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#1
Old 02-20-2000, 05:53 PM
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Don't get on my case about gender PCness. In the time frame I'm talking about, women were too oppressed to use swords.

Pre-rennaisance, who was the greatest swordsman in history?

I don't really nee a DEFINITIVE answer, just someone who I can pawn off as the greatest.

Grazi.

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#2
Old 02-20-2000, 05:57 PM
Zor Zor is offline
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Pre-rennaisance? Does it have to be historically accurate? Or are you going to allow a little leeway in exaggeration?
#3
Old 02-20-2000, 06:55 PM
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How about Lancelot? At least he's a fairly well-known figure, renowned for his prowess in single-hand combat.
#4
Old 02-20-2000, 07:15 PM
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Some leeway is allowed;I just have to pass him off that's all.

Widely regarded as one of the best.... would suffice nicely


As for Lancelot, it has to be real... no fiction.

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#5
Old 02-20-2000, 09:34 PM
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If you're not restricting yourself to European swordsman, then Mayamoto Mushashi is widely regarded in Japan as the best swordsman who ever lived. He was so good that he quit using a real sword, and instead used a bokken, a wooden practice sword, to avoid killing all the boneheads who wanted to take him down. He wrote a book called "The Book of Five Rings" or something like that; a book of strategy for every situation.

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#6
Old 02-20-2000, 09:46 PM
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PERFECT!! That's exactly who I want... now, where can I find a bio of him?

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#7
Old 02-20-2000, 09:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by BigRoryG:
PERFECT!! That's exactly who I want... now, where can I find a bio of him?
Out of curiosity I did a search for a bio of the writer of "The Book of Five Rings". I found it pretty quickly. I would post the link, but I think you should do your own homework. To help you out though the correct spelling is Miyamoto Mushashi.



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#8
Old 02-20-2000, 11:30 PM
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Miyamoto Musashi was born around 1584. Does that count as pre-Rennaisance?
#9
Old 02-21-2000, 12:17 AM
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The Renaissance (approx 1350-1650 AD) was a period generally applied to Western civilization as opposed to the Shogun period of Japan about that time.

Strictly as a time frame, Mushashi lived during that span of the Western Renaissance. The cultural influence of the Renaissance was pretty much irrelevant in the Japan of that era, short of incidental trade contacts with certain European nations.

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#10
Old 02-21-2000, 01:31 AM
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I think we all know that Japan wasn't exactly in touch with Europe during the Renaissance, but it's the original poster who sets the criterion

I think our best bet in finding a great swordsmen in pre-Renaissance times would be in China. There must be a load of them, but I can't think of a really great one off the top of my head. It seems most warriors preferred spear-like weapons with a longer reach as they are more suitable for horseback combat.

Now if you allow swordswomen in the discussion, there was the lady who excelled in using double swords. I forgot her name, but she was a general in the famous Yang family during the Sung Dynasty. Just about everyone from her mother and father inlaw, her husband, her husband's borthers and sisters and spouses were all generals After she gave birth to her first son, she went straight back into battle with the kid strapped on her back. Back in those days, good generals didn't sit on a hill and watch the battle, they were right up there in the front lines dicing up their enemies, and that's what this lady did. Want to guess what became of her son? Yep, another general in the family
#11
Old 02-23-2000, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by BigRoryG:
Don't get on my case about gender PCness. In the time frame I'm talking about, women were too oppressed to use swords.

Pre-rennaisance, who was the greatest swordsman in history?

I don't really nee a DEFINITIVE answer, just someone who I can pawn off as the greatest.

Grazi.

In order to pick the greatest swordsman, we need to know what type of sword you are asking about, and which culture you are dealing with. Greco Roman, Viking, Celtic, Persian,Chinese, Japanese Egyptian, Meso American etc etc.
Also, are we talking a real person, or would a mythical character fit your need?
There are broad swords, hand and a half swords, two handed swords, straight ones curved ones, single edge, double edge...
Then you have material, copper, bronze, alloys, iron, steel. Not to mention wood, horn and bone implements from earlier periods. Pre rennaisance is a large period of time.

