historical weapon

retr0spectre  asked:

Speaking of sexist fighting advice! There's this really great fiction writing advice blog I read years ago, written by a lady, shut down ages ago. But it claimed a few times that there was no way a woman could physically handle a zweihander or the like. I've always had a feeling that's nonsense, but confirmation from a good source such as yourself would be great.

Consider this: the zweihander weighs seven pounds. The display version is ten pounds. If you can lift a backpack crammed with textbooks, you can lift a zweihander. House cats weigh more than a sword.

The issue with the zweihander is length, not weight. It is not a heavy sword. No swords are actually all that heavy, because weight defeats the purpose of the weapon. The heavier it is, then the faster your arms wear out and grow tired. This is a terrible, terrible thing.

Combat is highly frenetic. An easy comparison is sprinting, and it’s not just a regular sprint but wind sprints. You gotta go, go, go. You need to be able to move. So, a heavy weapon is detrimental to the goal of being able to fight as long as possible. Especially when that weapon is designed to give you an edge in reach, and counter pole arms. You want to be able to swing the weapon around for long periods of time because if you wear out first, you’re dead.

Endurance, not strength, is the great necessity for any warrior. So, everything your PE teacher punished you with is what you’re looking for (except dialed to eleven). Once you understand fighting is about going for as long as possible between energetic bursts, combat starts to make more sense. This is also why most action movies feature the pressure cooker, the slow grind down of the protagonist by giving them little to no rest between fights as they accumulate more injuries.

So, when people say strength in regards to combat, they don’t usually mean physical strength in what you can lift. They mean how long you can go, what you can endure before finally keeling over. This gets misinterpreted, mixed in with the confusion by historians about parade swords (which were incredibly heavy and often the only surviving weapons) and we get the beefcake barbarian.

Like all swords, and even shields, the zweihander is awkward to use if you don’t know how to wield it or have never held one before. This has to do with its balance point. Swords feel heavier than they actually are when we hold them because the balance is midway up the blade and that strains the wrist, which strains the arm, and causes the whole thing to tilt forward. Sometimes, the sword even gets dropped. You’ve got to learn how to account for it.

When you’re looking at actual combat considerations on weight, that’s in the armor. Armor is comparatively heavy, the warrior has to get used to carrying around fifteen to twenty or so pounds, or more depending on what gear they’re lugging with them between battles. So, if you’ve got a character going into battle without plate then they’re not going to have those weight considerations. Even if they are, the point of training is to build your body up to be able to handle it.

At the end of the day, its important to remember that, historically, large scale combat has been about being able to get the most bodies on the field as possible. You ran the gamut between trained warriors and farmers yanked off their fields with a hastily cludged together pole arm thrust into their hands. There are plenty of people who went into battle with no freakin’ clue what they were doing. The concept of a military as we know it today is a mostly modern invention.

The mystique of the knight and others like them came with their training, which is… they had some. Whatever they’d have liked us to think, there was nothing different about them compared to the farmers except the money, the (sometime) power, the time, and the “luck” of their birth. In the end, it’s less about what humans can or can’t do but what society corrals them from learning. It’s easier to control your population when only the powerful have access to weapons, educations, and castles.

So, yeah, a woman can use a zweihander if she trains on the zweihander. It also won’t be her only weapon, mostly because one never knows when they’ll have to fight indoors. (That’s a joke, HEMA peeps. I know half-holds are a thing, and it’s not a katana so it can strike straight.)


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anonymous asked:

how could someone with a knife and a shield fight someone with a sword and not die, if running away wasn't an option?

Bash them with the shield.

It’s easy to look at shields as a strictly defensive item, but they are a weapon. Historically shields saw some pretty aggressive use in combat. Shields aren’t simply about blocking an enemy attack, they’re also for retaliating, and creating openings in your opponent’s guard. This may be as simple as (briefly) tying up your opponents weapon by swinging the shield away, after you’ve deflected a blow, or it may be something more involved, such as using the edge of the shield to wedge into an opponents armor, pinning them.

Shields do offer a lot of options to a creative fighter. Including allowing them to close distances, through an enemy’s guard, in ways that an unshielded combatant can’t.

One very simple (and risky) solution to your problem would be to rush the swordsman with the shield up, to prevent them from getting a good swing in, pin them against a wall, and run the dagger through their foe’s neck. It’s risky, because if they’re not able to pin the sword before closing the gap, they could end up running themselves through.

Remember, swords do have a minimum effective range. Get close enough to someone, and they won’t be able to get a good hit in with their sword. While this is also true of shields, it’s not the case with most daggers.

It’s not an optimal situation for dealing with a sword, but a shield does offer options to negate the sword’s advantage over a dagger. The shielded combatant has options for dealing with the sword’s reach. Without that, the knife fighter would be screwed.


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Taylor Leong, 2015, Ink and Watercolor.

Companion piece to Cowardice

He had always wanted to be a soldier. As a child he had often been sickly, coming close to death more than once, but now he was a man, and had worked hard to become strong. As the youngest in his family, he knew all too well of the sacrifices his brothers had made so that he could have the chance to grow and live up to the legacy of his father and grandfathers before him, all decorated soldiers and honorable officials throughout history.  It was the least he could do, no matter how small his accomplishments might be in comparison to theirs.

