historical weaponry

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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History Fact 13/100 - The Rapier

A rapier is a slender, light sword used primarily for thrusting. It was first established as a dress sword, then became used as a duelling weapon in the 1600’s.

The rapier has a long reach, and thus was effective for offensive attaching. However, it was often inadequate for blocking and parrying. By 1715, the rapier had largely been exchanged for the small sword, a much lighter weapon.

It has been depicted in many films, although not all historically accurate, including The Princess Bride, and Three Musketeers.

anonymous asked:

Where would the students have learned to handle rifles? Holding professional regular soldiers at bay requires alot of skill with a flintlock musket.

They would almost certainly have had the opportunity to learn how to use long guns for hunting while growing up, and the ability to handle a pistol for dueling was an expected skill for young men of their social class. There were numerous firing ranges in Paris where they would’ve been able to keep in practice.

I don’t know if you were deliberately trying to draw a distinction between rifles and flintlock muskets, but there wasn’t as much of a disparity between the firearms used by the insurgents and their assailants as you might think: sure, the insurgents were working with a hodgepodge, but it was a hodgepodge with a large proportion of ‘borrowed’ military weapons, and the army’s guns weren’t all that advanced either. Reliable breech-loaders still hadn’t been perfected yet and wouldn’t start becoming regular infantry weapons until the 1840s, and percussion locks were a new invention that had only become standard issue for officers’ pistols in the past year or two. (Enjolras’ gun, described as a double-barrelled carabine de chasse, is probably more advanced than the infantry’s smoothbore muzzle-loaders: when it’s specified as being a hunting weapon, a carabine isn’t a short-barrelled cavalry carbine, it’s a rifle, which given the near impossibility of shoving a bullet down a rifled barrel means it’s probably an early model of a bolt-action firearm. These were popular for civilian use even if they weren’t reliable or practical enough for soldiers, so it’s not surprising one or two of the students seem to have one, especially since some of them appear to be weapons geeks.) Basically disparities in weaponry weren’t that huge to begin with, and had less of an impact on close-quarters urban warfare than disparities in supply lines and ammunition.

So yeah. Also bear in mind that they were holding a well-fortified position against a force made up partly of regular soldiers and partly of assorted citizens’ militias (Paris municipal guard, Paris national guard, national guard from the surrounding suburbs and countryside) who weren’t always particularly professional. The center of the actual 1832 revolt was a two-day battle of 60 against 60,000 that was only quashed when there was a major disparity in firepower, i.e. when the use of artillery against the insurgents was authorized.

anonymous asked:

How viable are non-magical flaming weapons? Like, coating the sword with a flammable substance and then setting it on fire. Would the trouble be worth it for the increased damage? Would they be more dangerous for the yielder? Would the fire negatively affect the blade?

No. At least not, that example. Also flaming arrows are out. The physics involved mean they either self-extinguish on launch, or they’ll ignite the user (I don’t remember which, and I kinda think it’s the former.)

That said, there are a lot of historical and modern military applications for flame.

The modern examples that come immediately to mind are napalm, dragon’s breath shells, and Molotov cocktails.

Napalm is, basically, jellied gasoline. It will burn, it will stick when it lands, and it will keep burning. Set something on fire and watch it melt. Napalm is, quite frankly, pretty terrifying stuff, and while the exact chemical formula is recent, the concept of launching burning liquids at people is not, going all the way back to Greek Fire. No one is exactly sure what Greek Fire was, but it would burn, could be lobbed onto ships or people you didn’t like, while burning, and would not stop burning once it arrived.

Molotov Cocktails are a medium ground here. You load a bottle up with alcohol, use an alcohol soaked rag as a fuse, light, and throw. There’s a little bit more going on here though. Alcohol solutions are only directly flammable if they’re more than 50% alcohol by volume. Most hard liquor is around 80 proof (40%), but, the vapors put off by the solution are still flammable (down to around 20%, if I remember correctly). So you can use a bottle of vodka as an improvised incendiary device. (Fair warning, it’s been a long time since I took a chemistry class, so those exact percentages may be a bit off.)

In spite of being named after a Russian Revolutionary, the idea of setting something on fire and chucking it someplace is not a new concept.

I know you can launch flaming payloads with a trebuchet, put them roughly where you want them, and set the area on fire. I’m not 100% sure of the military history, but it was used for centuries. Anything that will break apart on impact will spread the flame over a decent area and get a good blaze going.

Hot shots originally referred to cannonballs that were preheated before firing, with the intention of it igniting enemy structures or ships. This isn’t something we still think about (outside of the term “hotshot” seeping into idiomatic usage), but it did work, apparently.

The modern equivalent would be incendiary ammunition. There’s a lot of variety here, and they range from phosphorous rounds, which will ignite on contact with moisture, including the moisture in the air, to dragon’s breath shells which eject a mixture of highly flammable metals, such as magnesium, or potassium, which will ignite on contact with moisture.

Phosphorous was also a popular component for incendiary grenades, mortars, and other explosives. For example, one of the US military’s versions of a Molotov in WWII was produced by dissolving phosphorous and rubber (as a thickener) in gasoline). This mixture would self ignite on contact with the atmosphere (when the glass broke).

One variant of modern incendiary grenades use a Thermite variant (called thermate) to eject molten iron on detonation.

So far as it goes, most flare guns fire a 12 gauge shotgun shell. While the plastic ones won’t survive trying to put a conventional shell down range, the flare shell itself can result in horrific, and fatal, burns.

If you want a melee weapon to set someone on fire, you might be able to achieve that safely by heating the blade or using something like a thermal lance. The problem with simply coating a sword with oil and lighting it up is, they tend to drip. And, when you’re swinging the sword around, you’ll end up with burning oil getting splashed everywhere, including on the user. This is, “a very bad thing.”

