A wide range of weapons were used in warfare during the medieval ages. While sharper weapons such as spears and swords were more popularly used, blunt weapons were also regarded as highly effective on medieval battlefields.
Blunt weapons were typically effective against the expensive armour of the knights. As the armour evolved over the medieval period, it became difficult to pierce good plate armour no matter how sharp the attacker’s weapon was.
The solution was found in the use of blunt weapons which could injure the victim by the sheer force and impact of their strike, even without piercing the victim’s body. Among the blunt weapons popularly used in the medieval era were the war hammer, club and mace.
War hammers evolved as useful battlefield weapons directly because of the increasing use of iron armours in late medieval period. A war hammer’s design resembles a hammer with the exception that it comes with an exceptionally long handle which allows the wielder to add impact to the hit.
Such war hammers which were made from good-quality metal and wielded by a powerful warrior could inflict a lot of damage on a victim even if the warrior couldn’t penetrate his mail or plate armour. The war hammer carried the fall impact of the blow through the thick armour and into the body, leading to concussions, fractures and in the case of a blow to the head, permanent damage. In some cases, a pointed spike was added at the back of the blunt head of the war hammer. This gave the attacker the advantage of tripping an opponent’s horse before attacking him with the blunt head of the hammer.
A Mace was another blunt weapon which was popularly used in the medieval period. It comprised of a long shaft made of wood or metal which culminated in a solid head which was typically made from stone, copper or iron.
The length of the mace wielded by foot soldiers usually ranged from two to three feet while that wielded by the cavalrymen was significantly longer. Like the war hammer, the mace was also used as a reaction to the evolution of iron armours. The mace first became popular in Eastern Europe towards the 12th century and then travelled westwards where it briefly became an important weapon on the battlefield.
A flail was another blunt weapon which was popularly wielded by the peasants in the late medieval period. The flail was not a sophisticated weapon but was easy to produce and was effective in attacking the opponent. It typically comprised of a long handle which culminated in a striking head which was attached to the handle with a flexible chain.
The striking head, in turn, was often embellished with sharp studs or other features. The flail had the ability to strike around the shield of an opponent but was an ineffective weapon in close combat. It was popular as a blunt weapon among the peasants of Germany and other central European territories during the late medieval period. A notable example of the use of flails occurred when Bohemian Hussites used the weapon and during the German Peasants’ War which took place in the 16th century.