“The development of the lance and the tactics of the heavy cavalry that used it were key factors in the evolution of medieval warfare.”Dr. John France, Emeritus Professor of History, Swansea University.
The use of the lance as a weapon dates back to the early Middle Ages, but it wasn’t until the 12th century that it became a standard weapon for knights. At first, lances were made of wood and were often used as a one-time weapon in battle.
However, as the use of heavy armor became more common, lances had to be designed to withstand the impact of charging knights.
By the 14th century, the lance had evolved into a sophisticated weapon. Lances were made of the finest woods, including ash and oak, and could measure up to 14 feet in length. They were also tipped with a sharp metal point, which could penetrate even the heaviest armor.
In battle, the lance was typically used by knights who charged on horseback. The momentum of the horse and rider added to the force of the blow, making it even more lethal. The knight would lower his lance and aim for the chest or head of his opponent. If successful, the blow could kill or seriously injure the enemy knight.
“The lance was a crucial weapon of the medieval knight, used both in warfare and in tournaments to display martial prowess.”“The lance was a crucial weapon of the medieval knight, used both in warfare and in tournaments to display martial prowess.”
However, using the lance was not without risks. A charging knight was vulnerable to attacks from other knights, as well as infantry soldiers armed with pikes or crossbows. The weight of the lance also meant that the knight had limited mobility, making him an easy target if he missed his opponent.
In tournaments, the use of the lance was slightly different. The lance used in tournaments was designed to break on impact, rather than penetrate armor. This made the lance safer for use in non-lethal competitions, where the goal was to unhorse an opponent rather than kill him.
Tournaments were popular events in medieval Europe, and the joust was one of the most popular events. The jouster would ride down the length of the arena, aiming his lance at his opponent’s shield. If successful, the impact would send his opponent flying off his horse and onto the ground.
The lance was an important weapon in medieval warfare and tournaments. It was a versatile weapon that could be used for both lethal and non-lethal purposes. With its long reach and piercing power, it was a weapon that struck fear into the hearts of enemy soldiers.
Although the use of the lance declined in the late Middle Ages with the advent of gunpowder weapons, it remains an iconic symbol of medieval knighthood.