kovex ars falcions

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oakenshield
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kovex ars falcions

Postby oakenshield » Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:56 pm

does anybody have one and what are they like ?

cheers


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby latheaxe » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:04 pm

Dont have a falcion but i have a hand n half and i have found it to be very good.I would say they are good quality although they are not the cheapest around.I would deffo get another from them,in fact i have been considering getting a two hander from them... :thumbup:



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby KedlestonCraig » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:42 pm

I'd save up and get a Tim Noyes.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby latheaxe » Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:53 pm

Already got two of his lol... :roll:



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby oakenshield » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:52 pm

tbh its just to hang on my belt and look nice as long as they are up to being bashed a bit.

thanks for the reply guys


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby narvek » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:56 pm

Kovex is no no....it's so bad that nearly nobody is byuing from them here. All their production is for export.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby wulfenganck » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:18 am

I'm with narvek here: I dislike Kovex swords. Maybe it's different with their exports to the UK (I don't think so, but who knows...?). Anyway, dislike is the wrong worfd, I hate, hate, hate, this sort of "rustic" design of the blades with dents and traces of tinder left on the flat of the blade. If you compare the price to other smith's (czech or polish) it's obviously not due to make it cheaper. My concern is that it's all about some "ye olde blade of our mighty ancestors" rustic look.

The blades seem to be very solid but then every single Kovex sword I ever had in my hands (and that was some amount since they are quite popular in Germany and sold all over the place) felt absolutely "dead" in hands. You could just as well hold a stick made from a ground rail - and quite frankly I think this is exactly what they are made of.
Add some leather wrapped on the one end of the stick called handle - there you go, another nice slo made for ruining your fencing style.
They are fine for some more or less reenactor'ish fieldbattle where it's all about brute bashing and dangling the blades against each other - but when you're interested in a more historically accurate style of reconstruction of historic european martial arts, I'd definetly stay away from Kovex.



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Fox » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:23 pm

wulfenganck wrote:They are fine for some more or less reenactor'ish fieldbattle where it's all about brute bashing and dangling the blades against each other - but when you're interested in a more historically accurate style of reconstruction of historic european martial arts....


Leaving Kovex aside for a moment, who may or may not be making an authentic product.....

Is that an entirely representative attitude?

Yes, it's correct that medieval HEMA as we know it was probably learnt by gentlemen (if you could afford to commision one of Foire's books, for instance....). And so the swords should probably represent that quality.

And we can extropolate some HEMA techniques from gentleman to men at arms and so on down the lowliest soldiers, within reason.

But we also know that swords were, for instance, shipped to France during the 100 Years War by the barrel, and some of the finds would show that the quality of these types of swords was probably pretty variable.

It's easy to look at the best and most expensive swords in museums and assume that level of quality is universal, but I think we're pretty sure that many of the swords carried by ordinary soldiers (particularly since they were not primary weapons) was pretty poor.

As I say, whether Kovex produce swords that represent this lower quality sword or not is a different question, but the wider theme of buying simpler, less well balanced swords for some portrayals is worth considering.



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Jim » Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:57 pm

I bought a Kovex sword once, and sold it on quite quickly as it was very heavy and not too well balanced. Kovex's other stuff, such as helmets, seem to be made out of very thin metal and the cap seems to be merely spot-welded to the rim at a few places around the edge. I believe they're not great quality, I'd not rely on their helms for field use, and their swords are just too heavy. Compare them to St George or even Armour Class for weight and balance. Also the metal burrs quite easily.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby AndyBell » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:39 pm

I have had a Kovex sword for a few years that I picked up second hand. I personally dont mind it, it is an acceptable sword, and was a good starter sword for me. the only major problem I have with it is as Jim said, it does burr easily.



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby wulfenganck » Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:21 pm

Fox wrote:
wulfenganck wrote:They are fine for some more or less reenactor'ish fieldbattle where it's all about brute bashing and dangling the blades against each other - but when you're interested in a more historically accurate style of reconstruction of historic european martial arts....


Leaving Kovex aside for a moment, who may or may not be making an authentic product.....

Is that an entirely representative attitude?

Yes, it's correct that medieval HEMA as we know it was probably learnt by gentlemen (if you could afford to commision one of Foire's books, for instance....). And so the swords should probably represent that quality.

And we can extropolate some HEMA techniques from gentleman to men at arms and so on down the lowliest soldiers, within reason.

But we also know that swords were, for instance, shipped to France during the 100 Years War by the barrel, and some of the finds would show that the quality of these types of swords was probably pretty variable.

