One or Two Handed? - Hungarian Sword Q & A

In our Hungarian Sword Spotlight we mention a few things that folks had some good questions about. So we thought it would be good to answer them for everyone to hear. The making of our spotlight videos is a way to showcase our pieces and tell you a little bit of the story of each piece. In doing that we may mention or note some aspects of medieval swords that can be complex and have lots of nuance that we are not able to explore in detail in such a video.

One such aspects is a sword like the Hungarian that straddles the line between one and two handed use. Part of the query stated "You said it was sort of a hybrid, one- or two-handed, but you did not explain whether it was best for cutting or thrusting" and this is exactly right but a simple answer is lacking as this is where we see the birth of the hand and a half sword or longsword in the European fighting arts. It is not this sword specifically but rather what it represents as the use of two hands on a sword is recognized to supply advantages in both the strike and thrust in certain parts of combat.

 Jungfrauenspiegel. German, c. 1200. Kestner Museum, Hanover

Jungfrauenspiegel. German, c. 1200. Kestner Museum, Hanover

In this image we see an early example of the use of a two handed grip in combat with a medieval sword. This type of action and depiction would give us a sense of how they saw the use of this tactic and development of the swords design.



divider swords

Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography.  He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985

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