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Author Topic: What?? This article says flails never existed!  (Read 4800 times)

Offline J.R. Darewood

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What?? This article says flails never existed!
« on: May 23, 2016, 06:33:14 AM »

So if you ever played a cleric in D&D you might have used a flail/morning star.
According to this article, one-handed flails never existed, they're a modern invention.

http://www.publicmedievalist.com/curious-case-weapon-didnt-exist/

Do you think that's true?

Offline Henry Dale

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Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2016, 07:26:06 AM »
Just as a sidenote, the morning star is not a flail. It's more similar to a spiky mace.

While the theory is very sound, I don't think flails are a simulacrum as the author suggests. They're too widespread to be that. A flail-like weapon called the chigiriki exists in japan.

Offline Peat

Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2016, 02:21:43 PM »
Never existed is probably a little strong, but rare and mostly post-Medieval period in Europe is certainly true. And maybe never.
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Offline m3mnoch

Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2016, 02:58:36 PM »
just me being helpful.



Offline Rostum

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Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2016, 07:30:29 PM »
Too busy and not bored enough to go looking there is a description of how to use a moring star in a Templer document. Smack the top of the stick into the edge of the shield the chain and weight go visit the person on the other side of it. used for breaking shield arms. Now they may never of had them and I wouldn't put money on them working but they had instructions on how to use them in the13th century.

If flails didn't exist how was wheat separated from chaff or rice from husk? I doubt flails were used by knights but a farmer who has two crabapple sticks joined by three links of chain for threshing may well do so.

Not that I am being at all facetious[/move]

Saw an expert explain brown polkadot patterning on a roman earthenware bowl once, until someone poked the unfired earth out the holes and told him it was a wine strainer.

Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2016, 01:45:19 AM »

Sorry!
I always thought a morningstar was any ball with spikes on it, whether it was attached to a flail or a mace.

Offline Peat

Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2016, 12:35:57 PM »
Rostum, could you dig it out? Because I've looked for it and couldn't find it, and I did a fair bit of digging on the general subject yesterday and no one referenced it then either. I've read more than the average panda on medieval military history and this is the first I've heard of it.

Willing to admit I may well be wrong, but I'd be very curious to see the actual evidence.
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Offline Rostum

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Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2016, 12:13:08 AM »
Only just logged on and not now comes to mind...I am going to try to sleep. I am then out til thursday. Original text is in latin on the one quoted. Try searching under fléau d'armes. Will dig it out as time allows was off the web in the first place.

Short answer the expert is after publicity presumably he has a book due out. Lots of people are far too clever to say something didnt exist because its impossible to back up with evidence and someone will shoot you down.
It also says I know everything on a subject and can make a diffinitive statement, which is rarely correct.

Yes flails and even morning stars with spiky balls on chains existed. Were they common. No. The first one below is 1570's Below that is the Talhofer illistration about 1560 with both a spiked flail and a morning star. Context may be everything on the latter as Hans wrote a lot about judicial combat and its possible they are weapons given to settle a legal dispute not weapons of war. The German had (IDK they may still)a serious kinky thing about making divorce and inheritance law into an armed pit fight for public entertainment.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/27/Arte_De_Athletica_2b.jpg/260px-Arte_De_Athletica_2b.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Flails_%28warfare%29#/media/File:De_Alte_Armatur_und_Ringkunst_Talhofer_034.jpg

Offline Peat

Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2016, 11:36:15 AM »
1500s is post-medieval and the article is not arguing against the two handed infantry flail.

It is the European medieval existence of a one handed flail that is in question and doubts have been raised by far more people than this man. Hence my interest in this manual because it seems like it would render the debate, well, over.
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Offline Rostum

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Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2016, 12:15:51 PM »
Had a look last night and didn't come up with it. It's not a manual its 3 or 4 lines translated with a load of other stuff. It wasn't what I was looking for at the time but thought it interesting and it's driving me nuts trying to remember what I was looking for. Will post what I find.

Edit: Just a thought as someone has gathered the art for morning stars on wiki I may as well link the oldest of these is only  1410. Spiky balls is all I have to say to deniers. The wonderfully logical German is Kettenmorgenstern, chain morning star to distinguish from a spiky stick. Looking for the flail version with sword pommels as weights as well as the earlier reference.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flail_%28weapon%29#/media/File:Arte_De_Athletica_2b.jpg
« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 11:39:29 AM by Rostum »

Offline Roelor

Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2016, 05:57:57 PM »
As far as I could tell, the flail was mostly a torture instrument.
To tear and rip the skin.

Offline Yora

Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2016, 06:00:42 PM »
That thing is more like a whip.

I've been following up on the hypothesis that the "medieval spiked flail" had its start in exotic tales about the barbarians of Asia (in whose hands they apparently appear most commonly in art), and discovered these: Kisten.

Which are all much more practical lookng designs that seem much more plausible. Either they have no chain or are all chain with no handle. Both types avoid the incredible akwardness of the chain and handle design usually seen.
And also very importantly, these would have been used against opponents with very different armor than 14th century knights. Weaponsalways have to be considered in context of the armor they would have to deal with. For full body plate the commonly shown design of flails probably wouldn't be very effective.

As I see it, the commonly seen type of flail is an accidental or deliberate misinterpretation of Asian weapons that was only around for thepurpose of exotic adventure fiction. People hang all kinds of vaguely sword shaped pieces of metal on their walls because they've seen them in silly movies. Wouldn't have been different 600 years ago. If you go around with a bag of money and a picture from a book, you will find someone who will make you something that looks like it.
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Offline Rostum

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Re: What?? This article says flails never existed!
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2016, 12:22:45 PM »
Still haven't found what I was looking for, but do have some snippets and some dodgy assumptions.

The flail was a symbol of status in ancient Egypt and very clearly one handed, but possibly a decorative/ symbolic item rather than a tool.

Guy on his horse in the late medieval painting holding his morning star like a phallus may be doing so for the same reason, letting the world know he is the big knob round here.

Eel skin was used to join the weights to the handle in some descriptions of flails. I know that in southern Spain a tradition of skinning eels alive and keeping the skin intact as a tube of waterproof, extremely tough leather has a number of uses.

The Knout or Knut is a Russian weighted whip with varied descriptions some like a leather morning star and some more like a bull whip.

One handed flails have been used for weed whacking and training trees to be bushes for about 3000 years in Africa.

If you find a 4-8kg spiky ball on a heavy chain it has come out of a rock crushing drum and not from a medieval heroes weapon.

There are very pretty all metal spiky ball morning stars in Austrian museums  earliest dated though is 1510.

The wonderful cabinet full of early medieval spiky sticks and ball and chains are described as mis-catalogued, Victorian reproductions and less generously as fakes
« Last Edit: October 04, 2016, 01:11:55 PM by Rostum »