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Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques Hardcover – May 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1594160769 ISBN-10: 1594160767 Edition: 1st
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About the Author

WILLIAM R. SHORT is the manager of Hurstwic, LLC, an organization that researches, practices, and teaches the fighting moves used by Viking-age warriors. An independent scholar who received his doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he regularly lectures and teaches at universities, schools, and museums in North America and in Iceland.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Westholme Publishing; 1 edition (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594160767
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594160769
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,219,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. William R. Short is an independent scholar and author specializing in medieval Icelandic literature and Viking-age topics. His interest in the Sagas of Icelanders has led to research in Viking-age weapons and combat. He is a research fellow and instructor at the Higgins Armory Museum where he researches, practices, and teaches Viking combat with the goal of understanding how the people of the saga age used their weapons.

Dr. Short has written several books on Viking age topics, including Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques (2009) and Icelanders of the Saga Age (2010), an introduction and companion to the Sagas of Icelanders. Through Hurstwic, he has just released the first in a series of training DVDs: Hurstwic Viking Combat Training Volume 1: Fundamentals (2012). Dr. Short regularly lectures, demonstrates, and teaches Viking-age topics in North America and in Iceland.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Dawn Huebner on May 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Well researched and immanently readable, Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques is an excellent contribution to the literature. A conversational tone and ample use of illustrations/photos keep the content accessible to novices while moving those with more than a passing interest to the next level of understanding. William Short's background as a research scientist comes through in his ability to synthesize information from multiple and disparate sources into a coherent story of a fascinating (and often misunderstood) people.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Resa Nelson on December 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques is an excellent and innovative book written by a scientist who understandably approaches the subject with a scientific point of view. While the book is academic in nature, it's also very easy to read and digest. Short gives a good overview of Viking culture and the weapons they used. He then speculates how those weapons were used based on information drawn from a variety of resources, including the author's years of experience in Western Martial Arts and hands-on research with reproductions of Viking weapons. In fact, the author dedicates an entire chapter to describing his resources, which include archaeological finds, medieval and Renaissance combat documents, Icelandic sagas, art, and forensics. In other words, these are the puzzle pieces, and Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques is the picture the author created using those puzzle pieces. He also explains the limitations of his research on Viking combat techniques. The book is peppered with specific examples, illustrations, and photos that support his findings. For example, when Short mentions a specific passage from a saga, he clearly explains why he's using it as an example and how that passage ties into the subject matter at hand. One of Short's strengths is the level of detail he presents about Viking culture and how each detail gives insight to how, where, and why Vikings fought. This book is a treasure for a wide audience, from novices who want to learn about Vikings to expert practitioners of Western Martial Arts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Reviewer on May 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I'll begin by saying anyone interested in this book should first read Scott Rodell's review of May, 19, 2010.

Dr. Shorts 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.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. L. Pringle on January 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This wonderful book fills the gap that has existed since the publication of Oakeshott's "The Archaeology of Weapons" and Davidson's "The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England."
Synergistically combining the physical and literary evidence of the past with modern reconstruction and interpretation, the text brings the sagas to life while giving us a deeper understanding of how the Viking thought about and may have used the weapons of the day. The profuse & diverse illustrations bring out many subtle details of the artifacts that are typically not found outside of obscure archaeological reports and add a deeper context to the mix. A welcome addition to the Viking literature.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not a real "how to" manual for HEMA/ARMA or other European martial arts enthusiasts, but still a great read. As it pertains to the weapons and techniques, Short basically explains the various common Viking weapons, and talks about how they were likely used, drawing on martial arts research, historical data, and clues from the Norse sagas. Again, it is not presented as a fighting manual, so much as a discussion of the topic. What makes this book great is that along the way, you get exposed to a ton of Nordic history and culture, told through the lens of combat research. Well written, engaging read, I highly recommend.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Cranow on February 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Vikings as they were called were considered among the most fierce of seaborne raiders, known for their ferocity, plundering and taking captives. This group of Scandiavians, Germans etc occupied most of Northern Europe, Scandinavian Lands and the North Atlantic. In reality they were not called Vikings as Viking was more of a raid or an action. The people we call Vikings or raiders were not any more savage then raiders of that time. The so called Vikings got a bad rep because they were Pagan and held frast to the old ways.

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.
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