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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    There's something I find interesting. With many of the battles won by the English during the 1H Years' War, there is widespread knowledge of how and why the English won, be it tactics, mistakes on the other side, equipment, and so on.
    On the other hand, the English lost the war, but all I know about this sums up to "And the Joan D'Arc appears (and La Hire too!)". Is there a more practically minded explanation of why the French won and the English lost?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    There's something I find interesting. With many of the battles won by the English during the 1H Years' War, there is widespread knowledge of how and why the English won, be it tactics, mistakes on the other side, equipment, and so on.
    On the other hand, the English lost the war, but all I know about this sums up to "And the Joan D'Arc appears (and La Hire too!)". Is there a more practically minded explanation of why the French won and the English lost?
    Possibly several. Depend on who you ask really.

    First thing many will point out: yes the English won many famous battles. Not necessarily that many battles. What history remembers is however Crécy, Poitiers and Agincourt. This is partly due to English language histories which is dominated by the successes of the English. However, there is no denying that the English was generally "gaining" in the first "series" of wars, and the French did better in the campaigns around Jeanne d'Arc.

    What prevented the English is large that France is a very big realm (geographically) and that it is very difficult to completely control it. Secondly prolonged campaigns again and again was unpopular back England where peasants had to pay for it (by taxes or sons or both). So troubles back in England prevented full exploitation of military victories. Similar there where several local revolts against the English in France.

    Also: the war was a cycle of wars over various questions (inheritance of various French territories, but also succession issues over France as such), and some of the was won by the English (gaining control over Aquitaine for some periods example), but not enough to enforce a complete conquest of France, which meant that whenever the French was recovered they could have another go.

    Also though we might consider the hundred years war ending in the 1450'ies (because thats when the battles stopped), but in legal terms didnt stop before somewhat later (cannot remember the exact year), at a time when England was engaged in "War of the Roses". Thus, you could theorize that it wouldn't have ended if the war of Roses did not happen: the cycle could have continued for many rounds yet if the English had not been forced to fight at home. It almost broke out again a few times, but the English could never really muster enough home support for another extended French campaign. Also their "mainland" ally, the Burgundians lost power in the late 15th century. But various English rules until the early 19th century kept claiming to be rightful rulers of France (or at least part of it). By the time the situation in England got stable, they where more involved in getting full control over the isles (Scotland/ireland) than invading France.

    So the explanations in short form is:
    • England did not win all battles, just the ones we remember.
    • France is hard to control (including local revolts, large territories, and independent minded nobles).
    • Wars are expensive, and English had an issue of getting enough support at home.
    • France did better at the end of the war, and then England got involved in vary serious civil wars making another "round" of French wars impossible.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    There's something I find interesting. With many of the battles won by the English during the 1H Years' War, there is widespread knowledge of how and why the English won, be it tactics, mistakes on the other side, equipment, and so on.
    On the other hand, the English lost the war, but all I know about this sums up to "And the Joan D'Arc appears (and La Hire too!)". Is there a more practically minded explanation of why the French won and the English lost?
    All of the following is with the caveat that Medieval history isn't as much my thing as later periods. As far as I understand it this is correct, but someone with more knowledge may be able to elaborate/correct what I say here.

    It had a lot to do with the fact that the English were trying to project power onto the French home turf. At its core, the HYW was an attempt by the English kings to press their claims on the French throne. Which meant getting to Paris, knocking down the door, seating yourself on the throne, and declaring yourself King of France. And getting the old French king to stop calling himself that. And getting all the French dukes to recognize you and stop rebelling. The English had to win, it was enough for the French to not lose.

    Through most of the Hundred Years' War, the French had the advantage in manpower (as far as I can tell at least). So many of the English victories were in battles where they were badly outnumbered by the French, which is part of the reason they're considered great victories. The English had the advantage at sea, which made it difficult for the French to make a landing in England and force peace that way (as far as I know, the French never landed in England during the HYW), but the English had to get an army onto the continent and maintain it. Their armies were usually smaller and their supply lines much longer. Even though they could beat French armies, the French could come back from those losses more easily than the English.

    Also, Medieval warfare was not really about battles, it was about sieges. No matter how well you beat an army in the field, it made no difference if their castles were still intact and resisting (of course, not having a hostile army breathing down your neck made sieges easier). The English might have won some field victories, but they still had to take French castles, where the problems of supply and reinforcement in hostile territory become even more pronounced.

    Despite all of this, the English did manage to take a significant portion of French land, and were not driven totally out of France until the mid-late 1400s (I don't know the exact date). Also keep in mind that the HYW was not a single unbroken conflict, it was a series of smaller wars (some won by the English, some won by the French, none really fully deciding the issue of succession to the throne) broken by periods of truce.
    Last edited by rs2excelsior; 2017-08-20 at 12:08 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by wolflance View Post
    Many tell me that Roman use right greave because they already had a big shield to protect their left, although I can't really understand the logic behind it.

    Most people lean their body sideways during combat (especially formation fighting), presenting their left side to enemy while hide their right side away from them. Right leg should be the most well-hidden body part in most cases, so it really doesn't need that extra protection.

    Samnites choice makes much more sense to me.
    Uh, all the depictions of Romans with one greave I've seen are always with just the left, ie the one furthest forward, just in case any blow slips under the shield.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    Uh, all the depictions of Romans with one greave I've seen are always with just the left, ie the one furthest forward, just in case any blow slips under the shield.
    Vegetius I.20 describes the old infantry wearing greaves on the right.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    There's something I find interesting. With many of the battles won by the English during the 1H Years' War, there is widespread knowledge of how and why the English won, be it tactics, mistakes on the other side, equipment, and so on.
    On the other hand, the English lost the war, but all I know about this sums up to "And the Joan D'Arc appears (and La Hire too!)". Is there a more practically minded explanation of why the French won and the English lost?
    As far as I am aware, several factors were all very important:

    1. The English were fighting far from their homeland, and had to deal with the problem that they essentially had to occupy all of France. Revolts and such were common, meaning that the English had to devote significant resources simply to retaining control of what they had, leaving their resources much more thinly stretched than the French.

