There are a number of good books written that have translated the old German and Italian manuals:
The Swordmans Companion by Guy Windsor
The Knightly Art of the Longsword by Linholm
Secrets of German German Medieval swordmanship by Christian Tobler
You should read them in that order.
One of the differences that you will see it that European Martial Arts are combat oriented. This is not self-deffence stuff. In the German tradition you are advised to strike first and strike to kill, before your opponent kills you. European swordmanship is not about looking good , it is about winning battles.
One of the differences you will see is that Longsword fighting centers around thrusts rather then slashes and cuts. This is because the thrust is more deadly. You want to get straight to the vital organs. That is also why the European longsword is long and pointy. The cuts are only made to create an opertunity for a thrust. Thrust are also prefered because Europeans typicly wore armor into battle. A cut is useless against armor. They used pointy swords to try to get into opening under the armpits, in the knee and elbow joints, the eye slits and any where else they could.
Europeans also used half-swording methods (placing one hand on the blade) and even hammer methods (holding the sword blade by both hands and using the pommel and crossgaurd as a hammer against heavy armor). In the European longsword its win anyway you can.
I have a full list of books on this at the bottom of my webpage: http://mysite.verizon.net/tsafa1/swordreview.htm
[This message has been edited by tsafa (edited 04-27-2005).]