It's easy to look at the best and most expensive swords in museums and assume that level of quality is universal, but I think we're pretty sure that many of the swords carried by ordinary soldiers (particularly since they were not primary weapons) was pretty poor.

As I say, whether Kovex produce swords that represent this lower quality sword or not is a different question, but the wider theme of buying simpler, less well balanced swords for some portrayals is worth considering.

Hmm, you have a valid point here, I am indeed thinking from a HEMA point of view - and that (= the idea of a skilled fencer with equally good kit standard) is maybe not representative for a low-rank medieval soldier.

I don't know enough about the training of an average soldier.
There are some regulations in german towns indicxating that every citizen should do at least a bit of regular training.
Then from the 1440s onwards, we have a growing number of official fencing schools for citizens, with various origins of the attendants. There is of course some aspect of fencing with a more sportive attitude instead of actual training for war.

But then again I think that Kovex is even below an average standard.



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Fox » Tue Jul 20, 2010 5:29 pm

wulfenganck wrote:But then again I think that Kovex is even below an average standard.

Well, obviously a significant minority of anything are usually below the average.

For me, the questions are:
(1) Are they safe and suitable for re-enactment?
(2) Do they reasonably represent the lower standard of medieval swords?

I'm not familiar with Kovex swords, so I don't know; although based on the other feedback, I would be tempted to avoid them anyway.



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:38 pm

The ones I saw at Tewkesbury didn't "look right" and certainly didn't "feel right" (I wasn't especially taken by the attitude of the lass who was trying to off load it to me either).


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby KedlestonCraig » Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:46 pm

I told my mate in Czech that Kovex were popular in England and he just laughed - they're not even one of the better outfits over there.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Jim » Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:35 am

As far as Kovex swords being suitable for reenactment, I would just say this...

Given that weapons safety checks include just two tests - one for pointy tips, the other for burrs, it would seem to be a safety risk to allow swords onto the field that burr up after a single blow from another sword.

I have never had to deburr a St George Armoury sword. The Kovex sword I did have, had to be deburred after EVERY fight.

I would not want to receive a blow from such a sword across any exposed skin, put it that way.


As a simple test, whack a St George sword nice and hard with a Kovex sword, then draw both swords quickly across your arm*. The Kovex will probably scratch you and may even draw blood.


*No don't really do that! D'uh!


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:24 pm

Aghhh it hurts you bastard!

Must read all post next time.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Matt Easton » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:49 am

Fox wrote:Yes, it's correct that medieval HEMA as we know it was probably learnt by gentlemen


Actually, all of the medieval masters except for Fiore seem to have been commoners. And fencing schools were generally associated with the mercantile classes - most members of German fencing guilds (and Tudor English ones) also had day jobs as tradesmen or merchants. They did teach gentlemen and nobles as well of course, but the art itself was the same for nobles and commoners until the introduction of the rapier. It is only in the 16thC that we start to see a clear divide between noble and common swordsmanship. And of course the techniques for longbows, crossbows, guns, bills and halberds were common to all classes.

But we also know that swords were, for instance, shipped to France during the 100 Years War by the barrel, and some of the finds would show that the quality of these types of swords was probably pretty variable.


Actually we are lucky enough to have examples of such barrels and unmounted trade blades. The Dordogne find being the most famous and documented by Ewart Oakeshott. The lowest quality medieval blades seem to be of varying metallic quality, but very good in terms of finish, polish etc by modern reenactment standards. Swords were being made in their thousand and most men owned at least one, so there were not tolerance of rubbish. It was a massive industry full of professional craftsmen - to compare with modern reenactment swords is like to compare people making kit cars in their garage with Bentley.

At the end of the day it is probably not worth comparing reenactment swords with historical swords anyway, as they fulfill a very different function most of the time and as such they have different forms and production considerations. Medieval swords were not designed to last for 10 years in blunt edge-to-edge bashing, they were design to cut and thrust into people and through clothes and armour. They were designed to be quick and sharp, rather than blunt and built like a tank.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Fox » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:28 pm

Thanks Matt.

Great informative post.

Matt Easton wrote:And fencing schools were generally associated with the mercantile classes - most members of German fencing guilds (and Tudor English ones) also had day jobs as tradesmen or merchants.

Please forgive me using "gentleman" as a short hand for monied people.
We're still talking about relatively well-off people.

As an aside, in the 14thC and 15thC England there is a great deal of change to class structure, and it wasn't unusal to find "gentleman" (men of noble blood) who were less well off than merchants, craftsmen and even yeoman (which leads to some interesting marriages and social climbing).