    2. On a strategic level, the English also had many more geopolitical concerns than the French did. The latter had only to reconquer their country, but the English had to also deal with the Castilians in Spain for much of the war, and had to retain enough troops in England proper to deter the Scots from invading. In addition, they often split their attentions furthermore by showing a particular focus on the Low Countries, rather than France proper.

    3. Leadership. At the end of the war, England was led by Henry VI, who was an exceedingly weak monarch. Under him, many factions began competing for political influence, further losing focus on the war. Meanwhile, France was led by the proficient, if not exceptional, Charles VII, who was much more able to rally support to him from his country--and to pry important nations, such as Burgundy, away from their English alliances.

    4. These ultimately led to the English being completely and totally overstretched by comparison to the French, who could fight more centralized campaigns. Once they started losing major forces, it was hard for them to replenish, leading to a snowball effect and a French victory.

    On a completely unrelated note, is anyone here aware as to whether the Scimitar played a role in the Middle East or elsewhere similar to that of the knightly longsword--i.e. did it have a similar symbolism as a weapon of justice, nobility, and honor?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    There's something I find interesting. With many of the battles won by the English during the 1H Years' War, there is widespread knowledge of how and why the English won, be it tactics, mistakes on the other side, equipment, and so on.
    On the other hand, the English lost the war, but all I know about this sums up to "And the Joan D'Arc appears (and La Hire too!)". Is there a more practically minded explanation of why the French won and the English lost?
    Real good question.

    It's because the History that we know today in English at least, comes from the English. And the English love to talk about their victories.

    They also, to be fair, had the phenomenal playwright Shakespeare writing marvelous stories about English victories like Agincourt and he knew there was no market for writing about Castillon

    So it's also why almost nobody knows that the Canute the Great conquered England a generation before William the Conquerer, or that the Hanseatic League defeated them in the 1470's, or about any number of other English military defeats and blunders from many other eras.

    It's why the Opium Wars are rarely discussed or show up on History Channel documentaries...

    To this day many if not most prominent Historians in the English language for any period before the American Revolution are from the UK.

    This has had a lot of knock on effects, far more than you might expect.

    G
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2017-08-21 at 12:28 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlMarx View Post
    As far as I am aware, several factors were all very important:

    1. The English were fighting far from their homeland, ...
    No offense, but as far as I know this is mostly nonsense, the French won the war largely due to their mastery of cannon.

    On a completely unrelated note, is anyone here aware as to whether the Scimitar played a role in the Middle East or elsewhere similar to that of the knightly longsword--i.e. did it have a similar symbolism as a weapon of justice, nobility, and honor?
    Sort of, but

    1) there is no such thing as a 'scimitar' in the real world and
    2) Sabers didn't really become that common in the Middle East until long after the Crusades were over. They mostly used strait swords similar to the ones the Crusaders had, in fact, they also used a lot of swords either purchased from or captured from or given as tribute from Europe. When they did use sabers they were basically just simple Chinese type Dao. The special Middle Eastern variants came in the 16th Century mostly.

    And most of their swords were strait. The most you get with medieval Islamic swords is usually a curved grip.





    The crescent shape of the various unique regional saber variants - killij in Turkey, the saif of the Arabs, shamshir in Persia, the talwar down in South Asia and so on, did have a nice correlation to the Islamic crescent, and this was indeed noticed and appreciated. Still shows up in flags today. Including some versions of the ISIS, ISIL or IS flag, though I won't post that here as it may be a bit sensitive.



    G
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2017-08-21 at 12:29 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Sort of, but

    1) there is no such thing as a 'scimitar' in the real world and
    2) Sabers didn't really become that common in the Middle East until long after the Crusades were over. They mostly used strait swords similar to the ones the Crusaders had, in fact, they also used a lot of swords either purchased from or captured from or given as tribute from Europe. When they did use sabers they were basically just simple Chinese type Dao. The special Middle Eastern variants came in the 16th Century mostly.

    And most of their swords were strait. The most you get with medieval Islamic swords is usually a curved grip.

    G
    To my knowledge that type of curved saber originated from the Turkic tribes, then spread all over the places by the Mongols. So cultures that use curved saber tend to be those that were once conquered, or fought against, the Mongols.

    So I think the Middle Eastern variants should came by a couple of centuries earlier?


    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    It's why the Opium Wars are rarely discussed or show up on History Channel documentaries...

    G
    Didn't English win this one?
    Last edited by wolflance; 2017-08-21 at 03:39 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    2) Sabers didn't really become that common in the Middle East until long after the Crusades were over. They mostly used strait swords similar to the ones the Crusaders had, in fact, they also used a lot of swords either purchased from or captured from or given as tribute from Europe. When they did use sabers they were basically just simple Chinese type Dao. The special Middle Eastern variants came in the 16th Century mostly.

    The crescent shape of the various unique regional saber variants - killij in Turkey, the saif of the Arabs, shamshir in Persia, the talwar down in South Asia and so on, did have a nice correlation to the Islamic crescent, and this was indeed noticed and appreciated. Still shows up in flags today. Including some versions of the ISIS, ISIL or IS flag, though I won't post that here as it may be a bit sensitive.
    Noooot quite. Middle East is a large region, and sabers are rather under-researched in the West.

    The short version of it is that sabers in the Outremer were generally seen in the hands of nomadic mercenaries, usually in the northern regions. You did have these guys around during the Crusades (and before that), serving both sides, to say nothing of Mongols at Ain Jalut in 1260, they certainly had a lot of sabers and Crusades weren't quite done yet.

