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Dark Rocks

The Johanniter Messer

This commission was a particular pleasure, as the geographical proximity of the client allowed us to work closely with them from the development of the concept through to completion. Our client was new to messer fencing, and a lot of our initial discussion was about the type of fencing he hoped to do and how the form and function of the sword could work with that. He was able to make major decisions as the sword was being made, and even try it for comfort before the final construction. The sword is built to be used primarily as a single sword form, but handles in such a way that it can also be used with a buckler. Chris gave it a medium balance, with enough weight in the blade to make it the wielder's primary shield, but still light enough that it won't become heavy or sluggish in an extended grip. Key to this was keeping as much weight in the blade as possible while retaining the aesthetic of the large beaked pommel. To this extent the pommel is semi-hollow, as there was little need for it as a counter-weight. Along with a distal-tapered tang, this allows the sword to boast a striking grip and pommel while keeping the weight forward. While the initial brief was for a strictly functional piece with a modern munitions style aesthetic, over time the client came to us with new ideas that evolved into a far more elegant historical look. The hand-carved pins are a particular personal touch, giving a nod to the Malta Historical Fencing International Event, which our fencing school gleefully attends each year.

This rather Germanic messer is therefore named for the German langue of the Knights of St John, who resided Malta in the 16th Century. Please see our pricing structure for an idea of what a similar sword would cost.


∴ Specs ∴

  • Total length: 107cm

  • Blade length: 85cm

  • Blade width: 3.5cm at the shoulder

  • Blade stock: 6mm

  • Quillon span: 19cm

  • Grip length: 15cm

  • Grip and pommel: 20cm

  • Point of balance: 9.5cm from the cross

  • Weight: 1280g

  • Ambidextrous

  • 2mm edges

  • Swollen tip

  • Fencing flex.


∴ Notes ∴

The hand-forged and heat-treated guard and pommel are blackened to a satin finish. The crossguard features long, round-section quillons with cuboid terminals. The square quillon block features a flattened nagel, which keys into the crossguard via a stepped hole. This transitions from round to square, ensuring that the nagel cannot rotate or loosen. To further ensure a tight fit, the nagel was punched cold into the crossguard. The hole is stepped and transitions from round to square, keying the nagel in so it can't rotate or loosen. The pommel is carved into a traditional beaked shape, with the slabs welded onto either side of the distal-tapered tang. The grip is carved from ebony and secured over a visible tang with hand-filed pins in the shape of Maltese crosses.


∴ Gallery ∴


∴ A Knightly Vantage ∴

"How did I get here?" you wonder, and not for the first time.

You never were much of a joiner. Your father once told you, back in the Black Forest, that there was no honour in swinging a sword for a country. For an ideal. For a god, even. When you fought, you were to fight for your own skin, and that of your fellow man.

“Do you understand?” he pressed, and waited for your sullen nod.

Then with twinkling eyes he passed you his messer. Heavy and reassuring, like the man himself. It was a simple tool for a simple purpose: protecting your family.

That was before. Before your fellow men rose up for their ideals and brought down the wrath of the aristocracy. And how you fought then - tooth and nail for what little you had to lay claim to. But in the end it was gone. Your trade, your home, your kin.

The Knights found you in Gengenbach, half-mad from horror and haplessly seeking trade. They sized you up and offered you a new one. And with it bed, board, discipline. Literacy. The chance to start again. Would your father have blamed you for taking it?

A clamour of vespers bells rouses you from reminiscence. With a bittersweet smile, you take in your vista. A band of indigo marks the horizon, stark above gleaming blocks of golden sandstone. Little boats scud about the wide harbour, bringing their catches home. A flock of white doves rises over Birgu, startled by the sudden bells. The sunset gilds their underbellies as they wheel on the warm sea air.

Shaking your head, you unsheathe the sword from your belt. It is a thing of beauty, to be sure. The rich, dark ebony of its grip gleams with studs in the shape of the cross of your order. The stern hawk head pommel and sturdy crossguard are the satiny dark of a stormy sky. And yet, beneath the knightly renovations, the core remains the same: your father’s sword.

You allow yourself a sigh, and it sounds something like contentment. 


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