A little more info can help narrow the field of who the greatest pre Rennaisance swordsman was. Although I would think most famous swordsman were from the Rennaisance period.


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#12
Old 02-23-2000, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by BigRoryG:
As for Lancelot, it has to be real... no fiction.
Lancelot isn't fictional. I saw him on TV once.
#13
Old 02-26-2000, 12:53 PM
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Alexander the Great reputedly fought his way to the top of a walled city, and then in a fit of exasperation when his troops failed to follow him, jumped inside the walls. He essentially fought off the enitre garrison singlehandedly with his sword and shield until he was rescued, just before falling unconscious from loss of blood. Check for the full details in Arrian's The Campaigns of Alexander and Keegan's The Mask of Command.
#14
Old 02-26-2000, 11:28 PM
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Granted, gunpowder pretty much was the beginning of the end for the art of the sword, but isn't the Renaissance a bit early for a cutoff point? Until reliable repeating firearms were common, people were still schooled in blades as a practical combat weapon. I've heard a particular hero of mine, Sir Richard F. Burton, referred to as one of the best in the 19th century, and in his life found the skill extremely useful on several occasions (outside the fencing piste)!
--Alan Q
#15
Old 02-27-2000, 01:08 AM
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Here's the short version from Keegan:

Alexander put himself at the head of a small scouting party and rushed the wall. He got to the top, found himself cut off and had to fight for his life. Over-exposed on the crest of the wall, he leapt down inside, put his back to the mudbrick beside a small fig tree and began to lay about him with his sword at a swelling body of attackers. For some moments he held his own, slashing and throwing stones. His attackers, deterred by his spitfire bravery, drew off and began to shower him with 'whatever anyone had in his hand or could lay hands upon.' Three of his storm party jumped down to join him. One was shot in the face with an arrow. Shortly afterwards an arrow struck Alexander also.... Alexander contrived to resist for awhile, 'but when a good deal of blood came forth, in a thick stream, as would be with the breath [he had received a "sucking wound"], he was overcome by dizziness and faintness, and fell there where he stood bending over his shield.

--The Mask of Command, p.63

I don't know if that qualifies Alexander as a great swordsman or not, but the account fails to mention the wheelbarrow he must have carried his testicles around in.
#16
Old 02-27-2000, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Granted, gunpowder pretty much was the beginning of the end for the art of the sword,
Actually, the invention of small firearms brought in the lighter swords, starting with the rapier, and later the french small sword and the epee de combat (today's sport epee is very similar to this last). This was a result of armor becoming obsolete. These are what are typically considered the renaissance weapons however, so if you want pre-renaissance you won't be interested in any of these swordmen.
#17
Old 02-27-2000, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
gunpowder pretty much was the beginning of the end for the art of the sword
I'd have thought that it was the arrow that made the sword obsolete. Even the pike and lance are superior weapons. I've always thought that in real battle, a sword is a weapon of last resort. Other than that it's purpose was/is largely ritualistic as either a symbol of rank or as a weapon for use in formal pre-arranged one-on-one combat.(Duels as opposed to battle.)
#18
Old 02-27-2000, 02:32 PM
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Here is an idea. Let Rory do his own frikkin homework for a change...

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#19
Old 02-27-2000, 04:18 PM
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I've always thought that in real battle, a sword is a weapon of last resort.
I doubt it would be a last resort. They were probably expensive to make so there wouldn't be a point to having them if they were less effective than cruder weapons.
#20
Old 02-27-2000, 04:42 PM
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I suppose it's too late to throw in Ron Jeremy?
#21
Old 02-27-2000, 11:17 PM
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Before the renaissance, swords were not really a weapon that required much skill. It was just a big sharp piece of metal that you could poke or slash somebody with. Large-scale mass combat doesn't allow much room for one-on-one dueling; it's basically just a hack-fest. The army that was victorious was not the one with the best swordsmen, but the one with the best organization or the most people.

