The Tudor period in England was marked by the transition from Middle Ages to the early Modern period. This was a time when conventional weapons such as swords, axes and bows were still in use but were increasingly being replaced by more modern gunpowder weapons. Therefore, the cache of weaponry used by the English troops during the Tudor era often included both types of weapons.
The conventional weapons used during the early Tudor period included longbow, dagger, battle axe, a variety of swords, caltrop, billhooks, lanes, poleaxes and spears. Gunpowder weapons which were increasingly being used in the later Tudor period included muskets, matchlock, flintlock and canons.
Tudor Longbowmen were some of the best foot soldiers in the Tudor Armies
Conventional Tudor Weapons
A wide variety of conventional weapons were used by the Tudor troops on the battlefield. Among these were number of long weapons which were aimed at countering the cavalry of the enemies armies. Weapons used to this purpose included the bill and billhook, both of which were long poles topped with sharp blades which could effectively kill both a horse and a rider at a distance.
A caltrop was a small spike which could be attached to a long pole of up to 18 feet long and could be used to attack a knight from a safe distance, in history the caltrop was also used to injure the hooves of horses by spreading them across large areas of the ground with the spikes facing upwards.
The halberd was a long weapon topped with sharp double-edge axe which was particularly effective in infantry combat. Pikes measuring up to 20 feet in length and poleaxes were also used to attack enemy cavalry on the battlefield. On rare cases, English troops during the Tudor era also made use of spears which were primarily meant as close-combat weapons.
A variety of swords were used by the Englishmen during the Tudor period. These included the cutting sword, the broadsword and the rapier. The cutting sword was useful in the medieval period but was less effective on the battlefield by the time the Tudor era began.
It was consequently replaced by the rapier which was sleeker and was adopted from Spain. The rapier was also used by English noblemen to test their skills at fencing which had become a popular sport during the Tudor period. It was common for the noblemen to wear their rapier along with the civilian dress, usually as a part of the clothing.
Tudor Gunpowder Weapons
During the 16th century, the use of gunpowder weapons had become increasingly frequent. This led to the phasing out of many conventional weapons during the Tudor era and their replacement by gunpowder weapons. Most notable of such replacements was that of the bow which had been the primary weapon of English troops during the medieval period.
The bows were replaced by muskets by the end of the century. The Matchlock was another firearm which gained widespread use among English troops during the later Tudor period. However, given that it was slow to lock and fire, the matchlock was soon replaced by flintlock. Canons also became the primary sieging weapon of the Tudor armies, also used as a vital weapon by the English navy. These canons produced during the Tudor period were usually made from iron or bronze.