Types Of Medieval Weapons That Were Commonly Used In the Middle Ages (2023)

Medieval weapons had a significant influence on the history of many societies. From the fall of the Roman Empire to our early Renaissance, possession of quality old weapons had profound consequences for European culture and warfare.

Much like the changes in our technology today, the use of weapons had transformed not only our warfare but also our society. Thus, the role of medieval weapons was not only to wage war, but to regulate social relations as well, as countries with the most powerful military had the most influence, just like today.

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Medieval Weapon Types

There was a significant development of all kinds of medieval weaponry during the Dark ages. Therefore it's sometimes challenging to determine the the exact breakdown of the weapons used in this period.

Today, you'll get to read about how the weapons of the Middle Ages were divided into offensive and defensive groups. However, many medieval weapons could indeed be used for both defense and attack.

Also, there is a division according to which weapons are divided into close combat weaponry and ranged combat weapons (throwing weapons).

Either way, when we talk about wars in the Medieval Ages, we mostly imagine glamorous knights wielding a sword or a spear on a battlefield. Although these two types of weapons were fundamental, medieval warriors fought against their enemies with many different and surprisingly brutal kinds of weaponry.

What weapons were most commonly used in the Medieval Ages? Which medieval weaponry was the strongest and most effective? Which the most beautiful?

Stay tuned...

3 Main Groups of Medieval Armaments

Close Combat Weapon Types

1. Swords

Types Of Medieval Weapons That Were Commonly Used In the Middle Ages (2)

As we have said, a sword is tool that is mainly associated with fighting in the Medieval Ages. For medieval warriors, a sword was much more than just a close combat weapon.

(Video) Top 10 Most Effective MEDIEVAL Weapons

Many civilizations made swords and gave them different meanings over time. So a sword was an important weapon whose function was not just to kill. The soldiers wore swords to show their status and power. They wore it for protection, they believed it symbolized wisdom, and they used it to express their masculinity.

However, due to the expensive workmanship, common soldiers could not afford a steel sword. Therefore, steel swords were reserved mainly for wealthy warriors.

At the very beginning of the Middle Ages, swords were of simple design. However, as the plate armour (defensive military equipment) became harder to penetrate, sword's blade became increasingly inefficient.

Therefore, their construction had to change.

So, around the thirteenth century, changes in the appearance of swords began to be visible. The blade was narrower and sharper at the top and thus more efficient in combat. However, even with all these changes, a sword was still expensive to make, and therefore we cannot say that it was a vital part of military equipment as not everyone could afford it.

2. Daggers and Knives

During the medieval war, daggers and knives were used as a secondary weapon. This stabbing weapon came with one or two edges while their tip was always extremely sharp.

The dagger was intended for self-defense and was used in combination with a sword as a form of personal protection. It was easy to use but also cheap to produce so that every warrior could afford having these in battle.

Throughout history many civilizations have used daggers in ritual contexts as well, making them a very symbolic medieval weapon.

3. Battle Axes

Types Of Medieval Weapons That Were Commonly Used In the Middle Ages (3)

Battle-axes were the most famous Viking weapon in the early Medieval Ages. Therefore, this weaponry was often called the Danish or Nordic axe.

However, the popularity of the battle-axe and bearded axes did not decline even later, during the late medieval period. Thus, among cavalry and foot soldiers, axes were one of the most commonly used weapons.

4. War Hammers

Another vital weapon that could often be seen in the hands of medieval warriors was the war hammer.

(Video) Medieval Weapons of the Middle Ages

As we've already mentioned, by the late Medieval period, warrior armour had evolved to the point that swords and other sharp weapons had become almost ineffective in combat.

As a result, a war hammer was created.

One side of a war hammer's heavy head was blunt, while the other was pointed. Such a design made this weaponry highly effective in piercing enemy's armor.

A decisive blow from the blunt part of the hammer head could very easily incapacitate the opponent. The pointed hammer side was used to penetrate armored parts of the body and deliver killing blows.

