[This is an article from Cariadoc's Miscellany. The Miscellany is Copyright (c) by David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook, 1988, 1990, 1992. For copying details, see the Miscellany Introduction.]

Another Sort of Letter

Tournaments Illuminated

Dear Sirs:

Much as it pains me to disagree with an authority so learned as Master Bersark, I fear I must take issue with his criticism of the cover illustration of T.I. #25. Master Bersark's essential error (which, I must confess, I too made on first examining the cover in question) was to interpret it as illustrating a combat between two men with great swords. More careful examination, however, will show beyond any doubt that only one of the weapons in question is in fact a great sword. The other weapon is equipped with a pair of spikes about half way up the blade; while these bear a superficial resemblance to the secondary quillons sometimes found on great swords, their position, midway between the true quillons and the point, demonstrates conclusively that the weapon is not a great sword at all. It is, rather, a grattle swax, a (deservedly) obscure weapon combining the faults of both great sword and battle axe, while possessing the virtues of neither.

Once we have correctly identified the weapons in the illustration, it becomes clear that what is here represented is the well known exercise of great sword and grattle swax. This rather peculiar form of combat, popular among the more timorous knights of medieval Germany, involved the two parties crossing their swords and leaning upon them, each supported by the other. The warrior who first collapsed, or fell asleep, was deemed defeated. The function of the false secondary quillons of the grattle swax was, of course, to prevent the blade of the great sword from sliding along that of the grattle swax. It might be argued that two grattle swaxes would work even better, but this would require the combatants to actually possess two of them, which was unlikely. I should perhaps add that, in the opinion of some scholars, the exercise of great sword and grattle swax provides the true origin of the term "tilting."

Yours in behalf of scholarly endeavor,

Duke Cariadoc of the Bow, O.L., KSCA, etc.

(Tournaments Illuminated #29)

Webbed by Gregory Blount of Isenfir