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Minas Tirith Forums » Fantasy Games » Proper fighting (re-enactment) (Page 2)
Author Topic: Proper fighting (re-enactment)
Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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I'm thinking about the anglo-norse Huskarl. In the nordic countries mighty people had huskars, but when king Svein (a dane) took England, his huskars were no longer just the household people of the king, but a sort of police/special troops/tax collectors and so on. A viking age SWAT team. They were known for their usage of the Dane-axe (as the kingdom was now danish), which is also called the bearded axe. Anyway, seing as how the british are so big in the re-enactment scene, they have coined a lot of the phrases and terms used in re-enactment. Huskarl is one of them, and they think of the anglo-norse one.

Edit - Of course he could fight with "normal" weapons before he picks up his axe! I just didn't get it! []

[ 06-30-2003, 05:29 AM: Message edited by: Kjartan Fløgelfrikken ]

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I'll drink to that.

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Fabian
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Svein Twobeard (the nicknames sound sort of strange in english), the son of Harold Bluetooth? I didn't know he conquered England. Or are we talking about a later Svein?

I figure he could be standing behind the guys with the shields, maybe wielding a spear.

Side note: A huskarl to me is the lowest order in the hird, the guards and servants basically.

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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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I think we're talking about the same Svein, though I can't he 100% certain. But a danish Svein at one point had Norway, Denmark, England and parts of Sweden, a north-sea empire. His huskarls were not the same as had previously been used in the nordic region. His huskarls were very powerful, while still being hirdsmen. They were not royaly or nobility, but troops. I am a bit irritated that just because the british re-enactors have re-enacted for a longer time, we have to use all their terms [] . After all, it's viking re-enactment, and the anglo-norse huskarl is a very lalte invention, maybe from the very late 900's/early 1100th century.
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Éoric of the Riddermark
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Just for verification, you two are talking about the same Sveinn (name spelled a dozen different ways). I've often seen his nickname translated into English as "Forkbeard". His son was Knut the Great.

According to history and probably a bit of legend, he decided to invade England in 1003 because of the St. Brice's Day Massacre the year before. The English King Æthelred II ("the Unræd" or ill-counselled) had decreed that all Danes living in England should be killed, and King Sveinn's sister was allegedly among the victims. Anyhow, the conquest took a decade, with Sveinn becoming King of England in 1013.

Also, I think you can really distinguish between two "huskarls" in history. One is the old system in Nordic lands; the other were the revamped group that really came to prominence under Knut the Great. And while I don't think that the huskarls were the only fighters to use Dane axes, they certainly came to be identified with the weapon (or vice versa).

Speaking of which, I've seen bearded axes that were small (for one-handed use) as well as large. The most common term I've seen used for the Dane axe is broad axe or breidöx (the ö used in place of the old o with a comma-looking thing below that nobody seems to have a typeface for any more).

BTW, while we're on the subject of "vikings", I'd like to ask those of you in Scandinavia a question. I recently read a translation of a 12th century Icelander who used the words danska tungu for his own language. I've seen this mentioned in other books as well (I've also seen the spelling dönsk used). Was it universal for Viking Age Scandinavians (besides the Danes themselves) to refer to their language as Danish?

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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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As far as I know, it's only the big axe which is called the dane-axe. Their shafts reach your chin. I guess all viking axes are bearded, some to a greater extent than others. Breiðöx obviously covers the broad ones, so I guess that's what I know as the dane-axe. BTW, the special o is called a hooked o, it represents the modern english aw-sound. (Though it's closer to nordic å).

Old Norse was known internationally as the danish toungue. Often, europeans didn't know the difference, and indeed, they were very few back then. It's generally divided into east and west norse. East norse is old swedish and danish, which lost a lot of diphtongs, while west norse (icelandic, faroese, norwegian) kept them. The norse terms for "norse" were dönsk tunga and norræn tunga. I don't think there was ever talk about a svensk tunga or islenzk tunga back then, the term dönsk tunga worked. Just like many of todays international languages are different from country to country, yet referred to as english or spanish or chinese.