    The local nobility and population didn't use them for the most part, not until the Ottomans came around, and part of the reason why Ottomans used them was that they also heavily used nomadic mercenaries in their raiding/scouting border parties (and were nomads themselves at the start). What they did was basically combine curved kilts with curved swords. (Curved. Swords.)

    The saber as Islamic symbol comes largely from this era, when Catholic Europe and Islamic Ottoman Empire came into direct conflict and both sides used the equipment in use at the time in propaganda. Hungarians didn't get a say about the saber mostly because at the time, Hungary was practically non-existent, with large portions occupied by Ottomans, and what was left depended on German Habsburgs for war resources.

    Funnily enough, sabers were brought into Crusades by the Europeans - Hungary used sabers across all societal classes since before there was Hungary (first sabers dated to 700, Magyars conquered what would become Hungary in c900), and there were detachments of Crusaders from it, albeit mostly small before the Fifth one at Damietta (1210's). There were even what you can call hand-and-a-half sabers in Hungary since about 1340's, taking the "make it longer" of bastard swords to sabers.

    Byzantine forces also had some curved swords at their disposal at this time, there are saints and generals depicted with paramerion, and again, nomadic mercenaries have their own sabers. These sabers sometimes use hilt mounting system you see on liuyedao and katana, a brass ring on the blade under the hilt, and are the closest thing you get to a "Chinese dao".

    Speaking of Chineese dao, first of all, which one are we talking about? Tang dao and later models (e.g. liuyedao) are quite different, and none of them look anything like modern Wushu Federation dao. From the evidence I've seen, it's the other way around, China used nomadic swords and called them dao, then developed them into their own thing, which is the exact same thing Europe did. Of course, you need to keep in mind that China during Yuan dynasty is significantly nomadic, since it's ruling class is essentially Mongolian, so to a degree they ARE nomads, at least culturally.

    Lastly, some pictures.

    Spoiler: Pannonian Avar sabre, Hungary, c750
    Show




    Spoiler: Magyar sabre replica, used c900-1300 in Hungary, several possible blade types
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    Spoiler: Byzantine paramerion, European hilt mounting
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    Spoiler: Replica of sabre based on archaeological finds from Bulgaria, Eastern hilt mounting, possibly paramerion
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    Spoiler: 12-14th century sabre with Eastern hilt mounting, National Museum in Sophia
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    Spoiler: Liuyedao replica
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    Spoiler: Sabre of Charlemange/Attila, made in Hungary in 11th century, Wikipedia misdates to 10th
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    Spoiler: Late Hungarian bastard sabre, 15th century, National Museum in Budapest
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    Spoiler: Ottoman Kilij, used from about 1400 onwards
    Show




    Spoiler: Collection of swords from Archaeology museum in Varna, Bulgaria, far right is typical Golde horde saber, second from right is Magyar, the rest are local, second and third from left are most likely paramerion
    Show




    Spoiler: Magyar sabers in manuscript from Turkey, 1320's
    Show




    Spoiler: One of the first curved hilt/curved blade sabers in art in Middle East, Israel, 1287
    Show




    Edit: I can tell left from right now, Ma!
    Last edited by Martin Greywolf; 2017-08-21 at 03:08 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    Speaking of Chineese dao, first of all, which one are we talking about? Tang dao and later models (e.g. liuyedao) are quite different, and none of them look anything like modern Wushu Federation dao. From the evidence I've seen, it's the other way around, China used nomadic swords and called them dao, then developed them into their own thing, which is the exact same thing Europe did. Of course, you need to keep in mind that China during Yuan dynasty is significantly nomadic, since it's ruling class is essentially Mongolian, so to a degree they ARE nomads, at least culturally.

    Edit: I can tell left from right now, Ma!
    I read Chinese and have a fair bit of knowledge in Chinese history, so I can tell you with certainty that indeed curved Chinese dao is indeed the result of Mongol Yuan influence. Beforehand they mostly used straight (single-edged) swords.

    Dao is just an umbrella term to describe all single-edged sharp implement that's not an axe or saw. A katana, a messer, a meat carver, or even the sharp bits on a lawnmower are all called Dao in Chinese.

    The modern Wushu dao is evolved from the late Qing Niuweidao (oxtail saber), which is a dao with increasing broader blade toward the tip, usually with relatively thin blade for a Chinese sword. It's a real weapon, albeit not a military one (more of a law-enforcement/town guard weapon).

    Spoiler
    Show

    Niuweidao



    Quick question: Is there other armies that use majority sword-and-shield troops for their infantry? Other than Rome, that is.
    Last edited by wolflance; 2017-08-21 at 03:40 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    Vegetius I.20 describes the old infantry wearing greaves on the right.
    Vegetius wasn't a soldier or even a historian, just a compiler of other people's works. Polybius is a better source for military details.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    No offense, but as far as I know this is mostly nonsense, the French won the war largely due to their mastery of cannon.

    G
    If it is nonsense to say the English lost the war because they were fighting a long way from home it's equally nonsensical to claim they lost it due to cannon.

    The French eventually won the war because France outmassed England in just about every measure that was important to medieaval warfare and unless you have an overwhelming technological advantange (or other force multiplier like say magic)*.

    Crediting Joan of Arc or the superb French knight Arnoul d'Audrehem is also incorrect. They were an important part however in unifying France which was one of the most important strategic fails France had in the wars with England.

    The 100YW started because the English royal line wanted to protect what was left of it's French holdings (at one point a bit earlier the English crown held more land than the rulign French monarch did). The fact that some lands remained was more to do with the local potentates favouring a distant light hand of rule over the French king's desire to control the domains he was titularly head of. Prensenting a claim on the French crown was a slightly later move designed to give a casus belli, and upset the French enough that they'd embark on the for them so disastrous courses of open battle. Some of the motivations did change, and one might say the English rather disastrously pursued the French crown at oen point, but those laying the claim originally didn't set out to conquer France or win the crown.

