Good Stuff! Lindybeige Rocks!

I’ve been watching Lindybeige videos for a few years now. Lindybeige is the online name for Nikolas Lloyd, a smart, funny geek of the re-enactement, fencing, and RPG line. He’s got a youtube channel that is chock full of videos in which he makes witty and insightful points about ancient and medieval warfare, archaeology, dance, and anything else that takes his fancy.

For example, have you ever seen folks pushing each other about with swords? Is that realistic?

Interesting, what about pushing in a shieldwall?

Food for thought, isn’t it? It makes me want to go read up on shieldwalls. Were they really as he concludes they were? But enough about history and conjecture. What about the truth? What about science? For example, if you believe in science, must you also believe in a certain approved list of theories?

But surely that doesn’t apply to Global Warming Theory, which is now called Man-made Climate Change because the warming bit never panned out. No?

Wow, and he even accepts the data on the warming. Okay, enough about the truth. Back to fantasy geekiness and weapons in fantasy worlds that make sense.

I love this guy. If you’re a fantasy geek and haven’t yet begun to watch Lindybeige, you’ve got a lot of enjoyment ahead of you.

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8 Responses to Good Stuff! Lindybeige Rocks!

  1. Angus Trim says:

    The sword pushing is really bad. Most sword arts I know are based on wrestling or some other “hand” martial art. As close as they are, if it was “realistic”, one party or the other would have grabbed the other’s sword arm or sword, then gutted him.

    One other thing is that close makes your face real vulnerable to the other’s guard. Doesn’t take much to adjust, getting the guard in line for a strike.

    Modern perceptions on swordsmanship make me shake my head.

  2. Angus Trim says:

    Hi Mr. Brown

    I was.

    Today, at 63 and having survived a stroke seven years ago, I’m an ex-martial artist and ex-swordmaker.

    I think there’s a short post on Wikipedia. Another swordmaker, one Michael Tinker Pearce and I used to spend some time teaching some of the local sword martial artists how to cut with a sword.

    In this area, the Seattle area if you will, in the early oughts, there were several “swordsmanship groups”. In the early part of the century most of the western stuff was based on rapier. There are a lot of surviving documents of the arts on rapier………

    Over the last few years, there’s been a transition. Now most of the western work is longsword.

    Back to the “oughts”, there used to be several Japanese Sword Arts groups here too. I’m not sure what there is today. The thing is that instructors have a “shelf life”, depending on age, condition and what’s going on in one’s life.

    Anyway, yeah. I’ve practiced Tai Chi Sword and Italian Rapier. Have had more than a small introduction to Italian and German longsword and Italian Sidesword. My introduction to JSA was fairly small.

    Now saying what I did a couple of days ago about sword pushing, Tai Chi has or had an exercise with practice swords that you could consider sword push hands. But the point of the exercise is to gain sensitivity and feel for what the other is doing with his sword. You’re certainly not pushing.

    • John Brown says:

      Angus,

      That is awesome. Hats off to you. And a sword maker to boot. From what you experienced with the rapier and long sword, did you feel that as a personal arm (as opposed to battlefield arm), the rapier simply had so many pluses over the long sword, that it was inevitable that it eventually dominated? It seems to me the rapier would be fairly useless in a line of battle against armor and shields. And as swords in battle waned, so did the long sword. What do you think?

  3. Angus Trim says:

    Hello John

    What looks like a simple question but which would require a really long and complex answer if done right. {grin}

    Since we’re discussing them as personal arms, I’d say the cultural changes, and the {potential} fact that swords were becoming male jewelry had more to do with it. I don’t know that I would say that the rapier as such had any decisive advantages over the longsword.

    One of the things that got beat into my head early in my study of medieval swords was that to understand the weapon, or the sword art, you needed to have an idea of the culture. The culture changed constantly from, say, 1200AD through the present time.

    Swords were already in decline as weapons of war in the thirteenth century. You weren’t going to cut your way through a surcoat over maille over padding. missile weapons {crossbows and longbows specifically}, and polearms were far more effective against armor.

    Swords in use as civilian arms {as much sense as that makes for the medieval period} go back a ways. I can’t think of where to find my source at the moment, but there was a prohibition on teaching sword and buckler within the city limits of London in the 1290’s. I can’t remember the name of the document, but there is one dated in the same time period from Switzerland that shows sword and buckler as a personal weapon system. The earliest longsword manual I know of is early 14th century, a German named Lichtenaur.

    Anyway, I got a little carried away. Facts on the ground on swords in any given period in Europe are rare. There are some tidbits, but you’ll find that there are a lot of opinions that can’t always be backed up by facts. Some of the most respected scholars of medieval weaponry will really caveat an answer. I’ve tried to learn from their example because there’s still a lot to learn, and it’s incredibly easy to be wrong.

  4. John Brown says:

    Although it seems they made a comeback in the 15th and 16th centuries with the Landsknecht and Reislaufen infantry blocks–pikes supported by powder weapons and men with those massive swords–as the situation on the battlefield changed.

    I know that soldiers will often carry whatever is in their kit, but if you weren’t a soldier, and you had the means, it just seems to me that a rapier or small sword with its speed is more suited to personal defense on the streets than some variety of big honking killer of steel 🙂

    Yes, fashion and laws and culture would modify the choice. But if you yourself had to choose and base your choice, not on any historical data, but simply on how well you think you could fight other opponents around town and out on the road with small swords, long swords, knives, or clubs, what would you select? I’m assuming most opponents wouldn’t be wearing armor, although a highwaymen waiting for you along a stretch of road might.

