European dueling sword

European dueling sword

The European dueling sword in the narrow sense is a basket and cage hilted weapon in use specifically in duels from the late 17th to the 19th century. It evolved through several forms of the rapier to the smallsword — reflecting the evolution from a cutting style of swordplay to a thrusting style ('foining'). This was a result of increasing specialization in their use to the duelling field and the social stigma attached to carrying and using swords associated with the actual "work" of warfare. The smallsword and the last stage of the rapier were made possible only by metallurgical advances in the seventeenth centuryFact|date=February 2007.

Off-hand weapons

Prior to the 1700s (and later in some areas, such as Spain and parts of Italy), a weapon or object was often held in the 'off-hand' from the sword for use in parrying attacks and occasionally to add offense. The most common 'off-hand' objects used were the buckler, the dagger, and the cape, although some masters also included instruction for the use of the rotella (a large, round shield), the imbracciatura (a very large, oblong shield) or even a second sword. When specifically designed for the purpose, the parrying dagger was sometimes called a "main-gauche" (French for 'left hand').

There are few accounts of duels fought with two swords (in English, sometimes referred to as a 'case' of rapiers) and instruction for the combination appeared in few fencing treatises (most notably those of Antonio Manciolino, Achille Marozzo, Camillo Agrippa and Giacomo di Grassi). It is notable that all of the above masters agree that the prerequisite to using two swords together was the full proficiency in using the sword alone in either hand.

ingle Time and Double Time

Swordplay can be thought of as occurring in "times" or "tempi", where each motion of the sword is a single tempo. The familiar parry-riposte, where the incoming attack is parried before a response with a riposte, is said to be in "double time" or "due" (two) "tempi": the first tempo is the parry and the second is the riposte. However, many masters preferred the single tempo counterattack where the opponent's attack was negated (parried, avoided or both) and he was attacked in a single motion.

While no system of swordsmanship includes only one of the two types of responses, each system will favor them to different degrees. The German and Italian Longsword systems of the 1300s and 1400s generally favored the single tempo response; however, the Bolognese system of the 1500s slightly favored two tempo parry riposte actions. Most of the counters described in the Italian fencing manuals of the early 1600s (for example, Salvator Fabris, Ridolfo Capoferro and Francesco Alfieri) are single time techniques, whereas the actions described in the Italian manuals of the late 1600s (Francesco Marcelli and Bondi di Mazo being the primary example) are more balanced, although they still consider single time defenses as tactically superior. The French smallsword of the 1700s very heavily favored two tempo actions--almost to the point of neglecting single tempo counters, where the contemporary Italian systems--while describing many two tempo actions--still considered the single tempo actions as tactically superior.

Cutting versus Thrusting

Cutting—striking with the edge, which causes percussive damage as well a possibly making a cut in the target—and thrusting—striking with the point to puncture—have been shown to be essentially balanced modes of combat. However civilian dueling styles leaned more and more to the thrust over time. The reason for this progression is not known, though common arguments are discussed below. It is perhaps as simple as that the thrusting style allowed for lighter weapons.

It is possible that the single most important advantage of thrusting weapons was that in combat against a cutting weapon of a similar weight, the thrusting weapon—especially with the lunge—was useful from a greater range. The wielder of a cutting weapon must step in to strike, a predictable motion which would make him vulnerable to a time hit while his major weapon was necessarily out of line for defense. However the Victorian Captain A. Hutton repeatedly demonstrated that the cavalry sabre could hold its own against the smallsword or the épée of a similar length. His success can be attributed to his ability to use the thrusting swordsman's arm as a target, and that the lighter thrusting weapon is inadequate to parry the heavier sabre.

It is often said that the thrust is more dangerous than the cut because the vital organs may be struck at directly, and in fact a few duels were ended by a single lunge to the heart. However there are far more numerous recorded instances of both contestants being run through several times while the duel continued. Due to the limitations of medicine in that era, it often happened that a duelist would die of infections or internal bleeding from such a thrust long after the duel had concluded.

It is also alleged that thrusting weapons had various advantages in terms of speed of defense: because they were kept in line with the opponent while preparing to strike they were more available to defend. However it should be remembered that through most of the dueling era—until the last stage of the rapier and the smallsword were developed—an off hand weapon was used for defense.

Evolution of blades

The first swords carried by civilians for use in duels were generally arming swords. A military weapon turned to civilian use, their blades were generally less than 90 cm (35") in length, relatively heavy (680 grams to 1133 grams), and double-edged with a short point. The cross-section was varied with lenticular, hollow-ground, and flattened diamond and hexagon shapes.

