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Sunday, November 28, 2010 Battle of Vaudevale Hills - Part 2

Does this result mean Chris’ technique is superior than Robert’s? The answer is: Depends on the user. A more experienced user can adjust his energy to make more variations that suit the situation, and that’s what Robert is doing. He actually conserves his energy, lets some blows hit him and accumulates some more to unleash his next move: Gold Dragon Supremacy.

Chris is shocked to see the second strongest combo of Dragon Slayer Sword series executed so quickly. Cold sweat runs down his face as he only use a second to boost his aura and leaps up with the single-blow Singular Voice of Truth.

The two swords collide with a deafening CLANG! that resonates through the two armies. All (especially Kyflynn) cover their ears. However, their eyes remain wide open because the result may be decisive. Whoever wins or loses, the soldiers hope that they won’t have to risk their lives and the war will be over.

The next second, the result is present before their eyes.

The Emperor of Arcadia gets beaten, smashing into the ground. Robert is also thrown back, but he does a back flip and lands smoothly. He stands up and silent for a moment, but then falls on his bended knees, vomiting blood. He too suffers internal injury from that impact.

Chris then gets up with much more difficulty. Half-standing, he leans on Kraal’shazar that serves as a walking stick now. Seems like Chris loses his body balance for a while.

The result is not decisive – yet.

Shaking and staggering, Robert shouts to Chris, ‘You’ve lost, Your Majesty. Are you ready to give up and withdraw?’

Hearing that, Chris thrusts the great sword into the ground. He takes his helmet off, showing his battered face with lots of blood on his mouth. Fury and hatred blaze like hellfire in his eyes.

Chris shouts back, ‘Look into my eyes! Read my lips! I will never give up! I will never take back my word! This duel is not over yet! It’s over if one of us kills the other!’

‘Even if I spare your life?’

‘Even if you spare my life, I won’t spare yours! I’ll kill you!’

‘Tsk, tsk... That doesn’t sound honorable, Your Majesty. Are you going to do it no matter what?’

‘Yes. I’m only satisfied if you die by the sword in my hands.’

‘In that case,’ says Robert, waving his saber forward, emitting a bigger flame on its blade. ‘You are beyond help. I must use my last resort, Regrets of the Dragon on you. I hope you are quite familiar with this move, because you might survive it.’

‘Tchah! You want to insult me? Well, I have news for you. I also have my own ultimate combo, the Divine Resolution, and you know what? You have the honor of being the first to taste it,’ says Chris, accumulating his holy aura to the maximum – the last drops of his power.

Robert also accumulates his aura to the max. He extend his arm, moves his four fingers as a gesture of challenge, saying, ‘Bring it on.’

So, the duelists strike a stance. They stay that way for a long time, as though waiting for a signal, a perfect moment to strike. They need to calculate their timing. Predicting their opponents’ moves, possibilities of variations and how to tackle them and make a hit with their own variations. As always, one single mistake can cost them their lives – or worse – the fate of a nation and the entire Everna.

No one among the troops, officers, Knights and even Paladins dare to interrupt them.

Robert, theoretically, is at disadvantage. Chris has seen his combo before in the battle with Arachus the Archdevil. He has used this move on Zal’fira the Necromancess too, but at that time Chris was under the Sleep spell.

And now he is wide awake. Chris’ eyes stare straight to Robert’s. He stays in full concentration until a leaf, burnt, probably flying all the way from Lumien Forest with tidings of destruction – flies right in the middle of the duelists.

Their eyes see the leaf.

It falls all the way down, and the eyes follow it.

And, the leaf touches the ground.

FWOOSH! The duelists dart towards each other! And BAMM! Comes the first impact. Then CRASH! – second, SWISH! – third, probably misses. CRACK! – fourth, a hit! CRASH-CRASH! – fifth, double hit! SCREECH! – sixth, grinding each other’s blade. CRASH!! – seventh, a bigger hit, CLANK! – eighth, double parry, SCREECH-CRACK! – ninth, a scrach and a hit! CRASH-CRASH! – tenth, another double hit!


The spectators (except maybe, Kyflynn) can only hear the impacts. Their moves are too fast to follow with bare eyes. The only thing they see is, after the eighteenth impact, Robert is thrown away like loose cannonball, hits the ground real hard and doesn’t move at all.