Most swords before the rapier were too big to wield with any real puissance. One-handed swords were usually used with a shield or bracers, which were just as important. I think for real skill, the best place to look would be olympic fencers. With modern training techniques and knowledge, the best of today have a real advantage. Other than that, the samurai sounds like a good bet. :-)


Matt
#22
Old 02-28-2000, 01:29 AM
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Weapons of last resort? I hadn't considered that, but other information seems to validate the point.

Before the more modern alloys were created, there were really only two types of sword--the tough sword which was also dull, and the sharp sword which was also brittle.

So, if you had to fight with nothing but a sword, you would be armed either with one that was dull or with one that could break on any strike.

As an aside, I think it's interesting that a man who had trained his entire life, working and bleeding and striving until he became the greatest swordsman who ever lived, could be killed in two seconds by any one of today's 9mm-toting punks....

-David
#23
Old 03-01-2000, 03:22 PM
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Quote:
Before the more modern alloys were created, there were really only two types of sword--the tough sword which was also dull, and the sharp sword which was also brittle.
"Modern alloys" aren't really necessary.

So-called Damascus blades were made long ago ("before 500" (AD?), according to http://tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM...even-9809.html ). They were manufactured by layering iron (tough but too soft to hold an edge) with steel (hard but brittle), and repeatedly folding and hammering out the billet. The layers combine the qualities of the metals, and make nice patterns in the metal as well.


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#24
Old 03-01-2000, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Matt MacKinnon:
Before the renaissance, swords were not really a weapon that required much skill. It was just a big sharp piece of metal that you could poke or slash somebody with.Matt
We must just be talking EuroTrash Battles here. From what I understand, the making of a fine Samurai sword is a complex process that yielded a sword that was BOTH sharp AND touch, NOT brittle. God knows there were sharp, I sliced my thumb to the bone one, and didn't realize I had been cut for a few seconds. Yech.

I have always wondered, though. Samurai swords were known in the West for a long time....why didn't anyone try to make one like it? They are thinner, and lighter, but much stronger than yer average Ye Old Broadsworde. Was it a grade of metal that could only be made in Asia? Nah...that makes no sense. I know this is sort of a hijack of the thread, but he has his freaking homework done already. Anyone know why Europe wasn't filled with Faux Samurai swords??

Cartooniverse



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#25
Old 03-01-2000, 04:01 PM
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You have a good point, RJK...layering the metals would work well for that.

Cartoon...I assume that the high quality swords, especially those of the Samurai, were quite expensive.

The average soldier probably wasn't really all that skilled with the sword, so the higher-quality weapon wouldn't have given him any real advantage...so why pay extra?

-David
#26
Old 03-01-2000, 04:30 PM
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On the lighter side:

'Allo. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
#27
Old 03-01-2000, 04:44 PM
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Princess Bride--Funnee moovie!

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#28
Old 03-01-2000, 07:35 PM
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The relative quality of Samurai swords is somewhat overstated in the west. We really became familiar with them only in the 19th century, when western swordmaking was already a declining art, except for certain specialized purposes.

One curious result of the Renaissance-Faire phenomenon is that much better swords are available at reasonable prices nowadays than even 20 years ago. See starfireswords.com, for example.

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#29
Old 03-01-2000, 07:55 PM
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"<i>Anyone know why Europe wasn't filled with Faux Samurai swords??</i>"

Armor. A light, sharp sword like a samurai sword is great for cutting up lightly armored or unarmored soldiers, but is less than ideal for hacking through shields, plate mail, steel helmets, etc. Should a light sword be able to cut through such things, it would probably get stuck easily and also lose the main quality which makes it desirable- its sharp edge. Also, to wield a samurai sword to any advantage, you would need to be wearing little or no armor, whereas if you are wearing a full suit of armor and can barely move, you can hack crudely with a big heavy sword and still be effective because of the weight of the sword.
not exactly an authoritative explanation, but I think those are the main ideas involved.
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