How common was the langes messer in the Holy Roman Empire?

Poppycawk

New member
Was the messer more common than a longsword or arming sword?

Is there any artwork out there of peasants or nobleman carrying messers?

I very recently discovered my new found love of messers and info dosnt seem to be quite as plentiful as longsword s,rapiers or sabres though.
 

Administrator

Administrator
Staff member
This could be an article in itself. The short answer is that there is artwork, and even source manuscripts. We briefly touch on this in the Path of the Saber article on the site, from the 'Learn HEMA' section.

It is popularly believed that messers were primarily utilized by burghers to get around certain laws prohibiting the carry of a sword, with the thinking that a messer was instead classified as a "knife" but some of this is speculation. There is a lot of speculation on this subject, with some lengthier threads like this one over at ARMA being very representative of what that speculation looks like.

What does seem clear is that they were easier to make than double edged straight bladed swords and so being more affordable could mean they were more plentiful.

We'll see about writing a lengthier article that examines the many ideas and theories people have related to messers.
 

Poppycawk

New member
This could be an article in itself. The short answer is that there is artwork, and even source manuscripts. We briefly touch on this in the Path of the Saber article on the site, from the 'Learn HEMA' section.

It is popularly believed that messers were primarily utilized by burghers to get around certain laws prohibiting the carry of a sword, with the thinking that a messer was instead classified as a "knife" but some of this is speculation. There is a lot of speculation on this subject, with some lengthier threads like this one over at ARMA being very representative of what that speculation looks like.

What does seem clear is that they were easier to make than double edged straight bladed swords and so being more affordable could mean they were more plentiful.
The messer would make sense as a peasant weapon then but why were nobles and knights carrying these instead of swords?
 

Administrator

Administrator
Staff member
Something generally well understood is that single edged wide blades with a curve make for good cutters but something less apparent is that thickening the back of the blade allows it to obtain a high amount of durability.

Taking a look for example at Japan, specialty katana made for kabuto-wari ("helmet cutting or breaking; this is the lesser known but widely practiced counterpart to historical Tameshigiri that contemporary martial artists are generally unaware of) have thicker blades than contemporary katana used for Tameshigiri, and could be used to cut armor, steel plates and other hard things. By the end of the Meiji period some brutal endurance tests were being done, even seeing how many strikes against an anvil a sword could endure before breaking.

So this is mostly just speculation but one advantage a messer has is that it is cheaper to produce to have good durability than compared to say a long sword style blade that requires more time to produce to the same durability standard.
 
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