Chris is only pushed back a few paces with the energy from Rob’s eighteenth blow (a powerful, ultimate diagonal upward slash) still sizzling and sparkling on his armor. He vomits blood and got major internal injuries all over his body, but at least he’s still moving. He gets up and observes his opponent’s condition, and then laughs.

‘HA HA! I survived your combo after all, Robert, and you lose! Just admit it: The student has surpassed his master! And now, you will succumb to my vengeance!’

He drags Kraal’shazar on the ground and walks towards his foe, saying, ‘Let justice be done upon you!’

Just as he is close to Rob, Chris raises his sword overhead to stab Robert to death, saying, ‘Farewell, Robert Chandler!’

The Deathblade darts, to claim yet another soul.


The sword stops! However, it’s not the shout that stops it. It is another sword, Grimlock, the tip of its blade is less than a centimeter away from Chris’ throat.

‘‘The student surpassed the master’, eh? Think again. You are so full of yourself, so I played dead on you. Know something, Chris, I too has survived your technique. Your skill may be equal to mine, but my experience far exceeds you.

Nevertheless, we’ve been interrupted.’

Rob and Chris turn and see the one who disrupted their duel. He looks like a ten-year old boy, yet he is older than the duelists here. That’s because he is a halfling, an Animorpher named Dejan Pavlovic.

Dejan pants feverishly. His blue hair is in a total mess. His face shows extreme fatigue. Marks of bruise and bleeding spread all over his body, yet his life is not in danger. As an eagle, he must’ve flown all the way from Regia or anywhere in the mainland to the Island Kingdom of Lore, to here. So, he must be bearing extremely important news.

Robert gasps with surprise, then asks, ‘Dejan! What brings you all the way here?’

The halfling pants, mustering the last drops of his strength to talk, and answers, ‘The Dark Forces attacked! Soon after Emperor Sage sailed to Lore, Arachus and his army set out from Kraal’thragon and stormed Castoria! And then, like thunderstorm they conquered Castoria and Merida! The angels of Yvais attacked them, but the wyverns, winged demons and a portion of the Dark Forces’ army attacked Yvais instead! I think the angels are pretty occupied now.

And worse, the Gremion orcs joined the Dark Forces and recaptured Bresconnor! Then, the orcs and undead regrouped in Merida as one when I left, and so far we have lost two heroes!’

After saying that, Dejan collapses. Chris shouts at him, ‘Dejan! Who were those two fallen heroes? Tell me, Dejan!’

Barely conscious, Dejan answers with a feeble voice, ‘The... the Water Elf Queen... Res’marth... and... and... the morbit priest... Fa-Father... Bernides. The Dark... is going... to... Borgia... Please...’ Dejan faints before he can finish his words.

Res’marth... and Bernides. Flashes of the memories of their encounter pass Chris’ and Robert’s mind.

‘Ah...,’ Robert sighs. ‘That means now we have lost three great healers already...’

Chris is shocked to hear that, and protests, ‘Three? I thought Dejan said two heroes, Res’marth and Bernides. Ah... Rob, you mean...?’

‘Yes, Chris. Our beloved friend and teacher, Father Andreas Marvellini. He was killed by an Arcadian soldier, a traitor who wanted to switch sides. We have executed that traitor and buried Padre properly here, in Vaudevale Hill.’

Chris’ heart shatters in pieces. His face is pale with dread, guilt and grief. No... What have I done? So many good men, even heroes have fallen because of my folly, my misunderstanding. This is the biggest regret of my life. Robert is not Vordac’s Heir after all. The real Heir must be in Kraal’thragon, in a safe place where he broke all hell loose. Res’marth, the Paladin of old, Father Bernides my mentor, Father Andreas my friend... And all the good men we’ve lost in this wrong campaign – the widows, the orphans they left – I can never repay this sin even if I spend ten times of eternity in hell. And I can never forgive myself for this... redeem myself from this...

Cristophe feels a pat on his shoulder. He looks up and sees Robert Chandler, not smiling but is calm, pats him again to console him, saying, ‘It’s all right, my friend. If I were in your shoes, I would’ve done the same. Tell you what, I’ll help you avenge your father and brother by finding the real Heir of Vordac, the culprit. We’ll settle the scores with him once and for all.

As for now, we better head to Borgia with full force and full speed. We will fight the Dark Forces together, Armies of Lore and Arcadia, and we will end up victorious, by Vadis!’

