The Romans Weapons and armor weren't truely their own creation. More like the combined ideas of their surrounding "Neighbors". They took from anyone that had something neat that they liked, then "romanized" it for their troops.
Roman Short Sword: This is something like your average Short sword. Except that the blade is wider, allowing more strength and a larger cutting edge. The end of the blade is drawn to a tight point. This point is what allowed the Romans to puncture through most armors. Yes even plate mail could be punctured with a hard enough jab. These weapons were obviously designed for Stabbing motions, the drawn point and wide Blade showing this. Now depending on how you wanted to drop your enemy, you could stab at different spots in the Body. Gut stabs, inner thigh, or up towards the armpit were clasic spots to stab this wonderous weapon.
Roman Javelin: The first weapon to be used on the battle feild was the dreaded Roman Javelin. Feared by many, and with good reason. The Javelin is a thrown weapon, featuring a pointed spear head at the end. From the point was about 1-2 foot of Metal(alloy of Iron and lead) This metal wasn't too strong and would bend after striking its target, making it impossible to be thrown back at the Infantry. The Javelin could penatrate most shields and chain mail during those times, and would add an unwanted Weight to what ever it struck, say a shield. This makes the sheild unweildable from the amount of weight hanging off the end and this allowed the Infantry to charge in and take their enemy down with added ease.
Roman Shield: Ah, the Romans do it again. The shield of the Rome ‘twas a sweet weapon, It was about half the size to 3/4's the size of its wielder. Shaped like a large Rectangle, but it bowed inwards. The shield was made out of a nice sturdy piece of steel, featuring a small prong or spike in the center. The light curve of the shield allowed any slashing weapons to glance off of it. This creating an opening in the attacker, allowing a nice thrust from the short sword. The Romans kept their shields polished and slick, making it easier for the swords to glance off. Truly this is an ingenious piece of armor.
Roman Helmet: The helmet was kept very smooth, and was rounded, allowing a slashing weapon to glance off of it and slide out to the side. The Helm also featured two smooth cheek guards, and a neck guard in the back. These were also kept smooth and polished for they served a purpose… Keep you alive. The helm was designed for maximum protection, but also allowed the wearer to use his/her sense to the fullest.
Battle Axe: Battle axe is a generic term for a fighting axe, especially a European fighting axe. Battle axes are essentially larger versions of simple axes and are usually two-handed and double-headed. The term battle axe applies only to axes of war. The increased weight and blade size of the battle axe made it even more effective for slashing, chopping, and crushing armor than the simple axe; however, greater skill and strength were required to use a battle axe effectively and thus it was not a common weapon. Most medieval European battle axes had broad, socketed heads (meaning the axe head and the haft fit together, rather than were lashed together), and used reinforcement bands along the haft to prevent the haft from snapping during battle.
Maul: The maul was and still is a heavy wooden hammer or mallet like tool used to pound stakes into the ground. The maul, like many other domestic tools during the middle ages, doubled as a fighting weapon among the poorer classes of Europeans pressed into military service. By virtue of its size and weight, the maul required two hands to wield it. During war, many mauls were reinforced with metal bands around the head to prevent splintering; many were also fitted with spikes on the striking surface of the head for increasing the damage they inflicted.
Flanged Mace: Flanges, spikes, and similar pointed protrusions were added to combat plate and mail armor. The force of a blow, concentrated on the tip of a flange or spike, was very effective at denting and piercing armor. The mace is almost a family of weapons unto itself; the flail, morningstar, holy water sprinkler, and ball and chain are all variations of maces. The scepter, a form of mace, was extremely common through the ages as a ceremonial weapon, symbolizing power and authority. Pictured here are various styles of flanged maces; a simple mace would just be a ball atop the haft.
War Hammer: While hammer-like weapons had been in use for centuries throughout the world, the medieval European war hammer was a very specific adaptation of the blunt, crushing war hammer design associated with the Norse deity Thor. The medieval war hammer was one of the few weapons with an edge that could both tear open armor plate as well as inflict devastating concussion blows. The war hammer usually had a beak-like blade opposite a faceted hammer, making it a combination of a mace and pick. The weight of the metal head concentrated on the sharp point of the beak after a full swing easily pierced both chain and plate mail. A spear-like tip on some versions allowed for thrusting as well as swinging. While some war hammers were of all metal construction, most were socketed metal heads attached to wooden hafts; metal reinforcement bars (termed langets or cheeks) along the side of the wood haft prevented the hammer head from breaking off during combat.
