6 books to help learn the context of medieval HEMA

This article was originally posted on Encased in Steel on 18th December 2015. It has been modified a little for reposting here.

There are now many publications dealing with the nuts and bolts of different medieval HEMA systems, which is a wonderful step forward from where the community was a decade ago. However, while many practitioners can reel off a list of HEMA authors, translators and researchers who produce HEMA-related works, perhaps fewer individuals are well read on the subject of the context that surrounds the medieval HEMA systems.

This is a brief list of six excellent books that would be worth acquiring to support your library of HEMA books, to help you learn more about the context of your medieval discipline of choice.

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Review of “Cutting with the Medieval Sword”

Cutting with the Medieval Sword: Theory and Application.

I have been looking forward to the publication of Cutting with the Medieval Sword by Michael Edelson, and now that it is finally in print, I bought a copy immediately. It arrived a few days later and I immersed myself in it over the course of an evening.

In summary: this is a fantastic book, and you should have a copy of it in your bookcase. If I were to list everything I like about the book, my list would have more bullet points than the book has pages. There is nothing to dislike about it.

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A sensible progression for buying longsword equipment

Sparring Gloves and an Albion Meyer. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2015.

When people begin training at a club, it is only reasonable for them to be able to borrow some equipment from the club. After all, no one can reasonably expect that a complete beginner will run out and buy themselves all the protective gear to participate in high intensity longsword fencing, right from the first session! However, people will inevitably want to begin to acquire their own kit – or, if they don’t, the club may need to wean members from borrowing equipment after a while, to free it up for newer members.

This article will attempt to advise a sensible progression for buying equipment for learning to fence with the longsword, along with suggestions for items that might be most suitable and useful.

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Review of the Armour Class sharp longsword (MS6T)

Results of a cutting session with a sharp Armour Class longsword. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2016.

Armour Class has been around in the re-enactment and HEMA communities for at least a couple of decades. Their swords have an excellent name and reputation in re-enactment circles, although they haven’t always been so popular in HEMA clubs: the blunt swords are designed for re-enactment purposes, and are usually too heavy and unbalanced for historical fencing. However, they do make custom swords, and their sharp and semi-sharp blades are perfectly suitable for HEMA.

I bought my Armour Class sharp longsword (model MS6T on their website, perhaps more fully named their “14th Century Hand & a Half Medieval sword with thirty five inch blade”) several years ago, and have been using it for cutting practice ever since.

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