End of Chapter 16

Previous Page
Next Page Battle of Vaudevale Hills - Part 1

Courtesy Picture: Eugene Delacroix - Two Knights Fighting in a Landscape

Back in Lumien Forest, in the unburnt area across the creek, the Arcadians are regrouping.

‘We must get out from this forest quickly! Enough waiting, let’s move out!’ says Adler von Bachmann, the aiding General from Borgia to Emperor Sage the Fifth. The latter still doesn’t remove his helmet from his head.

‘Lord Adler’s right, Your Majesty,’ Eidos adds, carefully positioning himself. ‘We only lost one tenth of our troops during that chaos. Moving on is a good idea. We’ll gather more troops along the way.’

The Emperor doesn’t answer. He just sits there in silence, thinking hard.

Impatience shows on Adler’s face. Just as he’s about to speak up his protest, Sage talks.

‘Our troops’ morale is totally shaken. It’ll be very dangerous to move out now, but it’s also dangerous to stay here, in case the Loreans want to burn this forest again. The minimum casualty on our side was because Robert played hypocrite by showing us mercy, yet shattering the troops morale completely.

Our spies have pinpointed the Loreans’ base on Vaudevale Hills, so we will go there, make camp, rally our troops and attack them head-on. This time I shall ride in front, not above. I shall stay with my troops until we punish that traitor and the Kingdom that supports him!’

Like adding oil in the fire, Adler says, ‘I’d like to see that traitor’s head on a stake, a fine souvenir indeed it’ll be.’


True to his words, Cristophe rides a horse in front of the troops. Acavela the griffin scouts from the air. Some more troops who were lost rejoin the march. Yet, seeing the Emperor in the front, they feel compelled to protect him and never desert the army. Only fifteen percent fell or deserted in Lumien.

No attack from Lore, not even a skirmish, even when the Arcadians move out safely from the forest. The troops feel relieved, but their morale is still low. This is too easy, they think. The crafty Rael’charon must have a tactic or two under his sleeves.

They make camp on the plains, eighteen miles away from Loreans’ camp on top of the hill. Knowing about the Loreans’ terrain advantage and the Griffin Riders’ absence, the Arcadians only hope from their archers and a few war machines that survived the fire.

Eighteen miles between the opposing camps is a distance well outside firing range of catapults and ballistae, so the two armies don’t attack right out. They choose to wait, studying the situation and condition thoroughly, thus act accordingly.

Four days later, the Arcadians try to prove that this is not a stalemate situation. With their superior numbers, they reject all challenges for personal duels. The invaders march in formations, and stop in a distance well outside firing range. The Loreans only sent a few thousand infantry outside the camp and no one can be seen on the parapet.

What the hell is he playing at? Chris’ mind rumbles. I know there must be archers behind that parapet. Humph. Tactic trap or not, I shall not take the bait! I must plan my moves carefully, and here’s what I’m going to do.

The Emperor of Arcadia’s voice echoes like thunder to the Lorean camp, ‘Robert Chandler and the Army of Lore! Surrender yourself into the mercy of our Grand Arcadian army! Our numbers are far superior than you; there’s no way you can win against us!’

Robert rides and places himself in front of his troops, holding his saber with a flaming blade. The Arcadian archers aim their bows at him, but Chris shouts, ‘HOLD YOUR FIRE!’ and moves in front of his own troops. Then, he shouts at Robert again.

‘Well, Robert. Are you ready to surrender now?’

Robert answers, ‘I shall not surrender to injustice. Instead, I ask you one more time to get back to your senses and stop this senseless bloodshed. I’ve told you time and time again that I’m not the Heir of Vordac. I’d rather kill myself than letting that Dark Spirit dwell in me. I have no ambition whatsoever to rule this word, being a King, Emperor or whatever.

But, you don’t believe that. You chose to believe in deception and even made that an excuse to expand your Empire in time of crisis. I’m telling you, Your Majesty! The Dark Forces only lost a small portion of his army and the one he generated through necromancy in Myrcalia! They’re still strong and numerous! Myriads of them! Just think, Emperor! Alexis’ assassination was just a plan to frame me and to create strife between Arcadia and Lore, making us war between each other. When both great nations are weak, they will strike!

Please, Your Majesty, look deeper inside your heart and see the greater truth, greater than eyes can see. Let’s end this war and fight the Dark Forces together.’

‘Are you finished talking, Robert?’ says Chris.

‘Yes, for now.’