5. Polearms

European battlefields in the Medieval Ages were known for mass formations of infantry warriors carrying polearm weapons.

The blade of the polearm was placed at the end of a long, most often wooden, shaft, and as such, it was very suitable for both the defense and attacking an enemy military force. Given the versatility of this weapon in combat, the polearms very quickly became the backbone of the infantry army.

Another reason for the mass use of these staff weapons was cheap production. Relatively little metal was needed to make polearms. Therefore, all those warriors who could not pay for a more quality combat weapons could take polearms to the battlefield.

6. Halberds

Types Of Medieval Weapons That Were Commonly Used In the Middle Ages (4)

According to many, the halberd was the most beautiful weaponry from the medieval period.

It was actually a weapon in which an iron axe and a spear were combined, with the difference that this weapon was not used for throwing (like a spear) but for pushing an opponent.

So, in addition to looking beautiful, the halberd was highly efficient and versatile in combat. The sharp iron tip of the spear served to keep the opponent at a distance, while the ax's blade was intended to cut through the enemy's armor.

Ranged & Throwing Weapon Types

1. Spears

The spear was the most common medieval throwing weapon. Its production was not expensive so that all warriors could have it, regardless of their social status.

(Video) Evolution of swords through the middle ages

Also, due to its simple design, the spear was mass-produced. Spears are also considered to be the most efficient weaponry in medieval battles.

Spears were mainly used as a ranged weapon, which was thrown at opponents from a distance. Their role was to weaken the enemy army prior to close combat encounter.

Apart from battles, spears were also used for hunting. Hunters were often referred to as rangers, who carried spears on their hunting trips.

2. Bow and Arrow

A bow and arrow were one of the most important weapons of medieval battlefields. Like spears and polearms, recurve bows and arrows were also weapons of range that served to inflict injuries on enemy soldiers from a safe distance.

A soldier had to have long-term training to handle a bow and arrow because victory in battle largely depended on his precision.

During the later period, bows were replaced by crossbows which could inflict more damage and had more range.

3. Throwing Axes

Apart from a classic battle axe, Medieval battlefields have seen throwing axes as well. The head of this axe was located at the end of a short wooden handle and was mainly aimed at disabling enemy soldiers.

In addition to the weapons we've described above, artillery weapons were also used in the brutal medieval wars.

Artillery Weapons

Types Of Medieval Weapons That Were Commonly Used In the Middle Ages (5)

From the middle of the 11th century, international wars became more frequent. Stone became a common material during the construction of castles and fortifications, making them very resistant to the blows of standard weapons.

Therefore, it was necessary to produce stronger weapons, which is where artillery came into play.

The first such medieval invention was a trebuchet, whose wider use began in the 13th century. Very quickly, a trebuchet became the most desirable siege weapon that could throw heavy stones and rocks (250 kg of weight) on the stone fortifications.

(Video) Hand making a medieval style arrow, now, and in the middle ages

Due to its great destructive power, a trebuchet was a very effective weapon with incredible range. However, despite this fact, its use in wars was not so frequent.

The reason for this is expensive production and bulkiness (limited mobility).

In addition to the trebuchet, an important artillery weapon was the hand cannon, which was designed in China in the 13th century. In Europe, however, these weapons began to be used only in the 16th century.

The mechanism of the hand cannon was based on igniting the explosive powder within the cannon, which further led to the cannon firing at the enemies.

The first types of pistols that used lead bullets as ammunition began to be used during the 15th century. These types of guns were known as "Arquebus."

Also, as a common artillery weaponry in this period, Ballista (crossbow) and Mangonel (catapult) are mentioned.

However, although artillery machines were very desirable, due to the high production cost and transportation issues, this types of weapons were used rarely and only by wealthy armies.

Medieval Weapons: The Takeaway

The Middle Ages were full of wars, as it was a time of violence and brutality. Consequently, weapons have been of paramount importance to people all around the world.

