Swordsmen of the British Empire

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Swordsmen of the British Empire

Postby the_last_alive » 19 May 2013 22:27

I finished this excellent resource last week.

The introductory essay is a good primer on the weapons and martial disciplines used by those involved in the majority of accounts in the main section of the book.

Firstly the earlier period accounts are mainly 19C authors writing about historical events, and personally these could have been left out, and the book left as nothing but 19C military encounters.

Secondly Mr Kinsley seems to bash Burton at every available oppurtunity, which right or wrong, gets old fast.

And lastly Mr Kinsley occasionally interrupts the accounts to put his opinion across, which gets irritating.

With all that in mind this is still the cornerstone for books on swordsmanship, and what swords are capable of. A great resource if you're curious about how officers and men fought with swords in the 19C, or the effect they had on those who were on the wrong side of the weapon.

If you haven't got it already, I recommend getting it.
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Re: Swordsmen of the British Empire

Postby Angantyr » 20 May 2013 11:28

Hear hear!

Much of the same impression I got, but being in the middle of a bachelor in History I am getting used to one sided arguments. :wink:

It is one of the few, if not the only, big collection of first hand and second hand accounts of swords being used. Invaluable for any serious martial artist. (Yes, everyone, if you happen to train with blades you want to know what they are capable of. Just as I would reccomend modern day RBSD to look at combat footage)
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Re: Swordsmen of the British Empire

Postby Thearos » 03 Jun 2013 22:19

I bought the .pdf. Lots of source material, quoted at great length-- much work went into this, and the range and scope are admirable. For instance, on the old "thrust vs cut" controversy, and generally Napeolonic-era sword work, the collection of sources is wide ranging and full of good finds.

My worry is the reliability of sources. For instance, the Napoleonic section has memoirs, articles in service journals (some C19th, some early 20th century), tactical treatises (De Brack), Oman (1913), Haydon (the painter); lots of jolly yarns, sometimes several versions of the same incident (officer of the 95th at Waterloo taking out a French officer). More criticism (rather than interjected comments-- based on experience, but too subjective in the present state) would help.

The section of pictures is long, but again, without provenance or comment, difficult to use.

Still, I don't regret buying this. Could be even better.
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Re: Swordsmen of the British Empire

Postby Sean M » 09 Jun 2013 19:08

I own the previous Ebook version, not the new one with Matt's introduction. I think it is a wonderful book as long as you focus on the sources and pay attention to where the current source came from. There are some old soldier's tales, and some imaginative stories, mixed in with letters written a few days after a fight.

The other big limitation is that Kinsley only uses sources written in English. Some French or German sources for the Napoleonic Wars, French or Russian sources for the Crimea, and sources in Indian languages, Persian, or Arabic for the colonial wars, would have balanced the book. Surely some of these must be available in translation in the public domain! As is, I'm not sure how many of Kinsley's comments on French or oriental swordsmanship I can trust.
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Re: Swordsmen of the British Empire

Postby admin » 08 Aug 2013 10:17

Please note that the link has now changed:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?cont ... Id=1214845
http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

I like swords more than you.
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Re: Swordsmen of the British Empire

Postby Mearcstapa » 16 Feb 2014 18:55

As has already been alluded to, this is an absolutely superb (if not unparalleled) resource; as a cohesive whole though it is not quite to the same standard.

The reason for this is that it is an almost uninterrupted stream of contemporary accounts, for the most part with relatively little interjection by the author. As such, it is extremely valuable to people interested in contemporary attitudes towards, use of, and opinions of the arme blanche in its various forms as used or encountered by Europeans, as well as in comparison to pistols through the latter part of the nineteenth century.

It is a shame that Matt Easton's section was not longer, as I feel he was only able to scrape the surface of the issues that, as a HEMAist, he felt compelled to mention.

I disagree strongly with some of Kinsley's assertions as I do not think they are held up by the (very mixed) evidence that he himself has collated, but that in no way detracts from the utility of this book or the gratitude I owe to Kinsley for having gone to such lengths researching it.

In short, I thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an academic or historical interest in HEMA.
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