Medieval weaponry refers to weapons which were used during the Middle Ages in Europe. These weapons comprised of many well-known staples such as axes, daggers, bows, and spears but there were many more deadly weapons as well. Some you may be familiar with but some you may not be. We are going to list some examples below.
The knighting sword was also referred to as as the ‘arming sword’. It is a single-handed straight sword and is the type of sword you often see knights using in movies. One of their defining characteristics is their long cross-guards which form the shape of a cross. Often times the blades would have religious emblems or insignias carved into them. This sword evolved from early Viking swords and was used until the late medieval age when full plate armor began being used and they lost some of their effectiveness.
The longsword was developed soon after the knightly sword. It was designed to be more effective against reinforced armor such as full plate mail. It’s characteristics include a longer double-edged blade and a longer grip. This sword was typically held by both hands and was often used in a thrusting motion, rather then the typical slashing method of the knightly sword. The longsword is probably the most classic form of medieval weaponry.
The morningstar was developed around the 14th century. It got it’s name due to the star-like shape on the end of the weapon. Most often these weapons consisted of a wooden handle adorned with a large spiked metal ball. Technically, it’s a spiked mace. This form of medieval weaponry was quite deadly and capable of crushing bones and destroying armor. This weapon was usually used by infantry but there were some shorter versions intended for cavalry as well.
The English longbow first began being used in the late 13th century. These bows were longer then most, with a typical length of about 6 feet. The wood used was most commonly yew, which has to be dried for up to 2 years. The arrows were larger as well, sometimes measuring up to 30 inches. An interesting battle in which longbows were used was the battle of Agincourt where outnumbered English soldiers armed with longbows were able to secure a victory against a superior french army. Sometimes if an English longbowman were captured by the French, they would cut off their firing fingers.
Although bows were more common and easily obtainable, crossbows are shoot with far more force and require less training to shoot accurately. The bolts used in crossbows were also smaller, lighter, and easier to transport. This type of medieval weaponry was also effective at piercing reinforced armor. Due to their deadly attributions, crossbows were once banned by Pope Innocent II, in addition to bows and slings.
The stilleto may not look to frightening compared to some other medieval weaponry but it was a weapon of choice of many assassins of the era. The thin pointed blade was known to cause massive damage to internal organs, yet not draw as much blood as many of it’s counterparts. This blade originates from Italy, a place where it was later banned due to it’s growing popularity and use by assassins.
The Francisca was a throwing axe used in the early medieval ages. It was typically thrown about 10 or 12 meters from it’s intended target before infantry charged their enemies, meant to induce panic within their first line of defense. These axes were known to be quite heavy and could cause considerable damage. These axes fell out of favor in the 6th century but they are still a popular weapon in modern throwing axe competitions.
Most people have seen the traditional halberd. These were a Swiss invention and were used primarily during the 14th and 15th century. These two-handed weapons had long handles and an even longer reach. Most halberds were also adorned with both an axe and a hook on the end which gave them incredible versatility. They were known to be very effective against cavalry due to their range. They gained quite a following within Europe due to their relatively low cost of production and ease of use. The Swiss guard still uses halberds in many of their ceremonies.
The horseman’s pick is quite an interesting weapon. It is also sometimes called a ‘war hammer’. It hails from the Middle East and was initially used by Islamic practitioners although it later spread to surrounding areas. War hammers were primarily wielded by cavalry but infantry also used them at times. This weapon consists of a large handle adorned with a multi-use spike and hammer combination, similar in ways to a halberd. These weapons easily penetrated armor, but due to the long spike shape of the weapon, they would often become stuck within the armor of your enemy, leaving you defenseless. These medieval weapons remained popular until the invention of firearms.