It is important to remember that each weapon had a completely different purpose and was used in a different way.

However, despite all the aggravating circumstances, the warriors of the Middle Ages fought great battles that left deep traces in history.

Until our next meeting,

Skåll!

(Video) Top 9 Devastating Medieval Weapons

FAQs

What were medieval weapons used for? ›

A wide range of weapons were 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 a spiked head attached to a handle with a hinge or chain.

What were most medieval weapons made of? ›

The swords commonly in use in Europe in the Middle Ages were made of steel. Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, and iron heated properly over a charcoal fire becomes steel.

What's a medieval weapon? ›

Medieval weapons varied from simple tools, like arrows, to complex engines of emerging medieval warfare technology, like cannons. The most used weapons were daggers, axes, clubs and spears, while swords were typically only used by knights and their retainers or by men wealthy enough to afford them.

What were the first weapons? ›

Stone tips, arrows and bows. Stone tips are one of the earliest forms of weapons assumed by archaeologists, with the earliest surviving examples of stone tips with animal blood dating to around 64,000 years ago from the Natal, in what is now South Africa.

How did weapons change in the Middle Ages? ›

Weapons were originally crafted from wood and stone which meant they were easily broken. These materials were difficult to produce and were unreliable in battle. After the use of metal weapons became more reliable, accurate and lethal.

What is the most used weapon in history? ›

There's a very good reason why you can find spears in the history of every civilization and tribe on Earth. It's not just because they're simple, be it a common pointy stick or an elaborately engineered and weighted one.

Were there guns in the Middle Ages? ›

Speaking of handguns, the Middle Ages saw the first gunpowder weapons spread from China and across much of the world. By the 15th century, as many as 14% of men in Europe owned some kind of firearm, though many of them were unusable.

Which were the new weapons introduced in the medieval period? ›

The weapon that would transform the medieval world into the early modern one was the gun – handguns and arquebuses wielded by individuals, and the larger artillery pieces like cannons that could strike at fortifications.

What metal was used in the Middle Ages? ›

Copper and its alloys, bronze and brass with varying concentrations of lead, have been used for a long time for making useful and decorative objects.

Who created the sword? ›

The development of the sword out of the dagger was gradual; the first weapons that can be classified as swords without any ambiguity are those found in Minoan Crete, dated to about 1700 BC, reaching a total length of more than 100 cm (39 in).

What weapons did peasants use? ›

5 Weapons for the Medieval Peasant
  • 5 – Bow. Illustration: Weapon 30 - The Longbow. ...
  • 4 – Club. Illustration: Men-at-Arms 384 - Armies of the German Peasants' War 1524-26. ...
  • 3 – Axe. Illustration: Men-at-Arms 399 - Medieval Scandinavian Armies (2) 1300 - 1500. ...
  • 2 – Flail. ...
  • 1 – Guisarme.
15 May 2015

When was the first gun made? ›

The first devices identified as guns or proto-guns appeared in China from around AD 1000. By the end of the 13th century, they had become "true guns," metal barrel firearms that fired single projectiles which occluded the barrel. Gunpowder and gun technology spread throughout Eurasia during the 14th century.

How many weapons would a knight carry? ›

Here's the portion of the Bayeux Tapestry which shows the saxon on the far left carrying a spear, sword, shield, and daneaxe. The 13th century Scandinavian "King's Mirror" recommended that a knight have two swords, one worn on his belt and one attached to the saddle.

Does medieval mean Middle Ages? ›

With its roots medi-, meaning "middle", and ev-, meaning "age", medieval literally means "of the Middle Ages". In this case, middle means "between the Roman empire and the Renaissance"—that is, after the fall of the great Roman state and before the "rebirth" of culture that we call the Renaissance.

What was the first weapon? ›

The earliest unambiguous weapons to be found are the Schöningen spears, eight wooden throwing spears dating back more than 300,000 years.

Who made first gun? ›

The origin of firearms began with gunpowder and its invention, mostly likely in China, more than 1,000 years ago.

