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Thread: Differences: Longsword, bastard sword, hand and a half sword + gambeson and aketon

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    Sergeant Ragni's Avatar
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    Differences: Longsword, bastard sword, hand and a half sword + gambeson and aketon

    I didn't quite know where to make this thread but feel free to move it somewhere safe if need be.

    As the title implies I'm very curious as to whether I should call my Albion Meyer a longsword, a bastard sword or a hand and a half sword. Same thing goes for my gambeson. Albion says it's a longsword, so that's a great help, but as far as I know the difference is very small if there at all.

    I'd be happy to hear some inputs from the forum experts

  2. #2
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    THis is going to turn into a messy debate as all of these terms are really obscure. I know of many different names for swords that over lap.

    Generally:

    Longsword:
    A sword with a handle large enough to be used with two hands (but not necessarily true two hand grips) and a blade longer than a normal one-handed sword bladed
    This sword type was much earlier than the Bastard or hand and a half sword and was basically used to describe almost any sword larger than a standard one hander.
    The sword was often strapped to a horse instead of being worn and was used as early as 1150 on horse back or on foot. This type would still have been in limited use
    during the wars of the roses.

    Bastard Sword:
    A sword derivation of the long sword of the later medieval period that had a special type of bottle grip designed for use with one and a half hands. It is essentially a more modern longsword .
    Some were designed specifically for defeating plate armour and some were flat. This type would have been very popular during the wars of the roses.
    They were the same size as long swords but apparently a lot of the time heavier. Some were designed for cutting and some thrusting. Others for both.

    You should be carefull though. As another type of "true two hander" appeared later in the 1500s that looked similar to the bastard sword but was huge in comparison.

    Gambeson:
    A padded jacket.... not sure what you want here?

  3. #3
    If i am not wrong, the hand and a half sword is the same than the bastard sword?

  4. #4
    Field Marshal Destraex's Avatar
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    correct.

    Another type:
    edgeless estoc - specifically for penetrating plate. It was basically a huge metal spear in sword form.

  5. #5
    Sergeant Ragni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Destraex View Post
    THis is going to turn into a messy debate as all of these terms are really obscure. I know of many different names for swords that over lap.

    Generally:

    Longsword:
    A sword with a handle large enough to be used with two hands (but not necessarily true two hand grips) and a blade longer than a normal one-handed sword bladed
    This sword type was much earlier than the Bastard or hand and a half sword and was basically used to describe almost any sword larger than a standard one hander.
    The sword was often strapped to a horse instead of being worn and was used as early as 1150 on horse back or on foot. This type would still have been in limited use
    during the wars of the roses.

    Bastard Sword:
    A sword derivation of the long sword of the later medieval period that had a special type of bottle grip designed for use with one and a half hands. It is essentially a more modern longsword .
    Some were designed specifically for defeating plate armour and some were flat. This type would have been very popular during the wars of the roses.
    They were the same size as long swords but apparently a lot of the time heavier. Some were designed for cutting and some thrusting. Others for both.

    You should be carefull though. As another type of "true two hander" appeared later in the 1500s that looked similar to the bastard sword but was huge in comparison.

    Gambeson:
    A padded jacket.... not sure what you want here?
    Sorry, I meant to ask about the difference between a gambeson and an aketon.

  6. #6
    Field Marshal Destraex's Avatar
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    I think an aketon has special connectors that fit to plate armour where a gambeson is a padded jacket just stand alone.
    Not too sure on this though.

  7. #7
    OK, first off, what they were called back at the time of their use: "Sword", "Gambeson" or "aketon". - as simple as that. all the names are modern creations to differentiate between one and another. Taxonomical definition's very much a modern phenomena.

    That said, this is the 21st C, so we all want our definitions.

    the easy one first:
    Gambesons and aketons/cotuns/juipon (all sort of interchangeable names) - Aketons are padded garments worn underneath mail. Gambesons are padded garments worn without mail. if its a garment worn underneath plate, its often called an Arming Doublet in historical texts.



    For swords: its rather contextual on what date. Longsword was a term that was used generally to describe one-handed blades of longer or narrower proportion, or swords with a hand to hand and a half grip with similar blades, as time went on. Its sole identification, really, was that it was a longer style of sword, when compared to the shorter, earlier viking and norman age blades. But what was a long sword for 1200, was quite stubby for 1550's, so the definitions were always in a state of flux. Which is why those of us who have to deal with them on a daily basis prefer to use the Wheeler, Petersen, Gebig, Norman and Oakeshott Typologies (Particularly Oakeshott for medieval swords.), with terms like "Type XIIIa, 92cm blade, Type 2 cross, 25cm hilt, Type J pommel", rather than the vagueness of phrases like longsword/hand and a half/twohander, as it minimises confusion.

    Hand and a half, as a generalisation, refers to those longswords which are balanced to be used either one-handed or with a second hand on the grip with equal ease. A lot of these swords have the scent-stopper pommels which are more comfortable to use with the hand on the pommel than the flat wheel pommels.