    And I’m asking you because I think you will have far more insight into this than I, having spent time using them. Angus, your personal choice. What would it be?

  5. Angus Trim says:

    Hi John

    I could say “the thing about swords”, and lay a line of bs. But I’m not really into that. I will say that there are several perceptions of these weapons that are, maybe a little off. At the end of this, I will give you an opinion.

    One of them is that most medieval swords were heavy. Not so much. The “big honking” swords you mention, sometimes also referred to as zhweihanders averaged about 5.5lbs. That would be with a blade/ ricasso length of 42 inches and a total length of 58 to 60.

    The 15th century longsword popularized in Germany and Italy in the fifteenth century, averaged 2.75lbs to 3lbs. Blade lengths from 35 to 37 and total lengths between 45 and 49 inches. They vary more than that, but this is where the bulk of the surviving antiques seem to lie. What I’m discussing here are not the “great swords”, which dimensionally are similar but could run up to 5lbs.

    Most single hand medieval swords would run about 1.7 to 2.5 lbs. Blade lengths range all over the place, my favorite is 31 to 32 inches.

    Depends on the period with rapiers, during the transition, they might be 2.75lbs and have a blade length of 36 inches. During the peak period in England some blade lengths exceeded 50 inches. These were a little unwieldy.

    If you consider rapiers for the whole period of their primary use, they averaged around 3lbs. The longer the blade, the more point specific.

    Before the stroke, I got to play the “Uneven weapons” sparring. And the one thing I learned is if you know what the other guy needs to do to defeat you, and what you need to do to get to him, and the other guy is clueless, the odds are in your favor, never mind the weapons.

    If the other guy has a clue, the weapon can give an advantage.

    Not what I would choose, but of those mentioned longsword has a bit of an advantage over rapier, and a healthy advantage of the single hander.

    The rapier’s real advantage is the blade length, and the fact a lot of practioners seem to underestimate it.

    “In Period”, the rapier masters turned the sword art into a science. Many rapier masters taught their students how to beat swordsmen, what a man with a sword would have to do, and how not to let him.

    More shortly

  6. Angus Trim says:

    We didn’t touch on the katana or the jian, popular sword types here in America with their own fans.

    Down to cases. For my own use, I’d prefer a single hand medieval sword. Today, it doesn’t have the cachet of the others, but its likely more versatile. Reading and trying to guess why you want the “best”, for me it would be that using a baldric and scabbard to carry it, it would be the easiest of the three to carry. Its the easiest to deploy in close quarters. Trying to draw a rapier quickly in close quarters just isn’t going to work. If you opponent closes with you, prevents the draw, and uses a dagger, your toast.

    With the longsword, that long hilt gets in the way. If you’re carrying it belted, its difficult to draw fast. If you’re carrying it in a baldric, you can deploy it fairly quickly, but if your opponent manages to get a hand on that long hilt, you’ve got a problem. In Northern Italy, part of the fashion in the early 14th century was to carry it in hand by the scabbard.

    I think in a heroic sense, the longsword might have the advantage. Once deployed by a good practioner, it’s the quickest of the three in movement. Cutting limbs off, lopping a head off, thrusting through an opponent’s eye before they can react, yeah, this might be the weapon. It’s also the best weapon to use in a non-lethal fashion, crossing swords and taking the other guy down in a wrestling hold is best done with the longsword {though I’m sure that could draw disagreement}.

    The rapier though, is the paramount dueling weapon. If your blade is 42 inches long, and the longsword blade is 36 inches, your measure is at least 6 inches deeper, which means you can penetrate him while he’s still trying to close with you.

    That longsword guy is going to have to deal with that point aimed at his eye, and it’s not as easy it sounds. He can slap it aside and try to rush. You take a step back, draw your rapier back towards you bringing the point back on line. If he persists his rush, he walks your blade into himself. On the other hand, if he can get “crossed swords” for a moment, and can grab your blade, your day’s about to go really bad.

    I have to admit I played with this in the fantasy series I’ve written. Mainly in book 4 and 5, and the first three take place “in the field”.

    I studied rapier for three reasons. I wanted to learn it as a simulator {I was making them at the time}, I wanted to see if you could use Tai Chi principles and techniques with it {you can}, and I wanted to learn how to defeat it with my chosen weapon. The latter depends on the rapierist’s grasp of his art, and his knowledge of what a swordsman needs to do to get to him. It would also help if he’s a bit arrogant.

    I probably didn’t answer things how you want. Part of that is caution, “back in the day”, if you answered things publicly, you could wish you didn’t.

    But looking at that paragraph again, I’d answer the same, the single hand sword. 31.5 inch blade, 2.2lbs, center of gravity 5.5 to 6 inches in front of the cross. Edge sharpened such that its fairly blunt at the cross, and from thirteen inches from the point to the point its as sharp as I can get it. Everything about the single hand sword is a weapon, the pommel {to pummel with}, the cross, and the blade.

    And truthfully, I’d be more concerned about facing the longsword than the rapier. A really good longswordsman scary indeed.