‘Then I’ll say that you’ve delivered a good excuse, Heir of Vordac. Your sweet talk about the Dark Forces’ scenario nearly convinced me, but my grudge towards you is too deep, too strong to be bent by some fairy tale. No matter what you say, the fact remains. YOU killed my brother with YOUR sword. YOU charmed your King and Rael’charon into believing in your lies. It’s YOU who put Lore in the road to ruin, and I’m simply the savior, bearing the mission as Vadis’ Heir to cleanse Lore from the Dark Scourge before we can coexist. And since you’re Vordac’s Heir, eliminating you will make the Dark Forces lose their leader, their purpose to go to war. So you better be prepared, because we will storm you with full force!’

Robert shakes his head on this answer, and sighs.

‘Looks like reason and common sense won’t work on you. Your grudge has blinded you from the real truth, just as I was. My grudge towards the orcs has blinded me from the fact that not all orcs are evil. So, I’ll use Dar’gum’s way, with which he has corrected me to make you see the light – through the way of single combat. Fight me, and you’ll see the real me, whether I prevail or perish. If I win, you and your entire Army must withdraw from Lore, back to defending your own Empire. If I die, it’ll be a worthy sacrifice and I hope you will spare my troops and country. Will you accept this challenge?’

Chris pauses for a while, then answers,

‘Humph. I don’t agree with that term. I’d say whether I win or lose, we attack.’

‘Do you think we will agree to such term, Your Majesty?’ says Robert, a bit irritated. ‘I won’t put my life at stake for such a small wager, being a gambler myself. You better put up a better term, accept the challenge or we’ll skip the duel and proceed with the battle.’

‘All right, I accept the challenge – on note that we will attack only if you lose.’

‘Great. Are we going to do this on foot or on horseback?’

‘On foot. I’d like you to taste the new moves I’ve learned in Yvais.’

‘Very well. Do you need time to prepare yourself?’

‘No need. We’ll do it here and now. Troops! You are the witnesses of this duel! Do not interfere or the penalty is death!’

Showing his rare smile, Rob kisses his mother’s ring and amplifies his fire aura. The flame on the blade of his sword flickers more wildly. He shouts at Chris, ‘On guard!’

Chris also amplifies his holy aura and raises his sword and shield, but alas! The Sword of Justice shudders most violently instead. Chris pumps his aura to a higher level, trying to suppress the sword, but to no avail.

Obey me, Excalibur! I’m your master, and we’re here to vanquish Vordac’s Heir! What the hell is wrong with you? You never stop shuddering whenever I hold your handle. No... I remember what happened to Alexis. You’re not trying to shake me loose, but to destroy me! Why? Dammit! Why!?

‘You must control your anger with wisdom, your hatred with love, or it’ll consume you. Look, even your sword knows that I’m not Vordac’s Heir! It refuses to fight just to prevent you from making the worst mistake of your life! Let’s end this! We’ll defend Aurelia together!’

‘NO!’ The Emperor snaps, his face blushes with anger and humiliation. ‘I must FIGHT you! Excalibur must obey me! I say Robert is Vordac’s Heir so I must defeat you to show my subjects that I’m right all along! Your lies and slithering words won’t work on me, EX-teacher! Talk to my sword!’

Chris tightens his grip on the sword, but Excalibur explodes its holy aura deposit! Shocked and hurt, Chris releases the handle and the sword falls on the ground. He is weaponless now, but Rob doesn’t attack him. Chris snorts,

‘Humph! You still play high and merciful.’

He turns back and shouts to Adler, ‘Lord Adler! Lend me your sword!’

In normal situations, Adler will probably refuse and suggest another sword for Chris – perhaps the Wyrthal – but in this situation, he says, ‘With pleasure, Your Majesty.’

Adler hands Chris the Zweihänder Kraal’shazar and collects the Shield of Faith and Excalibur. Wielding the Deathblade, Chris’ negativity turns into dark aura and interacts well with the sword. Robert stays on his stance, and Chris attacks!

Robert unleashes his technique Green Dragon Assault Strike: the hidden hi-speed move, making it hard to predict and block. However, Chris blocks it anyway. The blow targeted the ankle.

‘You always said I had a weak ankle and my footwork was bad. But Avariel has improved it. I have no weak spot now. So, taste my skill! Way of Righteousness!’