Who created gun? ›

The first firearms can be traced back to 10th century China. The Chinese were the first to invent gunpowder, and historians typically credit the first guns as being weapons the Chinese called fire lances. The fire lance was a metal or bamboo tube attached to the end of a spear.

How was medieval armor made? ›

Body armor was usually either a short-sleeved mail shirt (byrnie), made up of interlocking iron rings, or a garment of overlapping scales of iron, bronze, or horn. Shields were oval or round and made of light, tough wood covered with leather.

What is the coolest medieval weapon? ›

1. HALBERD. This two-handed weapon came to prominence during the 14th and 15th centuries. Essentially an axe, a hook, and a spike on top of a pole, it was a fearsome antipersonnel weapon for use against both infantry and cavalry.

How were swords used in the Middle Ages? ›

The blade of a sword could be straight or curved and have either one sharpened edge or two sharpened edges. Broad, thin blades were used by knights who preferred a cutting action and tapered blades were more useful for stabbing or thrusting attacks.

How many types of weapons are there? ›

  • Introduction.
  • artillery.
  • biological weaponry.
  • chemical weaponry.
  • combat weapons. ranged weapons. hand-to-hand combat weapons.
  • explosives. bombs. explosive substances. missiles. rockets.
  • firearms. manual. semiautomatic. automatic.
  • nuclear weapons.

What is the easiest medieval weapon to use? ›

The spear was the most fundamental weapon across almost every culture and people, from East to West, whether they were knights or tribal warriors or samurai, and for good reason. It was the AK47 of medieval times. It was easy & cheap to manufacture, easy to maintain, and simple to use.

What is the strongest weapon? ›

4. The Tsar Bomba. Without a doubt, the Tsar Bomba is the world's most powerful weapon, and one that is thankfully no longer in use. Designed and deployed by the USSR, this nuclear warhead at a yield of 50 megatons, more than bomb since or after.

How was medieval gunpowder made? ›

Originally, gunpowder was made by mixing elemental sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). There was no definitive opinion as to what the ratios should be, and this changed dramatically from country to country and over time.

How were medieval axes used? ›

Axe: Axes were typically used by common soldiers although they were occasionally used by knights. It is mainly used as a cutting weapon and could penetrate armor plate and shields. An axe could cut off an opponent's arm in one blow.

Were there bombs in medieval times? ›

Like the sieges of old, the British were met by incendiary weapons, but now these took the form of explosive grenades, mines and powder barrels as well as the enemy's guns. Specific weapons from the ancient and medieval periods continued to develop, and many have modern equivalents.

What were medieval cannons made of? ›

The earliest guns were made of brass or copper and were fairly small, weighing only 20-40 lbs themselves and firing missiles of only a few pounds' weight. Some early guns were even made of wood with only a core of metal; Petrarch, for example, refers to wooden cannon in 1343.

How much are medieval times swords? ›

Roughly $15-25 depending on what you buy.

What is the ball and chain weapon called? ›

A Mace and Chain, also called a chain mace (or a flail), is a variation on the medieval weapon and agricultural tool called a flail. It usually has a chain wrapped in leather or other material with a spiked steel ball on the end.

What metals were used for weapons? ›

Gun metal, also known as red brass in the United States, is a type of bronze; an alloy of copper, tin and zinc. Proportions vary but 88% copper, 8–10% tin, and 2–4% zinc is an approximation. Originally used chiefly for making guns, it has largely been replaced by steel for that purpose.

How was medieval steel made? ›

Crucible steel

A major development occurred in 1751, when Benjamin Huntsman established a steelworks at Sheffield, Eng., where the steel was made by melting blister steel in clay crucibles at a temperature of 1,500° to 1,600° C (2,700° to 2,900° F), using coke as a fuel.