    There are a lot of parallells to WW2 Germany invading the Soviet Union actually, too big a task, muddled objectives and trying to find a decisive target, yet finding none, leading to eventual grinding down of forces.

    Almost invariably the English were "making expeditions" to France. Some of the famous wins came as a result of what was essentally raids in force. The reason for this strategy was that the English knew they could not hope to defeat and overrun the French with the resources at their disposal. So they usually went for maximum damage (and pillaging for income). But also their goal was not to conquer France, but to gain concessions to lands they considered theirs by inheritance (and it was, by the laws of the time, the French king was rather unscrupulously trying to enrich himself by taking from the most distant of his powerful vassals).

    The reason it even had a shot at working was exactly that the French king was weak compared to his "overmighty subjects" like the Duke of Brittany, the Duke of Burgundy, the Duke of Aquitane (ie the English king) and others. To a degree by playing Game of Thrones - French edition was a key cornerstone of English policy. Ironically, the 100YW ended by the French doing the same to the English, by enabling and protecting claimants in the War of Roses. Similarly when they could the French would play the Scottish card. Considering how cynically the French took advantage of the Scots it always baffled me how eager they were to have another go (they were hung out to dry a lot).

    The French started out playing to the English game of meeting them in battle on English terms, which is what is remembered in the famous victories. When they didn't it went much better. When more effective and unified French leadership was found they fortified the major cities and let the English ravage the comparatively poor countryside, which ruined the English economical disruption and living off the land strategy. Since effectively England did not have the economical output to support sustained and continued operations in France. They did a lot with what they had though. And the French squandered much of their resources too.

    Fighting far away from home was important in that without the Battle of Sluys the English could not have transported, supplied or maintained any kind of forces in France at all. The financing of the wars also depended a lot on wine trading from Gascony which was always at risk when the English navy was weak (which it was at times). Thus it is not nonsense at all to say the English lost because they were fighting far away. At trhe later stages not being able to easily and effectively reinforce Gascony lost it to the English too. Distance was most definitely a factor contributing. Homefield advantage isn't necessarily a given though, if like the French you can't effectively organise yourself out of a wet paper bag.

    It is certainly true that at the end cannon mattered. The French could retake castles and towns in days or weeks that the English spent months or years besieging. But to suggest *that* is the reason the conflict ended is preposturous. It greatly sped up what was by that time a forgone conclusion.

    Basically at the height of her mostly unanticipated success in France ,the English crown decided that the French crown might not be an utopical goal after all, kinda losing sight of what they had been doing in the first place (protecting lands and rights). Which meant they effectively united all the disparate powers in France against what they feared the most, a powerful French monarchy. If you really want to go all jingoistic on stuff one can always claim that the English provided the motivation for France to become France. I think I've seen the argument that without the 100YW France would not have as easily and readily become a centralised(ish) state.
    (*) Speaking of technological gaps, the English advantage at the onset of the war was their technological mastery of bureaucracy and centralisation . They could raise and finance fighting forces much easier than the French crown. Unfortunately (for the English) that was something that could be fixed, eventually.

    If anything is nonsense about the 100YW it's that *this* one thing was what won or lost it over some other thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    There's something I find interesting. With many of the battles won by the English during the 1H Years' War, there is widespread knowledge of how and why the English won, be it tactics, mistakes on the other side, equipment, and so on.
    Is there a more practically minded explanation of why the French won and the English lost?
    Yes.
    There is of course an Osprey book on this, "The Fall of English France". It goes into the military, strategical and politcal stuff (and it mentions many fo the battles the English lost). It's really dismal reading if you root for the English btw, like I did :. Man I did not see tha coming.
    Last edited by snowblizz; 2017-08-21 at 03:55 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolflance View Post
    I read Chinese and have a fair bit of knowledge in Chinese history, so I can tell you with certainty that indeed curved Chinese dao is indeed the result of Mongol Yuan influence. Beforehand they mostly used straight (single-edged) swords.
    No, they date back to at least the Han. Jian were generally seen as requiring far too much training for the average soldier (in my own experience, just holding a dao gives you a basic sense of what you should be doing with it). I've seen stuff indicating it had almost entirely replaced the straight sword well before the Yuan. No doubt the Mongols influenced design and caused a shift toward something cavalry saber-esque, but the single-edged sword had been in use for a while.

    The modern Wushu dao is evolved from the late Qing Niuweidao (oxtail saber), which is a dao with increasing broader blade toward the tip, usually with relatively thin blade for a Chinese sword. It's a real weapon, albeit not a military one (more of a law-enforcement/town guard weapon).
    Hey, it's not just from wushu - we use it in real martial arts too! :P

    But yeah, adding to the above, the aforementioned feature of widening up the length of the blade is hugely exaggerated in the wushu dao, presumably so it'll flop around dramatically during forms and fill traditional kung fu people with as much contempt as a human body can contain. A serious saber won't be made of spring steel, and will be of a more uniform profile - broad, heavy, and relatively short.
    Last edited by gkathellar; 2017-08-21 at 09:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    No, they date back to at least the Han. Jian were generally seen as requiring far too much training for the average soldier (in my own experience, just holding a dao gives you a basic sense of what you should be doing with it). I've seen stuff indicating it had almost entirely replaced the straight sword well before the Yuan. No doubt the Mongols influenced design and caused a shift toward something cavalry saber-esque, but the single-edged sword had been in use for a while.
    No, I mean the CURVED Chinese daos are post-Mongol. There are some very early bronze curved daos (more like a knife rather than a sword though), and some Han period Daos have a very slight inward curve (like an almost-straight falx) , but most of them are straight, and the curved ones have no direct relationship with the Ming/Qing curved sabers.

