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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Info on Medieval Combat

Author Topic: Info on Medieval Combat
Member # 8061

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I'm about to write a scene in which a mother teaches her thirteen year old son to use a sword and I want to get the details right. Does anyone know any good resources (preferably on line) describing actual medieval sword techniques? I'd also be interested in stuff about training equipment (ie practice swords, and padding or lack thereof).
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Member # 2109

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Read "The Deed of Paksenarion" by Elizabeth Moon. ELizabeth actually knows how to use a longsword and this particular book is very realistic.
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Member # 7974

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Contact your local Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) group and ask if any heavy weapons fighters are able and willing to answer your questions. Most likely, you'll be passed to someone highly knowledgeable and happy to help. Be prepared to describe the sword and culture that are in your story.


Some SCA groups are strange, but I haven't seen any not full of people who love to tell interested strangers about their research.

Another approach: email me and I'll ask a knight in my group to contact you.

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Member # 5512

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I've been practicing canne de combat for the past three years but that's not medival sword fighting. I can tell you just by putting on protective pads and helmet is enough to imagine what being in a full plate armor can feel like...
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Member # 8612

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Try "On thud and blunder" Located here:


They've got other good essays, as well...

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Member # 5709

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Let me mention that full-plate armor was not developed until relatively late in the middle ages and few fighters wore it.

I second the recommendation of Deed of Paksenarrion. Moon is an expert on medieval combat. Or see if your local SCA has a sword fight club. That's a good way to learn.

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Member # 8547

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I think a good exercise before writing anything about sword training or battle would be to go outside with something like a rebar or crowbar and whack at a fencepost a few hundred times. The most common point writers tend to miss is just how TIRING those sorts of activities are. A good example is boxers. A person in fairly good shape can get into the ring, and by the end of the second round (each of which is two minutes), he's so exhausted he can barely lift his arms, let alone punch with any sort of strength.

Boxers who train for weeks and months specifically for that kind of endurance still leave the ring after a bout completely worn out. And that's just their arms with light gloves tied on. Try swinging a longsword or better yet a broadsword, with a shield strapped to your other arm and thirty pounds of chainmail and leather, and see how long before you collapse gasping for air.

Medieval knights trained in just that sort of thing from childhood. The sort of sheer brute strength and endurance they could summon is almost unseen in our modern world.

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Member # 5512

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I've heard it somewhere that the most common cause of death on a medieval battlefield was the heat shock, coming from too much exertion while wearing armor and not replenishing lost water.
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C L Lynn
Member # 8007

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"Medieval Combat" by Hans Talhoffer is an actual 15th Century manual on swordfighting, still in print. Lots of terms and pictures on step-by-step moves. Since the manual is so old, I was able to find a link to the whole thing:


Hope it proves useful!

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