The crossbow was a medieval weapon that consisted of a bow mounted crosswise at the end of a stock that shot bolts. The wooden stock was usually made of yew or hazel, and the bow was made of ashwood or steel. A mechanism in the stock holds the bow in its fully-drawn position until the potential energy accumulated in the bow is released by tripping a trigger-like wooden peg. There was a slot in the stock in which the bolt was placed. The string was usually pulled using a lever or a crank on a ratchet.
The crossbow range was about 400 yards but could only be shot at a rate of 2 bolts per minute. The crossbow was easy to use, requiring minimal training and required little strength to operate. The medieval Knight was the most powerful and effective warrior and said to be worth 10 foot soldiers, who were regarded with the lowest esteem and considered expendable. The crossbow could be used by an untrained soldier to injure or kill a knight in plate armor. The crossbow, itself, was therefore viewed as an inhuman weapon which required no skill and had no honor. It was even banned by the Pope! The Crossbow was, however, a very useful weapon which could be used by the young, the old and the infirm! The crossbow was used throughout the Middle Ages. Richard the Lionheart’s army had both crossbows and longbows. King Richard died as a result of gangrene after being shot by a crossbow bolt at Chalus-Charbrol near Limousin, France, on 26 March 1199.
The war hammer was a medieval weapon which can be seen as a natural extension of the blacksmith’s tool become weapon. 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 we generally associate with the Norse deity Thor, as it was one of the few weapons with that could both tear open armor plate as well as inflict devastating concussion blows.
The war hammer usually had a beak-like steel spike opposite a faceted hammer, making it a combination of a mace and pick. The head of the hammer was attached to a 14-inch handle. War hammers were developed as a consequence of the ever more prevalent surface-hardened steel armors of the late medieval battlefields during the 14th and 15th centuries. The surface of the armor was now as hard as the edge of a blade, so a blade tended to ricochet. Swords were likely only to give a glancing blow, losing much of the impact, especially on the high curvature of the helmet. The war hammer could deliver the full force to the target, denting the armor if hit with the hammer side, or perforating it if hit with the spike.
The arming sword was a medieval double-edged weapon, whose blade ended in a sharp point as it was used both for slashing and thrusting. It was developed from steel Celtic swords, which in turn arose from a tradition of straight, double-edged swords which began with bronze swords as early as 1,500 BC. At the opening of the Middle Ages these swords tended to have blades just under a yard in length with a grip designed to accommodate a single hand; the other hand being concerned with the grip of a shield. Essentially all of the earliest medieval swords and many throughout the period were designed to cut rather than to thrust, having surprisingly thin blades, especially towards the tip.
Used with a shield, the arming sword was the standard military sword of the knight. The arming sword was overall a light, versatile weapon capable of both cut and thrust combat; and normally boasts excellent balance. Although a variety of designs fall under the heading of ‘arming sword’, they are most commonly recognized as single-handed double-edged swords that were designed more for cutting than thrusting. The arming sword was worn by a knight even when not in armor, and he would be considered ‘undressed’ for public if he were without it.
The sword was an offensive weapon which consisted of a long metalic blade (bronze, iron and steel) and a handle called hilt, which protected that warrior hand with sideways metal projections. The sword was used both for thrusting and slashing as there were many types of swords, depending on the civilizations.
Swords longer than 90 cm were rare and not practical during the Bronze Age as this length exceeds the tensile strength of bronze, which means such long swords would bend easily. Iron swords became increasingly common from the 13th century BC. The Hittites, the Mycenaean Greeks, and the Proto-Celtic Hallstatt culture (8th century BC) figured among the early users of iron swords. Iron has the advantage of mass-production due to the wider availability of the raw material, and, in contrast with bronze, iron-blade sword could be ground or sharpened.
The ancient Greek called their sword xiphos, which was a double-edged, single-hand sword. It was a secondary battlefield weapon for the Greek armies after the spear or javelin. The blade was around 65 cm long. The xiphos was good for both cutting and stabbing attacks due to its leaf-shaped blade. It was generally used only when the spear was discarded. It seems that the Spartans (Dorians) developed a shorter sword, about 30cm long, but otherwise similar to the common hoplite xiphos. This shorter version of the xiphos was useful in the close combat of the Greek warfare and was widely used by all Greeks during and after the Peloponnesian War.
The Roman legionaries carried the gladius, the most famous and glorious sword in Ancient Times. The gladius was a single-handed, double-edged thrusting weapon. Although early ancient Roman swords were similar to those used by the Greeks, from the 3rd century BC, the Romans adopted swords similar to those used by the Celtiberians (Spanish Celtic tribes) and others during the conquest of Hispania. This kind of sword was known as the Gladius Hispaniensis, or “Hispanic Sword,” or simply Gladius, made with the best steel in Ancient Times. With a blade-length of 64 cm and a weight of 1.2 kg, the Gladius became the standard weapon in the Roman Legions. Later extant Gladii are now known as the Mainz, Fulham, and Pompei types. The hilt was made of bone, ivory, or wood.
The club was the first weapon of mankind. Also known as cudgel or bludgeon, the club was first wielded by primitive men all over the world during prehistorical times. It was essentially a staff, made of wood, or from a femur, and was used for beating. With one downward swinging movement, a man could stun a medium-size beast or bash his foe’s head.
The handaxe was a bifacial Paleolithic core weapon and was used for hacking and chopping. In western Europe, the handaxe was mainly made of flint, which flaked easily, yielding a razor-sharp edge. But other material was also used, such as quartzites and other coarse rocks. Slowly developed and improved over the milleniums, the handaxe remained the chief implement of Stone Age hunters as it took on a number of sizes and shapes.
The spear is a pole weapon used for hunting and war, consisting of a shaft, usually of wood, with a sharpened head. The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with bamboo spears, or it may be of another material fastened to the shaft, such as obsidian or bronze. The most common design is of a metal spearhead, shaped like a triangle or a leaf. The Neantherthal was the first man to use this weapon, specially when he hunted mammoths.