Medieval Weapons

Mace

These were a type of club consisting of a wooden handle; maybe strengthened with metal and an iron, bronze or copper head. The head was solid metal, shaped and pointed to inflict damage. Maces could be both one-handed and two-handed.

They varied greatly in length and were used by both knights and foot soldiers. Mace used by foot soldiers were only 70–90 cm (2-3 ft) in length, while cavalrymen used longer ones to inflict blows from horseback.

Mace could cause serious injury or death and yet did not require much training to use.

Crossbow

These were made of wood: yew, elm or ash: decorated with ivory or bone and had a sword bow attached to one end. The bow was made of wood, iron or steel and the crossbow string made of hemp, linen or whipcord.

The crossbow fired a short bolt with a point and had a firing range up to 365 metres (400 yards).

Very little training was required to fire a crossbow.

Longbow

These were a long-range weapon used in a group formation.

They were made of wood, preferably yew although ash or elm were also used. The wood was worked into an open D shape.

Bowstrings were made of hemp, flax or silk and they were attached to fastenings at each end of the bow (horn nocks).

Arrows varied greatly in length and were made of poplar, ash, beech or hazel with iron pointed arrowheads at one end.

Much training was involved in being a successful archer; many archers suffered injuries and problems with their arms in later life. Some skeletons found have shown that one arm was considerably longer than the other due to the pull of the bow.

Battle Axe

Battleaxes could be one-handed or two-handed weapons. They consisted of a wooden handle, sometimes reinforced with metal to protect it in combat and a crescent shaped iron or steel blade at the end.

These were a chopping and slashing weapon used by both foot soldiers and cavalrymen and varied greatly in length from 30 cm–1.5 metres (12 inch-5 feet).

Flail

A flail was an agricultural tool that was adapted to use in battle. It consisted of a long wooden shaft, attached to chain or rope with a cylinder shaped metal striking end with studs or spikes. This was a long two-handed weapon; a shorter one-handed flail was also used with a round studded striking head.

Sword

These were mainly used by knights, but also used with a shield by foot soldiers. Swords were single or double edged, one or two-handed and used as a thrusting or cutting weapon.

Daggers

These were known as short swords. They were one-handed stabbing weapons up to 50 cm (19 inch) in length and used in close combat.

Spear

Spears could be up to 1.8 metres (6 feet) in length. They had a long wooden shaft with a pointed metal blade mounted on one end. They were cheap and easy to make and used by foot soldiers as a thrusting or throwing weapon.

Lance

These were known as a pole weapon or spear. They were a long range weapon used on horseback and were mainly used by knights. They were made of wood, usually ash and had a metal spike attached to one end like a spearhead. The lance was fitted with a small circular metal plate of iron (vamplate). This was positioned between the hand grip and the shaft to prevent the hand from sliding up the shaft when used.

It took many years of training for a knight to use a lance in battle.

Halbard

This was a two-handed pole arm weapon of an axe blade topped with a spike mounted on a long wooden shaft.

The back of the axe blade had a hook or spike on it for grappling. They were usually 1.5–1.8 metres (5–6 feet) long.

Caltrops

These were small metal weapons thrown in handfuls to the ground. They were formed of spikes and when thrown, one spike always landed facing upwards. They were used to slow down or injure

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