Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – Two swords

Folio 35 r. c
Folio 35 r. d

Translation

This sword passes as a sword and a pollaxe and has no edge from the hilt to one hand span from the tip, and from there on it has an edge and a fine tip with the edge a hand spans length. The rondel which is below the hilt, can slide to a hand span from the tip and no more. The hilt is to be well tempered with a good point and a heavy pommel, and those spikes should be well tempered and sharp. The sword wants to be as heavy in the back as it is at the front with a weight of 3 ½ to 5 ½ pounds according to the size and strength of the man and how he wants to arm himself.

This other sword wants an edge the whole length from the hilt to the tip, except for a third of the way down from the point, there is an unsharpened section big enough to fit a large gloved hand. Similar to the first sword, it wants to be finely edged and pointed. The hilt wants to be strong and sharp and well tempered, and the pommel should have a good point and be heavy.

Interpretation

At the end of the sword in armour section, Fiore gives us these two very interesting examples of customised gear.

The first of these swords is an incredible piece of equipment. Although the rondel sword superficially resembles a sword, and is balanced like a sword, in many ways it is more like a short, specialised polearm.

The ‘blade’ of the sword is more like a spear shaft. It has no edge outside of the tip, which is the size and shape of a small spear head. Although you could bash someone with this, it would never make an effective cut. Nor it is intended to. The mobile rondel which protects the hand is not only a neat adaptation, but also further emphasises that this is a handle, not a blade.

While pretending to be merely a counterweight, the pommel is as dangerous as the point. It has sharp, well tempered spikes to hammer into someone. The crossbars are also pointed, allowing the whole thing to be turned around and swung like an armour piercing pollaxe. While giving a variable weight range, it tends to be fairly heavy.

Despite such a detailed description, we never see this weapon used anywhere in the book. The only other example of a rondel sword is in the illustrated border of the introduction.

The second sword has a lot less specialisation to it, but it still has two clear features making it particular to armed combat. About a third of the way down the blade, at the point where you would most comfortably grab it, the edge has been taken off for a more comfortable grip. Also, the pommel comes with a single heavy spike so as to give your pommel strikes an armour piercing capacity.

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