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Éoric of the Riddermark
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Thanks. I knew about the separation of "Old Norse" into eastern and western branches. Didn't that happen around 1000 AD or so? And I've come across the term "norræn tunga" as well as "norrænt mal". I think I spelled that correctly; I'm at work and my books are at home.

Anyhow, I wasn't sure what the most common or widespread term was for the language we call Old Norse, as used by the people who actually spoke it.

And yes, "hooked o" is what I was trying to remember. []

Speaking of axes, here's some small evidence that the Dane axe is a fearsome weapon: in Regia Anglorum, it's one of the last weapons you learn and are allowed to use, primarily because it can really do some damage! Oh, and indeed, only relatively large axe-heads, mounted on long ash shafts for two-handed use, are called Dane axes by everybody I'm aware of.

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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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I have never tried a dane-axe, nor fought against one, but the larger the weapon, the more fear and power it has. You can cleave shields and skulls (whatever your taste) easily with it. A small weapon is quick, but a big one is..well, big! I mean, the axe can hook weapons, before you know it, all your weapons and/or shields are gone.
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Roll of Honor Thorongil
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I'm not too up on my Danish/Norse history, as much as I would like to be, but would the huskarl be an early form of the later anglo-saxon house-carl, or cnit (later knight)? Also, did that king Sveinn take over all of the British Isle? I wasn't aware that any Norse king ruled the whole thing until Canute. But that is likely my lack of education...

I haven't really done much re-enactment, beyond a little sword and shield fighting with wooden weapons, and some sword and dagger type fencing. I hope to get more into it in the next year or so, but it is hard to find the time.

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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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In the norse lands, the powerful men had large households. Their guards were the hird, and the norse huskarls were a part of the household. They were servants, but fought too. Later, in the norse lands, they became more powerful, acting as police and other administrative function.

The anglo-saxon huscarl is a different form of huskarl. They were not low-ranking members of the royal household, but professional soldiers with military and administrative duties. They were well-equipped and high-ranking members of the hird. Their period was much later than the norse huskarl, which was a very old tradition. Huskarl literally means house-man. Rather than directly translating it to Old English Hûsceorl, they used Old Norse huskarl, changing k to c. Ceorl is linguistically the same as karl, but the meaning was not the same at the time. Thus, we have huskarl and huscarl.

The cniht is a special subject. Cniht means adolescent boy, young man, but became knight later. Though this transformation is thanks to the Norman conquest and occupation. Before the Normans brought cavalry, Anglo-Saxons were not primarily a cavalry nation. They still often followed the old custom of dismounting before battle, but they did often use cavalry to pursue enemies.

I don't believe any king in the viking age, norse nor saxon, held the whole of the British Isles. True, the superior of the English kings often referred to themselves as Bretwalda, ruler of the britons, but only England was under their control. Cornwall, Wales and Scotland were not under the English kings. The kingdom of York was often independant. So when kings were in control, they often controlled the English kingdoms Wessex, East Anglia, Northumbria and Mercia, all of which were absorbed into Wessex and became Engla Land, England.

Hope you find the time, I've been away from fighting almost since last autumn, so I'm glad I finally got back into it. I've just tried axe-fighting just a few days ago, a weapon I have never before used. It was quite exhilarating, but I think I'll focus on sword and shield, and spear and sax (dagger). So I hear you americans fight in armour with wooden weapons. Is this true? Do no americans fight with metal weapons and armour, or without for that matter? Over here in Norway, we start out with wood, and progress to metal. Only armour required is triple-padded fighting gloves. They are padded with some thick, tough leather. I've never seen the american way of fighting, just heard about it.

[ 07-04-2003, 08:16 PM: Message edited by: Kjartan Fløgelfrikken ]

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I'll drink to that.

