation would be imminent.
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Old 11th June 2021, 07:07 PM   #5
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Returning to the sword here, most small swords were in effect 'walking swords' or 'dress', and in these occasions any excessive length would be disruptive or 'difficult', obviously a long blade in close circumstances is impairing. Then it would seem, such a blade would be probably for the duel, or a situation where such confrontation would be imminent.
Yes, that is something I had not considered, but in this instance it is only a 28inch blade; the slim profile makes it look much longer than it is: the widest part is only half an inch.

I have heard references made to the lack of a knuckle-bow being indicative of duelling rapier/smallswords.

As I said, it does not inspire confidence when possibly dealing with a brutal battlefield blade and I suspect there may even have been a pair originally.
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Old 11th June 2021, 07:07 PM   #6
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOBTFfHJjV8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2KWTEhyVX8
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Old 11th June 2021, 07:35 PM   #7
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Considering the swords they use in those two clips - both with knuckle-bows - it still seems likely mine is a duelling piece due to the blade. I've been a fan of this film since its first release. I've read endless criticisms, both positive and negative but I remain captivated.

Carradine didn't lose half a leg and a whole arm and still keep going, just a little puncture wound and he was out for the count. Realism is so refreshing sometimes.

I read that, during the Peninsular War, British medics remarked on the invariable deaths of British soldiers compared to the survival rate of the French, and postulated that the thrust was invariably more deadly than the cut. This doesn't compute for me as the British would be using the 1796 pattern, right?
I am out of my depth here. Any help gratefully accepted.

p.s. Ridley Scott is a Tyneside lad like me.

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Old 11th June 2021, 07:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by urbanspaceman View Post
Considering the swords they use in those two clips - both with knuckle-bows - it still seems likely mine is a duelling piece due to the blade. I've been a fan of this film since its first release. I've read endless criticisms, both positive and negative but I remain captivated.

Carradine didn't lose half a leg and a whole arm and still keep going, just a little puncture wound and he was out for the count. Realism is so refreshing sometimes.

I read that, during the Peninsular War, British medics remarked on the invariable deaths of British soldiers compared to the survival rate of the French, and postulated that the thrust was invariably more deadly than the cut. This doesn't compute for me as the British would be using the 1796 pattern, right?
I am out of my depth here. Any help gratefully accepted.

p.s. Ridley Scott is a Tyneside lad like me.

The cut vs. thrust note was quite accurate and the thrust invariably did result in fatality mostly as the puncture of organs, hemorrhaging and peritonitis resulted. Napoleon was said to have called to his men riding into battle, "give point!, thrust".
While clearly his cuirassiers used straight thrusting blades, the light cavalry also had means of thrusting with saber from a high tierce posture and thrusting downward.
The British indeed had the M1796 saber which had a broadly radiused 'hatchet point' which was obviously useless for anything but chopping, hence many references referring to them 'chopping wood'. Napoleon however declared them barbarous, for the ghastly wounding power they had.

The thrust was eventually determined to have the most combative power and potential for fatal wounds, which was what brought the discussion of the M1913 Patton sword (despite its outlier circumstance chronologically here) to the fore. It was the culmination of well over a century of debate and trial over which was best, cut vs. thrust, thus the proper close to the combat sword in actual use.

Thanks for the note on the Dutch sword length, and I see what you mean.
On a duelling epee, there is no need for knuckleguard.
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Old 11th June 2021, 08:12 PM   #9
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https://smallswordproject.files.word...ie_26_1780.pdf

A worthwhile free read/download, albeit in French.

The paperback folio book is an inexpensive find and worthy of any shelf for swords.


https://www.biblio.com/book/fabrique...t/d/1357685623

Cheers
GC
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Old 11th June 2021, 08:26 PM   #10
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Just viewed the movie scenes from "The Duelists" (1977), which was a fantastic movie! one of my favorites. Actually, I saw it in the theater in 1977 when it came out, and I was actually talking fencing classes at the time. I was so enthralled, I convinced the theater manager to give me one of the posters !!
I had it framed and it hung in my den for many years.

