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27 Jul

Other Medieval Weapons

A wide range of weapons was used in medieval warfare and personal combats both for defensive and offensive purposes. Sword was by far the most popular weapon but medieval knights also used a flail, consisting of spiked head attached to a handle with a hinge or chain. Flail as well as morning star and mace were intended for close combats and to inflict as much damage as possible.

Development of metal armor against which swords were of little use resulted in the emergence of new weapons such as war hammers. The design of war hammer, consisting of a handle and a head greatly resembled the hammer but it was created to penetrate the metal armor. Pole weapons such as spears, halberds, poleaxes and pikes with a long shaft (usually of wood) were used in close combats and were very effective as defensive weapons in case of calvary attack.

Construction of massive defensive walls and ditches surrounding the medieval castles, fortresses and cities resulted in the development of special siege weaponry and engines: catapult, ballista and the trebuchet which were used to throw projectiles at high speed. However, the mentioned siege engines became obsolete after the introduction of gunpowder and were replaced by cannons in the 14th century.

Medieval English siege tower

Siege tower

Besides special siege weaponry and engines medieval armies also used different siege tactics such as mining (digging the tunnels) under the walls or setting fires against the walls to weaken its foundations or to destroy the walls. Siege tower known as belfry was used to approach the walls and to be able to breach the walls with minimal casualties. Popular method in siege warfare was also cutting off the food supply to the besieged castle or a city to starve out its defenders and force them to surrender. Frequently used methods were also negotiating, bribery and catapulting diseased animals or human corpses over the walls to spread diseases within the fortress, castle or city.

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