Post by leviathansteak on Oct 22, 2019 4:55:55 GMT
What an interesting question. Honestly i wouldn't expect the training to be much different from today.
I would expect the training to be more one on one rather than a large class, focusing on fiore's plays, perhaps with more information and tips not present in his treatise (speculation)
Although they had protective armour back in the day, i don't know that there's good evidence that they were using it in sparring at this time period so that's a possible big difference in their practice compared to ours.
As for training weapons, id simply expect blunt steel or wooden trainers. Again im not sure of evidence of these at this time period. Later periods yes.
Great question! And we don't really know ;-) Based on what's discussed in the Liechtenauer verse, the conclusion has been that young knights would start out learning unarmored longsword and move through spear, messer, armored combat and mounted combat. Whether or not this was the dominant approach or what role it played in actually training knights in the HRE is a huge pending question that we're all hoping to learn more about in the future. Fiore's place in things is also pretty obscure, but presumably he was one of many fencing masters hoping to get patronage. Presumably to train someone. Maybe young knights in the patron's court? Soldiers? Who knows. 14th and 15th century Europe were undergoing explosive changes in military technology. So it's possible these masters were hired in hopes of keeping pace. But were they standard? Or was another form of training standard?
As far as gear, there's little evidence of face, hand or head protection until into the 18th. There is a reference to some kind of padding in "The Kings Mirror," but it's difficult to know what to make of it. None of the sources which appear to be illustrating training from I.33 through the 16th show training gear. With I.33 you can put this down to primitive drawing. But with Meyer you simply can't. They were shown training without protection beyond basic clothing. No reference is made anywhere regarding protective gear. If they used it, we never see it or hear about it.
There's no evidence of special training swords being used prior to the rise of feather swords. And there's no evidence at all of wooden swords AFAIK. It's possible sharps were even being used for some of this. This may have something to do with why fencing schools were frequently frowned upon. They were restricted in London as early as Longshanks, and came under frequent fire in Elizabethan England for producing bodies with holes in them. Not to mention their ties with organized crime and brothels. Were these the same kind of places a Fiore or Liechtenauer would have run in the prior centuries? Who knows.
The plus side of this uncertainty is it's a fascinating time to be interested in this stuff.
Post by leviathansteak on Oct 23, 2019 0:54:53 GMT
Blunt steel is my guess if affordable. There is evidence for blunt steel training swords i think in the 15th century onwards? Or maybe a bit later
I remember an armoured dueling account where one combatant was complaining that his opponents axe spike was too sharp. So that should give a hint as to the expectations of weapons back then. www.thearma.org/essays/Lalaing.htm#.Xa_JaVPmidM
As for sparring, as a kid, my friends and i used to fight each other with wooden poles as a game, simply avoiding sensitive areas like the hands and face. Im sure they would have done something similar. Baseless speculation of course
The sharp/blunt issue is discussed in the 16th century a bit IIRC. Before that nobody really knows. I mean we assume if they were using sharps they weren't going full pitch. But OTOH we don't know what the speed of training was. The lack of face protection suggests they must have been trying to keep control and pulled blows. It's a fair bet they weren't using sharps with armor due to the major risks involved there. Specifically, in harness neither party can tell where the blades actually are in the hubub. So ironically they're *more* dangerous if you're wearing full harness.
The one major concession to safety we do know about from the 14th/15th is the feather sword. And that suggests they were actually hitting each other without special safety gear. I believe some art shows them taking cuts with these things. Maybe like a version of the crazy German fencing clubs from the 19th century.
The lack of evidence for wooden trainers is vexing. They make a ton of sense in a lot of ways, but we have nothing showing or discussing their use from the late Roman to the early modern in Europe AFAIK.
Post by leviathansteak on Oct 24, 2019 7:57:38 GMT
Yea honestly if you're using a stick to train swordmanship, (which id expect was done) that counts as a wooden trainer. Tie on a crossguard and there you go. Little wonder we have a lack of surviving artifacts of those kind!
The Arma piece is pretty sketchy. One of the illustrations shows a pilgrim's walking stick. The other examples seem to be of hardwood sticks being used ... as sticks. To beat people. This practice is very well documented, but doesn't mean they were using sticks in place of sword to train for swordplay. The solid evidence post-Roman comes from 16th and 17th century post-medieval sources and isn't terribly useful. I mean they MIGHT have been using wood, but the 14th and 15th century fightbooks literally show them using something steel--whether dull, sharp or a feder. The Duarte quote to double weight sounds a lot like a reference to the Roman source which described this practice among their legions. And it's frustratingly vague about how the wooden sword was actually being used.
That said, and the grain of salt digested, wooden wasters are great tools for training if used slowly. At full speed they become genuine weapons as everyone who's used them has found out ;-)
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