At the time it was being filmed I read many accounts of the movie being made and the difficulties and efforts toward the sword combat scenes' realism. It is not hard to see why the film in these respects was so well done.
I recall when the film ended (I was in Long Beach, Calif.) the audience not only clapped, but cheered! and I heard people in the crowd yelling, "way to go Ridley!!!". It was an experience I'll never forget.

It is easy to 'armchair' criticize a movie, but while fencing does not constitute experience in 'dueling' obviously, the dynamics and physical exertion are profoundly more apparent. It must be remembered that 'duels' were not exactly with equally paired opponents, and often a man called out, even if not as experienced, would be forced to respond to protect his honor. The film shows the inherent reluctance to go into such futile confrontation, but doing so as compelled by that driving force.

The movie was based on a book by Joseph Conrad (1908), and based on true events and figures in the Napoleonic armies who did carry out ongoing duels as shown in the film. The cover painting on the book is Gericaults "French Officer Charging" and I had a print of this next to the 'Duelist' poster.

In the scene where they duel on horseback, the high tierce position of the sabers is shown. The scene with Keitel vs. the civilian they are armed with dueling epee's.
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Old 11th June 2021, 09:25 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by urbanspaceman View Post
This doesn't compute for me as the British would be using the 1796 pattern, right?
I am out of my depth here.

Hi,
I think Jim may have picked you up wrongly. I take it you are referring to the P1796 Infantry Officers sword which would be suitable for the cut and thrust and not to the P1796 Light Cavalry sabre that Jim has referenced.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 12th June 2021, 04:02 AM   #12
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The movie "The Duelists", while interesting and entertaining, does not show correct fencing techniques. Here's a video of a real duel that occurred in Paris in 1900. And while this is about 100 years since the bouts shown in "The Duelists", swords are similar and so is their use. Enjoy the show:

https://youtu.be/p0MdJ6KTdDw
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Old 12th June 2021, 08:28 AM   #13
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The movie "The Duelists", while interesting and entertaining, does not show correct fencing techniques. Here's a video of a real duel that occurred in Paris in 1900. And while this is about 100 years since the bouts shown in "The Duelists", swords are similar and so is their use. Enjoy the show:

https://youtu.be/p0MdJ6KTdDw
The movie "The Duelists" is not about FENCING but about dueling. And not about épée (as a fencing tool) but about smallsword.

And more specifically about dueling TO THE DEATH.

One may say that the so called "duels" in your clip were real duels but they were nothing but sports fencing contests, like challenging an opponent to duel in a tennis match.
These "duels" were in fact sporting matches carried out with blunt fencing épées, like the ones used today in fencing sports. That's why you can clearly see that the "duels" concluded without anyone getting even slightly hurt, as the winner was simply the one who scored more points (touches of opponent's arms and torso).
However, on the rare occasions when the duels were carried out with sharp-point épées, then the purpose was to nick the arm of the opponent just to draw some blood.

Here is another, more choregraphed example of dueling with smallswords, done by well trained guys.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9SbU7YQYxA

PS: It must be noted that "épée" has different meanings in French and English. In French "épée" refers to generally any straight sword mainly used for thrusting (like rapiers and smallswords).
In English, the term is rather confusing and often misused, but the modern term refers to the tool used in fencing, that is heavier and bigger than the foil, like the swords in Batjka's video clip.
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Old 12th June 2021, 05:50 PM   #14
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As well noted by Marius, the 'duels' shown in 'The Duelists' have NOTHING to do with sport fencing, though obviously training in the use of the sword was achieved through fencing. While technically there are no 'rules' in the duel, these were affairs of honor, and anything untoward would quickly ruin a mans reputation. The notorious term 'coup de Jarnac' refers to a famed duel of late 16th c. where a 'cheap shot' (in modern lingo) was fatally used, and this term has become colloquially known in the history of the sword.

