Defining Military Sabre

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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 14 Jun 2018 12:36

Sabs,

In Arlow's book (1902) a clear distinction was made for sport sabres (a), dueling sabres (b) and battlefield weapons (c). He provided detailed specifications for (a), (b) and mentioned parameters of (c). So at least in Hungary - let's say between 1880 and 1930 - the term dueling sabre is rather clearly defined. Also we have another source (1942), written by a renowned fencing master, which further clarified distinction between light, medium and heavy dueling sabres.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 14 Jun 2018 12:38

admin wrote:Though plenty of people in the UK complained about the 'light' gymnasium sabres being used by Italian schools.

Absolutely the same happened in Hungary, sport journalists in 1893 derided Italian sabres as children's sabres.
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Re: Defining Military Sabre

Postby Bob Sp » 15 Jun 2018 07:13

Too frequently the modern reader equates a descriptive term like dueling or military as indicating a definitive physical description. And by modern I mean early 20th century and later.

In older texts these terms are more likely to be used in the functional sense, describing how they were used. Terms like; light, medium or heavy, sword, sabre or spadroon would tell you what it looked like. If your cavalry sabre is sharp, you can take it into battle or fight a duel. Make it dull and you can fence with it.

Some dueling codes did define a weapon standard, organized sport fencing did as well, both from a sense of fairness rather than some typology.

There were specialized swords such as gymnasia swords that had dumbbell cross sections that could be used for practice or sport. Even then the descriptor has both a functional and a descriptive sense.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 15 Jun 2018 10:40

Bob Sp wrote:...If your cavalry sabre is sharp, you can take it into battle or fight a duel. Make it dull and you can fence with it.

Well... not completely.

Egyébiránt ott, ahol a segédek lovassági kardban állapodnak is meg, nem szoktak a felek kezébe 20 mm.-nél szélesebb és 1 klgr.-nál nehezebb kardot adni.” [AR, 228]

Even when duel seconds agreed that the duel would be fought with cavalry sabres, it was unusual to provide participants with dueling weapons wider than 20 mm (the width of the blade next to the hilt) and heavier than 1 kg. [Page 228 of Arlow book (1902)]. The author made a remark that the blade of contemporary cavalry sabre was 39 mm.

Lovassági kardokkal vívott párbaj abszurdum...” [AR, 228]
A duel with cavalry sabres is absurd...

Another source says: officers should not use their service swords for training. BTW the author was a Hussar captain, and his book was used as fencing manual for military schools in Hungary.
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Re: Defining Military Sabre

Postby Sabs » 15 Jun 2018 11:43

Those citations of Arlow are quite interesting, especially seeing as he gives separate distinctions for fencing, duelling, and military use. Del Frate and Masiello and the like get cited often as sources of typical "duelling sabres", but they themselves never describe them as such.

Parise's 1904 book "Scherma da Terreno" states 20 mm sabre blades were to be standard for fencing competitions simulating a duel, so that lines up with Ulrich's source from the same time period. It's hard to say what it was like in the previous decades (and we know that the fencing world was changing very quickly at the turn of the 20th century).

So from all this we can say that, at least at the turn of the 20th century, a "duelling sabre" was a sharp sabre that's lighter than standard issue cavalry sabre of the time.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 18 Jun 2018 08:24

"It's hard to say what it was like in the previous decades..."

In his book (1884) Parise specified the weight of the training sabre to be equal 720g. Interestingly enough at the 1908 Olympic Games the following specification for fencing sabres was used:

"53. (a) The total weight of the sabre must be between 470 and 780gr. The effective length of the blade must be as near as possible 880mm. The blade should be either straight, or, if slightly curved, the chord of its arc must not be longer than 40mm." [The official report of the 4th Olympic Games]
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Re:

Postby Sabs » 18 Jun 2018 12:29

Ulrich von L...n wrote:In his book (1884) Parise specified the weight of the training sabre to be equal 720g.

I don't remember that, where does he say that?

I know that in Federico Cesarano's 1874 sabre treatise he says "The length of the blade varies from 86.8 to 89 cm and is calculated from the point to the heel; the width varies from 13 to 25 millimetres. The total weight of a fencing sabre is about 640 to 890 g."
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Re:

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 18 Jun 2018 19:29

Ulrich wrote:In his book (1884) Parise specified the weight of the training sabre to be equal 720g.


Correction. Del Frate.
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Re: Re:

Postby Sabs » 19 Jun 2018 02:26

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
Ulrich wrote:In his book (1884) Parise specified the weight of the training sabre to be equal 720g.


Correction. Del Frate.

Indeed he does, but this is specifically for a fencing sabre. i was referring to duelling sabres when I said that it's hard to know what it was like in the decades leading up to Parise's 1904 duelling text.

Since Del Frate was writing for the benefit of the Ministry of War, who wanted Radaelli to train fencing masters for the cavalry, I see no reason to equate his specifications for a fencing sabre to necessarily be the same as a duelling sabre.
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Re:

Postby admin » 21 Jun 2018 10:33

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
admin wrote:Though plenty of people in the UK complained about the 'light' gymnasium sabres being used by Italian schools.

Absolutely the same happened in Hungary, sport journalists in 1893 derided Italian sabres as children's sabres.


Hahaha!
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