    (And there is an odd one that's basically a double-edged bronze falx with flattened tip)

    Indeed Dao superseded Jian very early (around Han). Straight Dao, that is.

    There's apparently a debate of sort on whether the flared blade of Niuweidao serves a practical purpose or not (given that it is relatively thin). However those intended to be used in serious martial arts/real combat are certainly not floppy.
    Last edited by wolflance; 2017-08-21 at 10:09 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    Noooot quite. Middle East is a large region, and sabers are rather under-researched in the West.

    !
    Nice images. I am aware of all that.

    You realize that all the examples you posted are basic Chinese / Mongol (etc) Dao variants. Obviously that is a big can of worms in and of itself.



    Weapons like that basic yanmaodao, zhibeidao etc. (single edged with a slight curve) actually go back to the early Bronze Age in China. Definitely predates the Yuan dynasty by centuries though it became much more widespread from that point onward. They first became popular in the Han dynasty but they existed before that.

    The "Scimetar" concept, I think, usually correlates to the later regional variations of the saber found around the Middle East, Persia, and South Asia, as I mentioned - as well as the European variants in Hungary, Ukraine, and later Poland, Germany etc. etc.

    You also have the indigenous single-edged swords in Europe like the Czech dussack type (which can be found as far back as the early Iron Age ~ 800 BC in that area, Uniteice Culture) and the bauernwehr / messer family, and the Norse long-sax. These are different though in that they are all basically infantry weapons whereas the saber is almost always a cavalry weapon. In Hungary (and later Switzerland) there seems to have also been a hybrid of the saber and the messer.

    G
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    If it is nonsense to say the English lost the war because they were fighting a long way from home it's equally nonsensical to claim they lost it due to cannon...

    (snip)

    It is certainly true that at the end cannon mattered. The French could retake castles and towns in days or weeks that the English spent months or years besieging. But to suggest *that* is the reason the conflict ended is preposturous. It greatly sped up what was by that time a forgone conclusion.
    No, it's not even close to preposterous, and if you really want to take a deep dive into it we can. But I don't think you know the history very well based on what you wrote.

    The war essentially had three phases on a tactical level.

    1) English move in after their Dynastic opening allows them inheritance claims, French attack, English win several major victories in the field. As usual though like most medieval wars everything consists of sieges in the field. French morale sags.

    2) French rally with the appearance of Joan of Arc. Joan is captured and put to death by Burgundians pretty quickly, but by now the momentum has shifted.

    3) French begin to produce large numbers of cannon, notably cast iron cannon on wheeled carriages, and work out streamlined methods of using them to attack and reduce strongholds. French make a separate peace with Burgundy.

    Basically all the French victories / English defeats were in phase three and almost all of them were sieges decided by cannon.


    The logistics and political problems faced by the English were the same by any invading army anywhere, particularly in the Medieval era. They are relatively insignificant compared to the problems faced by the Teutonic Knights in the Baltic (to cite just one example), and yet they overcame opposition for far longer than 100 years.


    G
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    No, it's not even close to preposterous, and if you really want to take a deep dive into it we can. But I don't think you know the history very well based on what you wrote.

    French begin to produce large numbers of cannon, notably cast iron cannon on wheeled carriages, and work out streamlined methods of using them to attack and reduce strongholds. French make a separate peace with Burgundy.

    Basically all the French victories / English defeats were in phase three and almost all of them were sieges decided by cannon.


    The logistics and political problems faced by the English were the same by any invading army anywhere, particularly in the Medieval era. They are relatively insignificant compared to the problems faced by the Teutonic Knights in the Baltic (to cite just one example), and yet they overcame opposition for far longer than 100 years.


    G
    It is true that the French cannon did provide them with an advantage late in the war, but that does not imply that it was a decisive one. Even the Knights ran into problems ultimately--particularly once the Poles and Lithuanians formed the (relatively) centralized personal union. Furthermore, they did not have the logistical difficulty of managing as many fronts as the English--who had to defend their holdings in Aquitaine and elsewhere, fought several campaigns in Spain and the Low Countries, and had to maintain enough force at home to deter/respond to the Scots. Thus--even if they could have, per se, supplied troops at the relative distances with the technology they had, they were far too overstretched to do so.

    If the French had not had their cannon, the English would have been able to hold out much longer on both the tactical and strategic levels, mustering forces to relieve sieges and concentrate on specific objectives while fighting delaying actions elsewhere.

    However, they could not overcome the barrier of being overstretched no matter how much time they had--especially considering as the French had a population--and thus manpower--in excess of twice that of England, by most estimates.

    If the English had been on the same level as the French in weapons technology, this would not have changed. If neither had had cannons, then the outcome likely changes somewhat, with England being able to hang on to more coastal enclaves than just Calais, but would have certainly failed in their (stated) war aim of taking the French crown and (unstated) aim of retaining their large French empire.

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    Since we're talking about them, with respect to single-edged swords, what are the advantages of curved vs. straight, in civilian and military settings? Why not go double-edged if the sword is straight?

    Quote Originally Posted by wolflance View Post
    No, I mean the CURVED Chinese daos are post-Mongol. There are some very early bronze curved daos (more like a knife rather than a sword though), and some Han period Daos have a very slight inward curve (like an almost-straight falx) , but most of them are straight, and the curved ones have no direct relationship with the Ming/Qing curved sabers.

    (And there is an odd one that's basically a double-edged bronze falx with flattened tip)

    Indeed Dao superseded Jian very early (around Han). Straight Dao, that is.

    There's apparently a debate of sort on whether the flared blade of Niuweidao serves a practical purpose or not (given that it is relatively thin). However those intended to be used in serious martial arts/real combat are certainly not floppy.
    Ah, fair enough. As you said, the word kinda ends up meaning, "sharp thing," hence confusion.

