The Battle Axe: A Cutting Companion

When reflecting on the Medieval period, the common image is of galloping horses, adventurous knights, and daring swordfights.  True, these were elements of the Middle Ages, but more than being exciting, it was an extremely violent time in history.  War ran rampant throughout Europe and the Holy Land and the Crusades also brought about much bloodshed.  As the quest for power grew, siege warfare and invasions of lands and territories were the norm.  In order to stand one’s ground, it was crucial to have the right weapon. A variety of weapons were used and one of the most popular was the battle axe, primarily carried by foot soldiers and some knights.

Battle Axes:

Double Side Battle Axe:

Double Side Battle Axe

Serving as a close combat weapon, battle axes were made in both single and double-handed designs and came into prime use during the early Middle Ages.  These weapons were mounted on a shaft that could range in length from 1 foot to 5 feet and could be hurled as a missile.  In contrast to Viking axes, which had to be lashed together, medieval battle axes offered more convenience with a broad, socketed head that could easily fit in the haft.  Between the upper and lower points of the cutting edge was a crescent shaped blade measuring about 10 inches.  With such a composition, the battle axe was feared as a forceful blow could bring about severe injury to a knight in armor, as well as cutting off limbs in one foul swoop.  Rightfully so, this weapon was put into the bludgeoning and cutting category.

Medieval Weapons:

While having a battle axe was a force to be reckoned with, a foot soldier was only as good as their skill in using it.  Therefore, much effort went into very specific training of the battle axe.  This training was grounded in strength and accuracy in hitting a target.  In training, a hit was considered successful if light close contact with a defined target was made or if a battle axe made contact with the target it was hurled at.  A foot soldier in training spent hours each day practicing and perfecting their aim and endurance before receiving the official title.

Throwing Axe:

Throwing Axe

The battle axe was crafted intricately by a blacksmith.  For this process, these artisans used steel, iron, and sometimes bronze for the blade and wood for the handle.  Blacksmiths were commonly known to set up shop in a village where people would bring their weapons for repair, as well as picking up new weapons.  However, due to the ongoing wars, blacksmiths were a part of each army.  They were always nearby to make new weapons and maintain and repair old ones.

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