The sort of disposable income that allowed someone to attend a fencing school would be quite different to that of most of the archers who owned or were issued a sword for expeditions in the 100 years war.

Matt Easton wrote:The lowest quality medieval blades seem to be of varying metallic quality, but very good in terms of finish, polish etc by modern reenactment standards.Swords were being made in their thousand and most men owned at least one, so there were not tolerance of rubbish. It was a massive industry full of professional craftsmen - to compare with modern reenactment swords is like to compare people making kit cars in their garage with Bentley.

Which may be true; but there are quite a variety of forms in the finds records, suggesting that some swords would have been Peugots and some would have been Ferraris; no?

Matt Easton wrote:At the end of the day it is probably not worth comparing reenactment swords with historical swords anyway, as they fulfill a very different function.

Agreed; although re-enactment swords seem to get closer every year, they'll always be a compromise.
Certainly the accuracy of re-enactment swords should be something we should continue to examine and improve.



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Matt Easton » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:08 pm

Hi Fox,
yes the situation of fencing schools in medieval England is complicated, not least because they were illegal in English cities for most of the medieval period!

Having said that, we know they existed illegally, because there are fairly numerous records of people being convicted for running them and attending them (and one-to-one lessons).

In fact the problem was obviously persistent because from about 1280 to just after 1400 the laws forbidding the holding of fencing schools in English cities were repeatedly re-issued.

They seem to have stopped enforcing the anti-fencing school law around Henry V's time, and in fact by the late-15thC there are referrences to fencing being taught in London without any suggestion that this was viewed as illegal. So my conclusion so far is that fencing schools went from being present and illegal to legally tolerated some time in the middle of the 15thC.

Of course in 1540 Henry VIII created the London company of masters of defence - basically a guild - and stated that only they could officially teach fencing (though this didn't prevent lots of other people doing so in reality and by Elizabeth's time London was host to fencing schools of all sorts, run by both English and Italians).

In terms of what social class was teaching and learning fencing in medieval English cities (London having the most related sources), I would have to say that it was all social classes. Several of the people convicted in London for practicing fencing were labourers and dock workers. Some were tradesmen and merchants, and at least one I have seen was a gentleman or minor noble. Many of them were also described as 'vagabonds' and criminals. Fencing schools were predominantly for the urban population, and gentry at this time seem to have employed a fencing teacher to teach them privately at their home rather than going to a fencing school in the city. The other thing to note is that several of the documented people convicted for practicing fencing were working class men who were practicing together in private residences - they were not actually paying to learn in a school from a master. One 14thC coroner's record notes the case of the poor chap who died from an accidental head wound caused by practicing fencing with his mate using sticks.

I think that most archers would have had some degree of knowledge about how to fence with a sword or sword and buckler - carrying the sword and buckler was made illegal in English cities because of the degree of strife that was caused by fighting gangs, mostly after curfew. Sword and buckler fighting was a way of life in England and was done for fun, for money and in crime. Like the anti-fencing school law, the law against carrying swords and bucklers had to be continually reinforced in London from Edward I's time right the way into the middle of the 15thC. An Italian ambassador in the late-15thC noted that at seasonal festivals the young English men all used to spar with each other using sticks and bucklers. This probably led to the country fair singlestick tradition which was common all over England from the 16thC to the early-19thC.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Fox » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:30 pm

Thanks Matt; once again very valuable information.

I knew, as I said in my earlier post, that there was grounds for extrapolating the fighting manuals down, with increasingly less certainty, to more common men, but that level of detail is new to me.

Presumably we have no evidence to tell us how the limited written material of the period actually relates to what might have been taught or shared at these different levels.

I think that most archers would have had some degree of knowledge about how to fence with a sword or sword and buckler.

I don't doubt it. I half recall a chronicler's description of one of an assault on one of the French towns that not only gives that impression, but also that the suggests that the English archers were a bunch of thugs.



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:41 pm

Many years ago I was in a production of Shakespeares WOTR histories (Henry V, VI pts 1 and 2 an Ricard III- they didn't do Ricahard II or Edward III though) and Henry V was staged in modern (well 1980's) costume and army kit-I played Henry V as part soldier and part football holigan and Harfleur's walls were attacked to Anarchy in the UK the battle of Agincort was preceeded by footbal chants between to the opposing armies (all six of us).
Happy days.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Matt Easton » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:57 pm

Hi Fox,

Fox wrote:Presumably we have no evidence to tell us how the limited written material of the period actually relates to what might have been taught or shared at these different levels.