The 'realism' in the fight scenes in the movie refers to the absolutely non 'regulation' manner in which the fights ensued, while not according to some set rules, there was a certain 'convention' and 'conditioning. These are matters of experience, and the distractions and feints used by Keitel illustrate his profound mastery in use of the sword in duels. He is clearly the aggressor and uses these skills to intimidate his opponent.

It is true that in most duels these were affairs which had a degree of intent to 'draw blood', they were typically not 'to the death'. In the famed "Dueling Oaks' in New Orleans, one man fought seven duels there in a week, and none were fatal. The duel, even into modern times, known as the 'mensur' is fought with special mask and glove, and intended to have blood, so in effect outlawed (but still practiced, much as the use of schlagers in Germany).

Regarding the M1796 swords, there was a cavalry officers version with hilt like small sword and heavy straight blade, but these were dress swords. Apparently some officers took them to the Peninsula and considered them worthless in combat.

On the left is the infantry officers M1796, which seldom if ever saw use as officers used them more to direct and were not expected to participate in actual combat (obviously with exception).
The other is the cavalry version, as noted.
I think the comment on thrust vs. cut with the 1796 'sword' referred to the forms used in 'the charge' or use en masse.
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Old 12th June 2021, 06:55 PM   #15
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Hello Jim,

I must observe that "coup de Jarnac" was initially referring to a very skillful and/or unexpected strike, as Jarnac has won the duel by delivering a very skillful blow to his opponent (as far as I remember, it was a blow taught to him by an Italian swords master). Since that blow was previously not known in France, it became named after him.

The negative connotation "coup de Jarnac" we have today appeared later, probably because the exact background context was forgotten.

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Old 12th June 2021, 07:38 PM   #16
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Hello Jim,

I must observe that "coup de Jarnac" was initially referring to a very skillful and/or unexpected strike, as Jarnac has won the duel by delivering a very skillful blow to his opponent (as far as I remember, it was a blow taught to him by an Italian swords master). Since that blow was previously not known in France, it became named after him.

The negative connotation "coup de Jarnac" may have today appeared later, probably because the exact background context was forgotten.

As with most sword 'lore', things fall out of context or become contrived to embellish or 'explain' various matters or items. In the duel noted here, Jarnac used a strike behind the knee which partially disabled his opponent who was a far more advanced swordsman. When he continued, to Jarnac's dismay, he struck again in the same manner on the other leg. The man fell to the ground in a heap, and according to 'code' he was to yield and Jarnac would in turn offer mercy. He implored the man to yield but he would not, and Jarnac would not finish him. The victims wounds were dressed, but outraged, he tore away his dressings and bled to death. Still the event remained infamous.

Literature often describes the 'botte segret' (the secret thrust) which fencers and duelists are claimed to possess, the move which is indefensible. But such things are perhaps somewhat romanticized. As once told by a fencing master, if such thrusts were being taught, they would hardly be 'secret'.
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Old 13th June 2021, 04:09 PM   #17
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Quote Jim: "Regarding the M1796 swords, there was a cavalry officers version with hilt like small sword and heavy straight blade, but these were dress swords. Apparently some officers took them to the Peninsula and considered them worthless in combat."

Hi Jim. Yes, I was referring to the Infantry Officer's sword as this allowed for both cut and thrust.
Do you know why they were regarded as worthless?
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Old 13th June 2021, 06:06 PM   #18
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Hi Urbanspaceman,
This post should be of some interest http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...highlight=1796 A lot of the officers swords tended to have light decorative blades great for show but not so great in combat on the other hand the N.C.O.'s version does have a blade and general construction that is much more suitable for fighting.
My Regards,
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Old 13th June 2021, 06:55 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by urbanspaceman View Post
Quote Jim: "Regarding the M1796 swords, there was a cavalry officers version with hilt like small sword and heavy straight blade, but these were dress swords. Apparently some officers took them to the Peninsula and considered them worthless in combat."

Hi Jim. Yes, I was referring to the Infantry Officer's sword as this allowed for both cut and thrust.
Do you know why they were regarded as worthless?