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Roll of Honor Thorongil
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Thanks for the info. I knew a good bit of that already, but not all. I belive Canute did rule the whole Isle for a short time, although I could be mistaken (I don't include Ireland in this). Actually, now that I think about it, I think it was the whole Isle minus Wales.
So the huscarl was kind of the same tradition as the huskarl, just a good while later? That's what I was thinking, and it sounds like that is what you are saying.
As for the fighting, my friend who introduced me to it lives up in Wisconsin (in case you don't know, that is a northern state, near Canada), and only comes down here for college. So in the fall when he is here I will likely get more into it. I would have him come on here and tell you more about the American style, but he won't read LOTR, so... I do know that they use metal or leather armor, and different kinds of weapons in different leagues or groups. I think mostly the armor is just whatever the individual wants to wear, although I'm sure some basics are required, I'm not sure just what.

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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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Hmm, I think you misunderstood a bit. The norse huskarl was a household servant/soldier, the anglo-saxon huscarl was a professional soldier and taxman. They share the name, but their duties were different. In essence, in re-enactment, a huscarl/huskarl is a soldier, not servant. But in history, this only applies to the anglo-saxon version.

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I'll drink to that.

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Roll of Honor Thorongil
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Right, they were different in that respect, but the saxon version had evolved out of the norse idea, right? That's what I'm thinking at any rate...
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Éoric of the Riddermark
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quote:
So I hear you americans fight in armour with wooden weapons. Is this true? Do no americans fight with metal weapons and armour, or without for that matter? Over here in Norway, we start out with wood, and progress to metal. Only armour required is triple-padded fighting gloves. They are padded with some thick, tough leather. I've never seen the american way of fighting, just heard about it.
That depends entirely on which organization you're talking about...

The SCA, a very large medieval society in the US with presence around Europe as well, fights with rattan weapons and heavy armour (the most common being 14th century transitional style). Other medieval-ish combat groups like Dagorhir and Belegarth use "boffers" (padded weapons), with the advantage that you can then fight without armour (which is historically correct for many ages). Yet other groups (RANA, Wolfe Argent, Red Company, etc.) use blunts, usually (but not always) with armour accurate for the time/place being portrayed.

I've fought with all three, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

To sum up: You can't really generalize and say "Americans fight with (insert material here)." There are too many groups doing different things to make blanket statements. []

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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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Good, diversity is best. I there are many different types in Europe too, the so-called 'Huscarl' style is the most violent. They use blunts I think, but hit with full force (which we of course don't). They are padded underneath their byrnies, and use helms. The whole body is the target zone, whereas we only hit the torso and thighs and upper arms.
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Fabian
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Ghah! The head is a target zone? What are they, vikings?

On a sie note, during my *ahem* leave of absence, I checked that thing up about Svein. He did, as it seems, conquer England a few years before his death. I just thought his son Knut was the one who did it.

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How many nuns would a nun chuck chuck if a nun chuck could chuck nuns?

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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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It is the most extreme type [] .
But as they hit all over (maybe except face), they are heavily padded underneath, where you can't see it. Still though....

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Fabian
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Stupid

I had a quote from an icelandic saga about viking athletic exercises, can't fin it though.
It was something about a ball game that resulted in something like seven deaths.

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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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Is it Knattrleik? In Egill Skalla-Grimssons saga?
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Fabian
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Not Egil, but it may well have been Knattrleik
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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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Yep, that's a violent game. I don't know much about it, except it was hard and the rules were...liberal.
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Fabian
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Completely of topic, I was thinking about starting a viking RPG here, but I realized I didn't have the time...
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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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Might be time-conzuming, yeah.
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Pippin Toker
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Hi

Svein concored england and his son knud (i cant recall the english spelling) took over after him. Svein was only king of england for a wery short time.

Pippin

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Kjartan Fløgelfrikk
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New subtopic: what's the ultimate viking equipment?
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Éoric of the Riddermark
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My vote: "the longship" []

Or did you mean personal equipment?

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