Guide to Becoming a Scholar of Swords and Swordplay

Here’s a page where I offer links to sources of information on swords, armor, and swordplay.  Perfect for when you want to make your novel more historically accurate, inspiration for other artistic endeavors, or more information on Historical European Martial Arts.

Battle of Agincourt

Sources on Arms and Armor from Replica Manufacturers

1) Museum Replicas Ltd. Catalog

The old catalogs of Museum Replicas are especially brimming with historical information and notes on when each sword was used as well as its function.  (Is the sword purely for stabbing?  Or does it emphasize the cut?  Or did it strike a balance between the two?  Were cavalry or infantry more inclined to use it?  And other such questions.)  The old catalogs really immerse one in the medieval and classical ages, and also include information on other weapons, armor, and period clothing.  Both fortunately and unfortunately, new companies making battle-ready swords have entered the market, and so Museum Replicas has had to limit its line of swords.  But, the last catalog I read still offered a great deal of information.

Website: Museum Replicas Limited

2) Albion Swords

With a tagline which read “History in Your Hand,” you can bet that it’s brimful of historical information.  Albion’s swords are highly regarded as some of the best replicas on the market, and they have a price to match!  While you may never have the money to own one of their swords, you can surely benefit from what they write about them!  Unfortunately, they don’t release a catalog, but you can browse their website, and they will hopefully offer a pdf file of their offerings soon.

Website: Albion Swords

Combat of the Thirty

Reliable Replica Manufacturers (In Order of Quality)

Here is a list of replica manufacturers in case you wish to get your hands on a sword and see who it felt like to wield them.

  1. Albion Swords (Very Expensive, handle extremely well, very historically accurate, well constructed)
  2. Arms and Armor (Very Expensive, handle extremely well, very historically accurate, well constructed)
  3. Darksword Armory (Somewhat Expensive, some replicas handle better than others, rather historically accurate)
  4. Del Tin (Somewhat Expensive, usually heavier than originals, decent handling, rather historically accurate, well constructed)
  5. Cold Steel (Somewhat Expensive, most heavier than the originals, often not deft in the hand, sometimes problems with hilt construction but sturdy blades)
  6. Windlass Steel Crafts (fair priced to cheap, some heavier than the originals others too whippy, decent handling, good hilt and blade construction though not as sturdy as the above)
  7. Hanwei (cheap, some heavier than the originals, decent to deft handling, good hilt and blade construction though not as sturdy as the above)

Some people might disagree with that ranking, but it seems about right from what I’ve seen.  Most of the blades can be purchased from Kult of Athena, which I have not tried yet, but it seems to have an excellent reputation.  You can also try the manufacturers’ websites (where the sword is at its most pricey) or Museum Replicas Limited (see link above) for Windlass Steel Crafts.  Various other craftsman have small operations which might make better swords than Albion, but their swords are even more exorbitantly expensive.

Egil's Saga is an especially great read.

 Fencing Manuals: Modern and Historical

  1. Medieval Swordsmanship: Illustrated Techniques and Methods by John Clements
  2. Renaissance Swordsmanship:Illustrated Book of Rapiers and Cut and Thrust Swords and Their Use by John Clements
  3. Fiore dei Liberi’s Armizare: The Chivalric Martial Arts System of Il Fior di Battaglia

  4. Codex Wallerstein: A Medieval Fighting Book from the Fifteenth Century on the Longsword, Falchion, Dagger, and Wrestling
  5. Sigmund Ringeck’s Knightly Art of the Longsword
  6. Medieval Combat: A Fifteenth-Century Manual of Swordfighting and Close-Quarter Combat
  7. Master Of Defence: The Works of George Silver
  8. Guy Windsor’s books
    1. Swordfighting: For Writers, Game Designers, and Martial Artists
    2. The Swordsman’s Companion
    3. The Medieval Dagger
    4. The Medieval Longsword
    5. Advanced Longsword

Those are the most relevant books I know of on the topic of medieval fencing and other styles of fighting.

KHK

History and Medieval Tales

There’s no easy way to study arms, armor, and swordplay through reading history and medieval literature.  One learns little by little and more accurate scholarly works help one to better disseminate fact from fiction.  Read all the medieval romances, Norse sagas, and histories you can get your hands on!  Below, I list four books which I recall study the arms, armor, and fighting of the medieval period in detail.  Also, Military Heritage magazine does include one or two articles on Medieval and Renaissance warfare, which are quite well done.

  1. Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World: AD 500 – AD 1500
  2. The Vikings: Revised Edition
  3. Vikings: A History of the Norse People
  4. Arms and Armor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
  5. Military Heritage
  6. Ewart Oakeshott’s Life of the Medieval Knight series

Learning About All the Above the Lazy Way

YouTube has various enthusiasts about this same topic, who are generally reliable sources of information.  I’ve already created one post on the topic, but here is a list of those whom I’ve found to be the most knowledgeable.

  1. Scholagladitoria
  2. LindyBeige
  3. ThegnThrand
  4. Roland Warzecha
  5. Sword Carolina
  6. Protherium
  7. PaARMA
  8. Skallagrim
  9. Regia Turris

Those channels cover everything from history to sword techniques.  Skallagrim’s is probably the most scatterbrained of them, but he’s fun to watch.

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8 comments on “Guide to Becoming a Scholar of Swords and Swordplay

  1. jubilare says:

    Do any of these have good information about pole-arms? 🙂

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    • Yep, the Codex Wallerstein and Medieval Combat feature fighting with pole-axes. John Clement’s Medieval Swordsmanship includes sections describing how to defeat a pole-arm. The Fighting Techniques book and Arms and Armor talk about them. And, Lindybeige has some excellent videos on the topic, especially fighting in pike formations and the bec de corbin–he seems to really like that weapon.

      The pole-axe seems to have been the man at arms favorite weapon, so that’s how it got into medieval fencing books. Museum Replicas used to sell quite a lot of them. If you want to see some replicas, try this page: http://www.kultofathena.com/spears.asp.

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  2. […] Guide to Becoming a Scholar of Swords and Swordplay […]

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  3. April Munday says:

    Your booklist is missing ‘Swordfighting’ by Guy Windsor. He teaches various (mainly medieval and Renaissance) styles of swordfighitng in Finland.

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Legens, scribe sententias tuas.

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