I did not realize you indeed meant the M1786 infantry officer, and I had to retrace what I recalled from reading passim quite some time ago. I had somehow interpolate the shell guard M1796 cavalry officers sword, which was intended to be worn dismounted, and apparently as a dress sword.
It had the same basic straight 'spadroon' blade of the infantry swords.
(Robson, "Swords of the British Army" 1975, p.67, pl. 59)

Re: the 1786 infantry officers sword:

In Robson, (op. cit. p. 106), "...the pattern 1786 sword was clearly intended as a fighting weapon and its blade was not ill adapted for the purpose. However its hilt was extremely flimsy and gave only minimal protection for the hand".

These were basically official issues of the c. 1780s 'spadroons' whose blades as previously discussed were a well adapted blade for cut and thrust both.
Apparently the use of the 1786 had no 'live trial' until outbreak of war with France in 1793. It is there that use in the early campaigns brought attention to these deficiencies.

p.108 (Robson, op.cit.) re: the introduction of the M1796 infantry officers sword as a result of trying to resolve the issues of the '1786'.
"...as a fighting weapon this sword was scarcely any improvement on its predecessor, the shells gave slightly better protection to hand", but the flimsy elements were still very fragile.

Here Robson notes, as I had suggested, "...infantry officers swords were really NOT intended for serious hand to hand fighting, but even so, the M1796 was among the least satisfactory of its kind and regarded with contempt by most of its wearers". (p.108, op.cit.).

So it seems that my observation refers to the infantry model 1796 (but the 1786 as well as it appears both did see use in the campaigns in degree), and the cavalry version was a dress sword which probably did not see use on campaign.

As far as I recall, in various sources 'passim', in the constant debate (which raged through the 18th, 19th into 20th century) over cut vs. thrust, the remarks I have seen were mostly toward cavalry combat, and in comments noting the deadly result of the thrust. In the Napoleonic campaigns, as I had mentioned previously, the cuirisseurs used heavy, straight blade swords and as heavy cavalry were the initial shock forces. The light cavalry were also were admonished to 'give point' with the high tierce downward thrust of the saber.

Years ago I did a study on what I have always termed 'the Austrian notch', which was a deliberate notch on sword blades near the point which I first noticed in Wagner (1967) on Austrian swords. It was claimed this was intended to 'worsen' the wound by the author, but while making sense on the straight thrusting swords.......why on a saber????
The notch, despite long research, was never satisfactorily explained, despite many contacts with East European museums, authorities, fencing institutes etc., however I did find, 'the notch' was on some French cavalry sabers of the period (1750s-1820).
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Old 13th June 2021, 07:01 PM   #20
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Hi Urbanspaceman,
This post should be of some interest http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...highlight=1796 A lot of the officers swords tended to have light decorative blades great for show but not so great in combat on the other hand the N.C.O.'s version does have a blade and general construction that is much more suitable for fighting.
My Regards,
Norman.
Hi Norman,
We crossed posts. After 1786, the infantry basically ceased wearing swords, except for officers and NCO's. As I had noted, infantry officers were not expected to enter into direct fighting, but to 'direct their forces'. The NCOs however were part of the fighting element, and as such continued wearing swords. This is why the notable basket hilts used by the 42nd (Black Watch) when turned in c. 1783, remained worn by NCOs.
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Old 13th June 2021, 07:26 PM   #21
Norman McCormick
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This is why the notable basket hilts used by the 42nd (Black Watch) when turned in c. 1783, remained worn by NCOs.
Hi Jim,
I digress. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJS_8kRX_ig https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjH4XoY3zJY

My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 13th June 2021, 10:32 PM   #22
Jim McDougall
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Very nice digression Norman!!!!
A glass of Drambuie up!!!!
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Old 14th June 2021, 03:00 AM   #23
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G'day Guys,
Some British officers were carrying military small swords during this time. Here is an example which seems to have been favoured by officers of the 1st Foot Guards. I have come across several portraits of foot guards officers carrying these. These types of blades are also found on conventional 1796 infantry officer sword hilts. The bottom sword is a 1796 Infantry Officer spadroon for comparison. Both have 82cm blades.
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Bryce
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Old 15th June 2021, 02:01 PM   #24
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I recommend these two.

