Why did Zweihanders not become popular until late in the medieval era?
You think the idea of utilizing a bigass sword that allowed one man to fight against many in an open area would have come along quite early but it became popular right when firearms were about to make a scene and got pushed out in favor of polearms.
Two handed weapons in general weren't seen often pre-14th century or so. You saw a lot more some sort of one handed weapon (usually a spear of some sort) and a bigass shield.
I'm not entirely sure whay, but I would guess it has to do with the increasing prevalence and protectiveness of armor. A shield is more marginal protection when you don't have a solid breastplate, and you also need less of a heavy weapon to kill your opponent.
The Zweihander had a very specific application, the disruption of pike lines. It was long and could easily lop off pike heads, and then once one got past the fist pikes it could be held in two hands and used as a short spear. However, this required more skill than being a dinkus peasant in a pike line (nevermind zweihanders costing more money to produce than pikes). So it was used mainly by professional mercenaries, who were starting to become prevalent again at that time.
It's pretty much a less efficient (more expensive, more heavy, not quite as effective) polearm and was used in a similiar fashion.
As another anon already said it's main application was to fuck up pikes and maybe to 'snipe' enemies from the second row or so.
Probably boiled down to personal style a bit too.
Because not only do you need hardened steel, you also need alot of it, and medieval ironworks could only produce small amounts until the late 14th century or so.
Which is the same reason why plate armour goes from being helmets or lots of small bits joined together, to big, singular plates.
but wasn't part of a shield's job also to negate the other person's weapon entirely? That's why shields had a rim where weapons could get stuck. If you stab at someone and they manage to block it with their shield, could not your sword get stuck in their shield rim - in which case the shieldbearer would strike back?
>The Zweihander had a very specific application, the disruption of pike lines.
Always this fucking meme. Can you present a primary source stating that? No you can't, because there isn't. It's just a modern extrapolation from some period painting, and we all know those aren't all that accurate, just like CoD isn't accurate for modern military stuff.
Zweihanders, or more appropriately greatswrods (why use a foreign term when you have a perfectly adequate and historically used one in your own language?) were born as defensive weapons, for bodyguards and to protect chockepoints. They also were used in duels for a period. This can be ascertained by the use taught in manuals: swing the fucking thing around in circles, keep it moving, protect as much space as possible to keep the enemy far away from your body. Now would you use a weapon like that in a close formation? Of course you fucking wouldn't, it would murder your own people.
That's not to say that these weapons weren't in fact used against pikes. It happens often enough in history to see swords, versatile weapons that they are, to be repurposed into other roles, and it surely is possible that greatswords came to be used together with pollaxes and other short polearms to destroy pike walls. But it most certainly wasn't their primary role, nor were they made for that.
They're very expensive and in areas where steal was limited not practical compared to two or three other swords to arm your men with.
They were used practically in combat and in battle but by and large I think there largest appeal was as the Masters weapon in Fencing guilds and as an extension of that a symbol that the wielder was a very advanced swordsman and a man who'd invested enough money into owning a weapon like that had obviously invested in training to that standard too.
Today it's known best as a weapon of the Landsnecht. Professional soldiers in a time of militiamen.
Two handed swords likely weren't like you think they would be used.
Of course fencing manuals say otherwise but fencing manuals also show how to fight with harvesting scythe.
The problem with the "fighting alone against many enemies in open area" is that those "many enemies in open area" can simply use the element of surprise and as such swords were carried on backs and they weren't made to be drawn quickly(this is battle weapon) the best thing 2h-sword armed user could do would be to run away.
Believe or not but it was weapon meant to break pike formations, people who were trained in using it and were willing to do it got extra wage.
So it's your word against that of the masters who trained the people who got those extra wages. You do realize that those doppelsoldner had to certified trained by guilds to become such, don't you? And the treatise writers were the guild teachers. Now why would a mercenary leader pay twice to have a man trained to do something he won't ever be required to do on the battlefield?
>such swords were carried on backs
Bullshit, they were carried like polearms. Put down the videogames.
>element of surprise, sheated weapons
Nigger are we talking pitched battles or what?
>fighting alone against many enemies in open area
You mean fighting at chokepoints while retreating.
Seriously, the fuck do you even get this bullshit from?
> for bodyguards
Let me put it like it.
