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[Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.) (Read 1181 times)
Mauro Fiorentini
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[Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Dec 5th, 2017 at 1:33pm
 
The so-called "migration period" took place shortly after the falling of the Roman Empire. We could say it lasted from the late 4th Century a.D. to the 6th, 7th in some places.

It's called migration period because we see Germanic and Eastern European populations on the move, invading the once-proud frontiers of the Empire and settling there, fighting their way to success.
Italy was in the middle of the devastating Greek-Gothic war, splitted in two between areas supporting the Roman Emperor of Costantinople and areas conquered by the Germanic "pagans" that would soon estabilish Duchies and eventually convert to Christianity shortly after.
England was invaded by settlers from North Europe: Saxons, Anglians, Jute. The Romano-Celtic Britons tried to resist but in the end they had to give up Southern England to the invaders. Still they gave birth to the myth of King Arthur.

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King Arthur in a typical 20th Century a.D. illustration


Spain was invaded by the Visigoths. France slowly saw the birth of dinasties such as the Merovingians, the Pipinidi and the Carolingians, in which the hero of Early Medieval Christianity saw the light, Charles Magne.

An exciting period indeed, a chaotic one, obscure at times: but how did all these people fight? Was there a weapon that allowed settlers to conquer new land, or Christians to defend their dominions?

That era's weapon that always fascinated me the most was the Germanic sword. It was modeled on the late Roman cavalry "spatha", or longsword, and was a heavy blade with two edges and a quite easy-to-make hilt that could sometimes be extremely elaborate.

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The various types of migration period swords as labeled by Behmer.


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Eastern European sword, 4th to 5th Century.


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From Bildso, Scandinavia, 6th-7th C. Note the inlay on the pommel and the pattern welded blade.



Some months ago, a friend who's deeply into historical fencing gave me this migration period sword, stating that it was too weak for him to use in combat.
I was overloaded with things to do at the time, so I barely had time to dismantle the hilt, thus understanding what he meant: the blade didn't have a full tang, but a short one that only reached half the length of the handle. Everything was held together by glue.

The various pieces of the sword spent some time in my cellar until a few days ago, when I decided the steel the blade is made of was strong enough to be used for a new sword, this time "costruita come si deve", or "properly built".

I cut off some portions of the blade, thus making the tang longer. And I then spent the following couple of days thinking about hot to make the guard, the handle and the pommel.

I ended up with deciding I wanted my sword to look like the sword a middle-class warrior of the era could own: someone not too rich, not too poor, belonging to the warrior class and relying on his weapons to earn a living. He's rich enough to own a sword, but not enough to have an exclusive one.

So, I decided for guard and pommel made of two simple wooden plates each riveted between two bronze ones, and for a handle made of a couple dozens of leather discs, impiled on the tang, a solution to prevent the handle breaking as it would happen if it was made of wood and had to withstand a strong blow, that would make the tang work like a lever against the handle, possibly splitting it in two.


And shortly after everything was ready to begin...
...


Making these two sandwiches was quite easy and fun:
...


While hand-filing and enlarging the holes that would host the tang proved to be the most boring part of all:
...


The guard is finally done and fitted; providing the leather discs now...
...


...to be continued...
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #1 - Dec 5th, 2017 at 4:46pm
 
Awesome! Can't wait to see the finished sword Smiley
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Mauro Fiorentini
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #2 - Dec 5th, 2017 at 6:49pm
 
We're almost there - I'm actually enlarging the hole I made through the iron cap that will hold everything together Wink
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #3 - Dec 5th, 2017 at 7:13pm
 
That is awesome,  way to go. I can't wait to see the finished result.  When I went to the museum that I donated slings to. I got a back stage tour, abd saw a 8th century viking sword. And then when I get my own shop, I will have enough room to maje my own swords and such.  That is so.sweet.
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #4 - Dec 22nd, 2017 at 10:43pm
 
Were the leather discs glued together or were they just compressed very tightly?
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Mauro Fiorentini
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #5 - Jan 4th, 2018 at 6:14pm
 
Bill! Sorry for the late reply!
No glue used, each disc has a hole much smaller than the sword's tang and is placed in position using 2 tiny pliers, then gently but firmly hammered Wink
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #6 - Jan 5th, 2018 at 12:56pm
 
How sturdy is it?

Surely, you have tested it by now?   Grin

Nothing like taking a sword or a war club out, finding an old dead tree and whacking away.  If the sword or war club breaks, obviously I didn't make it right, and then, on to the next project to try again!
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Mauro Fiorentini
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #7 - Jan 5th, 2018 at 1:51pm
 
I'm going to make a video one day or another  Cheesy
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #8 - Jan 6th, 2018 at 7:51pm
 
I'd love to see it.
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #9 - Jan 13th, 2018 at 3:40pm
 
WOW! Really professional! Like all your work.
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Mauro Fiorentini
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #10 - Feb 6th, 2018 at 5:13am
 
Well, it's over, simple, rugged and heavy:

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...

...

and it's even more beautiful now, since I've polished it more and more after I took these pictures  Cool
(and yes I de-rusted it  Cheesy )

My sword <3
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #11 - Feb 6th, 2018 at 5:55am
 
Nice !!!
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #12 - Feb 6th, 2018 at 10:00am
 
Beautiful  Cheesy
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #13 - Feb 6th, 2018 at 11:27am
 
Great job. Turned out amazing
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Re: [Weapons] Migration period Germanic sword (5th to 7th C. a.D.)
Reply #14 - Feb 7th, 2018 at 11:04am
 
That's seriously amazing work. How does it feel in the hand?
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