Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques Hardcover – May 1 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The writing style, clearly is scientific in its approach, but is in plain language and provides for some great quotes and anecdotes from the Sagas to make it entertaining. Its well illustrated, referenced and nicely organized so that information is easily found.
I highly recommend it as one of those books you should have in your collection as a guide and reference source for the reenactor or historian alike.
Warren Cummins B. Ed.,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Dr. Short's appropriation of the terms from a later era is annoying, especially the "short edge" and "long edge" designations . Short goes so far as to state that on a double-edged sword each edge is "nominally identical" in a lame effort to support the use of "short edge" and "long edge". For all intents and purposes they ARE identical. Besides, "short edge" attacks with a single-handed weapon is a good way to disarm oneself. Besides,Viking swords were designed primarily as hacking weapons. It seems more logical to suppose that when the sword was nicked and notched and hanging up, it was flipped over in the hand to have a nice new edge available! This was not necessarily the case but illustrates that conjecture is just conjecture. A whole book based on conjecture is next to worthless.
I would add that a book about Viking weapons seems incomplete when there is no discussion of the many, generally Norwegian, single-edged swords discovered.
There is a lot of good historical information in the book, but the validity of the conjectural fighting technique sections are questionable on a number of levels.
Most of these Teutonic people were in fact farmers. There were also trade men among them. They saw the raid as a way of getting rich and acquiring more goods. They did not do it to conquer land or for any love of fighting. Their life was very militaristic an they were always armed in case of attack which could happen at any moment.
The book does a thorough job of analyzing the weapons available to the Vikings. Weapons construction is method along with some potential uses for the weapon and application on the battlefield. The Viking age ended in 1066 ad when most of them converted to Christianity and other Europeans were able to build strong armies to defend themselves. The Vikings did not leave behind any written example of their fighting techniques so historians are doing their best to piece it together. Any fighting techniques that have been culled were derived from medieval fighting manuals and Viking Legends from Iceland. The fighting manuals wee meant to serve as memory aids to those already trained which made piecing the techniques together all the more difficult. It is speculative at best. The last part of the book gives demonstrations of some fighting techniques that are filled out with instruction and plenty of photos. But do not try these at home.
Viking weapon and war paraphernalia included helmets, axes, swords, shields, saxes (short swords) spears, bow and arrow and chain mail. Archery was used occasionally in war but as Viking men were buried with their weapon only two graves has arrow head. It is believed that archery was used primarily for hunting. Almost every Viking man had an axe. Any one could get an axe. Axes could be used for wood cutting or combat. Axes served well as long range weapons and hooks that could cut and grapple. Chain mail was extremely expensive so not too many Vikings had it. Large bars of iron were shaved town to spaghetti strands and then made into rings. This took the work of an excellent craftsman. Swords were most valuable and were made by twisting 3 iron bars together and then smelting and hammering them. The tips and cutting edge but be over layered with steal. Swords could literally last for generations. The scabbards had an inner lining of wool which was overlade with wood and maybe another layer of wool topped of by wood or metal outer lining. A sword with out a scabbard was considered useless and dangerous without a sword.
If medieval weapons and Viking History is your things then this is a book you would want to check out.