Swordplay and Knife-play of Medieval Knights – Patrick Luo Final Project Blog 6

Now that weapons, knives, and duels have been discussed in the previous blogs, it’s time to talk about swordplay and knife-play. This topic is widely sought out by scholars, researchers and historians since studies on culture and military training in an individualistic setting are usually missing or hard to find (Jaquet 7). Swords and knives are practically found with every warrior since the beginning of the Medieval Century. But without technique, one cannot rise the ranks in their army. Majority of the warriors were taught by teachers or family members since school for military combat was too expensive and only nobles or royal knights could attend (Jaquet 552). Most of these lessons started with hand-to-hand combat to knives moving to wooden swords and financially practicing a certain technique with real/practice swords (Jaquet 547, 411).

ACONNWETMOREIG_10313464742.jpg

Durer, Albrecht. Saint Bartholomew (S. Barthélemy) (Saint Bartholomew Standing with Sword and Book). 1523. Artstor, library-artstor-org.hal.weber.edu/asset/ACONNWETMOREIG_10313464742

One reason why the school was so expensive could be correlated to the painting above. Saint Bartholomew, one of twelve apostles of Jesus is shown wielding a bible with his right hand and a knife on his left hand. It is believed that if you take up a sword under the name of God, you must be righteous and dignified. One way to be so during the Medieval era was to donate to the church. So if you were to take up sword lessons, the majority of the revenue would be donated to the church.

There are many styles of swordplay and knife-play when the 15th century came around, but there was one technique that was most prominent, fencing. Johannes Liechtenauer, a German fencer, played a critical role in fencing-training with students (Wikipedia 1.2). The evidence of this lies in hundreds of Fechtbücher (fencing-books) being published with credits to Liechtenauer for originating the style or having an influence on a technique being created.

151px-MS_26-232_80r

Folio 80r. Wiktenauer contributors. “Albrecht Dürer.” Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts. Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts, 26 Oct. 2018, wiktenauer.com/wiki/Albrecht_Dürer.

151px-MS_26-232_81r

Folio 81r. Wiktenauer contributors. “Albrecht Dürer.” Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts. Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts, 26 Oct. 2018, wiktenauer.com/wiki/Albrecht_Dürer.

In the images above from Albrecht Dürer, it demonstrates the positions and movements of fencing (Wiktenauer 2.2). It’s believed these illustrations come from Johannes Liechtenauer’s fencing style since these were made in the early 15th century in Germany. It was about the late 14th century to early 15th century that Liechtenauer’s fencing-style was being published (Wiktenauer 1).

Some advantages of using the fencing-technique are due to its versatility. The method is popular with various types of weapons and is very suitable for broadswords and even daggers. With fencing, it can deliver strong, destructive blows or be used for parries. The structure technique is perfect for both light and heavy swords. The severity of the blow doesn’t determine how successful the attack is. But it’s the ability to disarm an opponent, the ability to deliver a second blow, footwork, and speed determines the success of a sword strike (Molloy 122). If a knight wants to change their sword to match a certain technique, they would “mill-sharpen” their swords. This means they would sharpen their swords, shorten their length, and or temper their weapons in a mill during the middle of battle (Walton 989). Once the sharpened sword is complete, most knights would be using the fencing style since it’s style is widely used by many swords or dagger types (Wikipedia 1.2).

144px-Libr.Pict.A.83_38v

Folio 38v. Wiktenauer contributors. “Albrecht Dürer.” Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts. Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts, 26 Oct. 2018, wiktenauer.com/wiki/Albrecht_Dürer.

In the images above from Albrecht Dürer, it demonstrates the positions and movements of using a knife (Wiktenauer 2.3). The major features of using a knife are to grab the opponent’s wrists and hands (shown with the blue figure in the top and the red figure in the bottom). By controlling the opponent’s wrists, it limits how they can move and allow you to stab or immobilize them.

I believe the Wikipedia article I chose is a good article for my topic because the information correlates with the Albrecht Dürer illustrations on sword-play. The time period of the article matches with my primary and secondary sources (late 14th century to early 15th century). The article has information that spans after the time-period of this blog and how the variating sword techniques and combat styles originated from the source (Wikipedia 1-3). While I was researching the famous names in the article, particularly Albrecht Dürer and Johannes Liechtenauer, their names appeared on scholarly sources such as books and art pieces. With Dürer’s painting of Saint Bartholomew being one of the sources used in this project. The final reason this article is good for my topic is that they list the weapons types for some of the fighting styles, particularly fencing (Wikipedia 1.2).

Primary Source:

Jaquet, Daniel, et al. Late Medieval and Early Modern Fight Books: Transmission and Tradition of Martial Arts in Europe (14th-17th Centuries). Brill, 2016.

Wiktenauer contributors. “Albrecht Dürer.” Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts. Wiktenauer, the World’s Largest Library of HEMA Books and Manuscripts, 26 Oct. 2018, wiktenauer.com/wiki/Albrecht_Dürer.

 

Secondary Source:

Durer, Albrecht. Saint Bartholomew (S. Barthélemy) (Saint Bartholomew Standing with Sword and Book). 1523. Artstor, library-artstor-org.hal.weber.edu/asset/ACONNWETMOREIG_10313464742

Molloy, Barry. “Martial Arts and Materiality: A Combat Archaeology Perspective on Aegean Swords of the Fifteenth and Fourteenth Centuries BC.” World Archaeology, vol. 40, no. 1, 2008, pp. 116–134. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40025316.

Walton, Steven. “Words of Technological Virtue: ‘The Battle of Brunanburh’ and Anglo-Saxon Sword Manufacture.” Technology and Culture, vol. 36, no. 4, 1995, pp. 987–999. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3106921.

Wikipedia contributors. “Historical European martial arts.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 Dec. 2018. Web. 23 Dec. 2018.

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