"That's not a Knoife!" What period blades were really like

How many SCAdians have drawn a sword after uttering that famous movie line? Dame Aoife doesn't look a thing like Paul Hogan's "Mic" character in Crocodile Dundee, but this week she shares Mic's fascination with sharp pointy things.

Greetings, my Faithful Readers!

This week's topic proved troublesome. You see, plenty of people make armor. Plenty of folks study and replicate historical armor. But it's harder to find knife historians. Sword historians are a little thicker on the ground, but not by much. Never the less, I persevered in my hunt to bring you this week's Links List dedicated to Historical Blades. It's funny how the museum sites want to show you the armor, but not the blades! That armor may be flashy, but it's there to protect you against the sting of a well aimed sword, my friends.

So by now you've guessed that genuine medieval swords didn't have novelty dice in their Lucite handles. Nor were they made out of cast aluminum. Some of them were remarkably elementary, however. And some were so ornate as to take your breath away.

Study further, and see if you can determine what sorts of blades were common and what sorts you would have used in your own particular time period. Because even the scribe had need of a special tool to cut vellum — and that tool was a knife. It looks remarkably like a modern-day librarian's knife to me, used to repair bindings and folios.

Cheers

Aoife

Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt
Riverouge, Endless Hills, Aethelmearc

Images

Illuminated images with illuminators' knives in them
http://www.heritagehawks.org/faculty/dbrown/manuscript/Manuscripts/pic05...
http://gandalf.hit.uib.no/non/echt/budapest/ManMan/pic12.html

Child's Viking Knife
http://www.aiusa.com/medsword/vmuseum/vmm2.html

Late Viking Sword
http://www.aiusa.com/medsword/vmuseum/vmx4.html

Late Medieval Sword
http://www.aiusa.com/medsword/vmuseum/vmxv14.html

Kelingrove Museum Rapiers (Scotland)
http://members.lycos.co.uk/rapier/realwep.htm
(Site Excerpt) 1. Mid 16th C. Cut and Thrust Sword .Very broad blade(approx 1-1/2 inch). Single fuller (Measurements lost!!!) 2. German Late 16th C. Rapier .O 53", B+R 46", B 44", Bal 14". Diamond section blade. 3. Rapier 3rd Quarter 16th C. O 51.5" , B+R 44.5", B 42",Bal 12".

MyArmory.com Historic Weapons website
http://www.myarmoury.com/home.php
(Site Excerpt) Browse the photographic albums of authentic and reproduction arms and armour, museum photography, and historic artwork.Broaden your knowledge, learn new definitions and terms, read historic essays and articles, and download graphics in our features section.Participate in on-topic conversations of authentic and reproduction arms and armour from various cultures and periods of time.

Articles

The Origins of the Two-Handed Sword
Neil H. T. Melville
http://ejmas.com/jwma/articles/2000/jwmaart_melville_0100.htm
(Site Excerpt) Any sword which is to be regarded as a two-hander must, by reason of its dimensions and weight, require two hands for its effective management. Hence the blade, as well as the hilt, must be longer than norm, i.e. over 100cm. Secondly, the hilt of the true two-hander should not merely accommodate two hands but be long enough for the two hands holding it to be kept apart, in order to give a fulcrum effect...

RITUAL WEAPONS
A Website for Study and Appreciation

http://weaponspage.homestead.com/
(Site Excerpt) In most modern societies, weapons are no longer carried openly. Though rituals may dictate behaviors involving modern weapons and their uses, the fact that the weapons themselves do not form an overt part of cultural activity means that weapon "rituals" play little to no part in larger structures of belief in those societies (public religious and cultural values, for example). This is in contrast to the past, when weapons were carried openly and thus required cultural norms (i.e. rituals) to regulate their place in various traditional societies.

Medieval Sword Resource Site
http://www.aiusa.com/medsword/
(Site Excerpt) The swords of medieval Europe (approximately 500 to 1500 AD) evolved from steel Celtic swords, which in turn arose from a tradition of straight, double-edged swords which began with bronze swords as early as 1,500 BC.

European MediƦval Swords
http://www.vikingsword.com/
(Site Excerpt) The swords of medieval Europe (approximately 500 to 1500 AD) evolved from steel Celtic swords, which in turn arose from a tradition of straight, double-edged swords which began with bronze swords as early as 1,500 BC. At the opening of the Middle Ages these swords tended to have blades just under a yard in length with a grip designed to accommodate a single hand...

Internet Sword Collectors Association
http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/machood/swordsociety1.html
(Site Excerpt) This is an international group of edged weapons collectors and scholars who are interested in the collecting, research, and documentation of antique edged weapons. It is a forum for scholarly discussion of the specifics of sword collecting, and a focal point for sword collectors and edged weapon experts to compile and share sword related information that has not been widely published in currently available books.

Resources

Medieval Sword Virtual Museum
http://www.aiusa.com/medsword/virtmus.html
(Site Excerpt) The swords of this time evolved from the Teutonic swords in evidence in the later Roman Iron Age and average 33 to 37 inches in overall length including a 4 to 5 inch long tang. These swords vary between 1.7 and 2.5 inches in width and generally have parallel edges or edges slightly tapering towards the point

Sword Forum International
http://www.swordforum.com/
(Site Excerpt) The rapier appeared in the early renaissance and was a civilian weapon. Contrary to popular belief, by modern standards it was a heavy and cumbersome sword, capable of attacks only and ill-suited to defense.

Netsword
http://www.netsword.com/
(Site Excerpt) NetSword is an Internet discussion group for medieval and renaissance swords, daggers and associated weapons of war. In this series of forums we discuss modern replicas of historical swords along with many other types of weapons and their related fighting techniques. We also discuss all types of historical swords, and the artifacts and events surrounding weapons and warfare from medieval and renaissance times.

Axforum
http://www.axeforum.com/
(Site Excerpt) Axe Forum since it's creation has always tried and will continue to be a Laid back community. Where fellow Axe, Pole arm, Fire-arm and sword collectors alike can visit and enjoy the hobby most of us have come to love. We are home to smiths of various weapons that are very accomplished in metallurgy and other aspects of weapons fabrication so if you have any technical questions don't hesitate to ask.