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Article - 'Medieval Britian, Issue Two' by Guest

An item about Game Design posted on Feb 25, 2005

Blurb

Part two of the Medieval Britian Articles, this time dealing exclusively with weapons. An interesting read.

Body

Second in the series on Medieval Britain. This time focusing on weapons, not just the basic ones that everyone knows, but lots, lots more, examples are Rapier, Morning Star and a whole lot of others. Here we go.
----WARNING----
This article is seven pages long in Microsoft Word so in order to help I have here all the weapons available in this article, just use ctrl-f and type in the weapon to find it.
Axes
Scimitar
Bow
Backsword
Broadsword
Crossbow
Daggers
Falchion
Gladius
Greatsword
Halberd
Javelin
Katana
Lance
Longbow
Long-sword
Mace
Morning Star
Pike
Pole Arms
Rapier
Sabre
Smallsword
Spears
Tomahawk
Two-handed Sword
Warhammer


Weapons!
I will be dividing this section up into 3 broad categories, Swords, Ranged Weapons and Others. Starting with…
Swords:
The most common weapon, almost a necessity in any medieval game, goes hand in hand with knights. This category has the most things to go with it as it was the most widely used weapon of the medieval times.

Scimitar: is a type of sword, normally with a deeply curved blade with a single cutting edge, though some are known to exist with a blade very shallowly curved. This curve makes the Scimitar almost exclusively a slashing sword.
They can be found in one or two handed variants, with blades ranging in length from around 30" to 36", and the blades, while commonly depicted as being very wide (from cutting edge to the rear of the blade), seem most often to have been very thin.

Broadsword: There are two types of broadswords, the European broadsword and the Chinese Dao, which is commonly translated as a broadsword as well. However the two are very different. The European broadsword had a blunt edge and a sharp tip. The blades usually have a diamond cross-section, and are very heavy. They are usually used against armored knights, first by using the dull edge to knock your opponent out, then using the weight of the sword and the sharp tip to pierce straight through the amour. The Dao, on the other hand, is a light cutting weapon. It has a very thin, swept-back blade, with a swept-in handle. It is normally used with one hand, and sometimes two were wielded at once, to sacrifice balance for offensive potential. There is normally either a large ring or bits of colored cloth attached to the bottom of the hilt.

Backsword: Backsword is a denomination of any type of sword, generally of European origin, that has only one edge, with the back of the sword often being the thickest part of the blade.
Some backswords curved in order to make slicing/chopping action easier, at some expense of thrusting power, but this should not be seen as an overwhelming trend in the type, but rather limited to specialized forms.

Sabre: The sabre (or saber) is a European backsword with a distinct curvature and a rather large hand guard, covering the knuckles of the hand as well as the thumb and forefinger. The length of sabres varied, but they were always made to be worn in a scabbard hanging from the waist.
The origins of the sabre are somewhat unclear, and it may come from designs such as the falchion or the scimitar. Originally, the sabre was used as a cavalry weapon that gradually came to replace the various straight bladed cutting sword types on the battlefield. As time went on, sabres became insignia of rank in many armies, and dress use of sabres continues to this day in some armed services around the world.
During the 19th and in the early 20th century, sabres were also used by some police forces. The sabre was later phased out in favour of the baton (or night stick) for humanitarian reasons.
A derivative of this weapon is used under this name in the Olympic sport of fencing.

Gladius: A gladius (gladius hispaniensis, the spanish sword) is a short sword, 60cm long, used by the Roman Empire legionaries and gladiators before widespread adoption of the spatha.
The gladius is straight and double-edged, with a V-shaped tip, and primarily constructed for thrusting action and use together with a large rectangular shield, the scutum. The cross-section of the gladius is typically rhomboid, providing the blade with good stability for stabbing.
The gladius is frequently depicted in coats of arms, especially of military corps.
The name is Latin, and the diminutive form is gladiolus, also the name of a flowering plant with sword-shaped leaves.