    To be clear, I'm not suggesting the niuweidao is nonsense - it's what I'm trained on. I'm noting that the common modern spring steel dao exaggerates its characteristics (at least partly so I can take potshots at organized wushu but that's neither here nor there).
    Last edited by gkathellar; 2017-08-21 at 12:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    Since we're talking about them, with respect to single-edged swords, what are the advantages of curved vs. straight, in civilian and military settings? Why not go double-edged if the sword is straight?

    Ah, fair enough. As you said, the word kinda ends up meaning, "sharp thing," hence confusion.

    To be clear, I'm not suggesting the niuweidao is nonsense - it's what I'm trained on. I'm noting that the common modern spring steel dao exaggerates its characteristics (at least partly so I can take potshots at organized wushu but that's neither here nor there).
    I'm sure someone will come out with a counterpoint that refutes me, but my current understanding is that

    1) Straight edge makes excellent chopper.
    2) Curved edge is better at slicing (draw-or-push cutting), its curve enables you to slice while you chop, more or less.
    3) Apparently curved blade design also makes you less likely to screw up your attack (mistakenly hit with the flat etc).

    From the looks of it (I haven't had the chance to handle one) pre-Mongol Chinese dao ("straight dao"), particularly Han Dynasty Dao, is pretty much designed with but one purpose in mind - to deliver powerful chops into flesh and bone, and possibly into shield and armor. Han Dao really can't thrust all that well, but it chops like a freaking rhomphaia/zweihander.

    Having only a single edge allows the bladesmith to make the sword thicker and sturdier (Han Dynasty dao can be as thick as 9mm at the thickest part of its spine, and despite being more slender than Dadao, it is heavier) and hold a harder edge. I recall one example (a double-edged Han Dynasty Jian) that has cutting edge hardness around 900 - 1170 HV (Note that this is REALLY REALLY HARD) and core hardness of 220 - 300 HV, but most munition-grade daos are only around 500 - 600 HV edge hardness, still very hard by the standard of their time.
    Last edited by wolflance; 2017-08-21 at 01:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolflance View Post
    I'm sure someone will come out with a counterpoint that refutes me, but my current understanding is that

    1) Straight edge makes excellent chopper.
    2) Curved edge is better at slicing (draw-or-push cutting), its curve enables you to slice while you chop, more or less.
    3) Apparently curved blade design also makes you less likely to screw up your attack (mistakenly hit with the flat etc).

    From the looks of it (I haven't had the chance to handle one) pre-Mongol Chinese dao ("straight dao"), particularly Han Dynasty Dao, is pretty much designed with but one purpose in mind - to deliver powerful chops into flesh and bone, and possibly into shield and armor. Han Dao really can't thrust all that well, but it chops like a freaking rhomphaia/zweihander.

    Having only a single edge allows the bladesmith to make the sword thicker and sturdier (Han Dynasty dao can be as thick as 9mm at the thickest part of its spine, and despite being more slender than Dadao, it is heavier) and hold a harder edge. I recall one example (a double-edged Han Dynasty Jian) that has cutting edge hardness around 900 - 1170 HV (Note that this is REALLY REALLY HARD) and core hardness of 220 - 300 HV, but most munition-grade daos are only around 500 - 600 HV edge hardness, still very hard by the standard of their time.
    I think all of the above plus

    4) Draw cuts are ideal for cavalry, and

    5) Curved blades - especially doing draw cuts - are easier for weapon retention. That plus canted hilts which you also see on a lot of sabers.


    When you are riding at close to full speed you close to double the impact of a sword cut, both on you and your target. This can make it hard to hold on to the sword. Even at half speed it's a substantial increase in the impact on your hand.

    When you are riding by attacking a target (whether another horseman moving in an oppsite or perpendicular direction or someone on the ground) a percussive cut isn't necessary. You can deliver a devastating draw cut just by laying the sword on them as you go by, and a curved sword is ideally suited for that.


    I didn't have time to get to this earlier but I also think this cavalry / infantry interplay is the reason for leg armor, especially mail or plate leg armor in medieval Europe. When cavalry are among infantry their legs are exposed; at the same time, cavalry aren't bothered as much by the weight on their legs (until their horse dies or gets wounded!)

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    These are all general, and everything is relative, and the differences are often really minor but...

    Straight swords are better for thrusting. The whole blade is lined up behind the point, all on the same vector, and being lined up makes aiming easier. A straight blade can often have a narrower point, which is easier to get into gaps in armor as well. The double edge helps widen the wound or cut a bigger opening in padded armor. Some sabres have a point shaped for thrusting and the first few inches of the false edge sharpened, so they'd gain the advantages of this as well, but it's nearly universal on straight blades. A straight blade is a bit longer for the same weight, because of the whole "shortest distance between two points" thing. And if you have a straight, double edges sword, you can turn it around and use the other edge if one gets notched or blunted.

    Curved swords slice better. If you just swing the weapon, the edge will naturally strike with a drawing motion. They are easier to keep aligned to hit with the edge as opposed to at an angle. There's a physics reason for this, and it was explained to me, but I don't remember it, being a grunt and not a scientist. Single edges blades can have a more acute edge for the same weight/ breadth of blade. A cutting edge is at the most basic concept, a wedge. Two wedges back to back will either be a lot broader than a single wedge, or much less acute. And you can get sneaky with a curved blade, getting the point in around a parry. This is subtle, but useful.

    Again, these are all general pros and cons. The weapon's length, balance, weight, flexibility, and edge and point geometry all count in there as well, so before the pedants come crawling out of the woodwork, yes, I know there's a lot more to swords, but this is a solid, basic answer to why some people prefer straight and some prefer curved for different strengths and weaknesses which may be more or less important depending on the weapon's purpose.
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    Makes sense, in light of kitchen knives.