If you're a bodyguard, limiting collateral damage is quite important thing especially in times when people carried some kind of weapon with them. I mean imagine you're in crowd, you will anger a fucking mob when you accidentally kill few people because person you're protecting was in danger.
The other important thing is quick reaction time, and again, swinging with it took a while as opposed to stabbing with some shorter sword or spear/halbeard(both of which had the advantage of being easier to use and more convenient to carry around).
>to protect chockepoints.
>protecting checkpoint with something this long when it's not piercing weapon
No space to manurer.
>Now would you use a weapon like that in a close formation?
You don't disrupt pike lines in close formation. What the "disrupting" means is basically that one guy went in between enemy pikes swinging his weapon in a fashion that allowed him to shove them away.
What's the most important is that these were used by the military(people who used them got paid more, because it was crazy and dangerous job) which proves it better than ever since it entered use once pikes became used massively and stopped being used once field artillery and flintlock muskets arrived, allowing for more reliable way of dealing with pikemen.
Wartime bodyguards man. The people who went on the battlefield with the job of protecting the boss while he's on a hill watching the battle going down and issuing orders.
>No space to manurer.
Only if your idea of chokepoint is an interior corridor that could let pass two men abreast tops. Think a bridge, think a castle gate, plenty of space to swing a greatsword there.
>one guy went in between enemy pikes swinging his weapon in a fashion that allowed him to shove them away
I'm sure you have plenty of examples of that happening or people reporting it. Oh wait, you don't.
It was used by bodyguards. The montante sources back this up.
They're a defensive crowd control weapon also used to defend cannons and shields.
They got paid more because it was a very advanced swordsman's weapon and more capable mercenary's got paid more not because they were berzerkers.
I heard this same spiel being taught to kids in Edinburgh castle over the summer too so you're not alone but fucking hell. Back it up with some sources.
>stopped being used once field artillery
>And the treatise writers were the guild teachers
Check treatise you're basing your bullshit on and you'll see something written after they've stopped being used.
>Bullshit, they were carried like polearms.
You mean when people were marching several kilometres a day, they've carried them like polearms(on their arm I suppose).
Yes. Sure. Walking whole day while caring about holding your weapon steady so it doesn't cut you accidentally sounds legit.
There were sheathes for those things for convenience reasons alone and they were likely worn on back.
The fact that it's inconvenient to unsheate the sword from the back doesn't matter since it's not personal defence weapon.
>You mean fighting at chokepoints while retreating.
I was answering the OP. And tell me why did doppelsoldners placed in front of formations when they've had use during retreat because something doesn't compute.
ease of manufacture.
bigger a sword is, the harder it is to heat-treat consistently for the entire length. its not too hard to do a single-handed viking sword using a forge with hand bellows. but to do a longsword from the 14-15th C, you really need forced air in several parts - and bigger still, that's tougher yet. its very easy to end up with inconsistent points - and witha vertical coal bed, you also get horrible amounts of carburisation, and a lot of warping.
That all takes significant industrial infrastructure to overcome - waterwheel-powered bellows using overshot wheels, for example.
that technological infrastructure didnt come about till the late 15th C, and with it, the larger 2-handers were able to be developed in the 16th C.
muh big fucking sword. Zweihanders aren't a good infantry weapon for field battles or close quarters because of the way dense infantry formation worked. You've been watching too much Braveheart and shitty medieval movies where the two lines break apart and run through each other and then everyone 1v1's, that bullshit never happened. Zweihanders are a specialized weapon for a specific type of application (pike disruption); there is no evidence that large groups of European infantry would carry 2 handed swords into combat
I think the problem a lot of posters in this thread are getting lost at is trying to theorise in their own minds how a weapon like this might be used in the context of warfare as they understand it. Which is that all battle is done by national armies and that weapon use of the time existed solely in formation fighting and warfare.
People are describing 'Military' weapons and Pike lines every time these swords are brought up.
This guy >>567123 went full meme and suggested they were for lopping off the heads of pikes. Seriously find a video of someone doing that. Go out and do it yourself. You'll get lots of people offering you massive money betting that this can't be done.