How did medieval blacksmiths make weapons? ›

The Blacksmiths Craft

Two central components of the mechanism of making weapons by a medieval blacksmith were heating and hammering. The iron to be moulded into the shape of a specific weapon or instrument was heated in the furnace and then shaped by constantly hammering and twisting it into shape on the anvil.

How do you speak sword? ›

How to Say Sword | British Pronunciation | Learn English

What is Marvel sword? ›

Sentient Worlds Observation and Response Department, AKA S.W.O.R.D., is an Earth-based espionage agency charged with handling extraterrestrial affairs. S.W.O.R.D. works in tandem with the international law enforcement agency Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate, AKA S.H.I.E.L.D.

How long is a sword? ›

Historical one-handed versions have blades varying from 45 to 80 centimeters (18 to 31 inches) in length. The weight of an average sword of 70-centimeter (28-inch) blade-length would be in a range of approximately 700 to 900 grams (1+1⁄2 to 2 pounds).

Can swords cut armor? ›

The edges can still be used against more lightly-armored opponents: no matter how effective a sword is against forms of armor such as brigandine and mail, no sword, no matter how sharp, can cut directly through plate armor.

How strong is medieval knight? ›

We can place some numbers to how strong/fit a knight *had* to be. -Capable of wearing around 19–20kg of maille armour. -Capable of swinging a 1.1kg-1.3kg sword comfortably. -Capable of doing both for at least 10 minute bursts of frenetic activity.

What weapons did knights use? ›

The weapons of an English medieval knight in combat included the long sword, wooden lance with an iron tip, metal-headed mace, battle-axe, and dagger.

What should I name my gun? ›

Cool Gun Names
  • Pax and Lux.
  • Constania.
  • Sleeper Seeker.
  • Pericula Ludus.
  • Crown Splitter.
  • Ironbark Rifle.
  • Curtain Call.
  • Tyrannical Sniper.
8 Feb 2022

Who invented the bullet? ›

Henri-Gustave Delvigne, (born 1799, Hamburg [Germany]—died Oct. 18, 1876, Toulon, France), French army officer and inventor who designed innovative rifles and helped introduce the cylindrical bullet.

How do firearms work? ›

Mechanically speaking, the trigger is the catalyst that sets off a chain of events, starting with the release of the firing pin, which flies forward, striking a tiny explosive charge located in the base of the bullet. That explosion ignites the gunpowder, which is tucked inside the shell casing surrounding the bullet.

How thick is medieval armor? ›

Medieval plate armor ranged any between 1–3 millimeters thick, but the thickness varied at different periods and by different armorers. Mail armor was mainly used during the Early Middle Ages.

How heavy is a knights armor? ›

A full suit of armour weighed from 20 to 25 kilograms (45-55 lbs) - less than a modern infantryman would carry in equipment - and it was distributed evenly over the body so that a knight could move with some freedom. The greatest threat remained heat exhaustion from fighting in hot weather as ventilation was poor.

Can knight armor stop a bullet? ›

Some types of modern body armor, mostly used by the military, offer a certain degree of protection against bladed weapons, but far less than medieval armor. Medieval armor would be essentialy useless against a modern high-power pistol bullet.

How do you spell medieval? ›

When it comes to choosing medieval or mediaeval, it has been commonly observed people in Great Britain were more willing to use the ae, while Americans preferred just using the e. Perhaps this is true, but it seems that even in England the term medieval would gradually become more popular.

What is medieval and example? ›

Medieval definition

The definition of medieval is relating to the Middle Ages. An example of medieval is the style of a Gothic castle. adjective.

Why is it called Middle Ages? ›

They started around the year 476 CE, when the Western Roman Empire ended, and continued until around the time Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492. This period of time is called the 'Middle Ages' because it took place between the fall of Imperial Rome and the beginning of early modern Europe.

What is the coolest medieval weapon? ›

1. HALBERD. This two-handed weapon came to prominence during the 14th and 15th centuries. Essentially an axe, a hook, and a spike on top of a pole, it was a fearsome antipersonnel weapon for use against both infantry and cavalry.

