The poleaxe is known as a highly effective medieval weapon that was utilized for battles in the past. It was also the name used by the English to describe the long-handled war hammer used by footmen, regardless of whether the weapon had an axe or not. The same weapons could also be referred to as the bec de corbin in French, depending on the back spike’s shape; it was also referred to as the Martello d’arme in Italian or the Fussstreithammer in German. The Lucerne hammer is from a more modern nineteenth-century name that may include many similar weapons; the name is also based on the Swiss town, Lucerne, where a certain type of poleaxe that featured a long-pronged hammerhead was extremely popular among warriors.

Uses of the Medieval Poleaxe

The poleaxe was accepted as a knightly weapon for dismounted battles and a lot of the remaining samples are made of high-quality materials, as well as adorned with lavish decorations. Aside from being favored weapons for battle, the poleaxes were also acknowledged for being favorite weapons for dueling; in fact, it was even claimed that there was a slightly altered type called the hache (French), which was made specifically for duels. The weapon featured a six to seven-foot-long haft, as well as a rondel guard on each of the weapon’s grip.

Careful examination of a classic fourteenth to sixteenth-century art exhibited that the warriors were commonly described utilizing poleaxes during mass battles. This only suggests that the weapon was utilized more widely than what was thought. The German poleaxes, fussstreithammer, were roughly translated to literally mean the infantry war hammer; this means that the poleaxes were also utilized by the infantry during battles.


Features of the Poleaxe

The axe head on the poleaxe is much smaller compared to the Danish axe, which had a blade that measured around seven inches long; however, it could also be as wide as eleven inches, or perhaps narrower at six inches. Just like the Danish axe, the edge of the poleaxe head can either be a straight or convex curve, and although the shape of the weapon’s hammer head is varied, the earlier versions featured corners of the hammer head sticking out slightly from the head’s plane. For the earlier poleaxes, these usually featured a rondel guard located at the top portion of the octagon-shaped haft; this is used to protect the wielder’s hands especially during battle. However, this feature appeared to be less popular in the sixteenth century.

When it comes to the design and style of the poleaxes, these were usually highly ornamented to exhibit the wielder’s status. The poleaxe’s head was usually engraved and decorated with soft metal that is either gilded or etched and occasionally, the head would be pierced to create a pattern which was demonstrated by A926. Additionally, the poleaxe’s heads were usually stamped with the creator’s marks or even the places of manufacture.

Fighting using the Poleaxe

The poleaxe was a weapon mostly utilized by knights, as well as other men at arms while battling on foot. It generally exhibited a sophisticated fighting style that was based on quarter-staff fighting. When it comes to the uses of the weapon, it is not only for hacking down the enemy, but it can also be used for disarming, tripping, and blocking the enemy’s blows. Both the butt and head spike can be utilized for thrusting attacks; as for the haft, it is also considered as a central part of the weapon that allows the wielder to block the enemy’s attacks while simultaneously tripping and cross-checking. Numerous treatises on poleaxe fighting have survived from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; the weapon’s fighting techniques were also rediscovered due to the growing interest in the classic European martial arts. In this day and age, the poleaxe is considered as one of the favored weapons of numerous medieval re-enactors; plus, there are also rubberized poleaxe heads available commercially for safe combat.

History and Types of Poleaxes

In history, the ability of man to work with metals has greatly improved, and in turn, it allowed them to create, develop, and even combine weapons and other tools for battle. The poleaxe is known to be one of the hybrid weapons that have been introduced in this period; also, these weapons were crafted then combined to expand, as well as boost its potential. The poleaxes started becoming popular in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, these battle weapons became widely utilized by a lot of cultures.

Based on numerous studies, there were three kinds of poleaxes during the medieval era and these were the following: the throwing hammer which was a kind of poleaxe that was claimed to be a product of the throwing hatchet, the short hammer that was utilized by warriors from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, and the long-handed hammer for the foot soldiers which was mostly referred to as the poleaxe.