Medieval Weapons

The period of the Middle Ages was extremely violent. The diabolical culture of the European countries produced the quest for wealth and power. Castles were built in order to become power bases and lands were subject to invasion. A diverse amount of weapons were vital in order to suit the Knights, Foot Soldiers and Archers in battle of the period.

Background Information

The Medieval era consisted of the Norman Conquest, Battle of Hastings and Crusades. Medieval warlords began to focus on the Holy Land with their weapons being used by the Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights and the Hospitallers during the Crusades. Weaponry was vital to these religious knights.

The Medieval men-at-arms utilized weapons according to their status and position determined by the Feudal System. The weapons, weaponry, armor and horse of the Knight was extremely expensive and Lords were expected to provide soldiers trained in the art of weapon-handling.

Medieval weaponry spanned from simple tools and farm tools to refined siege machines. During this period of time, the weapons were a product of the regular availability of technology and raw materials. One of the greatest weapons invented was the castle, however, many people believe that weapons are usually the more ‘offensive devices’. Upon saying this, the most popular and frequently discussed weapon is the sword.

Basically every knight would have a sword since they were simple to construct and easy to use. Forged from steel and sharpened, the sword is capable of being used both offensively (to attack) and defensively (to block). It was available in almost any size or style. Often knives and daggers made from wood or animal bones were utilized.

Axes were much larger than the sword, and in the hands of the right warrior may inflict devastating injuries. Spears were made from wood with sharpened tips and were common for attacks at a distance. A mace is a club of several feet in length in conjunction with a large square or round block of wood or metal on the end that was often covered with spikes to cause further injury. The flail was a variation of the mace which incorporated a chain attached between the club and spiked end causing more destruction.

Since much of medieval battles were in close quarters, the weapons listed above seemed ideal. Conversely, long-range fighting became more significant as time progressed as castle defences advanced. Medieval battles included hundreds of archers using long and short bows showering arrows onto their enemies. By launching arrows higher into the air, they would increase in velocity and cause more injury and destruction. Long bows developed a much more complex concept of the crossbow which soon became one of the most lethal weapons. The crossbow fired a heavy arrow which instigated terrible damage even able to penetrate a knight’s armour. The Church banned its use due to its mass obliteration.

Siege engines were utilized to attack castles and the trebuchet was a catapult which hurled huge missiles to penetrate the walls of these castles. Battering rams, catapults and cannons were also used.

For defence, knights wore armour and chain mail and carried shields; however the best defence was being located behind the profuse castle walls and avoiding open field combat.

Along with clothing and fashion, wealth dictated the availability of weapons. Peasants were unable to afford traditional weapons and often fought with whatever they could find and create with bare hands- sticks, clubs or even just their hands.

The development of gunpowder completely changed the concept of medieval weapons. 

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