Swords of the 30 Years War

Discussion in 'Historical European Swords and Sword Arts' started by LoneRider, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. LoneRider

    LoneRider Purple Belt

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    When I took Western Civilization at the Naval Academy we covered the 30 Years War. Obviously being a military academy we focused on the big picture side, how the war contributed to the supposed demise of the mercenary army and the rise of the state army (a reason (one of many) cited for this included the tremendous manpower requirements for manning fortified towns with the bastioned traces and also state armies could be controlled a lot easier than mercenary armies). And we postulated that the war left Germany a largely divided state of principalities for almost two centuries afterward before her rise to nationhood in the late 19th Century.

    On the tactical side I remember they stated that the battles were typically engagements of musketry and pikes with cavalry attacks to harass the flanks and pursue the enemy from the field. I remember seeing swords of the period ranging from the rapier's of the nobility to the short bladed swords of the common footmen. An article I saw stated that the common foot soldier received little training with the use of the sword, learning how to use the weapon on the job or from other veterans. Only the nobles or officer class received any formal swordsmanship training. I wonder if this is true? It seems to make little sense that soldiers would be untrained in the use of ANY armaments they were issued or owned.
     
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  2. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Depends.

    Some nations, such as England, had a tradition of pesant arms training. Other nations had lesser or no such traditions.

    It was not uncommon for mercinaries to recieve a high degree of training, understanding that most mercinaries were not nobility. Therefore, it wasn't particularly noteworthy when a non-noble had good training. However, it also wasn't particularly noteworthy when pesant recruits or conscripts didn't have much training. Their training would, obvoiusly, focus more on cohesive unit opperations.

    There are several manuals targetted at training rank and file soldiers in the use of swords. The manuals of Le Marchand and Pepper (both somewhat later than the 30 Years) are examples.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  3. LoneRider

    LoneRider Purple Belt

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    Thanks for the info. Sorry its taken me so long to reply to this one. Were Le Marchand and Pepper's manuals a direct result of the war or wartime experience?

    I knew the English trained levies of archers for the 100 Years War, but I never knew military training in England extended to sword training to common folk as well.

    Regarding sword types, was I right about nobility tending to carry rapiers where common footmen carried hacking and cutting type swords?
     
  4. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Rapiers generally weren't used in the field. They were for duelling, urban self-defence and back-alley brawls. Any noble carrying one to the battlefield wouldn't get a chance to use it.

    Best regards,

    -Mark
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2009
  5. LoneRider

    LoneRider Purple Belt

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    Nice to see that the nobility was practical on the battlefield? Did they carry similar shorter, hacking type swords just of higher quality than their lower class fellow soldiers?
     

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