The designation Harnischrödel (rolls of armour) lumps together different kinds of urban inventories. They list the names of citizens and inhabitants together with the armour they owned, were compelled to acquire within their civic obligations, or were obliged to lend to able-bodied men. This contribution systematically introduces Harnischrödel of the 14th and 15th c. as important sources for the history of urban martial culture. On the basis of lists preserved in the archives of Swiss towns, it concentrates on information pertaining to the type and quality of an average urban soldier’s gear. Although the results of this analysis are only preliminary – at this point, it is not possible to produce methodologically sound statistics –, the value of the lists as sources is readily evident, as only a smattering of the once massive quantity of actual objects has survived down to the present time.
The paper aims at reinterpreting the so called ‘Teutonic estoc’ (inventory number: MNK XIV-49) from the Czartoryski Princes Collection, Cracow, Poland. Due to the weapon’s unusual construction it has been necessary to draw up precise documentation - written, drawn and photographic. It has been supplemented with research in historical sources and scholarly literature on the subject.
The results obtained indicate that the researched weapon is not a typical estoc. It seems that it is a specialized anti-armour sword (Kampfschwert in German) designed for fighting against a heavy armoured opponent in judicial combat.
If this conclusion were correct, the ‘Teutonic estoc’ from Cracow would be the only known artefact of this kind to have survived from the Middle Ages. In order to falsify this hypothesis the artefact’s authenticity has been examined. An analysis of Royal Inventory records spanning from the year 1475 to 1792 and younger remarks about the researched weapon in press, private letters and scholarly literature has been conducted and briefly reported hereby. Its results seem to indicate that it is not a hoax.
This article offers a partial overview on fencing, as recognized through archive records, as well as French epics and romances from the twelfth to the early fourteenth century. In the twelfth century, fencing was only attested through knightly vocabulary as a way to describe actions performed during single combats involving a combination of shield and another weapon, most commonly a sword. Fencing was progressively dissociated from the knightly arts and there were even few mentions of its use by common people. There are archive records from the thirteenth century of individuals bearing the nickname “fencer”, although there is rarely enough context to be certain that they were really practicing the art. At the end of the thirteenth century, archives and narrative fiction show an established fashion for a certain form of fencing with a short round shield, the buckler. This is clearly established in London where surviving manuscripts include many regulations on fencing, however the fashion was also spread in the continent, even though it seems to be less documented.
(Stamford: Paul Watkins, 1998), pp. 100-14.
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Price Brian, ‘Ponderous, Cruel & Mortal: A Review of Medieval Poleaxe Techniques from Surviving Treatises