HEMA

Three Swords

Three swords and a solid wood scabbard on a textured linoleum floor with a pencil for scale

Travel involves leaving things behind, and the holidays are a time to get reacquainted with them. This week I thought that I would talk about three swords and the different problems which they attempt to solve.

At the top we have a Naue type II by Neil Burridge, the only man alive who has mastered the process of hammer-hardening the edges which was used on Bronze Age European swords. Neil can make bronze swords which would be very hard to distinguish from the originals, and provide them with scabbards copied from Bronze Age graves and paintings and reliefs. But his swords are sharp, and the only hints about how people in the Late Bronze Age used their weapons are the two-faced evidence of art and the weapons themselves and parallels in later martial arts. Burridge’s swords tend to be bought by collectors and museums to display, by archaeologists to experiment with, by reenactors to wear, and by enthusiasts to reap a dreadful harvest of plastic bottles, Tatami mats, and gourds.
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Some thoughts on Guy Windsor’s “The Medieval Longsword”

Book cover with series title up the left, volume title across the top, and two fencers with crossed swords in the centre

Guy Windsor, Mastering the Art of Arms, Volume 2: The Medieval Longsword (School of European Swordsmanship: Helsinki, 2014) (link to author’s online store)

Sometimes reviewers are tempted to review the book which they wish was sitting in front of them, rather than the book which actually is there. This is not a discussion of possible interpretations, their strengths and weaknesses, and why the author prefers the one which he does. Instead, it is an experienced teacher’s best attempt to teach Fiore’s art to people today from scratch, and it does that very well if somewhat narrowly.

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