Weapons of a Knight
and for battle
Training Page 3
A Mental image of Knights
The average person when you mention medievil "knights" will imagine someone in full gleaming armour on horseback. He will of course have a sword in hand rescuing some virgin maiden in distress. In reality most acquired armour and good weapons in the mid 15th Century by taking it from their dead enemies or friends they being of course with money to start with. For the most part the average soldier was considered a commoner and used to herding sheep and cattle not killing his fellow man. The used farm implements to fight with mainly. forks, pitches and pretty much anything else they could get their hands on. The Knight however had no such problems he could call upon a wide range of weaponry to take into battle. Foremost of these was his sword.
The sword Nepoleon
The sword had was unchanged up until the mid 13th century and mainly looked like the old Viking and Roman predecessors. The introduction of solid body armour and the great helm had an additional effect on the design of the Knightly sword. The need for greater cutting power led to an increase in both the weight and size of the sword which led to the term Great sword of war. These were equipped with a wider cross-guard and had heavy wheel, ball or brazil nut pommels to balance the new, weightier blade and the blades were given a central channel or "fuller" in an attempt to lessen the weight. Towards the end of the century a new type of blade appeared which was to prove very popular in the next century. This blade was sharply pointed and had a stiff diamond cross section blade and was designed specifically for thrusting. These types of sword were also supplemented by a single edged sword known as a "Falchion" shaped rather like a modern day machete its wide blade towards the point gave it superior cutting power and it could easily shear off a limb.
But the sword was not merely a weapon of war, it was the symbol of a knights station, his rank in society It inferred upon him privileges and responsibilities not open to other lower members of the society.
It is unlikely that any Knight worth his salt would go into battle carrying only his sword. Although the quality of swords was constantly improving the could not be relied upon to see the end of battle, and of course what of the lowly soldiers of the kings army they had no means of purchasing a sword of war, they had to rely on other weapons.
French 15th Century Axe
The Axe was a very common weapon on the medieval battlefield, with its long haft it could deliver a single killing blow to anyone who got in its way. Usually relegated to the lower classes it once again became popular with the aristocracy. The axe head was often supplemented by a short spike behind the head Jean Froissart described it at the battle of Otterburn where Earl James Douglas "took a two handed axe and plunged into the fight....none was so well protected by helm or plate as not to fear the blows he dealt."
The Mace had been in general use since the twelfth century and early examples are quite simply bronze or iron heads flanged or with a number of projecting studs, fitted onto a wooden haft.
However by the fourteenth century these had been superceded by a heavier steel flanged variety capable of inflicting injuries through armour and crushing helmets.
English Longbow Made from Sycamore
No survey of medieval weaponry would be complete without mentioning the Longbow. Originally a Welsh weapon, Edward I was so impressed by it's sheer power that he adopted the weapon for his own, indeed it became law that anyone using the bow on the field must practice daily. Such a weapon of immense power it could not be used by just anyone, bowmen were trained from childhood on increasingly powerful versions of the bow. It is probably this fact that prevented the nations of Europe from adopting this weapon themselves, preferring to use the easier to train crossbow. The bow usually measured around 6ft and usually had an extreme range of about 400 yards (365m) The arrow shafts were divided into two main types the heavy sheaf arrow with a bodkin tip for armour piercing, and the lighter flight arrows with a broader flanged head. Experienced archers used bows with a draw of upwards of 80 pounds to an extreme of about 150 pounds. The Chronicle of Gerald de Barri described how an arrow passed through the skirt of a mail hauberk, the Gambeson, the chausses beneath that, through the wearers leg and saddle thus pinning him to his horse. the chronicle also states that the arrows were capable of passing through 2 inches of solid oak.
The weapon was a significant contributor to the victories at Agincourt, Crecy, and Poitiers and to this day is still held in awe by all who speak it's name.
The Dagger was a small addition to the weaponry of a knight and was useful in defense against blows with swords filling the gap of a mislaid shield at time. It was also useful for sneaking in a deadly blow at close quarters. (More to add later)
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