Flail: In flails, separating the striking object (example: metal balls, spiked or not) from the haft by a chain gave flails flexibility. This flexibility increased the impact force of the strike and made parrying the attack much more difficult. While also similar in concept to a morningstar or ball and chain, the flail generally consisted of multiple chains and balls attached to a haft; thus, the flail was even more of an weapon impossible to parry against. The earliest flails were merely adaptations of agricultural tools (grain threshers, for example) but served well as weapons of war. Both cavalry and dismounted soldiers used flails; the cavalry flails were generally smaller and lighter.
Mace: Simple maces consist of a handle, usually wooden, with a hard striking object socketed to the top of the handle. By the middle ages, many European maces were all metal construction. Flanges, spikes, and similar pointed protrusions were added to combat plate and mail armor. The force of a blow, concentrated on the tip of a flange or spike, was very effective at denting and piercing armor.
Chakrum - Quoit: The Chakrum is a metal ring which has is used as a throwing weapon. The chakrum is most commonly known, now days, as the discus-like weapon that Xena: Warrior Princess uses in her show. The fact is, the chakrum was used by the Sikhs of India for hundreds of years. Some chakrams are mere rings of flattened steel while others have aerodynamic configurations as part of their design in order to cut, fly, and perform to a more refined degree than a flat one could. A small Chakrum is known as a Quoit. The Quoit is generally 6 to 8 inches in diameter while the Chakrum has a diameter anywhere between 8 and 15, but there have been some known to be even larger than that. The Quoit was sometimes inlaid with silver or gold with small incised decorations. It was often worn as part of a warrior's armor for decorative purposes. The Chakrum and Quoits have a razor sharp edge which has either a smooth and sharp outer edge or a serrated outer edge. It was thrown by twirling it around the warrior's index finger or they may pinched it between the thumb and index finger and sailed it underarm which is identical to how most of us now throw a frisbee. The Chakrum and Quoit was accurately thrown 60 to 100 meters in a relatively straight line. They can weigh anywhere from 5.5 to nearly 10 ounces.
Crossbows: The first crossbows were constructed entirely of wood but later models incorporated animal cartilage in the yew wood frame for elasticity. Most early crossbows had a stirrup on the front of the stock. To reload the crossbow, the archer placed the stirrup on the ground, his foot through the stirrup, and pulled the bowstring back as hard as he could until he notched it in the nut (the mechanism which held the string in place, depressing the crude trigger bar allowed the bolt to fly). Mechanical loading devices involving pulleys and gears made this process considerably simpler, but by no means easy.
Long Bow: As the name implies, the longbow was generally longer in length than the common bow. The bow length was usually the height of the archer with the arrow length half that. By virtue of its greater length and bowstring span, the long bow let fly a more powerful arrow over greater distances. Longbows were simple bows, meaning they were constructed of a single material (wood, preferably yew with elm as a substitute). The bowstring itself required in upwards of 100 foot-pounds of pressure to draw it, let alone aim it properly. Further, English archers were required to hit a man-sized target with their arrows at more than 200 yards distance.
Composite Bow: The name composite bow was descriptive of a bow constructed of three basic layers of different materials, usually wood, bone, and sinew. The composite bow was smaller then the Longbow and easier to handle.
Halbard: The Halberd incorporated an axe blade, a spear point, and a pick/hammer beak. It could be used to hook an enemy to the ground, even off horseback. It could be thrust or used for chopping as well.
The Spetum: Also referred to as the corseca, corsèsque, korseke, runka, rawcon, ranseur, and chauve souris (each of these weapons were very minor variations on the spetum design). The spetum is a polearm weapon similar to the ox-tongue spear, bill, and partisan. It consisted of a broad blade sharpened on two sides with smaller blades protruding from the left and right of the center blade. The weapon could be thrust or used for slashing. Many varieties of this weapon existed across Europe, hence the similar shape but different names for them all.
