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Examining the Nastiest Medieval Weapons

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

While many of the most common weapons used in warfare during medieval times were simple tools, staffs, or farming implements that peasants had access to, there were also professional armies were armed with some very nasty weapons. The Dark Ages in Europe did not give a lot of advancements mankind many areas, but one area where great strides were made was that of warfare. Whether you're talking about large siege weapons designed to take out castles or weapons for the individual foot soldiers which are designed to slice their warmer or take Calvary right off of their horses, many advances in weaponry led to bloodier battles that became more dangerous for everybody involved. If you are interested in some of the more dangerous or deadly weapons of that period in history, then read on to learn about weapons that may not have been common to the average conscript, but they would be the weapons that would be remembered well after the Dark Ages had passed.

Medieval Weapons Number One: The Trebuchet

The trebuchet is one of the best known siege weapons from the medieval period and is not hard to see why. While normal catapults might have a nominal effect on some of the sturdiest castle walls, and put me soldiers in danger of archers standing on top of those city walls, the trebuchet allowed for much stronger and more effective attacks that could be done from a safe distance from the castle walls. In fact, the trebuchet was the ultimate weapon for taking down walls and fortifications up until the advent of gunpowder. These advanced siege weapons suddenly made it much easier for armies to take down a city or fortification. To put it another way: if Hannibal had had trebuchets, there would have been no Roman Empire.

What you might find most interesting about these siege weapons is that there was no one set design on how to build them. In other words, the specific designs and engineering behind one army's trebuchet would be completely different than the designs and building of a different army's trebuchet. In fact, the design for a good trebuchet was so valuable that there were many families who survived one regime change after another simply because they offered the best trebuchet design in the surrounding area. Those families capable of designing the strongest and most effective trebuchets kept their designs a closely guarded secret.

Medieval Weapons Number Two: The Halberd

The halberd was a devastating medieval weapon is put in the same category as the pole ax. These two weapons were perhaps the greatest advancement among the common foot soldier. The reason for this can be summed up in the words great equalizer. What does this mean? Basically, Calvary used to rule the field. They could easily run down foot soldiers and were often made up of Knights and nobles. Being on a horse gave you a massive advantage when it came to battle but with these new longer weapons that could not only hit, but also pull a soldier down from a horse, this allowed even common soldiers with little training to be able to cut down much more experienced fighters. These weapons single-handedly make even the most common foot soldier extremely dangerous to anybody in close combat.

Medieval Weapon Number Three: The Crossbow

The crossbow makes this list for several reasons.  One is that it is one of the few weapons that continued to evolve.  The crossbows you saw during the time of William the Conqueror were far different than the ones that were seen in later medieval times.  Simple pull back models were replaced with metal and moving parts that resulted in longer distances and much deadlier impact.  In fact, the crossbow was like the shotgun of medieval times.  In the same way that shotguns are outlawed in warfare by the Geneva Convention, the Pope outlawed the use of crossbows on the battlefield because they were too effective at killing and maiming.  Of course the irony to both is that just like modern armies, medieval armies didn’t listen, either, and the crossbow was a main staple of battle.  It was also one of the earliest weapons that allowed a relatively untrained soldier to have the ability to kill an armored nobleman in battle.

Medieval Weapon Number Four: The Claymore

This is one of those weapons that was heavily glorified but actually rarely used.  Only the Scots used Claymores, and normally only the Chieftains or higher members of Highland clans used them.  However, if you were on the opposite side of the field few weapons were as terrifying, and many accounts were given of two or three soldiers being beheaded at the same time by one mighty swing.  This was even demonstrated on an episode of Deadliest Warrior.  These swords stood out simply because they were huge – with some being five or six feet long.  Considering that meant the average Claymore was as tall or slightly taller than the average man, and you can see how a line of charging Scots wielding these massive weapons would be completely and utterly terrifying.

Medieval Weapon Number Five: Greek Fire 

This is one of the most powerful, and secretive, weapons that came from medieval times or early dark ages.  What’s interesting about Greek Fire is that we have absolutely no idea in modern times of how they made it or effectively used it!  Greek fire was an oil like substance used by the naval ships of the Byzantine Empire and kept that empire alive several hundred years more than it otherwise would have been by absolutely obliterating invading armies and navies.  The Greek fire would burn on water, spreading across an entire fleet with frightening quickness.  Old documents even talked about Byzantine ships “breathing fire” onto enemy fleets, which then burned and the ship falling apart in water only spread the fire to the rest of the fleet!

These were five of the most brutal or interesting weapons of medieval times and give you a glimpse at just how incredible some of these battles were.


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