Chris’ combo comes in hyper-speed from six different angles, and ends with a thrust. Robert is unfamiliar with that move, but he easily blocks all the blows. Rob pushes himself back, and pauses for a while to prepare another attack.

Suddenly, shards of light flicker on seven points of Rob’s body, and it hurts his insides! No wound is shown on his body – not even a scratch. He grimaces in pain and vomits a bit of blood.

‘Let’s make it a 14-hit combo,’ says Chris. ‘How do you like it?’

Robert replies, ‘Not bad. Not bad at all. Still, if you use that with your mind and heart in the right place, it’ll be twice as powerful.’

‘Humph. Stop provoking me, traitor. I’m in the right mind to kill you, here and now.’

‘So, enough talking. Just give me your best shot! Take this!’

Robert regains his strength and charges forward! Chris swings the Kraal’shazar to split him in two, but it slashes an empty space. Robert already leaps, and showers him with a multiple downward fire slashes - the reversed version of Red Dragon Hellriser. Chris is apparently quite ready and repels the rain of fire blades with the continuous, rotating sword-shield move: Whirlwind Slash. Nevertheless, seven of Robert’s slashes land on Chris’ armor.

That attack, no matter how powerful, doesn’t leave a single mark or scratch on that divine armor, yet Chris feels burning pain on seven spots on his body.

‘Looks like you’re also holding back,’ says Chris.

‘That’s because I never intend to kill you,’ Rob answers as he lands on a distance.

‘Keep at that and you’ll never defeat me. You must really mean it, Rob. This is not a training.’

‘Then let’s let our swords speak now! No holding back!’

And they clash! They exchange blows and parries in high speed. CLANG! CLANG! Sparks fly whenever their sword clash with sword, sword with shield, sword with armor and so on. The spectators may swear that they see fireworks going on. Impacts of fire against light send light shards everywhere like a sun, yet – without intentions of exaggerating it – the shards don’t hurt the spectators who are hit by it.

During that clash, the combatants also unleash some of their special moves. Rob strikes with his favorite move, Dances of Myriad Dragons, a combo of random slashes with a finishing Rising Dragon uppercut slash. Chris responds with an ultra-defensive combo, Blessings of Humility plus the counter-strike, Fruits of Diligence, sending series of rayblasts from his sword.

Both are hurt at the end, and again they go at each other! CLANG!! CLANG!!! The impacts become louder and louder, and they shout even louder, mustering more energy into their arms.

Robert delivers another blow on Chris’ Greaves of Diligence, inflicting damage to his ankle. However, it doesn’t slow Chris down. Chris bashes Rob’s face with his shield, making him groggy. Plus, Chris rotates and slashes! It’s an offensive variant of Sword-Shield Counterslash, and being the one who taught it to Chris, Rob parries it with his saber, pushing himself away to a safe distance.

So, Rob got a bruise on his face and Chris limps a bit.

‘Do you have anything else to show me?’ Chris taunts his opponent.

‘Just shut up and fight.’ Saying that, Rob powers up and leaps!

Chris’ heavy armor prevents him to leap, so he slashes upwards, sending bolts of crescent light towards the target: Guiding Lights of Faith. Robert knows at once that Chris has guessed his move correctly, but he continues anyway with the quick slashes of Green Dragon Assault Strike. One by one he deflects those lights, slashing rapidly here and there. Four bolts hit him. One grazes his left arm, one his right thigh and his armor absorbs the rest.


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Friday, November 26, 2010

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Longsword - Wikipedia Research


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Swiss longsword, 15th or early 16th century (Morges museum)
Type Sword
Service history
In service ca. 1350 - 1550
Weight avg. 1.4 kg (3.1 lb)
Length avg. 105–120 cm (41–47 in)
Blade length avg. 90–92 cm (35–36 in)
Width 4.14cm-3.1cm then sharp point

Blade type Double-edged, straight bladed
Hilt type Two-handed cruciform, with pommel

The Longsword is a type of European sword used during the late medieval period, approximately 1350 to 1550 (with early and late use reaching into the 13th and 17th centuries, respectively). Longswords have long cruciform hilts with grips over 10 to 15 cm length (providing room for two hands). Straight double-edged blades are often over 1 m to 1.2 m (40" to 48") length, and weigh typically between 1.2 and 2.4 kg (2½ to 5 lb), with light specimens just below 1 kg (2.2 lb), and heavy specimens just above 2 kg (4½ lb).[1]

The longsword is commonly held in combat with both hands, though some may be used single-handed. Longswords are used for hewing, slicing, and stabbing. The specific offensive purpose of an individual longsword is derived from its physical shape. All parts of the sword are used for offensive purposes, including the pommel and crossguard.