Of course, shoving a torch in someone’s face is also a very bad thing, for them, and fits the definition provided.

So, the short answer is, yes there are a lot of real applications for setting someone on fire, especially when they’re all the way over there and walking is too much effort. Setting your own sword on fire is not a great idea, however.


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2p!Italy as things I’ve said/done (Part 2) (Said during Finals Week)

“Lutz is a goddamn clingy horny puppy. Someone needs to neuter him.”



“My aesthetic is you leaving me the fuck alone and world domination”

*throws paperwork halfway across the room* “NO”

“The fuck is with this soccer crap. Why the fuck would you name this fucking American crap ‘football’ if using your feet isn’t even the point of the game”

*slams head against way* “America was a mistake”

“The only person I will ever truly love in this world is myself”

“Fuck you, fuck your fancy-ass moustache, fuck your German reunification, fuck Prussia, fuck your horse, fuck your life. I can’t even remember half your goddamned dates. Actually, scratch that, now I don’t have to deal with 48 different German countries, bless your soul and your homosexual Prussian”


“Pain builds character, stop whining”

*flips 2p! Japan off* “Bitch”

“Life would be so much better if we cut all this feelsy crap and minded our own goddamn business”

“Dealing with the 2ps is like trying to herd a flock of angry geese”

“L E T  M E  B E  T A L L”


“I think people vastly underestimate the joys of being bitter just for the hell of it”
“I don’t even need to be mad, this world existing is enough reason to be sour about everything”

“You don’t need emotion to procreate, just bang the guy and get on with your life”

“Anyone who harms anything I like gets a nice large helping of pain and suffering from me”

“If you are in my way, I don’t care WHO you are, you are a problem that I will gladly dispose of”

*draws a stick figure and points to it* “This anatomy is bullshit and so are you”

*someone says something snarky about knives* “BITCH I WILL FUCK YOU UP”

“This hat makes me damn attractive, fuck you”

“No, I am not going to watch my fucking language, there isn’t anyone around to get me into trouble and it’s the only way I can vent without violently murdering anybody”

*plays the knife game with anything that would work when bored*

*opens up a red pen and dabs the ink on things to make them look bloody when bored*

*stands as tall as possible and glares* “Fear me”



“I generally try to channel my negative emotions into rage because then I actually get shit done in life”

*nervously watches small children* “Um.”

“Life is a bitch. I don’t mind as long as it doesn’t try to fuck me up. Then I get pissed.”

*looks up pictures of pretty historic weaponry to pass the time*

“I’m not interested in romance but damn, she fine”

*sprawls on a chair like a lazy prince and smirks* “Ciao”


“The government is nothing but lies and secret murderers hiding in the shadows.”

“I don’t trust anybody, not even myself”

“I don’t believe in the good of men. We’re all born with the capability to kill; society has merely trained us to turn against our natural instincts. It’s simple, really. We are our own natural predators.”

“This is my family. They’re all crazy and I can’t stand them, but touch them and you die.”


anonymous asked:

“We’re both cosplayers and we somehow always manage to meet each other at cons dressed as a popular ship and people want photos of us in compromising positions and oops now we’re kissing” AU

A/N: I altered it a little bit.

[AO3] & [FFN]

The first time they all go to a Con as a group, they allow Jasper to choose who everyone’s going to go as. This isn’t because they think he’ll do the best job of choosing based on personality or who’s best suited for that character, it is a decision unanimously decided solely based on his excitement level at having this responsibility.

He doesn’t allow any of them to tell each other who they’re going as, and all of them spend the months leading up to Comic-Con making their costumes in secret, and trying to guess the others’ characters while simultaneously disguising their own behind incorrect hints and clues whenever pressed.

Finally, they arrive the morning of Comic-Con at their designated meeting spot (the Blake residence) and marvel at all of the hard work they’ve all put into the costumes.

Octavia, despite having one of the most intricately designed costumes, moans. “Oh my God,” she complains. “Can we get any nerdier than this?”

It’s Miller who first points out the major flaw in Jasper’s choices. “You guys realize,” he addresses to both Clarke and Bellamy, “that you two are dressed as the fandom’s most popular ship.”

Keep reading

Lara Croft is this generation's John Rambo
By Chris Plante

I love this article by Chris Plante on the realization that Lara Croft is basically Rambo.

​Lara winces at Ana’s words — as if Lara somehow doesn’t have the chutzpah in her to pull the trigger. I snort, because if there’s one thing Lara Croft is better at than Ana’s men, it’s killing. In the first seven hours of Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara shoots, burns, stabs, and drowns men from Syria to Siberia, scavenging their bodies for resources before leaving the pillaged detritus to rot in the sun. The self-professed archaeologist shows roughly the same level of respect to ancient tombs, which she raids not for monetary gain or historical artifacts, but for weaponry and ancient, lost knowledge of combat that makes her a more efficient killer. As an archaeologist, Lara Croft’s not simply bad, she’s a threat to the entire craft. She’s a bull on an international tour of china shops.

I played nearly 20 hours of Tomb Raider this weekend, spending a lot of time on side quests and gathering XP. I played the moment they are talking about in the above excerpt just yesterday. And while I also find some of the story beats out of sync with the game play (like… just pull the trigger, srsly) Chris put it words to paper far better than I could have. 

Lara Croft is top notch at practically all things, from skinning bears to uncovering lavish, riches-strewn tombs lost for centuries in the Russian wilderness, mere yards from Soviet mining sites. But like Bo Jackson’s time in the NFL, her archaeologist career is supplemental.

I mean that’s fire.