Katana: The katana is the Japanese longsword (Daito), although many Japanese use this word generically as a catch all word for sword "katana" is the kun-yomi (Japanese reading) of the kanji; the on-yomi (Chinese reading) is "tou" (pronounced [to:]). It refers to a specific type of curved, single-edged sword traditionally used by the Japanese samurai. The scabbard for a katana is referred to as a saya.
It is primarily used for slashing, and can be wielded one- or two-handed (the second being the most common mode). It is worn with cutting-edge up. While the art of practically using the sword for its original purpose is now somewhat obsolete, kenjutsu has turned into gendai budo - modern martial arts for a modern time. The art of drawing the katana is iaido, and kendo is an art of fencing with a shinai (bamboo sword) protected by helmet and armor.

Falchion: A falchion is a fairly short, one edged sword of European origin. Falchions are found in different forms from around the 11th century up to and including the 16th century. In some versions the falchion looks rather like the scramasax and later the sabre, and in some versions the form is irregular or machete like.
Unlike the double edged swords of Europe, few actual swords of this type have survived to the present day. It is presumed that these swords had a lower average quality and status than the longer, more expensive swords. It is also possible that falchions were used as tools when they were not pressed into service as weapons.
There is ample pictoral evidence of falchions used in combat by commoners and noblemen alike, and this type of sword was most likely fairly popular.

Rapier: A rapier is a slender, sharply pointed sword with a blade at least 90 centimeters in length, often sporting an elaborate hilt and hand-guard. For most of its period of use, the rapiers was double-edged, some later rapiers were single-edged (with a sharply triangular blade) or edgeless. A rapier is capable of both cutting and thrusting attacks, but the thrust is the main attack in all rapier fighting styles.

Long-sword: The Long-sword is a type of sword developed as the answer to increasing armour protection coming into use in Europe in primarily the 14th century. No exact definition of a long-sword exists, but it is usually of a larger size than a sword meant for single hand use. The hilt is larger, accommodating a grip with two hands.
The average blade length of a long sword is around 110 centimetres (3 feet and 7 inches), and the weight is usually between 1.2 and 1.8 kilograms (2.6 to 4.0 pounds). The actual size and weight of a long-sword would depend on personal preference and build of the wielder.

Greatsword: A generic term covering the largest versions of slashing, usually straight bladed European swords.
Since a great sword usually sported a longer, heavy blade - and could require two hands to properly wield - the name came to imply any kind of two-handed sword.

Two-handed sword: A two-handed sword, used as a general term, is any large sword that requires two hands to use.
For lack of a better word, the designation "two-handed sword" is also used when speaking about a weapon from the European renaissance. This kind of sword was often of the same length as the person wielding it, and had a very long hilt to allow leverage when cutting with it. Contrary to popular belief, two-handers made for combat use are actually quite light, averaging around 2.5 to 3 kilograms. Even so, with the mass distributed over a length of close to two metres, effective use took a man of substantial strength.

Well that’s about all for now. I may update this later with some more if I find anymore information on the topic. Next up we have Ranged weapons, another thing used throughout Medieval Times quite a lot. While it may be hard to have a hero with a bow just think of some that are heroes (or fake ones) with bows. Robin hood springs to mind…

Ranged Weapons:
These come in all sorts of sizes, ranging from the bow to javelins. These have been used dozens of times throughout history. NOTE: this does not include guns!

Bow: A bow is a weapon that shoots arrows. It is useful for hunting and war. The technique of using a bow is called archery.
A large number of different bow designs have been used in different cultures and time periods. Common designs are: solid wood (the English longbow), laminated wood (Japanese and Saami bows) and bone-wood-hide composite (Middle East, India, Mongols). In modern times, the plastic composite and compound bows dominate for sport and hunting practices.