>why did doppelsoldners placed in front of formations when they've had use during retreat
Because doppelsoldners were just men paid double. You could get paid double by volunteering as a frontliner in a pike vs pike battle, or you could get double pay by being a certified trained in zweihander use by a guild, or whatever else. It's the same as the duplicarii in the roman legion.
>Zweihanders aren't a good infantry weapon for field battles or close quarters because of the way dense infantry formation worked
>nders are a specialized weapon for a specific type of application (pike disruption, WHICH WAS ONLY REQUIRED DURING FIELD BATTLE AMONG DENSE INFANTRY FORMATIONS)
Good job wrecking your own argument.
It's pretty clear I was referring to their use as a GENERAL infantry weapon, not one that a few soldiers carried onto the field with ONE SPECIFIC use in mind. Thousands of guys lining up on the battlefield with two-handed swords would be clinically retarded
>There were sheathes for those things for convenience reasons alone and they were likely worn on back.
SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.
There isn't a SINGLE FUCKING SOURCE for the bullshit you're spewing. Not one. Meanwhile, woodcuts disagree with you, and anyone who HAS hauled a long object all day knows that slinging it over your shoulder is perfectly fucking serviceable and causes only minimal discomfort.
Worse, you're apparently completely fucking unaware that people typically stored gear they didn't need at the moment on carts, not their person.
If a weapon was so efficient at disarming a pike formation it would have been more prominent on the battlefield. Read a fucking book and stop relying on shitty shows like deadliest warrior for you sources.
HEMA here. If you actually study the swordsmanship of the late medieval and renaissance and then read a shit posting festival like this on /his/ it is just disappointing.
>It is called Bidenhänder
>it is a sub type of longswords
>it's Mediterranean counterpart is the Montante
>they are both renaissance
>they where not used to hack at pike squares, everybody who claims so, please bring up sources or fuck off
Just because you picked up the names of a couple of renaissance weapons doesn't actually make you an expert.
Now go read http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Main_Page
The best you could do was knock the pikehead off if it wasn't riveted on. You simply can't cut through wood that isn't being firmly braced, and no matter how hard the chap at the end is holding it with 15ft of shaft to flex, the wood aint chopping.
That said the point isn't to break them, you knock them aside and step past the point, then hope to keep doing that till you reach the men holding it. It's hard but possible if you have a helmet and breastplate as well.
Honestly, it was probably just an issue of expense and the skill required to use it. That and the fact that it's probably a bitch to carry around if you're going to be fighting all day. Also, the medieval European fighting style was heavily centred around the heavy cavalry charge. Everything else was ancillary to that, so while a knight might fight on foot at times, he wasn't going to be particularly interested in buying weapons that couldn't be used (or even carried) on horseback. Therefore it makes sense that zweihanders became popular just as firearms were starting to make traditional knightly cavalry obsolete. Also, zweihanders are definitely an anti-infantry weapons and before the late middle ages infantry usually meant poorly equipped peasants who you really don't need a zweihander to cut through.
>Honestly, it was probably just an issue of expense and the skill required to use it.
Honestly, there where fencing guilds that gave official certificates to men trained and tested with the Bidenhänder. Check out the History of the St. Marks Guild or the Freifechter.
>muh plate armour
You have an anachronism of some 2-300 years in that. Nice try.
>More available & better armour meant you could forgo the protection a shield gave and instead have a more versatile weapon with better reach.
Nope, two handed longsword where used since the time there was good enough quality steel around to build them. There where great swords in the 12th century. The renaissance Bidenhänder came just in fashion at the time, but longsword where used centuries before. During that time, firearms improved and as a result of this, armor became less, so cutting attacks became prominent once more. Remember, the Bidenhänder came en mode in the era of pike and shot formations.
In the HRE, swordsmen for the Bidenhänder where licensed by Fencing guilds, by imperial decree they had the monopoly to do so.
To get licensed in the longsword, it took 4-7 years of training.
Imagine such a guy getting to work with a 6 foot blade in the middle of a confusing melee, cutting down people left and right.
i'm pretty sure that was a meme weapon/weapon mostly for show off... since battles were usually crowded places where you used you shield to push and you sword to stab - being able to just do a proper arc in order to hit with full force would be downright impossible, at least without hitting a few of your m8s in the back.
so, they offer no protection, they're clunky as fuck, a situational weapon probably more useful to deal with cavalry than infantry and they need it's user to be a huge muscular beast in order to swing it more than twice without going out of breath - so i'm calling bullshit if someone says this was actually used in any real battle.