The Glaive: Also called a glave, couteau de breche, and fauchard/fouchard (a glaive modified with added spurs on the dull side of the blade). The glaive was a medieval European polearm with a long knife-like blade. The blade generally curved backward and was sharpened on the convex side; it was primarily a slashing and chopping weapon. Glaives were often used to protect archers, crossbowmen, and gunners while they reloaded. Outside of combat they were a popular processional weapon and therefore many had ornately carved blades.
The Kite Shield: The kite shield’s name derives from its resemblance to a kite. It has also been referred to as a tear shield (it favors a tear drop in some instances). The proper terms for a kite shield is a Norman shield. It was the characteristic shield of the Normans (northern coast of France), used between the 11th and 15th centuries. Made of wood, metal, or a combination of both, the kite shield afforded the wielder excellent protection. It was especially popular among mounted knights because it covered them from shoulder well below the knee when held at the ready-position (mounted on the forearm, the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle).
The Tower Shield: The tower shield is difficult to place as a particular design by its name alone. All references to tower shields describe a very tall shield, greater in length than breadth, which covered the body from shoulder to knee when carried with the arm bent. The tower shield probably got its name from the fact it is tall like a tower. While large, the tower shield was smaller than a pavis or wall shield (the Roman scutum or Briton’s shield are close examples of a tower shield). Many variations of the tower shield had an arc-shaped top to protect the head without restricting the wielder’s field of vision; this type of tower shield is displayed here.
The Buckler: The buckler was a small shield which saw wide popularity in Europe beginning in the late 16th century. Normally not much wider than the fist holding it, the buckler was used primarily to parry an opponent's attack rather than cover the wielder's body. As the size of weapons began to decrease and sword play became more in vogue (as a result of the development of firearms), the buckler became the ideal shield choice. The times of barbarians with six-foot swords past, the small, light buckler was extremely effective in a fast-moving fight. While most bucklers were round, some were rectangular or square.
The Targe / Target Shield: The targe, or target, was the traditional Scottish round shield (square versions existed but were rare). The shield was generally made of wood and covered in leather, but later versions combined steel with wood. The targe was almost always embossed or decorated with brass studs and bosses. Rarely more than 20 inches in diameter, its primary function was to parry an opponent’s attack rather than completely shield the body. The targe was used most often in conjunction with a broadsword or other one-handed weapon. It was very similar in use and function to a buckler.
The Estoc: While the existence of one-handed versions is not impossible, the estoc was a two handed weapon, originally from Germany, used solely for thrusting. Its blade was diamond sectioned and had no cutting edge. It was an excellent weapon for piercing chain mail, armor joints, and bodies. Many warriors carried their estocs without a sheath, slung over their back or carried over one shoulder.
The Khopesh: The khopesh (khopsh)was an ancient Egyptian weapon which first became popular beginning with the period when upper and lower Egypt were united under one pharaoh. The khopesh design was devastatingly effective and changed the development of edged weapons around the known world.
Its sickle-like blade could be edged either on the inside or outside curve, or both. The spine of the weapon (the strongest part of the blade, generally opposite the blade’s edge) was made to be heavier than the spine of most other swords. Edged to the outside, the weapon was extremely effective at creating slashing wounds. Edged to the inside, it was used for hacking an opponent. In either case, the heavy spine of the weapon and center of gravity centered along the blade instead of close to the hilt made the khopesh the most effective weapon of the period.
Given the limitation of smelting and metalworking during the early Egyptian dynasties, most of the weapons were crafted from iron or bronze. As time, and technology progressed, the khopesh design evolved into a number of other styles; the materials used for crafting these weapons also improved, making them even more deadly.
The Greek kopis is the most easily recognizable descendant of the khopsh design. The falchion design of the middle ages evolved from the khopesh design via the kopis; the saber is the most recent descendant of the khopesh concept.
Longsword: The longsword (also referred to as a warsword) was a common name used in reference to long bladed, double edged, and straight hilted swords throughout the Middle Ages in Europe. It was designed to be wielded by those with strength and could be thrust, used to slash, and even crush armor.
Bastard Sword: Also called the Hand and a Half Sword. The Bastard Sword was a European sword used primarily in the late 14th and the 15th centuries. The Bastard Sword is a long, straight bladed weapon with a rather plain, undecorated handle. While the blade could be used for thrusting, most often the wielder would swing it like a baseball bat. Ordinarily the weapon could be wielded with one hand, but the grip was long enough to accomodate a two-handed grip when necessary. The blade length was rarely much longer than that of a simple longsword, but had a much larger handle.
