Early Medieval Weapons List

The early medieval period was marked by the rapid migration of Germanic tribes over different parts of Europe and their subsequent settlement.

This era was mostly influenced by the military culture which was left as a Roman legacy in the wake of the Roman Empire’s collapse.

As a result, many weapons used in the early medieval period closely resembled those used by the Roman armies.

However, there were distinctly new weapons in use as well such as the knightly sword, different varieties of axes as well as many new pole-arms which were useful in countering the increasingly decisive cavalry units on the battlefield.


Knightly Sword

The knightly sword in Europe developed near the later part of the early medieval period.

This type of sword was directly descended from the spathe which was wielded by the Germanic peoples since pre-medieval times. The spathe sword, in turn, came all the way back from the Roman days.

The knightly sword which came to be used in early medieval Europe was typically double-edged and straight with a blade which measured somewhere between 70 and 80 centimeters.

This type of sword was already used in regions of Europe by the 10th century and by the 11th century, it had reached most of Europe through Norman armies.

It eventually became the key weapon of the knights in different European territories.

Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology, and Tactics (Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology)


Dane Axe

A Dane Axe was primarily a Viking weapon which reached areas of Europe as early as the 9th and 10th centuries, thanks to extensive Viking raiding.

By the 11th century, the retentive influence of Vikings in regions such as British Isles and northern France entrenched the use of the Dane Axe in these regions.

The Dane Axe was used both as a missile weapon and as a close combat weapon.

The missile weapon variant of the Axe carried a small haft and a thin and light blade with a very sharp edge.

When hurled from a distance, the Axe could lodge itself into the shield or armor of an opponent.

Longer versions of Dane Axe were as long as 5 to 6 feet and were highly effective in close combat.


Seax

A Seax was a weapon similar to a short sword which was commonly wielded by the Germanic tribes in northern Europe during the early medieval period.

The Seax was specifically associated with the Anglo-Saxons who carried many different variants of the weapon.

The weapon typically comprised of a large and broad singe-edge blade which was inserted into a hilt made from wood or horn.

Some Seaxes carried a broken-back blade which made them highly effective for cutting and slashing purposes.

Longer variants of seaxes also existed.


Spears

The Spear was the primary weapon of Roman legionaries and after the fall of the Empire, it remained the key weapon in early medieval Europe.

One of the chief reasons for its continued widespread use was that a spear was inexpensive to produce with a haft of wood and a small metal blade at the top.

Smaller variants of spears, javelins, were used as missile weapons while longer variants were used in close combat both by the infantry and the cavalry.