>pic related: first portuguese king - known to use a montante (2 handed sword) along with a shield and beating his mother
>shield to push
>just around 400 years off
>the history board
Matt is ok, his vids are ok, but some of his followers are highly annoying. Matt does state pretty clear that that his interpretations are his interpretations and that they are up for discussion.
Now a lot of folk (not necessarily HEMA folks) use him as the one infallible youtoube authority, which kinda sucks in internet discussions.
I didn't realize he had such a following but I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Even though a lot of it is his opinions, it comes across as a lot more scholarly than most people who do similar things on the internet.
>Even though a lot of it is his opinions, it comes across as a lot more scholarly than most people who do similar things on the internet.
He is the best from the English speaking youtubers and he posted a vast amount of videos on different subjects. He is also a successful HEMA instructor and an expert on Victorian sabre.
Now a lot of what he says is correct, but some simply isn't and in a normal face to face discussion you could address that and everything would be fine. Try that on the internet....
Just check this thread, many don't know the difference between medieval and renaissance, few will have seen a real Bidenhänder, almost none have read an old manuscript on its use or had a single formal lesson in swordsmanship.
But everybody is an expert on how you hack pikes with them.
I thought it was interesting that he suggested that the anti-pike meme comes from the fact that the landsksknsksksh-ecks THEMSELVES were perceived as anti-pike troops, and they happened to use all kinds of pole weapons including so-called zweihanders.
both of those are 16th century. The point we a trying to establish is why zweihanders did not become popular before the 16th century. So citing examples from the 16th century itself is completely fucking pointless. Honestly, did you even read what I wrote? In the early and high medieval period cavalry reigned supreme and infantry were generally poorly equipped peasants, and that it was only when cavalry became obsolete towards the end of the late medieval period and infantry became more professionalised that zweihanders - primarily useful for carving through densely packed infantry formations - became useful.
>armor became less,
eh, not really. All encompassing armour became less used due to the expense, but there was plenty of full suits of armour still being made for the nobility - the highest quality could mitigate a lot of the damage from firearms except at close range. And even more 'lightly' armoured troops like pikemen would still often have had a heavy cuirass, helmet and greaves. It's more that the emphasis of armies changed so that the heavily armoured nobility became less important that the lesser-armoured commoners.
>Remember, the Bidenhänder came en mode in the era of pike and shot formations.
at the very, very beginning of pike-and-shot, when it was still more pike than shot. Indeed, the very fact that zweihanders had their heyday right at the point where pikes became popular but before the full transition to firearms suggests that they were primarily useful for taking on pikemen after all.
>Why did Zweihanders not become popular until late in the medieval era?
I question the premise that they were ever "popular". They filled the same role as halberds, partisans, and the other "short" weapons in a pike formation: standing at the center of the square, guarding the ensign, and possibly being deployed at a critical moment to inflict maximum execution. The thing is, what advantage does a two-handed sword have over a halberd or partisan? Halberds and partisans at least have the massive advantage of doubling as walking sticks.
>You mean a weapon that was used for pulling cavalry off of their horses was in the hand of a bodyguard?
Halberds weren't for "pulling cavalry off their horses". They were for being a spear that could also chop, or an axe that could also stab.
To be honest the glory days of that big sword OP showed lasted only 40-50 years of around 1500-1550, scarcely two generations of soldiers would have used it yet it gets more attention than all polearms combined.
large swords are good against pikes and Calvary, as well larger swords were harder to forge earlier on.
polearms are much better weapons overall. Swords are a self-defense weapon, not a battlefield weapon. Great swords just filled a small niche
Because its SO FUCKING COOL
Honestly if i was a mercenary and I had to choose a weapon to buy? you better bet it would be the biggest fucking sword i can find. Camp followers will see it and make inferences about my penis because only someone with such a giant dick could counter the weight of swinging and insanely large sword around. I mean seriously, look at the fucking things. Imagine holding a big stick, and how amazing that feels. Then multiply that by a million times because the stick is metal and sharp. Hell I won't be satisfied until i'm wildly flinging metal around like a dark souls character with no strength. It was cool then, and it is cool now.