Category Archives: medieval weaponry

The Halberd: Medieval Weaponry and Accoutrements



Today we’re looking at the halberd – basically because a conversation I had on Twitter turned to this weapon as a curiosity and remarked on its under-appreciation.


The halberd is a two-handed pole weapon which features both a spear point and an axe head – talk about bang for your buck! A hook on the opposite side of the axe head helped to balance the weapon and could be used to pull enemy soldiers from their saddles. How can you go past such versatility?

The word ‘halberd’ is believed to be German in origin and essentially boils down ‘staff axe’. Well, yeah. I can see that it literally is an axe on a staff. This puts the halberd in the ‘polearm’ category, with other weapons mounted on ‘poles’ that could vary between 4 and 14 feet in length, although generally the halberd ranged from 5 to 6 feet. I’m not sure I’d want to try and carry a weapon 14 feet long!

HalberdHalberd for the Guard of Emperor Maximilian II
The weapon was most effective against mounted knights, as the long pole allowed sufficient force to be applied with the axe head to cause injury to a knight in full plate armour, or his horse. To combat this, armour for horses was developed, but even so couldn’t offer much protection against a blow from a halberd.

The halberd underwent constant improvements, including the addition of steel rims around the pole to deflect swords, or lengthening the haft to better combat pikes, or improving the point to fight pikes and spears and to push back oncoming horsemen. 

The weapon was that of a foot soldier and was relatively cheap to make. It was most effective as an offensive weapon, and was used most when pikes fought other pikes. When the units were increasingly used to defend others, such as artillery positions, the proportion of halberds in the pike units began to fall.

Halberdiers from a modern
day reenactor troupe.
Expert halberdiers were deadly. A peasant armed with a halberd killed The Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, and it’s suspected that a halberd put Richard III to his end as well. In modern times, the halberd is still the weapon carried by the Swiss Guard in the Vatican.

Next month I’m considering looking at the Lochaber axe, the glaive, or the khopesh. What do you think I should choose? Or offer your own suggestion! 

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my May Newsletter if you missed it.

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Thanks for stopping by and visiting!


 

Lisette Brody Interviews Ciara Ballintyne at the Writers’ Chateau

Lisette Brody had a chat with me this week over on her Writers’ Chateau – make sure you drop by to check out the full interview!

Later today you can expect the usual medieval accoutrements post – we’ll be looking at the halberd!

The Bastard Sword: Medieval Weaponry and Accoutrements



A rather misleading name for what was essentially a longsword, or more properly, a hand and a half sword. So why exactly was it called a ‘bastard’ sword?

The name originates from the French ‘epee bartarde’, and may have been intended to signify the irregular nature or misleading appearance of the bastard sword. While it might be much the same length as a single-handed sword, the tang was long enough to allow the weapon to be wielded two-handed, which gave it greater versatility.

The bastard sword generally featured a double-edged tapered blade measuring 40-48 inches, and a hilt that allowed for two-handed use, measuring another 10-15 inches. It was favoured for its reach and superior cutting and thrusting, and was predominantly used by medieval knights. Despite its size, it rarely weighed more than 4.5 pounds. 


If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my May Newsletter if you missed it.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

New Blogging Schedule – Scotland, History, Mythology and More!



Whew! The A – Z challenge was fun, but boy am I glad it’s over – it was getting a little gruelling there towards the end.

In the wake of the Challenge, I’ll be returning to my usual bi-weekly posting routine with a few changes. So here’s what you can expect going forward: 

  • Mondays  – The usual Monday Morsel feature, but as I’ve just started writing Stalking the Demon, the sequel to my novella, Confronting the Demon, I’ll be alternating morsels from In the Company of the Dead and Stalking the Demon.
  • Fridays:
  • In 2016, I’m returning to Scotland! It’s been six years since my last visit, and this next one is so close I can taste it. To share the experience with you, every second Friday I’ll be posting about one of our planned destinations on the trip. Come tour Scotland with me!
  • Once a month I’ll be posting an historical feature on medieval arms and accoutrements;
  • I’ll be reviving my mythology series, with a twist – instead of looking at mythological creatures, I’ll be looking at various aspects of European mythology. This feature will also be appearing once a month; and
  • If there’s five Fridays in a month you’ll get a special feature post, or otherwise from time to time I may make additional posts at a time of my choosing.


I hope there’s something in the new feature to interest you, and I hope to see you soon. 

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or sign-up to my newsletter. Check out my March Newsletter if you missed it. 

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this. 

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!