Thrusting Through History: The Top 10 Polearm Weapons That Dominated Medieval Warfare

Medieval warfare was a realm of innovation and strategy, where weapons of varying designs were crafted to dominate the battlefield.

Among the most versatile and effective were polearm weapons, renowned for their reach, adaptability, and ability to influence the outcomes of conflicts.

Let’s delve into the top 10 polearm weapons that played pivotal roles in shaping medieval warfare, showcasing the ingenuity and tactics of their time.

1. Glaive

The glaive’s long shaft and curved blade at the end allowed for precise slashing and hooking movements. It was effective against infantry and cavalry alike, offering both offensive and defensive capabilities.

Glaives by Wendelin Boeheim

2. Halberd

Combining an axe blade, a spike, and a hook, the halberd excelled in multiple roles. It was particularly adept at disabling opponents in heavy armor and could be used for both thrusting and hacking attacks.

Halberd Weapon

3. Billhook

Originally an agricultural tool, the billhook was adapted for combat. Its hooked blade allowed for grappling, disarming opponents, and unseating cavalry.

800px Bill Hooks 1939 Nash Fussells catalogue

4. Pike

The pike’s long and slender design made it ideal for forming defensive formations. Used by foot soldiers, it created a bristling barrier that deterred cavalry charges and kept enemies at bay.

Pikemen win a Battle

5. Poleaxe

Featuring a combination of axe blade, hammer, and spike, the poleaxe was a versatile weapon for both hacking and thrusting attacks. Its design enabled warriors to counter different types of armor.

Medieval Poleaxe Footsoldier

6. Partisan

A variation of the polearm, the partisan featured a double-edged blade with flukes on the sides. It was adept at delivering powerful thrusts and cutting strikes.

7. Bec de Corbin

Known for its pick-like head and hammer on the opposite side, the bec de corbin targeted weak points in armor. It was used effectively in both thrusting and hacking attacks.

8. Ranseur

Characterized by a slender spearhead with side blades, the ranseur offered a versatile design for thrusting, slashing, and parrying.

9. Voulge

With a curved blade resembling a large knife, the voulge combined slashing and stabbing actions. It was favored for its ability to bypass armor.

10. Spetum

The spetum featured a long blade with lateral projections, allowing for thrusting and slicing. Its design provided adaptability against various types of opponents.

Polearm weapons in medieval warfare embodied the strategic complexity and tactical mastery of the era. From the precise strikes of the glaive to the formidable reach of the pike, each polearm weapon contributed to the evolution of battlefield strategies and formations.

As we explore these top 10 polearm weapons, we gain insights into the ways in which medieval warriors sought to gain an advantage through reach and technique.

The legacy of these weapons extends beyond the battlefield, leaving a lasting imprint on our understanding of medieval warfare’s fluidity and dynamic nature.