Close Combat Weaponry and Weapons

A wide range of close combat weapons and weaponry were used in medieval European warfare.

Among the many different categories of weapons used during the period, close combat weapons were used most extensively and evolved most rapidly.

This was primarily because decisive fighting in nearly all medieval battles took place at close quarters.

Consequently, a common infantry or cavalryman usually carried a number of weapons meant to aid him in close combat.

These ranged from different types of swords, close-combat spears, daggers, axes meant to range in close distance and a number of other weapons.


A Backsword was a type of single-edged sword which was used as a close combat weapon during the medieval period.

This type of sword came into use sometime around the 14th century and by the end of the medieval period, backswords were frequently used by the cavalrymen as a secondary weapon.

A defining feature of a backsword is a straight blade which ends in a single-handed grip and in some cases, a knuckle guard to save the wielding hand from any injury.

Some variants of the backsword came with a double-edged blade with the back of the blade meant to aid in thrusting attacks.


The Falchion was a close combat sword wielded by peasants and knights alike during the medieval period.

The use of falchion became popular in the 13th century and continued until the 16th century.

The falchion was characterized by its unique single-edged blade which often culminated in a curved end.

This type of sword was an effective close combat weapon and usually featured a blade measuring between 30 and 35 inches.

The overall shape and design of a falchion was influenced by the Persian shamshir and the sword wielded by medieval Turko-Mongol attackers on European borders.

A Fachion Sword


A Misericorde was a unique close combat weapon which was used in medieval Europe.

Being essentially a long and narrow knife, the misericorde was not used in direct combat until the opponent of a knight was fatally wounded.

Once a knight was fatally wounded, the opponent would use the misericorde to help him reach a quick death.

The blade of a misericorde was very thin which allowed it to pierce through the tiny gaps in a knight’s armor.

Because of such precision needed in wielding and piercing a misericorde into the victim’s body, it was nearly never used as a primary weapon of combat.

The recorded use of misericorde dates from 12th century onwards.


The Shashka was a close combat weapon which came into use in Eastern European territories from 12th century onwards.

The overall construction of a shashka was essentially that of a sabre-like sword which curved slightly in its design.

The blade of this type of sword was single-edged and exceptionally sharp while the hilt and the grip were designed to facilitate one-handed use.

A Shashka was an effective close combat weapon which allowed the wielder to inflict slashing and thrusting attacks on the opponent.

The weapon was especially popular in Russian, Ukrainian and other Caucasian territories from 12th century until the pre-modern period.

Medieval Weapons and Warfare: Armies and Combat in Medieval Times (The Library of the Middle Ages) Library Binding – September 1, 2003


A Szabla was a one-edge sword which was used in close combat during the later medieval period.

This type of sword came into use in Eastern Europe, especially in Hungary, Kievan Rus and Polish territories sometime in the 14th century.

The design of a szabla comprised of a thin and sharp single-edged blade which curved significantly towards the top.

This type of close-combat weapon was adopted by Eastern European regions in the 15th century as the importance of light cavalry began to be felt.

The use of szabla continued into the pre-modern and then the modern period.

Knightly Sword

The Knightly sword was one of the most frequently used close combat weapons on medieval European battlefields.

As the name suggests, this type of sword was typically carried by the knights and used as a primary weapon in close combat situations.

The design of a knightly sword comprised of a long and straight double-edged blade which measured nearly 28 to 31 inches in length.

It was designed to enable single-handed use so that a knight could hold up his shield with the other hand.

The original knightly sword evolved from the swords wielded by the Vikings.

The use of the knightly sword began as early as the 11th century and continued until the end of the medieval period by evolving into different variants.

The Art of Sword Combat: A 1568 German Treatise on Swordmanship Hardcover – September 1, 2016


A rapier was close combat weapon which came into use in late medieval period.

The overall design of the rapier was unique in that unlike most other swords, it comprised of a very thin and pointed blade.

Such a blade was usually meant for piercing and slashing attacks rather than serious cutting.

Although originally used in battlefield combat in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

The rapier soon became more of a weapon for sport and display rather than for serious fighting.


The longsword was a type of close combat weapon which was used from the 13th century until the end of the medieval period.

This type of sword was characterized by an exceptionally long hilt which, together with the blade, made a cross-like figure.

The unusually long hilt was meant for two-handed use and measured 6 to 11 inches in length while the double-edged blade of the sword measured 33 to 43 inches in length.

This type of close combat sword was popularly used in the Hundred Years’ War between the English and French.

Carolingian Longsword

Carolingian Weapons Epée Joyeuse Sword


A Seax was a close combat weapon which was popularly used in the early medieval period.

This type of weapon was commonly used by different Germanic tribes during the Migration period at the start of the medieval era.

The design of a Seax essentially comprised of a long single-edged or double-edged blade which was attached to a wooden hilt.

The overall size of a Seax was small enough to allow the Germanic warriors to wield it easily.

Consequently, the Seax was used as a secondary weapon in close combat as well as for daily practical uses.

This type of close combat weapon was most popularly used by the Anglo Saxon tribes as they made their way into northern European territories.

Medieval Combat: A Fifteenth-Century Illustrated Manual of Sword fighting and Close-Quarter Combat


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