With regard to the Medieval Period, the Oakeshott typology [1] mentions the sword subtypes XIIa and XIIIa from the latter part of the High Middle Ages, c. 1250-1350, as the forerunners of the later longswords. Calling these two subtypes 'great swords', it lists their hand-and-half grip (with enough room for the off-hand to hold the pommel securely) and relatively large blade (roughly 36 inches), for the most part longer and broader than contemporary arming swords. Later, in the Late Middle Ages, c. 1350-1550, various longsword subtypes emerge with their hand-and-half grip:

average blade length about 32 inches: subtype XVIa (early 14c)
average blade length about 34 inches: subtype XVIIIc (mid 15c to early 16c)
average blade length roughly 34 inches with averages about 30 to 38 inches: type XX (14c and 15c), subtypes XXa (14c and 15c),
average blade length about 35 inches: subtype XVa (end of 13c to early 16c), XVIIa (mid 14c to early 15c)
average blade length roughly 39 inches with averages about 36 to 42 inches: subtypes XVIIIa (mid 14c to early 15c), XVIIIb (early 15c to mid 16c), XVIIId (mid 15c to early 16c), XVIIIe (mid 15c to early 16c).

Notably, this last subtype XVIIIe sometimes exhibits a proper two-handed grip. While all of the above subtypes of the Late Middle Age can count as 'longswords', the Oakeshott typology does not go on to list the properly two-handed longswords of the Renaissance Age, whose blades are truly huge, such as the Scottish claymore (blade length roughly 42 inches) and the German zweihänder (blade length roughly 53 inches).

Thus generalizations about the 'longsword' can vary wildly, depending on whether the Late Medieval hand-and-halfers or the Renaissance two-handers, or both, are taken into account.

Contemporary terminology includes the Dutch grootzwaard, German Langschwert, Spanish espadón or mandoble, Italian spadone or spada longa (lunga) and Portuguese montante. The French épée bâtarde references the bastard sword, a type of longsword. English Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts refer to the longsword as the two hand sword. The terms "hand-and-a-half sword", "greatsword", and "bastard sword" are used colloquially to refer to longswords in general.



[edit] History

The evolution of the sword before and after the development of the longsword was not entirely linear. Swords of an older type may have coexisted with newer variants for quite some time, making it difficult to trace a single path of sword evolution. Instead, the course of sword development is layered with some swords evolving from a previous type of sword, acting as its able contemporary, and eventually being abandoned while the original design continued in use for some time afterward. Similarly, variants of a particular type of sword may have come about not to replace it, but to simply coexist with it until a new evolution brought a close to both older types of weapons. Such situations present both the path of sword development as a whole and the encompassed rise and fall of the longsword as chronologically nebulous and confused by broad definitions, both modern and contemporary.

The relatively comprehensive Oakeshott typology was created by historian and illustrator Ewart Oakeshott as a way to define and catalogue swords based on physical form, though a rough sense of chronology is apparent. This typology does not set forth a prototypical definition for the longsword, however. Instead, it separates the broad field of weaponry into many exclusive types based on their predominant physical characteristics including blade shape and hilt configuration. The typology also focuses on the smaller, and in some cases contemporary,[2] single-handed swords like the arming sword.

The longsword, with its longer grip and blade, appears to have become popular during the 14th century and remained in common use, as shown through period art and tale, from 1250 to 1550.[3] The longsword was a powerful and versatile weapon, but was not considered the only weapon needed for learning the arts of war. Johannes Lichtenauer, an influential Fechtbuch (combat manual) author, writes that young knights should learn to "wrestle well, (and) skilfully wield spear, sword, and dagger in a manly way."[4] It is apparent that even to a master swordsman, other weapons and techniques are of great importance for battle. For close personal infantry combat, however, the longsword was prized for its versatility and killing capability.[5]

It is in the Types XIIa and XIIIa that the first early variants of the longsword arise as simply longer versions of the single-handed sword. There are rare archeological findings of swords of this type from as early as the late 12th century.[6] Boasting both increased grip length and increased blade lengths, these weapons would have been powerful hewing swords, perhaps developed to further combat the prevalence of mail[7] and plate armour. These weapons also firmly fit the modern colloquial term "hand-and-a-half sword", as Oakeshott notes, because they do not provide a full two-hand grip as do some early extant specimens and the 16th century Bidenhänder. Hand and a half swords were so called because they could be either a one or two handed sword.