In the time leading up to the war, every wall in his neighborhood had been emblazoned with posters showcasing the virile bodies of warriors for everyone to see, of Siegfried and Siegmund, the great mythical Nordic heroes, off to slay dragons and rescue demigoddesses from giant rings of fire.  He, however, harbored no illusions about the life he had chosen for himself. There would be no instant glory in the dirt and sweat of the battlefield; the most valuable prize for him would be proving that he had the mettle to defend his nation and his people, the same way that his brothers had always stood up for him back when he was too weak to protect himself.

Now that the long-awaited war had started and he finally was a soldier, the days blended together in a monotony of endless routine, a mix of minuscule, stagnant gestures that piled upon each other until he couldn’t even remember the number of days he had been gone. As the armies progressed slowly into enemy territory, he allowed himself to wonder, briefly–why was he doing this? He tried to recall the various reasons his superiors had explained to him in the meetings before. It had all made so much sense, with the maps laid out across the chalkboards and tables, demarcated neatly with spots of red and blue dotted lines, but the snippets of political ideology he had eagerly digested before dissolved like whiffs of fresh air amongst the pervasive damp stench of the battlefield.

No one spoke to him in those times, except for the general giving out orders and the occasional grunting complaint from his compatriots, and that was to him sometimes worse than the actual combat part. Between the short  letters his brothers sent him at staggered intervals, he would start to wonder if he had actually lived his entire life on the barren battlefield, his interactions with them simply inventions he had made up to pass the time, and if they were real, and in the same position as himself, if had they already forgotten about him as well. Even if he didn’t admit it to himself, the idea scared him. He loved his family, but had never been good at making friends. If his brothers were killed in the war, or forgot all about him–who would he have left? Who would he protect, and be protected by? He knew many soldiers carried small, crumpled photographs of their ladyloves waiting for them back at home, but unlike them he had no such ties to a peaceful life.

Sometimes he thought about the enemy, faceless and elusive, identified only by the color of their uniforms and the shapes of their helmets against the gray skies. To them, he probably was also just another dusty silhouette, just another soldier in the Kaiser’s army, shouting orders and threats in a harsh, unintelligible language.  He wondered what kind of people lay beyond the front, if they had brothers and sisters and sweethearts as well, and what things they might talk about and share with him, if he could speak their language and they could understand his. The leaders had all promised that after this war,  there would be no need for any more wars. If that were true, then maybe he would be able to approach the former enemy, not as the soldier he had always wanted to be, but as just another man, another citizen, trying to make his own place in the legacy of the world.


Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race

As a young U.S. Army soldier during World War II, Rollins Edwards knew better than to refuse an assignment.

When officers led him and a dozen others into a wooden gas chamber and locked the door, he didn’t complain. None of them did. Then, a mixture of mustard gas and a similar agent called lewisite was piped inside.

“It felt like you were on fire,” recalls Edwards, now 93 years old. “Guys started screaming and hollering and trying to break out. And then some of the guys fainted. And finally they opened the door and let us out, and the guys were just, they were in bad shape.”

Edwards was one of 60,000 enlisted men enrolled in a once-secret government program — formally declassified in 1993 — to test mustard gas and other chemical agents on American troops. But there was a specific reason he was chosen: Edwards is African-American.

“They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on black skins,” Edwards says.

An NPR investigation has found evidence that Edwards’ experience was not unique. While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.

For the first time, NPR tracked down some of the men used in the race-based experiments. And it wasn’t just African-Americans. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Puerto Rican soldiers were also singled out.

White enlisted men were used as scientific control groups. Their reactions were used to establish what was “normal,” and then compared to the minority troops.


Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth

About a year ago I started drawing a fan-comic in my sketchbook which was basically a giant dream sequence about fascism and the fall of Mussolini and legacy and nation identity featuring aph Italy and 2p!Italy and a whole lot of surreal flashback scenes about Rome and the Venetian empire that got too much for me to actually finish (despite all the hype i put up) …but I really liked some of the images that inspired me to do it, and one was having 2p!Italy represent the part of canon!Italy that understands the draw and desire towards destructive ideals and there was a struggle planned out originally. I like this static image though, since it shows it as more of a symbolic and ongoing thing, and not just something that popped up the 30s and then went away afterward I guess. I have a lot of thoughts about aph Italy in general and could probably ramble on for a long time about it, but for now enjoy this picture that I finally got to do in my free time now that the first week of summer teaching is over


Pictured on the left is a strangulation wire, otherwise known as garrote or pocket saw, which was confiscated at a Dulles Airport security checkpoint in May 2015. The wire was fashioned with key rings on each end. Its owner, who surrendered it voluntarily to security agents, remains anonymous.

The garrote was widely used as an assassination weapon during and after World War II, as well as an execution and torture device in Spain in the early 20th century. For a long time it was also a weapon of choice for criminals, especially in organized crime, as a silent means of killing a victim from behind.

