15thC German Longsword

longsword

Brief Summary

German longsword of the Liechtenauer tradition, from the 14th and 15th centuries, is characterised by how it strives for effectiveness, lethality, and control of timing of the fight.

The longsword is a weapon that is held with both hands on the grip, where the hands are protected by a long crossguard. The blade is long and double-edged (so that strikes can be made with both the front and back edges) and terminates in a sharp point (so that thrusts can be made too). Longswords were not particularly heavy, and 1.6 kg (slightly more than 3 lbs) is not an unreasonable weight for such a sword.

Many fencing masters wrote treatises describing how to fight with the longsword, and it is from these sources that we are able to reconstruct the system as a modern martial art today, where we practice with modern safety gear and training equipment. Safety of participants is a high priority, as is authentic interpretation of this historical system.


Main Sources

- Anonymous. Cod.Hs.3227a, c.1389. (aka Codex Döbringer)
- Anonymous. Codex 44.A.8, 1452. (aka Codex Danzig)
- Talhoffer, Hans. MS Thott.290.2º, 1459.
- Talhoffer, Hans. Codex icon.394a, 1467.
- Anonymous. Codex I.6.4º.2, c.1470. (aka Codex Wallerstein)
- Kal, Paulus. Codex Germ.1507, c.1470.
- Falkner, Peter. MS KK5012, c.1495.
- Ringeck, Sigmund. E.1939.65.341, 1508. (aka Glasgow Fechtbuch)
- Ringeck, Sigmund. MS Dresd.C487, c.1510. (aka Codex Ringeck)
- Anonymous. MS Germ.Quart.2020, c.1515. (aka Goliath)


Equipment

To begin practicing this discipline in the Academy of Historical Arts, you will need the following items:

- synthetic longsword
- fencing mask
- padded gloves

The links will take you to the appropriate pages on the Corsair's Wares website, where you may purchase the necessary equipment. Buying through Corsair's Wares puts money back into the Academy of Historical Arts so that we can further our educational activities.


Protective Gear Minimum Requirements

According to the AHA Health and Safety Policy, these are the current minimum requirements to engage in activities safely for this discipline. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory, items marked in italics are recommended. Most of these items are available through Corsair's Wares; buying through Corsair's Wares puts money back into the Academy of Historical Arts so that we can further our educational activities.

- drilling with wooden/synthetic swords
* Head: CEN level 1 mask
Head: CEN level 2 mask (recommended)
Head: padded mask overlay (recommended)
Head: back of head protection (recommended)
Neck: rigid throat protector (recommended)
Torso: rigid chest protector (recommended)
Torso: padded jacket or gambeson (recommended)
Torso: groin guard (recommended)
Arms: forearm & elbow protection (recommended)
Hands: well padded gloves (recommended)
Legs: knee & shin guards (recommended)

- sparring with wooden/synthetic swords
* Head: CEN level 1 mask
* Hands: well padded gloves
Head: CEN level 2 mask (recommended)
Head: padded mask overlay (recommended)
Head: back of head protection (recommended)
Neck: rigid throat protector (recommended)
Torso: rigid chest protector (recommended)
Torso: padded jacket or gambeson (recommended)
Torso: groin guard (recommended)
Arms: forearm & elbow protection (recommended)
Legs: knee & shin guards (recommended)

- drilling with steel swords
* Head: CEN level 1 mask
Head: CEN level 2 mask (recommended)
Head: padded mask overlay (recommended)
Head: back of head protection (recommended)
Neck: rigid throat protector (recommended)
Torso: rigid chest protector (recommended)
Torso: padded jacket or gambeson (recommended)
Torso: 350N or preferably 800N rated underplastron (recommended)
Torso: groin guard (recommended)
Arms: forearm & elbow protection (recommended)
Hands: well padded gloves (recommended)
Legs: knee & shin guards (recommended)

- sparring with steel swords
* Head: CEN level 1 mask
* Head: back of head protection
* Torso: padded jacket or gambeson
* Hands: well padded gloves
* Legs: knee & shin guards
Head: CEN level 2 mask (recommended)
Head: padded mask overlay (recommended)
Neck: rigid throat protector (recommended)
Torso: rigid chest protector (recommended)
Torso: 350N or preferably 800N rated underplastron (recommended)
Torso: groin guard (recommended)
Arms: forearm & elbow protection (recommended)


We have gone to great lengths to ensure that we do not mandate and price people out of the activity. It should always be possible to participate in training, even if only to a lesser degree of intensity. Obviously the more intense and less safe the activity becomes, the more protective gear is necessary to mitigate the risk of harm. You are always welcome to wear more protective gear than the minimum requirements, we will never tell you to remove protective gear (unless it poses a risk to yourself or other participants, for whatever reason).


Useful Resources

book cover
(More information about this book and where you can purchase it.)
Farrell, Keith, and Alex Bourdas. AHA German Longsword Study Guide. Glasgow: Fallen Rook Publishing, August 2013. ISBN 978-0-9926735-0-5.

book cover
(More information about this book and where you can purchase it.)
Farrell, Keith (ed.). Encased in Steel Anthology I. Glasgow: Fallen Rook Publishing, March 2015. ISBN 978-0-9926735-6-7.

For a comprehensive list of treatises, transcriptions and translations, there is no better resource than the Wiktenauer: http://www.wiktenauer.com/