Where do Messers fit in?

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Roger Norling
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Postby Roger Norling » Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:02 am

Actually I will have to counter my earlier post since I have changed my mind a bit. We have an Italian source and Joachim Meyer saying that the Germans didn't consider it gallant to thrust with the swords on the battlefield in the 2nd half of the 1500s.

There has been some considerable amount of speculation about the reasons why, but I don't quite have the time to go into it right now. Suffice to say, that there are quite a few indications that under certain circumstances the thrusting was less common for various reasons but in certain cases it was certainly common. This is why Meyer teaches thrusting with the Rappier, for instance, since it was intended to meet a foreign threat. Meyer outright tells us to not use it against our fellow "Germans". Silver has similar notions and there are other examples.
"Mit einem schönen Eisenrohr kannst man die Welt mit überraschen schlagen"

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Kevin Reicks
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Postby Kevin Reicks » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:29 am

Roger Norling wrote:Actually I will have to counter my earlier post since I have changed my mind a bit. We have an Italian source and Joachim Meyer saying that the Germans didn't consider it gallant to thrust with the swords on the battlefield in the 2nd half of the 1500s.

There has been some considerable amount of speculation about the reasons why, but I don't quite have the time to go into it right now. Suffice to say, that there are quite a few indications that under certain circumstances the thrusting was less common for various reasons but in certain cases it was certainly common. This is why Meyer teaches thrusting with the Rappier, for instance, since it was intended to meet a foreign threat. Meyer outright tells us to not use it against our fellow "Germans". Silver has similar notions and there are other examples.


I just finished reading the book 'The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe' and I believe it mentions there were a lot of restrictions on the thrust in tourneys, not the battlefield. I think there is a little bit of sportiness to his book, so that wouldn't surprise me.

That and the rapier was primarily a civilian weapon and they used it on each other all the time. I think Meyer didn't like the idea of Germans killing other Germans in general.

Roger Norling
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2009 5:57 am
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Postby Roger Norling » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:48 pm

Well here I disagree. The interesting thing is that the thrust is frowned upon also for "street fighting" in many countries in at least the 1500s, but we also have an Italian source that says that this extends even onto the battlefields for the Germans, when it comes to the use of the swords. The Italian source specifically says that the Germans consider it "ungallant". Meyer too expresses similar thoughts. However, they obviously didn't have issues with thrusting with other weapons.

I really don't think Meyer is teaching for the fechtschule and I think that is a misunderstanding. He certainly used the fechtschule also, but that was not his ultimate goal.

As for the Rappier/Side sword, it certainly was used by the military a lot, but the Germans learned it in response to the Italians. This is where Meyer says that the Germans need to learn it, even if the common idea of thrusting at the time is that it is a dishonourable thing to use even in the civilian context of self-defense. Still, he teaches thrusting with all weapons, even with the longsword, although for the longsword he does it a bit differently, with almost no thrusting from the bind. The reasons for that can be speculated on. And he does say that the thrusting with the Rappier should be reserved for the foreigners and the "common enemy", even that it is how it was done also before Meyer's time, by their forefathers.

"As regards rapier combat, which at the present time is a very necessary and useful practice, there is no doubt that it is a newly discovered practice with the Germans and brought to us from other people. For although the thrust was permitted by our forefathers in earnest cases against the common enemy, yet not only did they not permit it in sporting practice (schimpflichen übungen), but they would also in no way allow it for their sworn-in soldiers (Kriegsleuten) or others who had come in conflict with each other, except against the common enemy (gemeine feinde), a custom that should still be observed today by honorable soldiers (Kriegsleuten) and by civilian Germans (Burgerlichen Teutschen). Therefore rapier combat would be superfluous, were it not that thrusting, as well as many other customs that were unknown to the Germans of former times, take root with us through interaction with foreign peoples.

And since such foreign customs increase with us from day to day in many places, it has now also become more necessary not only that such customs of alien and foreign nations should be familiar and known to us, but that we should practice and adapt ourselves to these customs no less than they, as much as should be useful for needful defence, so that when necessary, we can encounter them to protect ourselves that much more better and be able to triumph."


Translation by Dr. Jeffrey L Forgeng (With German terms added by me).
"Mit einem schönen Eisenrohr kannst man die Welt mit überraschen schlagen"



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