    So, not all longswords are hand and half swords, but most (there's always a few troublemakers that fall outside the norm) hand and a half swords are longswords.

    Equally, almost all two-handed swords are longswords.




    Bastard sword tends to be used nowadays to define later 16th Century complex-hilted longswords, such as this example:
    Bastard Sword

    they're intriguing ones to use (and a nightmare to make; all forgewelded bars and weird angles!), as they're designed and balanced to use one-handed, but with the capability to be held with the 2nd hand for the earlier longsword techniques. A number of them have survived which have had the knuckle-guard sawn away, often leaving marks on the forward guards, which clearly shows that the user(s) preferred to be able to use them with the 2-handed techniques from the Lichtenaur tradition, which meant being able to rotate the false and true edges on a few occasions.



    as for what to call an albion Meyer....

    well, i'd call it a Federschwert, given the construction of it with schilt, and rebated edge. Just to make it even more confusing!
    Last edited by -Suzerain-; 12-06-2012 at 20:44.
    "We had two bags of books, seventy-five PDF files, five sheets of high-resolution linework, a hard drive half-full of photographs, and a whole galaxy of armour, swords, pollaxes, maces... Also, a quarto of latin texts, a quarto of manuscripts, a case of swords, and two dozen fechtbuch. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious history collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
    The only things that really worried me were the fechtbuch. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a history binge, and I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon."

  8. #8
    Wow, amazing, i'm not sure if i just learned few things about swords, or just mix all the things in my head... from now i will name anything i pick up from the ground a "weapon", afraid of been mistaken :P
    Nah, really good information, thanks for sharing!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by MiguelSnake View Post
    from now i will name anything i pick up from the ground a "weapon", afraid of been mistaken :P
    Pretty much the safest way, trust me.

    I've been doing this for years, and some of the terms are still a headache.
    Maille, or Mail?
    Technically, it should be 'mail'. but that word's rather been taken over by postal services noadays. So should we usee ye oldee spellyngee whiche wasse nevere usede, just for the ease of identifying it in web-searches, etc?

    What exactly were the victorians thinking when they used terms like "banded" and "splinted" mail....


    and dont get me started on the subject of Falchions! (my academic area of speciality)
    "We had two bags of books, seventy-five PDF files, five sheets of high-resolution linework, a hard drive half-full of photographs, and a whole galaxy of armour, swords, pollaxes, maces... Also, a quarto of latin texts, a quarto of manuscripts, a case of swords, and two dozen fechtbuch. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious history collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
    The only things that really worried me were the fechtbuch. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a history binge, and I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon."

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Suzerain- View Post
    Bastard sword tends to be used nowadays to define later 16th Century complex-hilted longswords, such as this example:
    Bastard Sword

    they're intriguing ones to use (and a nightmare to make; all forgewelded bars and weird angles!), as they're designed and balanced to use one-handed, but with the capability to be held with the 2nd hand for the earlier longsword techniques. A number of them have survived which have had the knuckle-guard sawn away, often leaving marks on the forward guards, which clearly shows that the user(s) preferred to be able to use them with the 2-handed techniques from the Lichtenaur tradition, which meant being able to rotate the false and true edges on a few occasions.
    Damn pretty thing, though. I take it that it would anachronistic in WotR?
    "Nature always obeys her own laws"
    - Leonardo da Vinci

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by steveh11 View Post
    Damn pretty thing, though. I take it that it would anachronistic in WotR?
    by about 90-110 years, yes.
    "We had two bags of books, seventy-five PDF files, five sheets of high-resolution linework, a hard drive half-full of photographs, and a whole galaxy of armour, swords, pollaxes, maces... Also, a quarto of latin texts, a quarto of manuscripts, a case of swords, and two dozen fechtbuch. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious history collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
    The only things that really worried me were the fechtbuch. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a history binge, and I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon."

  12. #12
    incidentally, I just did a little bit of digging in one of my reference books, and I remembered that there is a reference in the will and testament of John Chelmyswyk, esquire, 1418, that refers to

    "Item I bequethe to Symond̛ Wrenchin, Skynner, my Bastard Swerd̛"

    So the term was in use back then. Unfortunately, we've got no reference to show exactly what they were referring to....
    "We had two bags of books, seventy-five PDF files, five sheets of high-resolution linework, a hard drive half-full of photographs, and a whole galaxy of armour, swords, pollaxes, maces... Also, a quarto of latin texts, a quarto of manuscripts, a case of swords, and two dozen fechtbuch. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious history collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
    The only things that really worried me were the fechtbuch. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a history binge, and I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon."

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by -Suzerain- View Post
    well, i'd call it a Federschwert, given the construction of it with schilt, and rebated edge. Just to make it even more confusing!
    yep, its definitely a feder!

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by -Suzerain- View Post
    OK, first off, what they were called back at the time of their use: "Sword", "Gambeson" or "aketon". - as simple as that. all the names are modern creations to differentiate between one and another. Taxonomical definition's very much a modern phenomena.

