Here we have a brief discussion with medieval history professor, HEMA pioneer and professional swordsmith, Dr. Fabrice Cognot, PhD
Jean: Can you briefly introduce yourself, your education, experience with antique swords, with HEMA, and experience making swords?
Dr Fabrice Cognot, bladesmith. Did my PhD on medieval weapons (Xth-XVth century mostly) and more specifically how to make them and how to use them. And I picked up bladesmithing along the way, to get better answers to the questions I had when studying the objects. I ended up with more questions, because that’s how research goes, and my bladesmithing professional activity is still one way to find answers, and I’ve been doing it full time since 2013.
I also picked up HEMA slightly before starting the PhD – it was back in 2000, though I’ve been knowing about fencing treatises and fight books since 1994. Broadband internet simply allowed me to get access to the sources. And I founded our club in Dijon a few years after, in 2003, though my friends and I had already been doing it unofficially. And since then, our club offers training every day of the week, and even though I’m no longer the president (had to resign in 2021, for adminstrative reasons), I still teach there twice a week, and travel the world to wherever people want me to go ald talk about HEMA or any related aspect.
Jean: Have you ever handled an antique cinquedea or forged a replica of one? If so what were your impressions?
Haven’t forged one, but it’s on the list. Seen a few up close, but not enough to call it proper handling.
Speaking of the Cinquedea proper, well, it’s definitely a thing. A rather large thing, and in its most classic form, quite ostentatious. Which goes well with the era and time.
Jean: Do you know anything about the handling or metallurgy of antique cinquedea?
Nothing on the metallurgy. Don’t know if any study has been made yet in that regard. But I’ll have a look.
I know some people try to establish links between Marozzo’s big dagger and the CD. Well, why not ?
Jean: What do you think the purpose of the complex fullering was?
– make the blade lighter
– look cool.
And also :
– look cool.
The fullers were perhaps forged in to start with, but most certainly ground in for the most part. And it shows a great mastery of the stock removal process, using only stone tools (wheels, but also powdered abrasives)
Jean: How do you see a cinquedea used in fencing?
Pointy bit into opponent. And/or chop bits off.
As big as they are, they can’t reall handle like contemporary swords given their very construction. But a weapon is a weapon, and they’re sharp and pointy, and their bearers certainly knew how to get the best of these.
Jean: Do you believe the design of the cinquedea is exclusively or primarily due to fashion? Do you feel they are fighting weapons?
Fashion is a HUGE thing in these times. Really. Doesn”t mean they can’t come in handy when things go south. But look at them : they scream “look at me” with every part of them. Even the scabbards.
Jean: Don’t you think some of the hard work on making cinquedea seems to have pragmatic (i.e. fencing) as well as cosmetic reasons?
Both, of course.
And by “fashion”, one must understand “swagger”, or even “pimp”. But, in that case, in an Italian Renaissance way : gold fire-plated, and with Hercules on it.
The pragmatic use was *always* a thing in Med & Ren A&A. Al-fucking-ways. There’s no separation of this. And the flashier the tool you’d gut the other guy with, the better a Man it would made you feel.
Jean: Do you feel there are specific links between the design of the cinquedea and swords or daggers of antiquity?
Definitely. Same goes with so-called ear daggers BTW. Very reminiscent of Bronze Age blades, though of a very different construction.
Jean: Is a blade like this, with the multiple fullers and so on, particularly difficult to make?
See above. In professional terms, these are a bitch to make.
Jean: Do you think there is a substantial difference between the dagger and short sword sized cinquedea in terms of how they were used?
Thank you my friend!