    Is there any discernible reason why the cross-guard only became widespread in Europe or parts of the Middle East?
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlMarx View Post
    It is true that the French cannon did provide them with an advantage late in the war, but that does not imply that it was a decisive one. Even the Knights ran into problems ultimately--particularly once the Poles and Lithuanians formed the (relatively) centralized personal union. .
    All the factors that you or others mention which the English struggled with are real (political issues, expenses and logistics, manpower of the French) but they are not the really relevant issue.

    For one thing, the French also had plenty of challenges (including interregnums, revolts, famines, other foreign military problems like Saracen pirates, treacherous Dukes and assassinations among other nastiness)

    But all those things are just the common problems of any large scale invasion. Cromwell faced the same problems in Ireland, Cortez and Pizarro et al faced many times the same problems in the New World.

    Dismissing the Teutonic Order's conquest of Prussia and Livonia is particularly foolish. Look at a map. London is 116 miles to Calais, 292 miles from Paris. You can see across the English Channel on a clear day. The English also inherited their way into France and didn't have to conduct a fighting invasion.

    Look where Talinn is - 1,000 km from Rostock. Or pick your city in Germany. The territory conquered by the Teutonic Knights and their allies / vassals (Livonian Order etc.) in the Baltic covers almost as much land as England itself, and stretches further than the distance from Houston to Miami. They also controlled these areas for more than 300 years. Though they had plenty of major problems, including at least 5 major defeats, they always overcame them. The check they received in the 15th Century from Poland and Lithuania were part of another war, a new war. Lithuania had converted to Christianity and Poland was contesting their territories in Prussia with what ultimately became a revolt of German cities who wanted to leave the rule of the Order. The reason for the existence of the Order, which had become conquest of Pagan Prussia, no longer had relevance.

    But putting all that aside, and without making any claim that the Teutonic Knights were in the right or were anything like the "good guys" in any of this, there is no debating that they did a masterful job of conquering, controlling, and building up the territories they invaded, vastly better than the English did in France. What ultimately undid them was that they couldn't get along with their own allies, such as Poland and the Prussian and Livonian cities.



    As for the 100 Years War itself, like I said, 3 phases. The English initially exploited a major weakness in the French military system, namely the reckless and heedless nature of French heavy cavalry charges, which they worked out a way to defeat in open field battles. Longbow archers plus stakes in the ground plus dismounted knights to act as officers to stiffen the ranks.

    The English believe they were unique in figuring out how to exploit the French failure to develop combined arms forces or to properly develop or deploy infantry, but they were not - the French made the same kinds of mistakes many times and in many places - in Spain, against the Turks such as famously at Nicopolis in 1396. Seemingly no matter how many times the French got smacked in the head by doing this they kept doing it.

    Medieval wars tended to consist typically of 1) raiding - usually heavily armed fighters vs. unarmed or lightly defended peasants, 2) sieges, typically long lasting and more or less continuous in one place or another and 3) (much more rarely) open field battles. The open field battles while rare, could be extremely devastating to the loser, and often had a random element, which is why they tended to be avoided by wise commanders. Something the French at that time, largely for cultural and socio-economic reasons, were basically lacking in especially in the 14th Century.

    Much of the war did boil down to raiding or Chevauchee but sieges continued to break out.

    The transition phase with Jean D'Arc coincided with the development (or arrival) of new cannon by the French. It was basically a technology developed by Burgundy via the Flemish cities, but the French got the gist of it by the 1430's and were beginning to have major successes in sieges - first defensively, famously at Orleans when it was relieved by 'the Maid", and then increasingly offensively. Cannon were helpful in both ways, though the French had also improved military engineering and architecture (with innovations largely borrowed from Italy) and by the 1429 Battle of Jargeu, the French start to win battle after battle.



    Beaugency - French victory in an (offensive) siege using cannon. 1429
    (Treaty of Tours 1444)
    Rouen - French victory in an (offensive) siege using cannon. 1449
    Harfleur French victory in an (offensive) siege using cannon. 1449
    Fresnoy French victory in an (offensive) siege using cannon. 1450
    Formingy - French victory in an open battle which was part of the defensive siege of Carentan) using cannon 1450 (in this case the English were hit in the flank when they left their prepared position to capture two French cannon)
    Castillon - French victory in a (offensive / defensive) siege - their besieging army set up an artillery fort which resisted attack by a relieving column of English. 1453

    There were also some important French cavalry victories, but the cannon was the thing that the English had no answer for, just as the French couldn't figure out to cope with the longbow in it's proper context) during the first half of the war.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_G View Post
    And if you have a straight, double edges sword, you can turn it around and use the other edge if one gets notched or blunted.
    It's much more than that though. For one thing you also have two cutting edges when you stab into someone, rather than just one.

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    But far more importantly - the fencing systems of the medieval period make extensive use of wounding with both edges. Even with single-edged swords you will often see a partial false-edge on the weak (close to the tip) but with a double-edged sword you can cut with the false-edge. If you are using longsword, particularly in the German systems but also in the Italian and Iberian, the false-edge cut is a crucial and lethal part of the system. Among many other things you can follow-up from a parry (either from your parry or from your opponents parry) with a very rapid cut to the opposite opening. It's a key part of fencing with a longsword and one of the biggest differences between how they are portrayed in genre fiction like Game of Thrones vs. real life.

    Though it's emphasized more with the longsword and it's sharp friends, you also see a lot of use of the false edge in single sword manuals such as the I-33.

    But this is not intuitive and does require training to use effectively. Hence both in Europe and China, the double-edged sword was well known to require more training. Single-edged weapons are simpler to use.

    As for the cross and hand protection, I think it's due to the style of warfare. I'm not a big fan of Victor Davis Hansen or his idea of 'European shock warfare' but there is some truth to there being a bit more emphasis on fighting up close and personal in a sustained manner in Europe than in most other places. I think it coincides with the use of armor in Europe. Japan was also like this to some extent though their fencing system (and blades) adapted to it in different ways.