Longbow: The longbow was used in the Middle Ages both for hunting and as a weapon of war and reached its zenith of perfection as a weapon in the hands of English and Welsh archers.
The longbow was first recorded as being used by the Welsh in 633 C.E., when Offrid, the son of Edwin, king of Northumbria, was killed by an arrow shot from a Welsh longbow during a battle between the Welsh and the Mercians -- more than five centuries before any record of its military use in England.
Longbows were difficult to master because the draw-weight often exceeded 50kg. Considerable practice was required to produce the swift and effective fire combat required. Skeletons of longbow archers are recognizably deformed, with enlarged left arms, and often bone spurs on left wrists, left shoulders and right fingers.

Crossbow: A crossbow is a weapon that consists of a prod (similar in appearance to a bow) mounted on a stock similar to a rifle stock, which has a mechanism to wind and shoot its bolts. These bolts are typically called quarrels, and do not depend upon lift as arrows do. Crossbow bolts must be made to have consistent weights as the mechanical process of engaging a bolt forces a more uniform process than that of using a bow and arrow. It is this consistent performance which has made the crossbow historically a significant force in warfare.
A crossbow contains a string which is held in place by a nut when the bolt is loaded and the cross bow is engaged (referred to as at full cock). Typically, the nut is at the end of the shelf (also called the bolt rest).

Javelin: Javelins were often all wooden, with either one or both ends sharpened. They could be used for throwing, or hand-to-hand combat. They weren't great weapons, but their length and versatility made them valuable. The main reason I put this in here was the lack of ranged weapons.

The last type of weapons I will be covering is Others, this is just a place for me to put all those that don’t fit or all those that there isn’t enough of to make another category.

Others:
In here will be allsorts of weapons, axes, spears and maces plus a whole lot more.

Axe: An axe or ax is a tool with a metal blade that is securely fastened at a 90 degree angle to a handle, usually of wood. The typical use for an axe is to split wood and chop down trees, but alternative uses in the past have included the battle-axe and the throwing-axe (the Frankish axe or francesca), both used in war.

The method for fastening the blade to the handle has varied over time. It can be lashed, as was probably common in old stone axes, but also simple 'wedged', whereby the end of the handle is slit, then inserted into a socket in the blade, and is held tight by a wedge introduced into the slit and pounded in with a mallet.

Tomahawk: A Tomahawk was a type of Native American axe. Traditionally short and resembling a hatchet, with a wooden shaft and, initially, with a stone but later with a iron or brass head. A general purpose tool it is often regarded as solely a hand or thrown weapon. The name comes into the English language in the 17th century as a transliteration of the Virginian Algonquian word.

Daggers: A dagger is essentially a special form of knife, where the tang is placed along the center line of the blade.
A dagger is more a weapon made for thrusting than a tool for slicing and cutting. Historically daggers were important secondary weapons in Europe during the Middle Ages and the renaissance.
Often a dagger is fairly long, and some may verge on being of sword length. Most daggers are double edged, although there are exceptions.
A modern version of the dagger is the bayonet, which becomes a spear type weapon when mounted on the barrel of a rifle.

Pole Arms: A pole weapon is a close combat weapon with the main fighting part of the weapon placed on the end of a long shaft, typically of wood. The use of pole weapons is very old, and the first spears date to the stone age. The purpose of using pole weapons is to either increase angular momentum, and thus striking power, when the weapon is swung, or extending reach. Pole weapons are relatively cheap and simple to make, and they were fairly easy for most people to use effectively as they were often derived from hunting or agricultural tools.
Spears were probably first used as hunting weapons, either for thrusting or for throwing; the ability to strike the prey from a relatively safe distance no doubt appealing to the hunters. It was likely recognized almost immediately that they were also most useful against predators and other humans.
Massed men carrying pole weapons with pointed tips (spears, pikes, etc.) were recognized fairly early in the history of organized warfare as effective military units. On defense the men holding the spears were hard to reach; on the attack, as in the Macedonian phalanx, they were devastating to those units which could not get out of the way.

