Ewart Oakeshott was a friend, mentor and teacher in our study of the sword and its history. His last book was a look at the general history of the medieval sword as seen through anecdotes and interesting examples he had come across in his life long study of the blade. He was an accomplished author who had not only a scholarly approach to the study of swords but also the eye of an artist and mind of a technical illustrator.
He was first introduced to swords by his uncle Jeffery Farnell, a noted author of his time, and collector of swords. Ewart was studying and began to purchase swords him self in the 40's. To hear some of his experiences seeing medieval swords at auction in these times it is amazing to collectors today how accessible they were before becoming so popular today.
When he wrote Sword In Hand he was expanded on some of his earlier writing and included some new pieces that had come to light in the years since his previous books (see below). This was his "story of the medieval sword" told in his personal style. It includes his personal insight on famous swords, some unique items he had discovered in his years of study, some of his personal art work and many images of swords.
When he asked us to publish this book for him it was a bit outside of our wheelhouse but we wanted his vision of it to be fulfilled so we worked hard to achieve what he laid out. He wanted large images that allowed people to see the swords he was describing and to include some of the details he felt were important in understanding the objects and their context. He was happy with the result and we are proud to have worked on it with him.
It is one of the first histories of the sword to have images large enough to see details often not included or obscured in earlier works.
His books on swords and armor, taken as group, create a good indepth look at many of these items and in particular he lays out the base of the system for his sword typology, the most often used in the english language. His goal to create this system was to give scholars and students a way to clearly describe a sword in all its important aspects via the written word. This was needed in the time before easy access to images that we all enjoy with the internet. Today's ability to use digital platforms for instantaneous sharing of such information makes it hard to imagine doing sword research by written letter and sketch.
Ewart's works were foundational to the modern study of the arms and armor of Europe. One of his colleagues once told me that if you glued Sword in Hand to Sword in the Age of Chivalry and Record of the Medieval Sword on the back it was best overall discussion of the medieval sword in print. While some great scholarship and publishing has continued since Ewart's passing this group is still quite formative to study of the sword.
Some of Ewart Oakeshott's work.
The Archaeology of Weapons, a study and research, covering the period from the Bronze Age to the Renaissance looking at the weapons as a practical tools rather than objects of art. Illustrated by the author.
The Sword in the Age of Chivalry- a definitive and scholarly typological study
of the medieval sword which has become a standard work.
European Weapons and Armour - this is in effect the second part of the history begun in The Archaeology of Weapons, and covers the period from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution, with 700 line drawings (by the author) and more than 100 photographs.
Records of the Medieval Sword Interesting and famous swords the author knew and studied. Kind of Great Pieces I have known collection.
Swords in the Viking Age, coauthored with Ian Pierce, published 2003.
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.