    If you are a steppe-nomad riding by on your horse with a saber, you need only make one cut and keep going, you don't need to parry and if you do, you probably have a small shield. But Latin infantry, and the Greeks before them, were trained to duke it out. It was part of fighting culture in much of Europe long before even the Romans.



    Hand protection on the sword, starting from the cross and moving on to complex hilts, and eventually cups and basket hilts etc., make it much easier and safer to parry, and give you more options for how to fence - like fencing with a much more forward leaning guard.

    G




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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Just to note all of the steppe hunting techniques and games designed to improve hunting skills (all of which are adapted to warfare) emphasise strike and move. Whether that's with bow, or javelin, or lance/spear. Closing and staying in melee is something they avoided unless absolutely necessary, and that tended only to be the armoured nobles. The average rider, who made up the bulk of their forces, was rarely armoured at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolflance View Post
    Didn't English win this (the opium wars)?
    yes, we did, but we generally don't go around reminding people of that time we went to war with china over our right to sell drugs to Chinese people.

    twice.


    but, oddly enough, my phase 1* platoon was called Peking, and was in a company with Taku Forts platoon, both of which are battles form said opium wars.


    *UK basic training. phase 2 is special to arm training, phase 3 is training later in a soldiers career.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    It's much more than that though. For one thing you also have two cutting edges when you stab into someone, rather than just one.
    I did mention that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post

    But far more importantly - the fencing systems of the medieval period make extensive use of wounding with both edges. Even with single-edged swords you will often see a partial false-edge on the weak (close to the tip) but with a double-edged sword you can cut with the false-edge. If you are using longsword, particularly in the German systems but also in the Italian and Iberian, the false-edge cut is a crucial and lethal part of the system. Among many other things you can follow-up from a parry (either from your parry or from your opponents parry) with a very rapid cut to the opposite opening. It's a key part of fencing with a longsword and one of the biggest differences between how they are portrayed in genre fiction like Game of Thrones vs. real life.

    Though it's emphasized more with the longsword and it's sharp friends, you also see a lot of use of the false edge in single sword manuals such as the I-33.

    But this is not intuitive and does require training to use effectively. Hence both in Europe and China, the double-edged sword was well known to require more training. Single-edged weapons are simpler to use.


    G

    Lots of false edge moves in several sabre manuals and styles, so I didn't mention it as a straight sword only thing. You can't just turn a sabre around and fight with the other edge if your primary edge gets dull, though, which is why I brought it up.
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  29. - Top - End - #149
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    It's much more than that though. For one thing you also have two cutting edges when you stab into someone, rather than just one.

    Spoiler: Zwerchau
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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln94E9AGYTc

    But far more importantly - the fencing systems of the medieval period make extensive use of wounding with both edges. Even with single-edged swords you will often see a partial false-edge on the weak (close to the tip) but with a double-edged sword you can cut with the false-edge. If you are using longsword, particularly in the German systems but also in the Italian and Iberian, the false-edge cut is a crucial and lethal part of the system. Among many other things you can follow-up from a parry (either from your parry or from your opponents parry) with a very rapid cut to the opposite opening. It's a key part of fencing with a longsword and one of the biggest differences between how they are portrayed in genre fiction like Game of Thrones vs. real life.

    Though it's emphasized more with the longsword and it's sharp friends, you also see a lot of use of the false edge in single sword manuals such as the I-33.

    But this is not intuitive and does require training to use effectively. Hence both in Europe and China, the double-edged sword was well known to require more training. Single-edged weapons are simpler to use.

    As for the cross and hand protection, I think it's due to the style of warfare. I'm not a big fan of Victor Davis Hansen or his idea of 'European shock warfare' but there is some truth to there being a bit more emphasis on fighting up close and personal in a sustained manner in Europe than in most other places. I think it coincides with the use of armor in Europe. Japan was also like this to some extent though their fencing system (and blades) adapted to it in different ways.

    If you are a steppe-nomad riding by on your horse with a saber, you need only make one cut and keep going, you don't need to parry and if you do, you probably have a small shield. But Latin infantry, and the Greeks before them, were trained to duke it out. It was part of fighting culture in much of Europe long before even the Romans.



    Hand protection on the sword, starting from the cross and moving on to complex hilts, and eventually cups and basket hilts etc., make it much easier and safer to parry, and give you more options for how to fence - like fencing with a much more forward leaning guard.

    G
    Can you (or others) expand on (or speculate on) why the crossguard never migrated to other places with developed fencing traditions, though? China and Southeast Asia, for instance (Japan, at least, has contributing historical circumstances that I'm aware of). Was stand-and-fight warfare really so uncommon across the entire continent of Asia?
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  30. - Top - End - #150
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIV

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    Can you (or others) expand on (or speculate on) why the crossguard never migrated to other places with developed fencing traditions, though? China and Southeast Asia, for instance (Japan, at least, has contributing historical circumstances that I'm aware of). Was stand-and-fight warfare really so uncommon across the entire continent of Asia?
    Well, hand protection developed more and more when the shield went away, so you used the sword more for defense, and when fencing with the sword hand forward became more common. Compare an 18th Century basket hilt broadsword or a three bar sabre to the guard on a 13th Century arming sword.

    There are Indian swords with fairly substantial cross guards, and the straight Crusades- era Islamic sword had a decent crossguard. As mush as the European ones did, more or less.

    My guess is that schools of fighting developed in different regions that emphasized different guards and moves, and they depended less on the guard.

    Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatora has some good videos showing guard positions of sabre manuals from the 17-earky 19th century, when the guard was simple, where they keep the hand farther back, and the late 19th Century, when the guard had become much more complete, and they fenced with the hand more forward.
    Last edited by Mike_G; 2017-08-21 at 06:42 PM.
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