[edit] Form

A basic anatomy of the Renaissance longsword.

While nearly every longsword is in some way different from one another, most contain a few essential parts. The blade of the sword forms the cutting portion of the weapon and is usually double-edged. Blades came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Broad and thin blades are more effective for cutting-oriented longswords while thick tapering blades are found on varieties more effective at thrusting. However, all longswords were effective at cutting, slicing and thrusting and variations in form made only minor alterations in use. The hilt comprises the portion of the sword that is not the blade. Like the blade, hilts evolved and changed over time in response to fashion and as the swords were designed for different specific purposes.

Different blade cross-sections. At the top, variants of the diamond shape. At the bottom, variants of the lenticular shape.

The blade of the medieval longsword is straight and predominantly double edged. The construction of the blade is relatively thin, with strength provided by careful blade geometry. Over time, as is evidenced in the Oakeshott typology and other similar systems, the blades of longswords become slightly longer, thicker in cross-section, less wide, and considerably more pointed. This design change is largely attributed to the use of plate armour as an effective defense, more or less nullifying the ability of a sword cut to break through the armour system. Instead of cutting, long swords were then used more to thrust against opponents in plate armour, requiring a more acute point and a more rigid blade. However, the cutting capability of the longsword was never entirely removed, as in some later rapiers, but was supplanted in importance by thrusting capability.

Blades differ considerably in cross-section, as well as in length and width. The two most basic forms of blade cross-section are the lenticular and diamond. Lenticular blades are shaped like thin doubly convex lenses, providing adequate thickness for strength in the center of the weapon while maintaining a thin enough edge geometry to allow a proper cutting edge to be ground. The diamond shaped blade slopes directly up from the edges, without the curved elements of the lenticular blade. The central ridge produced by this angular geometry is known as a riser, the thickest portion of the blade that provides ample rigidity. These basic designs are supplemented by additional forging techniques that incorporated slightly different variations of these cross-sections.

The most common among these variations is the use of fullers and hollow-ground blades. While both of these elements concern themselves with the removal of material from the blade, they differ primarily in location and final result. Fullers are grooves or channels that are removed from the blade, in longswords, usually running along the center of the blade and originating at or slightly before the hilt. The removal of this material allows the smith to significantly lighten the weapon without compromising the strength to the same extent,[citation needed] much as in the engineering of steel I-beams. Though colloquially called "blood-grooves", fullers were not designed, nor do they function, to allow blood to flow out of a wound more easily, nor to run off the sword. Fullers differ in number and thickness on swords, with some incredibly broad fullers spanning nearly the entire width of the weapon while smaller more numerous fullers are usually thinner. The length of fullers also displays variation - on some cutting blades the fuller may run nearly the entire length of the weapon, while the fuller stops one-third or half-way down other blades. Hollow-ground blades have concave portions of steel removed from each side of the riser, thinning the edge geometry while keeping a thickened area at the center to provide strength for the blade.

A variety of hilt styles exist for longswords, with the style of pommel and quillion (crossguard) changing over time to accommodate different blade properties and to fit emerging stylistic trends.

[edit] Combat

1440s illustration of one- and two-handed use of the longsword. Note the sword being used one-handed is drawn shorter and may also be intended as a large knightly sword (CPG 339 fol. 135r).
Example of two handed use vs. half-sword, dating to ca. 1418 (CPG 359, fol. 46v).

Combat with the longsword was not so barbaric and crude as is often portrayed. Codified systems of fighting existed, with a variety of styles and teachers each providing a slightly different take on the art. The longsword was a quick, effective, and versatile weapon capable of deadly thrusts, slices, and cuts.[8] The blade was generally used with both hands on the hilt, one resting close to or on the pommel. However, in some circumstances, the weapon may be used only with one hand. In a depiction of a duel, individuals may be seen wielding sharply pointed longswords in one hand, leaving the other hand open to manipulate the large dueling shield.[9] Another variation of use comes from the use of armour. Half-swording was a manner of using both hands, one on the hilt and one on the blade, to better control the weapon in thrusts and jabs. This versatility was unique, as multiple works hold that the longsword provided the foundations for learning a variety of other weapons including spears, staves, and polearms.[8][10] Use of the longsword in attack was not limited only to use of the blade, however, as several Fechtbücher explain and depict use of the pommel and cross as offensive weapons.[11] The cross has been shown to be used as a hook for tripping or knocking an opponent off balance.[8]