Not directly, though we know that in Italy and Germany the common fencers were using the same techniques as the nobles because the same techniques taught in the treatises for nobles are mentioned being used by the common guilds and in street festivals. And of course most fencing teachers were themselves commoners. Obviously there wouldn't be much point for an archer to learn how to fight with a pollaxe in armour, but I don't see any reasons why sword and buckler techniques would basically be the same for everyone - after all, what works works, and the various treatises all show the same spectrum of techniques from 1300 to 1600. Unarmoured civilian self-defence type fencing with a sword and buckler is the same regardless of social status after all.

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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Fox » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:30 pm

Matt Easton wrote:Hi Fox,

Fox wrote:Presumably we have no evidence to tell us how the limited written material of the period actually relates to what might have been taught or shared at these different levels.


Not directly, though we know that in Italy and Germany the common fencers were using the same techniques as the nobles because the same techniques taught in the treatises for nobles are mentioned being used by the common guilds and in street festivals.

That would be my instinct, although some evidence is always reassuring; I would assume the quality of teaching as you go down the social spectrum becomes more variable.

Matt Easton wrote:And of course most fencing teachers were themselves commoners.

As a curiosity, what do you mean by commoner?
Is it the full spectrum of non-noble society, mostly [ex]soldiers, mostly bottom of the heap, mostly middle of the heap?



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Matt Easton » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:53 pm

To be honest it's difficult to say - we only know a few biographical details about a few of them. Paulus Kal (Talhoffer's contemporary) for example was a captain of artillery, ie. ex-soldier. As it happens, Fiore dei LIberi was also in charge of artillery, and he seems to have first been a freelance soldier and then a professional fencing teacher. Johannes Lecküchner was a communal priest.
We don't know precisely what background most of the medieval fencing teachers came from - Fiore is the only one I know of who claimed to be noble (though there is no record of his family, so he may have been lieing).
The professional fencing teachers seem to have occupied the same place in society as other guild members in Italy and Germany. However, in England and France fencing school in cities were forbidden and there were no fencing guilds, so the fencing schools seem to have existed lower down the social scale until the 16thC, and were commonly associated with gangs, ruffians and criminals in general.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Matt Easton » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:59 pm

Incidentally, when Henry VIII created the first official fencing guild in England in 1540, the members were mostly mercantile - shop owners and suchlike (pretty much the same as in Germany and Belgium).

Also of passing interested - Maximilian I, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, had an English wrestling teacher in his employ. German sources also make referrence to English wrestlers and techniques. Since at least the 12thC it was forbidden to hold wrestling contests in English cities, but it was common to hold such contests just outside city limits. In much the same way as Smithfields and Spitalfields were popular places for martial arts practice (especially fencing and archery) in London, because they were outside city limits. In the Tudor period there were prize fights between London Apprentices at sword and buckler in Spitalfields. Elizabethan sources lament that the age of sword and buckler prize fights is dead and that now (then) men instead carried rapiers and killed each other over matters of honour in the Italian fashion.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Fox » Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:09 pm

Matt Easton wrote:Elizabethan sources lament that the age of sword and buckler prize fights is dead and that now (then) men instead carried rapiers and killed each other over matters of honour in the Italian fashion.

And thus to Silver....



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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Matt Easton » Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:13 pm

Exactly.


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby KedlestonCraig » Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:27 pm

Fox - this is quite interesting - worth a separate thread?


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Dave B » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:37 am

Coming back to the sword quality think, wouldn't it also depend on the type of sword. I'd imagine (and this is purely extroplating from illustrations) that the mass produced swords would have been shorter single handed stuff, Messers perhaps, whereas longer or more complex swords would always have been for those with deeper pockets and therefore always of excellent finish and detailing?


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Re: kovex ars falcions

Postby Matt Easton » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:50 am

I think it is fair to say, based on archaeological evidence (ie. surviving examples), that on average the 'peasant knives', messers and baselards tend to be poorer quality, yes.
However, as I said above, poor quality craftsmanship then still looked better than the average reenactment stuff today. Just go and have a look at the examples in the Museum of London or Royal Armouries. It's not simply a matter of finish/polish, but of 3 dimensional form and lightness - most modern repro stuff is made by grinding a strip of steel, historically it was all initially forged - therefore orginal knives and swords tend to vary in thickness through the blade more, being thicker at the base and thinner at the tip, resulting in strength where you need it coupled with lightness. To a certain extent you just can't make a historically accurate blunt, because historical knives and swords were designed to be sharp.


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