Arms

The sword is the weapon most closely associated with knights yet swords are used by other soldiers as well. Men-at-arms were expect dot be able to use other weapons as well, especially daggers, spears, and poleaxes. there are some other kinds of weapons is use in the Middle Ages, but they seem to have been is fair less common use among knights especially and other fighting men as well. That said, foot soldiers usually relied heavily on pole weapons other than poleaxes. Such weapons come in a bewildering variety of heads, each with its own particular arrangement of cutting, thrusting, and smashing surfaces.

Swords

Sword blades come in many varieties, and their forms change over time. At the beginning of the Hundred Years War, the forms favor cutting over thrusting and by the end, knightly swords at least, have reversed the preference. The grips change as well. Early on one-handed grips are very common and longer ones that can be easily held with two hands are rare. By the fifteenth century grips that can accommodate two hands are common. These changes seem to be closely related to the development of armor during the same period.

European swords typically have two edges that were sharpened to a greater or lesser degree along their lengths.  Some specialized swords are exceptions. Falchions, for example, are broad bladed swords that are usually only sharpened along one edge. They are specialized for strong cutting action.

A Gallery of Swords

coming soon

Daggers

Daggers were worn as a side arm. Their blades, too come in different forms. Modernly they are classified by the shapes of their hilts, a practice that makes more sense to museum curators than to dagger users. Thus, we find rondel (with a round guard and/or a round pommel, baselard  (which, though named after its supposed city of origin, Basel, is defined as having an “I” shaped hilt), quillon (with a guard that essentially forms a cross), eared (for the division of its pommel into two discoids), and ballock (kidney” for those preferring a post-medieval anatomy reference) daggers

A dagger is a weapon for close-in fighting. It was often a last rest for a fighting man. Sometimes it was used to finish off a helpless opponent, earning the weapon the nickname of “misericord” which rough means “ender of misery.”

A Gallery of Daggers

 (coming)

Spears

Spear

Spear

Spears were often a fighting man’s first choice for a battlefield weapon. Even knights often made this choice. They have length, which helps kept a hostile opponent away from you, and this is important to someone who wants to go home after a battle. Spears relying on their points to thrust deep into a target.

In some battles, knights fighting dismounted would take their lances and cutting off the back end to make them handier to wield.

Poleaxes

Sir Geoffrey's poleax, a style suitable to the late 14th century

Sir Geoffrey’s poleax, a style suitable to the late 14th century

Poleaxes seem to have been developed during the Hundred Years War, in an effort to produce a weapon to deal with the increasingly protective armor wore by knights. Early forms have short hafts of about 4 to 5 feet. their heads tend to feature an axe blade on one side and a spike or a blunt hammer head on the other. Later ones shift away from the axe blade, moving the hammer head to the front. Some even have the hammer head front and back. The shafts get a bit longer, too, until the poleax is a man’s height or a bit more. All poleaxes seem to feature a forward spike which allows them to be used for thrusting much like a spear. Some have a smaller spike on their butt end, allowing the other end to be used the same way.

 

 

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