    That said, this is the 21st C, so we all want our definitions.

    the easy one first:
    Gambesons and aketons/cotuns/juipon (all sort of interchangeable names) - Aketons are padded garments worn underneath mail. Gambesons are padded garments worn without mail. if its a garment worn underneath plate, its often called an Arming Doublet in historical texts.



    For swords: its rather contextual on what date. Longsword was a term that was used generally to describe one-handed blades of longer or narrower proportion, or swords with a hand to hand and a half grip with similar blades, as time went on. Its sole identification, really, was that it was a longer style of sword, when compared to the shorter, earlier viking and norman age blades. But what was a long sword for 1200, was quite stubby for 1550's, so the definitions were always in a state of flux. Which is why those of us who have to deal with them on a daily basis prefer to use the Wheeler, Petersen, Gebig, Norman and Oakeshott Typologies (Particularly Oakeshott for medieval swords.), with terms like "Type XIIIa, 92cm blade, Type 2 cross, 25cm hilt, Type J pommel", rather than the vagueness of phrases like longsword/hand and a half/twohander, as it minimises confusion.

    Hand and a half, as a generalisation, refers to those longswords which are balanced to be used either one-handed or with a second hand on the grip with equal ease. A lot of these swords have the scent-stopper pommels which are more comfortable to use with the hand on the pommel than the flat wheel pommels.

    So, not all longswords are hand and half swords, but most (there's always a few troublemakers that fall outside the norm) hand and a half swords are longswords.

    Equally, almost all two-handed swords are longswords.




    Bastard sword tends to be used nowadays to define later 16th Century complex-hilted longswords, such as this example:
    Bastard Sword

    they're intriguing ones to use (and a nightmare to make; all forgewelded bars and weird angles!), as they're designed and balanced to use one-handed, but with the capability to be held with the 2nd hand for the earlier longsword techniques. A number of them have survived which have had the knuckle-guard sawn away, often leaving marks on the forward guards, which clearly shows that the user(s) preferred to be able to use them with the 2-handed techniques from the Lichtenaur tradition, which meant being able to rotate the false and true edges on a few occasions.



    as for what to call an albion Meyer....

    well, i'd call it a Federschwert, given the construction of it with schilt, and rebated edge. Just to make it even more confusing!
    Could not of said it better.......... Its good to have a real scholar around here
    Joust in RL, Homeopath, Nutritionist and Dance Flamenco and Salsa

  15. #15
    Well, you learn something new every day...

  16. #16
    Field Marshal Destraex's Avatar
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    Its funny, but right or wrong I have always associated the bastard or hand and a half sword with this era (late 1400s).
    Even before I read the John Clements book 'Medieval Swordsmanship' that says "later in the 1400s a form of long sword with specially shaped grips for one or two hands (a hand and a half sword) became known as a bastard sword.

    He must however mean much later than 1485 when the wars of the roses ended. I know most here do not have much respect for the "arrogant" John Clements but might he know something we do not?

    As suzerain said above;
    "Item I bequethe to Symond̛ Wrenchin, Skynner, my Bastard Swerd̛" was said in 1418 (early 1400s) and may actually refer to something similar existing. I suspect we will never know.

    The question is with such a question looming over the bastard sword's head, will it be in wars of the roses the game?

  17. #17
    Even if he does sometimes seem in disagreement with a proportion of the WMA community, Clements' work is certainly respected by virtually all.
    I'm not sure "arrogant" is a fair description there either. "Abrasive" might be more appropriate, for the tone of much discussion has been known to be confrontational. Personally, I'd reserve judgement on any perceived arrogance until met in person.

    on the history, I'm pretty sure that in french, the term predates the 15th C entirely, and can refer to the earlier hand and a halves (oakeshott XIIIa's and particularly the vicious anti-armour XVIIs of the late 14th C.) as I say, the earliest reference I could dig out in english is 1418, so the phrase is certainly in use.

    Will it be in the WOTR game? I think that'll be down to if, (hopefully when) a feature to allow a weapon to be toggled between states is implemented.
    single-handed longsword on horseback, toggle to hand and a half on foot. twohanded/hand and a half on foot that toggle to halfswording stances? pollaxes that toggle from thrusts with the buttspike to using the poll.... I'm sure there's others that it could be used for.
    "We had two bags of books, seventy-five PDF files, five sheets of high-resolution linework, a hard drive half-full of photographs, and a whole galaxy of armour, swords, pollaxes, maces... Also, a quarto of latin texts, a quarto of manuscripts, a case of swords, and two dozen fechtbuch. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious history collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
    The only things that really worried me were the fechtbuch. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a history binge, and I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon."

  18. #18
    Field Marshal Destraex's Avatar
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    I have not judged clements. My comments are purely based on what the community was saying to me about him when the forum here opened.
    It is comforting though that you confirm my money was not wasted on his book

  19. #19
    In mount and blade warband, Bastard swords are overpowerd :P
    My own signature! AWESOME!

  20. #20
    Field Marshal Destraex's Avatar
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_zXOQI7qFE

    You can see the bastard sword in game in this video

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