Flail. Mace. Morningstar. I’ve been asked what’s the difference?

Quite simply, they are all crushing weapons. The flail features one or more striking heads attached to a handle by a rope, strap or chain. Both the mace and the morningstar have the head affixed directly to the handle, and so are the two most similar of these three weapons. A mace may or may not have flanges or knobs, but does not have spikes. A morningstar always has a spiked head, and most particularly, has a spike extending straight up from the top of the head. A flail may have spikes, but of course is differentiated from the morningstar by the head not being affixed to the shaft.

And now we’ve come full circle.

Each weapon is worth examining separately, so today we have the morningstar. Previously we have examined the flail and the mace.

Due to the morningstar’s design, it inflicted damage to an enemy via a combination of blunt-force and puncture wounds.

While superficially similar, the mace and morningstar developed independently, and when the mace transitioned to wholly metal construction, the morningstar retained its wooden haft. Additionally, the morningstar traditionally had a longer reach, with a typical weapon having a haft of six feet more – although cavalry weapons were typically shorter. Some weapons were even bigger! I don’t think I’d want anyone swinging that thing at me.

One example housed in the Vienna museum is a whopping 7’ 9” in length! This is a professionally made military morningstar, and the top spike itself is 21 inches in length. I don’t know about you, but that’s long enough to go clear through me and out the other side.

Cruder morningstars also existed, and were usually cobbled together by peasants out of hand-cut timber and fitted with nails and spikes. Pretty sure I still wouldn’t want someone hitting me with that.

It’s a Flail! A Mace! No, it’s a Morningstar! Simple Chart To Work Out the Difference

Fails, Maces and Mormingstars