Spears: A spear is an ancient weapon, used for hunting and war. It consists of a shaft, usually of wood, with a sharpened head. The head may be simply the sharpened end of the shaft itself, as is the case with bamboo spears, or it may be of another material fastened to the shaft. The most common design is of a metal spearhead, shaped somewhat like a dagger, and made entirely for thrusting.
Spears of different designs were used for close combat and for throwing. One of the most famous throwing spears is the pilum used by the Romans.

Lance: The lance is a pole weapon based on the pattern of the spear but adapted for mounted combat. The lance is perhaps most known as one of the foremost weapons used by European knights, but the use of lances were spread throughout the old world wherever mounts were available.
In Europe, lances for jousting were much different from the weapons used in war. In jousting lances, the tips would be blunt and the center of the lance could be designed to be hollow, in order for it to break on impact. In war, lances were much more like ordinary spears, long and balanced for one handed use.

Mace: An advance on the club, a mace is a wooden, metal-reinforced or metal shaft, 3 or more feet (a meter or more) long, with a head made of iron or steel adding another foot to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) to the length of the weapon. The head is normally about or slightly thicker than the diameter of the shaft, shaped with flanges, knobs or spikes to allow greater penetration of armor. It, like the war hammer and various other weapons of the time, came about because of the increased use of more effective armor on the battlefield.
A variety of mace called the morning star had its spiked metal ball suspended from a chain attached to the handle, rather than being directly mounted.
Medieval bishops carried maces in battle instead of swords, so as to conform to the canonical rule which forbade priests to shed blood.

Morning Star: The morning star is a medieval weapon that consists of a spiked ball on the end of a chain attached to a pole. It is a derivative of the mace.
A combatant would swing the ball on the pole around his head and attempt to strike his opponent with it, often with deadly force.
Sometimes, instead of one large spiked ball, the pole was attached with 3 spiked metal balls connected in chains. This modification is called "flail".

Warhammer: A war hammer is an archaic weapon of war intended for close combat, the design of which resembles the hammer. The war hammer consists, like the tool it resembles, of a handle and a head. The handle may be of different lengths, the longest being roughly equivalent to the halberd, and the shortest about the same as a mace. Long warhammers were pole weapons meant for use against riders, whereas short ones were used in closer quarters and from horseback. Later warhammers often had a spike on one side of the head, thus making it a more versatile weapon.
Warhammers were developed as a consequence of the ever more prevalent metal armors of the medieval battlefields during the 14th and 15th centuries. The war hammer could deal blows of tremendous force to the target, especially when mounted on a pole, and by impact alone do damage without penetrating the armor. The spike end could be used for grappling the target's armor, reins, or shield, or could be turned in the direction of the blow to pierce even heavy armor. Against mounted opponents the weapon could also be directed at the legs of the horse, toppling the armored foe to the ground where they could be dealt with.

Halberd: A halberd is a pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries. It consists of an axe head topped with a spike mounted on a long shaft. The back of the axe head was often fitted with a hook for grappling mounted combatants.
Halberds were two-handed axe-like weapons consisting of four parts:
• a handle roughly 7 or 8 foot (1 m 70)long
• an axe blade
• a point
• often a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade
This made the halberd cheap to produce and very versatile in battle. Its length allowed to deflect spears and pikes, its point allowed to keep sword-wielding opponents at distance, and the hook would be used to draw armored opponents to the ground. The axe blade, obviously, was for cutting into unarmed opponents and horses.
Pike: A pike is a pole weapon once used extensively by infantry and foot-soldiers principally as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Pikes were extremely long weapons, and could exceed six meters in length.
The steel tip was fairly long compared to the shaft, making the weapon most unwieldy in close combat. This meant that pikemen were often equipped with a sword for close encounters.


Well that about wraps things up for this section. I’m not sure what I will be doing next, either religion or wars of the time and how they developed.
Raytane.