Nursery Rhymes

Billhook

Medieval life and Times

Definition of a Billhook
The Billhook was a weapon used in Medieval Times by Foot Soldiers. This weapon originated as a cross between a broad curved knife which was hook shaped at the end and an axe. It was originally used as a farming tool.

Description of Medieval Billhook
The weapons used the Medieval times include the Medieval Billhook.

The description of the Medieval Billhook which provides basic facts and information about the weapon is as follows:

  • Names of other types of Medieval Billhook -  Bill, Hook bill and Hand bill
  • Used as a versatile, close contact weapon
  • The blade was between 8 and 10 inches long and curved towards the end giving a hook-like appearance
  • The wooden handle was a short staff which measured between 6 and 8 inches long
  • Billhooks or bills came in a large variety of shapes and dimensions
  • Hooks or Spikes were added to the back of the blade to increase the versatility of the weapon against horsemen and armour
  • A blow could apply tremendous force and could inflict significant injury to a knight in armor and his horse
  • Horse armor was developed to counteract injuries inflicted by such weapons as the bill. The Medieval horse, called a Destrier was the favored horses of knights in Medieval Times
  • The hook end was used for grappling the target's armor or the reins of a warhorse
  • The weapon was used as a grappling or cutting weapon and capable of cutting off the limbs of an enemy in one stroke
  • The weapon was particularly effective against opponents wearing plate armor and reduced the effectiveness of the shield
  • Type or group of weapons - Cutting Weapon

The Medieval period was an extremely violent era in history featuring battles in both Europe and the Holy Land when the Crusades, and the crusaders who fought them, were numerous. Feudal Lords and Knights and their men at arms used such weapons as the Medieval Billhook in different types of warfare. The quest for power led to invasions of lands and territories which had to be fought for. Siege warfare, waged to win a castle or a walled town or city, was a frequent occurrence during the Medieval period. Warfare during the Medieval era called for a variety of weapon expertise. Knights and men-at-arms (who consisted of foot soldiers or archers) used different types of weapons. The Medieval Billhook was predominantly used by a Foot Soldiers. The weapons used were dictated according to status and position. The weapons, armor and horse of the Knight were extremely expensive - the fighting power of just one knight was worth 10 ordinary soldiers.

Medieval Billhook Training
Skill in the use of Medieval weapons and understanding the strategy of Medieval Warfare was necessary and a played a vital part in Medieval life. The training required by a Foot Soldiers to use the Medieval Billhook :

  • Training method - The training method practised in the use of the Billhook was based on strength and accuracy in hitting the target
  • A "hit" was scored in Medieval weapons training by making light contact with a defined target area
  • Foot soldiers were familiar with this weapon as similar implements were used as agricultural tools

The Makers and Making of the Medieval Billhook
This Medieval weapon was made by a Blacksmith. The materials required to make this weapon were:

  • Iron
  • Steel
  • Occasionally bronze

Blacksmiths are usually associated with making weapons in a village smithy but Medieval blacksmiths were also an important part of a fighting army, making new weapons and repairing and the maintenance of old weapons.

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