Medieval weaponry ran the gamut from heavy and crude to honed and sophisticated. At the beginning of the Medieval era, which spans approximately 400 A.D. to 1400 A.D., weaponry was primarily divided into four categories:
1. Weaponry for personal protection and for obtaining food.
2. Weaponry used by unmounted soldiers.
3. Weaponry used by mounted soldiers and knights.
4. Weaponry used for attacking a structure.
Personal protection weapons were whatever the intended victim had access to. This could be a sword, bow and arrow, or a cast iron frying pan.
Unmounted soldiers served a liege lord who usually provided their medieval weaponry. This included an assortment of hand-to-hand combat weapons including:
This is a similar in design to the bows used today except for the materials used.
This is a bow except on a larger scale and began to be used around 1100 A.D.
This is a particularly deadly weapon. The bow is affixed to a stock and has a trigger mechanism that releases the arrow. Because of the use of a mechanical trigger and tension, a crossbow can shoot much farther and with much greater velocity than either a bow or a longbow.
A quarterstaff is simply a long, stout pole that is tipped with iron and usually measures between six and eight feet long.
Similar to the quarterstaff except with a larger, sharper head.
Battle axe or Poleaxe:
The battleaxe was actually a medieval weapon, not another name for the MIL or her offspring. This formidable weapon consisted of a of a hammer, a spike and an axe combined into one weapon and affixed to a shaft. It began to be used around 1300; with a slightly different configuration, it was also used by sailors who were boarding vessels as well as butchers who were slaughtering animals.
Another weapon to be used in very close quarters, the mace is basically a large club but with a spiked head affixed to it, with beginnings around 1250 A.D. This weapon will either kill you or make you wish you were dead.
One of the oldest known weapons, a flail is a long pole with a free-swinging bar attached to one end.
This weapon of choice showed up toward the end of the Medieval era and consisted of a spike, a cutting head like an axe along with a beak that was affixed to a shaft.
Yet another very old weapon, the caltrop is an iron base with four spikes and is designed so that one spike is always sticking up. It is documented to have been used prior to the eleventh century and one or more were thrown under the horses hooves when in battle.
With varying handle lengths, the war hammer was designed to inflict damage directly to the target and was simply a shaft with a head attached. Later versions included a spike.
Baton or Irish Shillelagh:
Basically a long wooden club.
A pike is similar to a spear, with a long shaft and a pointed head intended to stab or pierce another being.
Commonly called a bill and many other variations, it originally was designed as a combination of a knife and an axe with a hook attached. The hook was effective in grabbing reins and the blade was very effective at dismemberment.
Weapons used by the knights and for attacking a structure will be covered in another post. Suffice it to say that they were no less deadly than those used by the foot soldiers and had the added ferocity of being delivered from horseback.