Medieval Weapons - Life in Medieval Days

There are MANY great books out there on medieval weaponry - I own several of them. If you're really looking for an in depth study of the weapons used in medieval times, I highly recommend getting one full of great photos so you can see first hand what they looked like. However, this will give you a brief overview of how medieval people defended themselves and attacked others.

Remember, while medieval times might seem like "dark ages" from modern times, they came AFTER the Holy Roman Empire and its magnificent war machine. So people in medieval times had a huge variety of weaponry at their disposal, and there were people skilled in using any number of types of weapons.

The sword, of course, was ubiquitous. Long, straight, it was a favored weapon of many. A cross-guard would protect the hands from danger, just above the hilt. Note that "really large" swords did not start to come in until the 1400s. They were a smaller double-handed sword that some would use. Swords were forged from iron and steel and had to go through a long process of hammering, heating, cooling and reheating to create their powerful strength. A poorly made sword would shatter on impact; a well made sword could last generations of use.

Smaller daggers were carried by pretty much every adult. When a person went to the dinner table, they had their eating dagger and were given a spoon. There were no forks at the time, so the dagger was used to stab and cut food. With the prevalence of bandits and wolves, carrying a dagger with you was basic protection, man or woman.

An axe was another common weapon, since many people had an axe around the house anyway for cutting down trees, making fences, repairing the house, cutting firewood etc. It was a tool most adults were quite familiar with and was handy if trouble came knocking.

A lance was a specific weapon used primarily by horseback riders, i.e. knights. This long wooden pole carried a sharp metal spear on the front of it. Undoubtedly you've seen lance jousts in tournaments either at renaissance faires or in movies.

For more of a brute force weapon, there was the mace. Oddly, the mace was favored by religious types who felt they should not "draw blood". A mace was in essence a big metal ball with spikes at the end of a wooden staff. It was used to bash and club enemies. I personally think this would have caused blood to leak out of the victim's body - but for whatever reason this weapon was felt to be OK because it didn't slice the person open. The weapon that has a ball on the end of a chain is a flail.

I have an entire section of this site dedicated to Medieval Swords and Swordfighting

Medieval Conflict
Medieval Bows and Arrows
Medieval Keeps and Castles
Medieval Weapons
Medieval Swords and Swordfighting


Medieval Romance Basics
Medieval Romance for Villagers
Medieval Romance for Nobles
Medieval Romance for Men
Medieval Romance for Women


Life in Medieval Days

Lisa's Medieval Romances
Seeking the Truth
Knowing Yourself
A Sense of Duty


Online Literary Magazines

Lisa Shea's Homepage