it is here that nippon steel achieves apotheosis imo:
I have real trouble understanding what these stories of ‘fighting for hours’ reflect in this and chivalric literature. Is this just hundreds of years of tradition and stylization removed from how fightin’ dudes actually fight each other?
Morte d’Arthur was full of ‘fighting until covered in blood’ and it was such an alien and piggish morality that I had a hard time empathizing with it; Don Quixote is such an excellent satire and I can intensely identify with its rejection of chivalric romance tics.
In the particular case of Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age northern Europe The Literature (esp. later Icelandic Sagas and paettir) points to a pretty formalized form of dueling where two dudes literally stood there and traded blows back and forth.
Each would have a shield and a weapon, ideally a sword, because it’s a sword, man! One would cut at the other. Then the other would cut at the one. They would take turns attacking and defending until someone was seriously injured or dead or the person who made the challenge was willing to come to terms. I imagine that watching it was weirdly stilted and boring even if you were into bloodsport?
If both shields broke, they might get new shields! As seen above. Thorstein and Bjarni’s duel was informal (over a bit of business with someone’s servant being a jerk?) but still seems to follow codified rules. We have definite record of Icelandic Dueling Law (the holmganga) where the participants met in a meticulously marked square of X size and each had three shields and once all three shield were broken they had to meet with swords alone.
It was mostly abandoned when Iceland established its court of appeal around the turn of the first millennium.
I like Thorstein and Bjarni because they don’t want to fight that much and they’re both very polite and then they become good buddies.
Perspective on medieval romance is not really my thing. It seems fair to say it’s… romanticized, though.
favorite saga dueling tradition: bringing two swords because the berserker you’re going to fight might have the ability to magically blunt the first weapon he looks upon so you present the one so he wastes his magic before pulling out your #1 fav sword
a real tactics
So they’re taking turns wielding blows, and because of this they can block most of them but are still picking up knicks and scrapes?
So a solid hit occurs every so often, and whoops, he died, but often dudes come out of it okay and have repaired standing/honor?
I believe holmganga rules were something like “it ends when blood shows on the cloak they’re fighting on.” A good solid hit and you’re maimed or dead. People are often depicted as becoming much less eager to defend their honor or push for redress of X slight as soon as their shield is broken, because without the shield their chances of avoiding that good solid hit go down exponentially. They also seem ok with letting opponents refresh weapons/shields even under informal conditions. It can sort of leave the impression of people who’d really rather not kill one another if they don’t have to but gosh, this is their legal recourse, and they’ll be damned if they’ll just walk off if the other guy might get tired of the possibility of impending death/murder first!
Something about the extremely small populations at play… The only other legal redress was outlawry
Those icelanders had such a legalistic society, I have been reading the sagas as basically law and order medieval edition
spider helmet D:
Hey I thought I recognized this and then yeah that watermark. Man, the armor court at that museum rules. Also makes you realize how tiny dudes used to be.
vallejo was afraid of real butts