Starting sometime before 1500 CE, the simple hilt of the arming sword was being modified to better protect the hand. Starting with a ring to allow the user to safely finger the ricasso (i.e. wrap the index finger around the bottom of the blade), designs became increasingly complex, often adding a knucklebow and adding side rings and sweeps until the form commonly recognized as the rapier hilt was produced. However, the evolution was not linear and old forms continued to be used alongside newer forms for over a century. Concurrent with the development of the increasingly complex hilt, was a general tendency for blades to become longer and thinner to better suit predominantly thrusting (or foining) based swordsmanship, but as with the complex hilt, the older style blades co-existed with their thinner offspring. By the late 1500s, the sword typically thought of the Rapier had evolved, although it continued to change in form through the 1600s (and beyond for some parts of Europe). The cup hilt evolved from the earlier complex hilts to provide total protection for the sword hand in the early-mid 1600s and remained popular in Spain until at least the 1700s. Although the blades and hilts changed through 1500s and 1600s, the total weight of the swords stayed relatively constant through the mid 1600s—the changes in the length and weight of the blade affecting the balance and handling capabilities of the sword more than the overall weight. By the last half of the 1600s, the form of the rapier in much of Europe began to change, with blades generally becoming thinner and shorter and often without a cutting edge.

Although in the late 1600s the rapier remained popular in Spain and evolved into the dueling sword in Italy, in most of Europe it was replaced by the Smallsword, a very light weapon with a significantly smaller guard and shorter and lighter blade. (Although the Italian Dueling sword was similar to the Smallsword, it was more likely to have an edge and a longer, heavier blade and tended to have a hilt a little closer in form to the older rapier cup hilt.)

Regional variations

English rapiers could be unusually long as compared to mainland Europe, sometimes reaching lengths over 50 inches (1.27 meters).

In Scotland, heavier cutting swords—single-handed broad swords—remained popular into the nineteenth century.

In southern Italy the off-hand dagger remained in use into the nineteenth century.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно сделать НИР?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sword — For other uses, see Sword (disambiguation) and Swords (disambiguation). Swiss longsword, 15th or 16th century A sword is a bladed weapon (edged weapon) used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the… …   Wikipedia

  • Historical European martial arts — Historical Fencing redirects here. For the history of fencing in general, see history of fencing. The first page of the Codex Wallerstein shows the typical arms of 15th century individual combat, including the longsword, roundel dagger, sword and …   Wikipedia

  • Side-sword — A side sword was a type of war sword used by infantry during the Renaissance of Europe. This sword was a direct descendant of the arming sword. Quite popular between the 16th and 17th centuries, they were ideal for handling the mix of armored and …   Wikipedia

  • sword — swordless, adj. swordlike, adj. /sawrd, sohrd/, n. 1. a weapon having various forms but consisting typically of a long, straight or slightly curved blade, sharp edged on one or both sides, with one end pointed and the other fixed in a hilt or… …   Universalium

  • Basket-hilted sword — Broadsword redirects here. For other uses, see Broadsword (disambiguation). A typical schiavona of the late 17th century …   Wikipedia

  • Mameluke sword — Napoleon in Egypt with a Mameluke sword A Mameluke sword is a cross hilted, curved, scimitar like sword historically derived from sabres used by Mamluk warriors of Mamluk Egypt from whom the sword derives its name. It is related to the shamshir …   Wikipedia

  • Fencing — This article is about the sport, which is distinguished from stage fencing, academic fencing (mensur), historical fencing, SCA fencing, and swordsmanship. For the boundary structure, see Fence. For other uses, see Fencing (disambiguation).… …   Wikipedia

  • Colichemarde — sword. Silver guard, 18th century. On display at Vevey historical museum. Colichemarde is a type of small sword blade that was popular from the late 17th century to the middle 18th century. Contents 1 …   Wikipedia

  • Rapier — A rapier is a relatively slender, sharply pointed sword, used mainly for thrusting attacks, mainly in use in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.DescriptionRapier generally refers to a relatively long bladed sword characterized by a complex… …   Wikipedia

  • Spada da lato — Classification Sword Time Period ca. 1450 1700 Avg. Length 96.5 cm (38 ) Avg. Weight 1.1 kg (2.5 lb.) Blade Type Double edged, tapered Hilt Type One hand …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”