What weapons did peasants use? ›

5 Weapons for the Medieval Peasant
  • 5 – Bow. Illustration: Weapon 30 - The Longbow. ...
  • 4 – Club. Illustration: Men-at-Arms 384 - Armies of the German Peasants' War 1524-26. ...
  • 3 – Axe. Illustration: Men-at-Arms 399 - Medieval Scandinavian Armies (2) 1300 - 1500. ...
  • 2 – Flail. ...
  • 1 – Guisarme.
15 May 2015

What is the most used weapon in history? ›

There's a very good reason why you can find spears in the history of every civilization and tribe on Earth. It's not just because they're simple, be it a common pointy stick or an elaborately engineered and weighted one.

Were there guns in the Middle Ages? ›

Speaking of handguns, the Middle Ages saw the first gunpowder weapons spread from China and across much of the world. By the 15th century, as many as 14% of men in Europe owned some kind of firearm, though many of them were unusable.

What is the largest medieval weapon? ›

The Claymore measured approximately 140 inches and weighed about 2.5 kilos. The largest sword in the history of this model measured 2.24 meters and weighing about 10 kilos. The Claymore was used by a Scottish giant whose name and origin is unknown, although it is believed that this person belonged to the Clan Maxwell.

When was the first sword made? ›

Bronze Age. The first weapons that can be described as "swords" date to around 3300 BC. They have been found in Arslantepe, Turkey, are made from arsenical bronze, and are about 60 cm (24 in) long.

When was the first gun made? ›

The first devices identified as guns or proto-guns appeared in China from around AD 1000. By the end of the 13th century, they had become "true guns," metal barrel firearms that fired single projectiles which occluded the barrel. Gunpowder and gun technology spread throughout Eurasia during the 14th century.

How many weapons would a knight carry? ›

Here's the portion of the Bayeux Tapestry which shows the saxon on the far left carrying a spear, sword, shield, and daneaxe. The 13th century Scandinavian "King's Mirror" recommended that a knight have two swords, one worn on his belt and one attached to the saddle.

Can swords cut armor? ›

The edges can still be used against more lightly-armored opponents: no matter how effective a sword is against forms of armor such as brigandine and mail, no sword, no matter how sharp, can cut directly through plate armor.

How strong is medieval knight? ›

We can place some numbers to how strong/fit a knight *had* to be. -Capable of wearing around 19–20kg of maille armour. -Capable of swinging a 1.1kg-1.3kg sword comfortably. -Capable of doing both for at least 10 minute bursts of frenetic activity.

How many types of weapons are there? ›

  • Introduction.
  • artillery.
  • biological weaponry.
  • chemical weaponry.
  • combat weapons. ranged weapons. hand-to-hand combat weapons.
  • explosives. bombs. explosive substances. missiles. rockets.
  • firearms. manual. semiautomatic. automatic.
  • nuclear weapons.

What is the easiest medieval weapon to use? ›

The spear was the most fundamental weapon across almost every culture and people, from East to West, whether they were knights or tribal warriors or samurai, and for good reason. It was the AK47 of medieval times. It was easy & cheap to manufacture, easy to maintain, and simple to use.

Who made the first gun? ›

The Chinese fire lance, a bamboo tube that used gunpowder to fire a spear, invented in the 10th century, is regarded by historians as the first gun ever made. Gunpowder was previously invented in China in the 9th century.

What was the first weapon? ›

The earliest unambiguous weapons to be found are the Schöningen spears, eight wooden throwing spears dating back more than 300,000 years.

How were swords used in the Middle Ages? ›

The blade of a sword could be straight or curved and have either one sharpened edge or two sharpened edges. Broad, thin blades were used by knights who preferred a cutting action and tapered blades were more useful for stabbing or thrusting attacks.

How was medieval gunpowder made? ›

Originally, gunpowder was made by mixing elemental sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). There was no definitive opinion as to what the ratios should be, and this changed dramatically from country to country and over time.

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