The battlefield in the Middle Ages used more up-close-and-personal techniques compared to wars today. Masses of soldiers with bladed and blunt weapons clashed against one another in a desperate fight. Are you a history buff? Take our quiz to see how many medieval weapons you can name!
Today mace is sprayed from a can, but what was mace in medieval times?
A spiked or knobbed steel club
While today’s mace is a spray that is often made from the capsaicin oil found in peppers, the medieval mace was a short club, made entirely of steel or wrought iron, often having knobs or sharp angular features.
Who was the person that maintained the weapons and armor of a knight and helped the knight don his armor?
The page was both an understudy to a squire and an assistant and intern to the knight. He was responsible for caring for the weapons and the knight's mount (horse), as well as other servant’s duties. Pages started early, as young as 7 years old. Promising pages became squires in their teens. Squires also served the knight, but trained in battle more intensely. This was the path to becoming a knight.
Soldiers weren’t sheepish about using what massive log on wheels to breech doors and walls?
The battering ram was often housed in a rolling steel plated enclosure to protect the users from arrows, stones, hot oil and fire. It would be rolled up to the castle doors or wall, then the men inside would swing the log that was hung like a pendulum, to smash it into the castle. The log often had a massive iron tip, shaped like a ram's head or ram's horns.
Invented by the Chinese in the late 12th or early 13th century, black powder found its way to Europe in the 13th century. The advent of black powder eventually rendered castles and armor useless defense methods.
What is the sport where two horsemen gallop towards each other on horseback, with long poles, trying to knock each other from their mounts?
Jousting was a sport of knights and noblemen, but it was also often used to settle arguments of honor. Participants attempted to dismount their opponents to earn points. In jousts of honor, once dismounted, the opponents typically fought with sword and lance until one quit or died.
What was the long pole called, that was used in jousting?
The lance was a long, tapered, blunt-tipped pole, used in jousting. The lance was designed to not harm the opponent, but injuries did occur. King Henry II of France died from wounds suffered while jousting; the lance broke and a large shard entered his helmet through the eye slot, piercing his eye and then his brain.
What type of armor consisted of interlaced metal rings?
Chain mail was worn to protect against sword slashes and spear strikes. It could be defeated by specialized arrowheads with long, thin points. Certain knives called daggers were capable of piercing through the mail as well.
Which of these is a knife, popular in medieval times, with a long, tapered, double-edged blade?
While an Arkansas toothpick is a dagger, Arkansas didn’t exist in medieval times. Daggers can be used to thrust or stab. The dagger was often used in battle to get in between layers of armor and to defeat chain mail.
A quillon is the cross guard on a sword which was intended to protect the hand from an enemy blade. Crossbows fired short, thick arrows called bolts. While most arrows fired from bows had three or four fletchings (feathers at the back end to stabilize flight), crossbow bolts typically only had two.
What was a long, thin, sharply pointed sword called?
A foil is a long, thin, edgeless sword with a bulbous button tip, used in fencing, which is the sporting counterpart of swordsmanship. In actual combat, a rapier is used. A rapier is a long, thin sword, designed mainly for thrusting.
A catapult was a siege weapon, designed to throw large heavy objects to smash castle walls. It was also used to hurl flaming objects, to set forests, towns, and castles ablaze and throw hundreds of fist-sized stones into charging masses. Siege weapons like the catapult were indeed the artillery of their day.
Which of the following is a siege weapon, also called a Perrier?
A trebuchet was a siege weapon, larger than a catapult. While a trebuchet was built on site due to its size, some catapults could actually be pulled by horses and moved around. These types of weapons were the medieval equivalent of today’s artillery.
Which of the following is a larger version of the crossbow, used for siege warfare?
While a jumbow is not a thing, the ballista was indeed a jumbo-sized crossbow that launched massive bolts the size of telephone poles in order to smash castle walls. This war engine could skewer many enemies at once. It is also called a bolt thrower.
What sword was carried in feudal Japan by the Samurai?
The katana is a long, curved sword with a dramatically angled point that was carried by the Samurai in feudal Japan. A shobu is a chef’s knife used for cutting sushi. Shinto is a Japanese religion and belief system.
What is the name of the short sword that is the counterpart to the Katana?
The tanto is a short sword that was carried by the Samurai. It was like a mini katana. Bushido is the Samurai warrior code and bunraku is a type of Japanese puppet theatre, often used to depict heroic acts of the Samurai.
What favorite weapon of the Vikings evolved from a tool used for chopping wood?
The battle axe evolved from a woodsman's axe and has since devolved back into the double-bit axe used for cutting wood. A fearsome weapon, the battle axe was often more prevalent with Viking warriors than the sword on the battlefield.
When was the last known use of the guillotine in France?
Of course, the guillotine was an instrument of execution, not a weapon of war, but it discouraged enemies of the state. Believe it or not, the guillotine was used in France as recently as September 10, 1977, when Hamida Djandoubi was executed.
What was the most iconic headgear of the Middle Ages?
The most recognizable headgear of the Middle Ages is the great helm. This was the style of helmet worn by the Crusaders. It was also the helmet of the Black Knight in Monty Python's “Holy Grail” movie.
What weapon, basically a spear with an axe attached, is still used ceremoniously in Vatican City by the Swiss Guard?
The Halberd was often 6-8 feet long, featuring a spiked end and a side axe blade with a hook opposite the blade. It was designed to reach past the front line of shield-bearing soldiers to strike those behind. It was also designed to pull mounted knights off of their horses with the hook, to then be dispatched with a mighty swing of the axe.
While modern bows are often made from composite materials, like wood and fiberglass, who most likely created the oldest known composite bow?
The Mongols were known as skilled archers and their recurve bows were made from composite materials to make them stronger and more powerful. The bows were shorter, so they could be fired from horseback.
Not typically associated with the medieval battlefield, what weapon is still in use today by many hunters?
While all of these weapons are used to hunt, it is often surprising to learn that firearms existed in medieval times. However, weapons like hand cannons and matchlock firearms were in use, and these were muzzle loading weapons. An armor maker's test shot often left a dent in the breastplate of armor, proving that it could stop a bullet.
What is the fearsome medieval weapon that looked like a tall building - as in, when one was being erected next to your castle you'd better get ready to fight?
The siege tower was sometimes erected on site, as it was too large to move. It had multiple levels and was covered in metal plating and/or wet animal hides for armor. Soldiers breeched the walls at many levels and poured into the castle from within the tower.
What was basically a long pointed stick that was used for defense against charging cavalry?
The pike was used as a line defense weapon against charging cavalry. Soldiers lined up and hold their pikes at an angle, creating a wall of spikes pointing toward the charging horses and riders. Pikemen were sometimes thwarted by archers who attacked them from the sides.