What is known of combat with the longsword comes from artistic depictions of battle from manuscripts and the Fechtbuch of Medieval and Renaissance Masters. Therein the basics of combat were described and, in some cases, depicted. The German school of swordsmanship includes the earliest known longsword Fechtbuch, a manual from approximately 1389 mistakenly accredited to Hanko Döbringer.[12] This manual, unfortunately for modern scholars, was written in obscure verse. It was through students of Liechtenauer, like Sigmund Ringeck, who transcribed the work into more understandable prose[13] that the system became notably more codified and understandable.[14] Others provided similar work, some with a wide array of images to accompany the text.[15]

The Italian school of swordsmanship was the other primary school of longsword use. The 1410 manuscript by Fiore dei Liberi presents a variety of uses for the longsword. Like the German manuals, the weapon is most commonly depicted and taught with both hands on the hilt. However, a section on one-handed use is among the volume and demonstrates the techniques and advantages, such as sudden additional reach, of single-handed longsword play.[16] The manual also presents half-sword techniques as an integral part of armoured combat.

Both schools declined in the late 16th century, with the later Italian masters forgoing the longsword and focusing primarily on rapier fencing. The last known German manual to include longsword teaching was that of Jakob Sutor, published in 1612. In Italy, spadone, or longsword, instruction lingered on in spite of the popularity of the rapier, at least into the mid-17th century (Alfieri's Lo Spadone of 1653), with a late treatise of the "two handed sword" by one Giuseppe Colombani, a dentist in Venice dating to 1711. A tradition of teaching based on this has survived in contemporary French and Italian stick fighting. (See, for instance, Giuseppe Cerri's Trattato teorico e pratico della scherma di bastone of 1854.) However, there can be no doubt that the heyday of the longsword on the battlefield was over by 1500.

[edit] Bloßfechten

Unarmoured longsword fencers (plate 25 of the 1467 manual of Hans Talhoffer)

Bloßfechten or "bare fighting" is the technique of fighting without significant protective armour such as plate, mail or a brigandine.[17] Vulnerable targets like the head and upper torso are totally unprotected except for normal clothing during Bloßfechten. The lack of significant torso and limb protection leads to the use of a large amount of cutting and slicing techniques in addition to thrusts. These techniques could be nearly instantly fatal or incapacitating, as a thrust to the skull, heart, or major blood vessel would cause massive trauma. Similarly, strong strikes could cut through skin and bone, effectively amputating limbs. The hands and forearms are a frequent target of some cuts and slices in a defensive or offensive maneuver, serving both to disable an opponent and align the swordsman and his weapon for the next attack.

[edit] Harnischfechten

Page of the Codex Wallerstein showing a half-sword thrust against a two handed sword's Mordstreich (Plate 214)

Harnischfechten, or "armoured fighting", depicts fighting in protective gear, most specifically plate armour.[17] The increased defensive capability of a man clad in "full harnisse" (a full suit of plate armour) caused the use of the sword to be drastically changed. While slashing attacks were still moderately effective against infantry wearing half-plate armor, cutting and slicing attacks against an opponent wearing plate armour were almost entirely ineffective in providing any sort of slashing wound as the sword simply could not cut through the steel.[18] Instead, the energy of the cut becomes essentially pure concussive energy. The later hardened plate armours, complete with ridges and roping, actually posed quite a threat against the careless attacker. It is considered possible for strong blows of the sword against plate armour to actually damage the blade of the sword, potentially rendering it much less effective at cutting and producing only a concussive effect against the armoured opponent.

To overcome this problem, swords began to be used primarily for thrusting. The weapon was used in the half-sword, with one or both hands on the blade. This increased the accuracy and strength of thrusts and provided more leverage for Ringen am Schwert or "Wrestling at/with the sword". This technique combines the use of the sword with wrestling, providing opportunities to trip, disarm, break, or throw an opponent and place them in a less offensively and defensively capable position. During half-swording, the entirety of the sword works as a weapon, including the pommel and crossguard which function as a mace as shown in the Mordstreich.[18]

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