Category: academy of historical fencing

Royal Artillery Swords in the Napoleonic Era

A look at all the swords used by the British foot and horse artillery in the Napoleonic era. All swords shown are original antiques of the period.

Why You Are Wrong About Spadroons

Spadroons are a badly misunderstood weapon. It’s popular to hate on them today, but why? Most criticism centres around five keys topics that people believe are weaknsses of the spadroon. Here we’ll take a look at those five reasons. 

“Spadroon is a militarised smallsword” – This is a statement I hear a lot, and one I would like to see an end to. Not because the smallsword is a bad weapon, but because that statement undermines what the spadroon is and how it developed. The implication is that gentlemen in the late 18th century started adopting a slightly beefy smallsword to utilize their existing smallsword/foil skills. But this ignores the fact that spadroons were not new, they were not all for gentlemen, and that the development of smallswords and spadroons was a parallel one.

The spadroon was not based on the smallsword, they were both creations of a trend towards double shell simpler hilted swords that emphasized the point and were easy to wear/carry. This development really began in the early 17th century, and in some cases a little earlier in the late 16th. The smallsword is often said to have evolved out of the rapier, and so did the spadroon from military swords of the period. The mortuary, walloon and other munitions grade military swords of the 17th century spreading approx. 1630-1680. These were not even exclusively ”gentlemans” swords, but general use military swords.

Additionally, the “Spadroon is a militarised smallsword” statement dismisses it’s cutting ability as a throw away feature. Assuming it is merely beefed up smallsword for war that still can’t really cut. Yet that is far from true. The spadroon is a cut and thrust sword just as most 19th century sabres were intended to be. Are there bad examples? Sure, but don’t judge an entire category of swords by those bad examples. Don’t even judge the infamous 1796 spadroon by the bad examples, as there is incredible variety to be found. Blades found on the 1796 can be anything from as light as a smallsword to as beefy as some 17th century backswords. All the while still being a spadroon. I am not including the really beefy broadsword bladed 1796s. Even the double shell guards of the 1796 get criticized because they are a copy of the smallsword and not suited to cut and thrust, and yet this ignores the fact that double shell guatds were really popular on military cut and thrust swords for approximately 200 years, for hangers, cutlass, spadroons and broadswords.

The spadroon often looks similar to a smallsword at a casual glance, but that is because of simultaneous development. The spadroon was not a short-lived fad or experiment. Its service was as long as the smallsword, and in some cases longer still. Time to separate these weapons and appreciate them both for what they were and their long and colourful histories.

–Nick Thomas, Academy of Historical Fencing 

I agree with Nick, and would also add that many spadroon hilts do not bear any resemblance to smallsword hilts. “Spadroon” really describes a blade type (straight cut and thrust blade) more than an overall sword type (blade and hilt). Spadroons can have just about any hilt type that was to be found in the 17th-19th Centuries. A while back Nick made a nice graphic showing various spadroon hilts over time. Click here for a larger version.

victoriansword:

A theory about the swords shown in the Angelo lessons poster, and Roworth manual. Check out this sword that was sold last year, attributed to the London and Westminster volunteers (who Roworth and Angelo are most certainly linked)

Notice that both the Angelo poster and first edition Roworth show what looks like a fairly short, straight, simple stirrup hilted sword, and also that on the Angelo lessons poster most of the troops are carrying carbines. Now go back to the sword I linked to. 30.5" blade, straight and stirrup hilted sword bayonet to be used with a carbine, and attributed to the same Volunteer unit.

Clearly the system is intended for all swords when on foot, but is this the sword (sword bayonet) that is being displayed? Lastly, if it is, are they referring to it as a broadsword? Which would be logical.

–Nick Thomas, Academy of Historical Fencing

Spadroons & Spadrooners – With special guest Nick Thomas (AHF)

Let’s talk about this important and iconic 18th and 19th century military sword, used extensively in the Napoleonic Wars. 

A sneak peek at a new e-book, British Infantry Swords of the Napoleonic Era, by Nick Thomas of the Academy of Historical Fencing

victoriansword:

21 Foot Rule – Drawing the Sword for Self Defence – Sabre 

Drawing the weapon in a self defence scenario is far from a new problem. Here we consider what it would have been like to apply the principals studied today for law enforcement defence, but placed in a historical context and when carrying a sword.

This is not a scientific or conclusive piece of research, just a brief look into the subject. Many more videos will follow looking at different scenarios. weapons, holsters and belts etc.

NOTE – the fencer who was drawing the sabre did not always draw the cut through completely as he would for real. This was largely out of necessity for safety with an untipped blade. The object of the exercise was to find the distances at which one could defend oneself and not test cutting skill.

Why Reproduction Sabres SUCK

Most reproduction sabres and related military type sword reproductions suck. It’s not usually build quality or aesthetics that are their main problem. This is a look at why they are so bad.

victoriansword:

21 Foot Rule – Drawing the Sword for Self Defence – Sabre 

Drawing the weapon in a self defence scenario is far from a new problem. Here we consider what it would have been like to apply the principals studied today for law enforcement defence, but placed in a historical context and when carrying a sword.

This is not a scientific or conclusive piece of research, just a brief look into the subject. Many more videos will follow looking at different scenarios. weapons, holsters and belts etc.

NOTE – the fencer who was drawing the sabre did not always draw the cut through completely as he would for real. This was largely out of necessity for safety with an untipped blade. The object of the exercise was to find the distances at which one could defend oneself and not test cutting skill.

Smallswords, foils, and practice smallswords.

A look at the weights, lengths and balances of original smallswords, foils, and modern training smallswords. This follows on from Matt’s (Scholagladiatoria) video on the same subject, and discussion currently going on in HEMA groups.