Bellatore is a Spanish swordsmith, and they make some rather lovely swords.
They wanted to begin production of a relatively typical 15th century style longsword that would be good for HEMA practitioners who study either Fiore or early Liechtenauer, something that might replace a feder for such practice. They contacted myself and Federico Malagutti for our opinions and ideas about what would make a good training sword for these disciplines, and we are both very happy with the results!
This review: motivation and transparency
The smith wanted to produce a sword of a specific type, and asked for my input in designing it. I was sent an alpha prototype and a beta prototype for testing and feedback. Since I am close friends with the smith, and I like the beta prototype enough to be happy and willing to use it in drilling and sparring, I wanted to share my thoughts about it.
Also, when I was at the Borgosesia Historical Fencing Meeting 2019 with Federico, he asked if we could film a video review of the sword along with our colleague Mauro Carapacchi. Since the video is already available online, it makes sense to put my thoughts in writing!
The dimensions are as follows:
- total length: 126.5 cm
- blade length: 97 cm
- weight: around 1.55 kg
- point of balance: around 7 cm in front of the hilt
When consulted about dimensions, I wanted the sword to reflect typical 15th century swords that we might see in museums. Therefore, it is not as long in the blade as some swords and feders; however, the hilt had to be long enough to accommodate hands in Sparring Gloves, so this would be the main concession to the demands of modern training.
Weight & Handling
At 1.55 kg, the weight is reasonable and broadly in line with other “longsword blunts” or “proper longswords” for modern training, as opposed to feders. Some feders end up being heavier, although many are lighter. The sword certainly does not feel heavy in the hand, and the 7 cm point of balance means that it moves in a very agile fashion.
I enjoy using this sword. I find it is agile and easy to move from guard to cut and back to guard. I think it handles nicely and flows well from one motion to the next.
It has enough mass in the blade to have presence in the bind in a way that most feders lack – I often find myself “losing the bind” with feders, whereas I can “hold the bind” for as long as I want when the sword has sufficient mass in the blade to have presence in the bind. This lets me perform and showcase the early Liechtenauer methods in the way that I understand them.
The blade is a diamond section, which allows it to have plenty of mass and presence in the bind; however, it remains surprisingly flexible in the final third. By measuring the dynamic flexibility using the method outlined in this article, the measurement is 7.75 kg, which makes it one of the most flexible swords measured in the article.
Although it is exceptionally flexible, which would make thrusts quite safe, the point is relatively narrow. It has been thickened a little, but for thrusts to be safe, it probably needs an external tip of some description.
The price for one of these swords directly from Bellatore would be €350. I think it is a fair price for this kind of sword.
I enjoy using this sword for training the 15th century Liechtenauer method, more than I enjoy using most feders for this purpose. It has an appropriate set of dimensions, it handles more like a “real sword” and gives me the presence in the bind that I need in order to be able to feel comfortable attempting some of the techniques and concepts.
I think it is safe to use in thrusts as long as it has some kind of external tip over the point. I have used it for reasonably high intensity sparring, as can be seen in this bout with Federico Malagutti and this bout with Mauro Carapacchi.
It would be nice to see more people training with longsword blunts rather than always defaulting to feders, and especially, rather than defaulting to feders that are far too long for the system that people study.
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Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers. I teach regularly at Liverpool HEMA, and help behind the scenes with running HEMA in Glasgow at the Vanguard Centre.