Bestiary - Golem 

A golem is a powerful creature made of stone or metal, animated by the dwarves with lyrium. Most commonly made of rock, they rarely speak. Golems can be controlled using enchanted control rods. Without these rods, golems are left to their own will. 

Golems have historically proven devastating weapons in war, living siege engines capable of hurling boulders like a catapult or plowing through enemy lines like an earthquake. In ancient times, dwarves sold many golems to the magister lords of Tevinter. However, the few golems that remain today are closely guarded by the Shaperate, summoned only when the battle against the darkspawn grows desperate enough to risk their loss. 

The first golem was crafted by Paragon Caridin during the First Blight to combat the growing threat of the darkspawn on the thaigs and the surface world. Caridin used the Anvil of the Void to create his golems, using dwarven volunteers to infuse life into each golem. When then-king Valtor began forcing casteless and criminal dwarves, as well as his political enemies, to “volunteer”, Caridan refused to make any more. Valtor ordered Caridin to be turned into a golem.

fantasyboudicca1901  asked:

My main characters are five 15 year old schoolgirls and I'm trying to think of medieval weapons that would fit them. All are reasonably fit, though one has a back issue, and two of the others are trained black belts in Tae Kwon Do. None have any formal weapons training and have minimal training time. Should I just give them all bows/arrows and be done with it or are there other options?

The funny thing about the bow, especially a medieval war bow, is that it takes a very long time to master. We’re talking years, here. It’s also heavily dependent on upper body strength, particularly in the back, arms, and shoulders. You need a heavier bow to deal with heavily armored targets which requires more strength and more practice drawing.

Here’s Matt Easton’s rant.

Basically, perceptions about the D&D Ranger along with Film/TV have caused a problem when looking at the body types or strength quota associated with archery. In particular, medieval war archery. The hunting bow and the war bow are different. While someone certainly could kill another human with the hunting bow, the draw weight is such that it will have a much more difficult time penetrating armor. This includes the padded armor made from cloth. War bows have a draw weight of around 60-70 pounds. The famous English or Welsh longbow was notorious for it’s difficulty and weighed in somewhere around 100-180 pounds.

TheMiddleAges.net’s entry on the Welsh longbow. The Wikipedia entry.

Besides that, bows (and all weapons) require a great deal of care. You can’t just hide a wooden bow unprotected in a log for six weeks, come back and expect it to be useable. It must be oiled regularly to maintain it’s flexibility. It must be unstrung between engagements and restrung before the next one, thus requiring a fair amount preparation time. The must also be carefully wrapped when traveling to protect it from the elements. This is before we get into the required type of arrows, (heavier with a heavier head), and the difficulty in acquiring them. Which, if your characters are schoolgirls, may have a problem convincing the local fletcher on why they need bodkins rather than broadheads.

Regardless of how they get presented in fiction, the bow is not any easier to master than a sword. Your characters are better off with crossbows. However, it should be noted that the crossbows fire much more slowly and take more time between shots. They can be learned quickly, within a few months, rather than the years. They’ll still need to learn how to care for it and shoot it though.

Taekwondo black belts come in a few flavors which heavily depends on the system employed by their school and who trained them. Given how young they are, I’d peg them at starting their training between 5 and 8 with their black belt testing between 12 and 14. The average recreational martial arts student takes about 4-5 years to reach their first black belt rank. Sometimes you get the outlier earlies between 8 and 10, but a lot of programs institute a specialty curriculum for the really littles. (Our school had a special class for “Little Turtles”, which were for kids between 4-6 that had their own belt ranks and camouflage belts with colored stripes to denote their rank in the system before they were introduced into the regular white belt class. I think it ran white to red.)

If they tested at 12 then they were probably preparing for their second degree test at 15, if they tested at thirteen then they were moving up on training crunch time, and if they tested at 14 then they’re still about a year off their second degree test.

Worth remembering that recreational martial arts are still recreational. They offer up some good skills and are helpful for self-defense, but they’re not on par with trained professionals and they’re still going to need to adjust to the psychological effects of combat. I’d give at least one of them the rudest awakening. You can probably get away with giving them the quarterstaff because they should’ve had some training on the bo staff. The two aren’t comparable, they’ll be used to training on the rattan staff. Quarterstaves are actually heavier, thicker, and made of oak rather than bamboo. They are very solid and can do a great deal of damage. The range will also lend an advantage over enemies wielding swords.

I’d think about daggers, crossbows, cudgels, quarterstaves, and other varieties of low end but easily acquired equipment that don’t take as much time to learn. If you’re willing to have them take the time to learn and depending on the time period/country/rules at play, then it’s possible one might find someone willing to teach them the sword and buckler. It wouldn’t be a weapon with a shorter hilt that was primarily wielded one handed like an arming sword rather than the longsword.



I’d go through Matt Easton’s Youtube Channel for ideas.

Wiketenaur is a library of European 0martial/weapon treatises collected by HEMA. It’s helpful if you know what you’re looking for and are willing to slog through Medieval and Renaissance language.

You can also check out Skallagrim’s page.