Best history book on swords, axes, maces etc ?

Greggy C

Adventurer
Supporter
I tried googling and searching Amazon but I know YOU have already figured this out...

One of things I loved about Tunnels and Trolls was reading all the different names of the weapons and seeing the attached attached damage to them (which gives you a sense of how devastating it was). Their list seemed to come from European history, so I am looking for a book that has the history, description, picture of each weapon but hopefully also some kind of commentary on why it was better than (its predecessor).
 

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I haven't gotten to it yet, but a friend of mine recommended this:

 

Greggy C

Adventurer
Supporter
I haven't gotten to it yet, but a friend of mine recommended this:

Its a little silly, but has useful info laid out nicely, thanks!
 

Voadam

Legend
I remember as a grade school kid our school library had a book that was called something like Encyclopedia of Weapons that went from stone age hunting tools through the ages describing stuff like the development of chariot warfare and roman pilums and such.

I checked that one out more than once.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
I remember as a grade school kid our school library had a book that was called something like Encyclopedia of Weapons that went from stone age hunting tools through the ages describing stuff like the development of chariot warfare and roman pilums and such.

I checked that one out more than once.
This one?
Someone (don't recall who?) recommended that one in a different thread in the last few days.
 



SJB

Villager

The classic work on swords is Ewart Oakeshott, The Sword in the Age of Chivalry (Boydell, new edition, 1994, orig. 1964).

John Waldman, Hafted Weapons in Medieval and Renaissance Europe: The Evolution of European Staff Weapons between 1200 and 1650 is probably the best bet for primary weapons (Brill, 2005).

It is worth checking out the YouTube channel Schola Gladiatoria. The host, Matt Easton, regularly posts videos engaging in the kind of analysis that you seek.
 

John Clements has several good books on personal combat, with Medieval Swordsmanship and Renaissance Swordsmanship being two of his better works.

For armor and war in general, Bengt Thordeman's Armor from the Battle of Wisby, now back in print (it was written shortly before WW1) cannot be outdone, particularly in is forensic examination of wounds from such weapons, besides being a fascinating read all by itself.

Fiore dei Liberi’s Flos Dellatorum and Fillipo Vadi’s Ars Gladiatoria have been translated and put into a modern written format by a college in Canada, and there is no better work on the spear.

Wojciech Zablocki's work on the saber has been translated and re-formatted lately, and while it is from the 17th century, it covered the use of the curved saber better than anyone.
 
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Voadam

Legend
This one?
Someone (don't recall who?) recommended that one in a different thread in the last few days.
No, I remember a different cover. Also this was the 1970s-80s so it would not have covered up to the year 2,000. :)

Going to the library they could probably point you to the right direction for the topic and then the Dewey decimal system will probably give you a couple options next to each other on the shelf.

Once it is safe to go to your library again that is.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
No, I remember a different cover. Also this was the 1970s-80s so it would not have covered up to the year 2,000. :)

Going to the library they could probably point you to the right direction for the topic and then the Dewey decimal system will probably give you a couple options next to each other on the shelf.

Once it is safe to go to your library again that is.
I think I know which one you're talking about. I checked that book out of the library a million times in the 80s, and I actually have a copy now (somewhere). It's got a red cover with no pictures, just the title. It's very much like the one above, just with a different cover. The interior illustrations reminded me of technical drawings. There was also a section on booby traps IIRC. Also, I'm pretty sure it went to the 2000s too, even though obviously it couldn't since I was reading it in 1985 lol. I guess they said the 2000s because it was a nice round number, and they assumed weapons wouldn't change much in the next 15 years?

Who knows.

Yep, this was the one (I guess I was just missing the cover jacket). And yes, it was printed in 1980 but said it went to the 2000s lol

 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
FWIW, I was the one who recommended the Palladium an Diagram Group books in that other thread. Both are REALLY useful FRPG sourcbooks/toolkits for different reasons.
 

Blackrat

He Who Lurks Beyond The Veil
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This one is an awesome resource
 

TerraDave

5ever, or until 2024
While I didn't find exactly what I wanted, I did find this book what is a pretty cool list of all medieval weapons with some basic info.

I have that somewhere. Its alright, RPG oriented, and has some optional rules.
 

GreyLord

Legend
I tried googling and searching Amazon but I know YOU have already figured this out...

One of things I loved about Tunnels and Trolls was reading all the different names of the weapons and seeing the attached attached damage to them (which gives you a sense of how devastating it was). Their list seemed to come from European history, so I am looking for a book that has the history, description, picture of each weapon but hopefully also some kind of commentary on why it was better than (its predecessor).

The best one I felt was not one that is easy to come upon or easily read. It was an instruction manual from...I believe the 16th century regarding how to use weapons in combat for those teaching various members of the army.

Very different than what I see CA (Creative Anachronism) individuals do, in some ways very similar to what I've seen in the military regarding hand to hand combat though.

It didn't really show all the different types of weapons, being confined to a few, but it DID show how they were utilized and used on a mass scale.

I can't recall what it is called now, just that I stumbled across it in a university library some years back (and it wasn't in hard copy, it was on microfilm...though many may not know what that is these days).

The book also focused on most normal weapons in use, which included spears/polearm as well as sword usage if I recall. Shields were also a heavy focus factor. Not much on ranged weapons, in fact, no mention of them at all.

I suppose not much of a help from a fantasy RPG viewpoint, but it was fascinating to take a look at the past. It wasn't about dueling though, more regarding mass training of troops and what that training was and such if I recall.

It's been a while.
 


FWIW, I was the one who recommended the Palladium an Diagram Group books in that other thread. Both are REALLY useful FRPG sourcbooks/toolkits for different reasons.
To be fair, the OP asks for historic works. Those work, while probably RPG useful, are not historical. Or in many cases, accurate.
 



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