BILLACOIS, François. Le duel dans la société française des XVIe-XVIIe siècles. Essai de psychosociologie historique. EHESS, Paris 1986. Wr. 540pp..

BRIOIST, Pascal, DRÉVILLON, Hervé, & SERNA, Pierre. Croiser le fer. Violence et culture de l’épée dans la France moderne (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle. 2002 Seyssel, Champ Vallon. ISBN 2 8763 352 8. Pb.. 527pp..

Nowhere a society became as adicted to the duels as in XVIIth century France.

By the way a little known fact, is that an usual result of duelling with smallswords was the loss of fingers, people often trying to catch the blades with bare hands.

And for more:

THIMM, Carl A.. A Complete Bibliography of Fencing and Duelling: As Practiced by All European Nations from the Middle Ages to the Present Day. Facsimil. Gretna 1998, Pelican Publishing Company. ISBN 1 56554 445 5. Pb.. xviii+540pp..
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Old 15th June 2021, 03:50 PM   #25
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Firstly, I must apologise for my statement about the number of colichemardes in Greenwich being the greatest number: Royal Armouries at Leeds have over a dozen.

In regard to the source of the name: I've read several dissertations regarding this business and am firmly convinced there was no relationship. However, if anyone has evidence to the contrary it would be of great interest to the smallsword cognoscenti.
Here is a link to a paper written recently that covers every aspect of the colichemarde in a detail that defies condensing:
http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/34663/

I have also posted an image of a Dutch smallsword/duelling rapier from the second half of the 1600s in the hope that someone can confirm its purpose: was it a civilian carry or was it designed specifically for duelling?
The blade features a series of X type crosses on each side.
I find it hard to accept that anyone interested in self-defence would wear such a sword.
Hi,

Egerton Castle, in his Schools and Masters Of fencing (pg237-8) describes such a sword as a 'Flamberg", an intermediary between the transition rapier and the small sword. He also wrote that these gradually gained great favour with the expert fencers of the seventeenth century on account of their relative lightness, and adding that they were most commonly used in Germany. According to Castle, part of their appeal was the simplified hilt which permitted fencing with either hand, as taught by some of the masters of that era.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 15th June 2021, 04:44 PM   #26
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Thank-you Chris.
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Old 15th June 2021, 11:08 PM   #27
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Fascinating information from all involved. I personally loved that movie 'The Duelist'. Just wanted to add that as far as fencing goes, the German academic schools also were heavily involved and it was quite popular to bare the scars provided by the matches, so much so that it became a Hollywood steriotype to show movie villains of the era with such scars-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dueling_scar

Last edited by M ELEY; 16th June 2021 at 12:46 AM.
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Old 16th June 2021, 06:45 AM   #28
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Thank-you Chris.
And thank you for posting the link to that most informative paper on the Colichemarde.

Apropos to which, the conventional wisdom had it, as implied by Castle, that its demise was due to that whilst it served well parrying against heavier swords it was at a disadvantage, on account of its weight, against the lighter and therefore nimbler uniformly tapering triangular blades that became normative in France.

Having said that, I remember seeing some years ago (for sale) a matched pair of 19th century dueling epees with Colichemarde style blades - As to what purpose the wider fortes could serve in a duel with evenly matched swords I am at a loss to understand. Perhaps they were made on special order to an eccentric customer!

Cheers
Chris
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Old 16th June 2021, 11:43 AM   #29
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Fascinating information from all involved. I personally loved that movie 'The Duelist'. Just wanted to add that as far as fencing goes, the German academic schools also were heavily involved and it was quite popular to bare the scars provided by the matches, so much so that it became a Hollywood steriotype to show movie villains of the era with such scars-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dueling_scar
That is a truly fascinating article on scars - thank-you - which I would never have encountered if not for your post.
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Old 17th June 2021, 05:30 AM   #30
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Glad you liked it, Keith. Admittedly, I'm a wuss and would rather have not been scarred up in this way!
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