The Backsword: The backsword was a weapon popularized during the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe as a secondary weapon for mounted cavalry soldiers. The name backsword derived from the way the cavalryman would sling the weapon in a sheath behind his back while riding in order to prevent it from clanging against his or the horse’s side as they galloped along. The backsword was essentially very saber-like. The backsword blade had two basic variations: generally straight for thrusting, or slightly curved for both thrusting and slashing. The backsword was a very versatile weapon, dangerous both from a mounted position as well as dismounted.
While most people associate the term broadsword with the wide-bladed, cross hilted swords carried by the likes of the crusaders and knights of medieval Europe, technically speaking, the broadsword is a 17th century sword with a straight, single-edged blade and basket hilt. The broadsword proper has its roots in the highlands of Scotland where the baskethilt first became popular (basket hilted swords were manufactured throughout England and certain parts of Europe as well, but the basket hilt and Scotland go hand in hand in most weapon aficionado’s minds).
With a blade rarely wider than two inches, the broadsword seems rather narrow compared to the longswords and warswords carried by the knights and crusaders of earlier years. The “broad” in broadsword is a reference not to the actual width of the blade relative to swords in general, but rather specifically to the width of rapier and smallsword blades which had become popular during the late 16th century. With the rise of firearms in combat, and most of Europe deciding finesse in sword fighting was superior to brute strength, most of the sword blades narrowed. The Scots, true to their nature, placed more trust in the strength of a blade than the lightness of their feet or suppleness of their wrists and would go only so far in shrinking their swords. Thus, while the broadsword proper was significantly more narrow-bladed than the claymore or longsword, it was broad bladed compared to the rapier and was accurately described as a broad sword.
The Cutlass: The cutlass developed after the 16th century as a purely cutting/slashing weapon. By definition, the cutlass was a curved European blade with a plain, guarded hilt, similar in shape and use to the saber. The cutlass descended in design from the Turkish scimitar and Egyptian khopesh; in fact, the name cutlass derives from the term curtle-axe which is an Anglicization of the Turkish “curtus” and axe. Cutlasses were most popular among naval infantry soldiers.
Rapier: The rapier was, essentially, a courtly gentleman’s blade rather than a soldier’s weapon. It consisted of a small hilted one handed weapon with a thin blade. Much lighter and more maneuverable then the longswords,maces, and axes favored by knights, it traded the use of brute strength to wield in exchange for skill and finesse. The rapier was almost exclusively a thrusting weapon.
The Saber: The saber was a European and American sword developed following the demise of heavy armor on the battlefield. Single edged, slightly curved, and sharpened on the convex edge, the saber was primarily a slashing weapon but could also be thrust. The saber was especially popular among cavalry soldiers of Europe and America. As time and warfare progressed, the saber became more a ceremonial weapon and affectation of military officers. The saber developed from the falchion design and bears many similarities to the backsword and cutlass.
Scimitar: The scimitar is a middle eastern sword characterized by a broad, curved blade ending in a uniquely upturned point.
Stiletto: The stiletto was a European thrusting dagger first developed in Italy. The entire weapon was usually forged of a single piece of steel. The blade was long, narrow, and triangular or rectangular sectioned without a cutting edge. Adept at inflicting deep puncture wounds and even piercing light armor, it was the weapon of choice for many assasins due to it's easy concealment.
Claymore: The two-handed claymore is a huge weapon designed to crush through armored and unarmored opponents alike. Often as long as six feet from the tip to pommel (the hilt-end of the weapon). The claymore is characterized by a long, double edged blade and downward slanting quillons.
Greatsword: Most simple two-handed swords were characterized by long straight blades, straight quillons, and a long hilt sufficient for grasping with two hands. Despite their straight blades, two-handed swords were designed for swinging, rather than just thrusting. It was one of the few swords designed to and capable of crushing through heavy armor. A great deal of strength and space were needed to use a two-handed sword well.
Cuirass: Also called a pair of curates, a cuirass is simply a breastplate and backplate designed to be worn together. Mde usually of steel the cuirass wasl ight enough to be worn disnmounted and could be worn with various other armorments ot form an entire suit.
Hauberk: The early hauberk consisted of a padded cloth jacket, covered in scales, and reached the hips and elbows in a rather loose-fitting style. The large hauberk, what we think of when we hear Hauberk, was more of a frock/smock design. It incorporated a camail and extended down to knees and elbows. The Hauberk became a complete suit of flexible armor which could be worn like a shirt without a "wrong side out." Each ring in the garment was riveted to the others piece by piece, the final product being either of single or double layer construction. Commonly, the sleeves were extended to cover the hands as well. The Hauberk was the chosen armor for the Knights of the Crusades due to plate mail having not been popularized yet.
Brigandine Armor: Brigandine armor (also called brigantine) is a flexible, composite material body armor made of large numbers of metal plates or scales riveted (sometimes sewn) to the inside of a cloth covering.Brigandine armor allowed relatively great freedom of movement while providing the wearer significant protection against blows and slashes.
Chain Mail: Chain mail refers to a protective armor constructed of multiple interlinking chains.Chain mail offered excellent protection against cutting blows, was lighter than solid plate armor, but was more easily pierced during combat. Double mail, a version of chain mail armor, was identical to simple chain mail except that two links were used for every one in single mail construction. Double mail offered greater protection to the wearer but was, obviously, doubly heavy.
Full Plate: Full plate describes a suit of armor made entirely from plate mail armor. Plate armor for dismounted combat differed from that for mounted combat, and jousting armor was a completely separate type of armor. A knight in full plate armor, especially on horseback, was nearly impervious to most weapon attacks until he was knocked down or off his horse. The armor was so heavy that a fallen knight stood little chance against his opponents in a large melee.
Scale Mail: Individual plates, or scales, would be attached to the outside of a cloth or leather garment by sewing (early versions) or riveting (more recent versions). The scales overlapped and provide protection against cuts, penetration, and concussion.
Bracers: Bracers, vambraces, and arm greaves are essentially the same thing: they protect the arm from the elbow to the wrist. Vambraces generally connote a sturdier armor construction such as plate mail. Vambraces are generally rigid and either a solid tube fastened over the arm, or hinged over the outside of the arm and fastened on the inside by straps or hooks. Bracers were forearm guards first worn by archers to protect them from the snap of the bowstring.
Gauntlet: Gauntlets were armored gloves used in medieval Europe. Gauntlets usually had a stiff cuff attached to plates which overlapped each other from the knuckles back to the wrist. The knuckles were protected by a raised or embossed plate which attached to the small finger plates. The finger plates numbered four on the pinkie to six on the middle finger (this varied with hand size). The thumb had similar protection but was only connected to the cuff by a leaf plate to allow the digit freedom of movement. The metal portion of the gauntlet was attached to a leather glove inside it.
Aventail: An aventail/camail is a chain mail cover for the neck and upper shoulders which could be attached directly to a helmet (especially the basinet) or worn as a shawl-like garment.
An interesting note: the term "to be crestfallen" derives from a type of medieval tournament in which each combatant attempted to knock the crest off the other's helmet. The winner was the combatant left with his crest and helmet intact, the loser was "crestfallen."
Visored Hemlmet: Quite self explanitory, the helmet was made of some type of metal, usually steel, to cover the entire head. The opening in front for the face had an attached visor which could be raised or lowered for battle. Note, this style helmet reduced the wearers visability greatly. With the visor up, the wearer would be able to see straight ahead with reduced side to side visability. With the Visor down, the wearer could see only a head of them, and even that view was reduced.
Coif: A hood of chain mail, often incorporating a ventail neck cover, usually worn under a helmet as a further buffer against blows.
The Morion: The morion was an open helmet which first appeared in the mid 16th century and was worn almost exclusively by foot soldiers. Very similar in design to the cabasset, the morion was relatively inexpensive to manufacture and thus was popular for issue to soldiers. With its wide brim and comb atop the helmet, the morion lent itself to extravagant alterations. In many cases, the morion’s upturned brim and comb would be embellished so much the helmet became very heavy and inconvenient in a fight. While the morion is most associated with the Spanish conquistadores in the New World, it was actually very popular as a helmet for pikemen and soldiers throughout the rest of Europe.